What if Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was flying a Rafale jet during the February 27, 2019 dogfight involving Indian and Pakistani fighters?
The question was posed by none other than former Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa, the then IAF chief, on Saturday (January 4) at an event organised by the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. He said if the Rafale jets were purchased earlier, the outcome of the fight with Pakistan by Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman would have been different.
“Had Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman been flying a Rafale instead of a MiG 21 during the India-Pakistan stand-off after the Balakot strike last year, the outcome would have been different.”
Further, he also referred to the row over the Rafale purchase deal, saying such controversies slow down defence acquisitions, affecting capabilities of the armed forces. The Bofors deal too got mired in controversy (during the Rajiv Gandhi government) despite the Bofors guns ‘being good,’ he noted.
During the fest, Dhanoa said after demonetisation in 2016, the Indian Air Force (IAF) transported 625 tonnes of new currency notes to various parts of the country. “When demonetisation took place, we (IAF) took the currency and brought it to you. If one crore comes in a bag of 20 kg, I do not know how many crores we moved.”
One of the slides of Dhanoa’s presentation showed that as part of internal services, the IAF carried out 33 missions transporting 625 tonnes of treasury consignment after the demonetisation was announced.
Dhanoa was the IAF chief from December 31, 2016 to September 30, 2019.
(With inputs from agencies)