India's Air Force chief dismisses China's Agni-V concern

The Agni V missile, with an over 5000 km range, covers the entire China. Photograph:( AFP )

PTI New Delhi, Delhi, India Dec 28, 2016, 11.48 AM (IST)

Brushing aside China's reaction on the test firing of long-range nuclear-capable missile Agni-V, IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha today said India should carry on with its task of building deterrence capability.

In an apparent swipe at China, he said one should not talk about someone else doing something unless it is prohibited like nuclear proliferation and went on to add that it is "common knowledge" as to what is happening in this region "in terms of collusion, transfer of technology which is forbidden".

Underlining that India is only building up its deterrence capability, Raha, who is also the Chairman Chief of Staff Committee, said the country will have to build its capability "in order to strike deep into adversary's heartland" which will act as a deterrent.

The Agni V missile, with an over 5000 km range, covers the entire China.

Reacting to the missile test-firing, China's foreign ministry had yesterday hoped that it complied with UN Security Council rules and safeguarded South Asia's strategic balance.

"I think in international diplomacy, normal diplomacy or military diplomacy, these posturing and signalling will always be there.

"So we should just go about with our task, meet our own requirements, security challenges," Raha said addressing a press conference here days before he demotes office on December 31.

Not mincing words, Raha said he will not like to comment on what somebody else is doing unless it is prohibited.

"Like nuclear proliferation, which is common knowledge to everyone, what is happening in this region, in terms of collusion, transfer of technology which is forbidden. This is all common knowledge. I am not saying something new," he said, without naming any country.

The IAF chief stated that India is legitimately developing its capability indigenously and he does not think anyone should complain about it.

Raha said India is "obviously building up" capability not to actually fight a conflict as it believes in peace and tranquillity.

"But we also know we have been drawn into conflicts several times in the past. So going by historical experience, we have to build our capability. Capability to deter. How do we deter an adversary who is strong? We have to build up capability in order to strike deep into adversary's heartland, take on targets effectively which will hurt the adversary," he said.

Raha added that this capability is being built up especially with the IAF's striking prowess.

"We are building up our forces in the sea. The army is being strengthened further in terms of a new strike corps. I think a lot of effort is going on to tackle any contingency... creation of infrastructure, induction of equipment," he said.

Raha underlined that overall there is a thrust by the government and the armed forces to bolster deterrence capability more than anything else.

"It is not specific to any country," he said.

The IAF chief refused to name China in any of his comments despite repeated questions on China's defence capability.

Raha said every country has the right to make its own assessment of security needs.

"It will not be appropriate for me to speak about any country in the neighbourhood. But definitely, we take everything into consideration when we do a threat appreciation," he said.

The air chief said India's efforts on capability matrix are not based against one single country but on the threat appreciation as well as its plans for where it wants to be in future, what role does it want to play in the region and on the world stage and what reputation it wants to create.

"Definitely some of the countries are doing very well. One of our neighbours has lot of money, lot of wealth. They have progressed very well. They have enough funds to put into research and development which is common knowledge," he said. 

(PTI)