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We will train with Israelis: IAF chief

By Harinder Mishra in Tel Aviv
September 09, 2004 11:53 IST
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Chief of Air Staff Srinivaspuram Krishnaswamy has said the Indian Air Force will train with their Israeli counterparts and expressed satisfaction at the military hardware India has procured from Israel, saying they are 'cost effective' and operationally unique.

"We would work and train (with Israel) in some manner in exercises that are practical and possible. We look forward to learn from each other in many ways and the reactions (to such proposals) are positive and it is a matter of working out practicalities," Krishnaswamy, who is in Tel Aviv on a five-day visit, told PTI.

Krishnaswamy, who on Wednesday achieved the unique distinction of being the first chief of air staff of any country to fly aboard an F-16I fighter jet, said, "We are pleased with whatever inductions we have made. They are very cost-effective and unique in terms of operational features."

The Phalcon deal, he said, would give us a longer look beyond the horizon and 'we will exploit its advantages'.

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The $3 billion Phalcon AWACS deal was signed between Israel, India and Russia in 2003. India is seeking to fit the Phalcon on three IL-76 transport aircraft.

The IAF chief, who is in Tel Aviv at the invitation of Israel's Vice Chief of Defence Staff Dan Halutz, appreciated the cost-effective training methods adopted by the Jewish state.

During his visit, Krishnaswamy has visited the Israeli aircraft industries and the Israeli military industries and would be visiting air force bases in Ramon and Palmachim.

He has also held extensive talks with senior defence officials to outline possible areas of further cooperation.

Applauding the way Israel has gone by with this, Krishnaswamy said, "We have a lot to learn from them. The Israeli Air Force is about 35,000 people in uniform but they are very formidable.

"It is certainly inspiring to learn the way Israel manages cost capability. It is very unique and I am interested in the way they train right from the selection of the people. There is so much of care and attention to the skills and capability. Each one wants to contribute so effectively to the greater system."

Calling upon the urgent need to adopt such methods of training and management, he said, "It is my responsibility to look after not only operational effectiveness but (also) at what cost? We have to look at the budget and investment in acquiring that capability."

Defence sources in Tel Aviv said Israel has normally avoided sharing information on techniques of training, which is limited to only a few select countries. Any such move with India, they said, is a 'statement of huge trust'.

Comparing the Israeli defence industries to the diamond cutting industry, which is 'very small but very precious and expensive', the chief of air staff said that India is, however, not chasing their technology per se but 'the usability of it, the application and the concept'.

The IAF chief, who is also chairman of the Chief of Staff Committee, also praised the rapid strides made by Indian defence industries.

Calling himself a man of aeronautics, Krishnaswamy said India is developing a jet engine, which is 'unique, something extraordinary' and would attract worldwide attention.

Noting the successful exercise by six Jaguars that crossed the Atlantic Ocean recently, he said, some Mirage 2000 jets would next week be heading to South Africa, crossing the Indian Ocean for a joint exercise with that country.
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Harinder Mishra in Tel Aviv
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