January 21, 2015

India panders to US demand for air vigil


The Indian Air Force (IAF) has agreed to the US demand of accommodating their security officials to man air defence instruments for securing the national capital's airspace during US President Barack Obama's three-day visit later this week.

“The air defence sensors will be manned jointly for these three days, on the ground as well as in the sky,” sources told Deccan Herald.

The demand from Washington came through the official channel. After consultation between the two sides, the IAF acceded to it.

Obama is expected to arrive in New Delhi in the early hours of Sunday for his second India visit. He will attend bilateral meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi the same day, and sit in a bulletproof enclosure on Rajpath on January 26 as Republic Day chief guest.

While the US President and First Lady may travel to Agra on the last day of their visit, Obama is also slated to deliver a public lecture at Siri Fort auditorium in the capital the same day.

The Republic Day parade, however, will be the longest duration for which Obama will be present outside at a public function.

US security officials had first proposed to bring their own air defence equipment.
But after consultation with the IAF top brass, they agreed to rely on the latter's sensors, on the condition that they would be monitored by personnel from both sides.

“Several years of exercising together has given them confidence in the IAF air defence systems and the way the IAF operates. The joint operation will continue till Obama leaves,” said a source.  The two main components of the air defence operation involves scanning the sky from the ground to look for any sign of enemy aircraft or missile, and carrying out the same task from a flying aircraft.

As part of Obama's security ring, several US warships are likely to stay put in India's vicinity. “The US frigates are already in the Western Arabian Sea and Persian Gulf,” said an official.

Obama, the first US President to be chief guest on Republic Day, will witness the parade that highlights India's military prowess and cultural diversity for close to two hours.

Men from 61 Cavalry riding their horses will mark the beginning of the parade, and it will end with a flypast by fighter aircraft from the IAF and the Navy.

While women contingents from all three services will march at the ceremony, there will be a special contingent of seven women officers from the Army and three from the IAF who have scaled Mount Everest.

Sixteen Indian states, including four Congress-ruled states and Uttar Pradesh, will showcase their cultural diversity to the visiting dignitary.


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