IAF Commanders’ Conference begins

New Delhi: Top commanders of Indian Air Force met here today to brainstorm on various matters including drafting of women as fighter pilots, serviceability issues plaguing the Force, and induction of fighter aircraft like LCA Tejas and Rafale.

The three-day Air Force Commanders’ Conference was inaugurated by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar.

Representatives from state-run aircraft manufacturer HAL, Bharat Electronics Limited and Ordnance Factory Board are also taking part in the conference.

IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha had last week announced the Force’s plan to induct women as fighter pilots.

This is the first time that any of the three services has agreed for combat role for women.

Also, under discussion would be IAF’s plan to induct 120 indigenously-developed Light Combat Aircraft Tejas. Though the Air Force was initially unhappy with the aircraft, it later agreed to induct 120 Tejas with four main modifications including to its missile carrying capability, better radar and mid-air refuelling facility.

The issue of Rafale fighter jet would also come up for discussion as the force awaits the formal contract for 36 French jets to be signed.