Dhanoa has also sent a strong message to Pakistan saying that Indian Air Force (IAF) was ready to take on the neighbouring country in response to a terrorist attack. (IE image)

Indian Air Force Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa has sent a message of caution underlining the challenge it was facing due to shortage of fighter jets in its arsenal, according to Indian Express report. Dhanoa has likened this to that of a cricket team playing with seven players. It is akin to a cricket team playing with seven players instead of 11, the Air Chief told IE. Dhanoa has also sent a strong message to Pakistan saying that Indian Air Force (IAF) was ready to take on the neighbouring country in response to a terrorist attack. He, however, said that government will take the final call in this regard. Dhanoa also said that IAF has the capability to launch strike the Maoists if the government wanted to it to do so even as he was against any air attacks within India.

It has been learned that IAF needs at least 42 fighter squadrons to fight China and Pakistan. The IAF currently has 32 fighter squadrons, the report says. Dhanoa said that though the IAF was operating under challenging conditions, the force had come up with strategies to counter this. Speaking on whether the IAF was mulling for aerial surgical strike inside Pakistan occupied Kashmir, the Air Chief said that the force was prepared for any eventuality.

As far as terrorist threats are concerned, we do not envisage carrying out air attacks on our territory, to prevent any sliver of possibility for collateral damage, Dhanoa said on the possible use of air power against the Maoists. We have the capability, and are in a position to strike as and when we are cleared to do so by the government, he told IE.

Recently, Dhanoa had written a personal letter to officers of the force, asking them to be prepared for operations at a very short notice to effectively deal with security challenges, including sub- conventional threat, to the country. In the letter dated March 30, the IAF chief also touched upon a range of issues relating to service matters and asked the officers to be morally upright and mindful of their professional conduct so that image of the force is not tarnished. Talking about various security challenges confronting the country, Dhanoa, in an apparent reference to Pakistan backing terror groups targeting India, spoke about persistent “sub- conventional threat”, asserting the force should be prepared for operations at a “very short notice”.