Along with dozens of other air force chiefs visiting Israel for a special military conference, India’s Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa conveys in an interview: ‘The IAF is committed to defending peace and stability. Israel not only has aerial capabilities, it knows how to use them.’
By Hanan Greenwood
The Israeli Air Force is held in high regard worldwide and it has demonstrated multiple times that it has a wide range of capabilities it does not shy away from exercising, India’s air force commander said Wednesday.
Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa and dozens of other air force chiefs are in Israel for a weeklong visit, attending a conference hosted by the IAF in honor of Israel’s 70th year.
The last IAF conference of this kind was held in 1998 and marked Israel’s 50th anniversary.
The visiting air force chiefs toured IAF bases nationwide, received briefings on Israeli military activity in Syria and elsewhere and had the chance to see various military aircraft in action.
Israel and India enjoy close ties and under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership, the two countries defense collaboration has significantly increased, to deals amounting to billions of dollars.
”Recently, senior Israeli officials visited New Delhi and were exposed to our activities, and now we have had the opportunity to learn from them,” Dhanoa told Israel Hayom.
”We had the opportunity to watch the Israeli Air Force’s weapons and its structure. We watched the various activities and it was interesting to see how things were being done. It was a very good visit,” he said.
”I also had the opportunity to meet some Israeli Air Force legends. I was looking forward to this visit very much, marking the 70th anniversary of the Israeli Air Force, and I was not disappointed. I met colleagues from around the world and we exchanged experiences.”
As part of their visit, Dhanoa and the other air force chiefs met with IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot and IAF Commander Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin, and were brief about tensions with Iran over its presence in Syria, as well as on a range of other regional issues and how the IAF plans for various scenarios.
While Dhanoa refrained from commenting directly on issues involving Iran, as New Delhi and Tehran enjoy stable bilateral ties, he noted that he was very impressed with Norkin’s presentation Tuesday, which revealed that Israel is the first country in the world to have flown the U.S.-made F-35 stealth fighter jets in combat.
”The Israeli Air Force is highly respected around the world. It is very clear they are committed to defending peace and stability, which are maintained due to this military might, among other things,” he said.
“It’s [the IAF’s] regional superiority and control are undisputed. From what we have seen, Israel not only has [aerial] capabilities, it knows how to use them. The Israeli military seems very confident in its abilities to carry out missions outside Israel.”
Dhanoa stressed that ”the ties between our two countries are strong. We have acquired many defense technologies from Israel and your air force is operating them, so [our] cooperation is stable and functioning well, and we now had the opportunity to meet the units behind these collaborations.
”We pursue the acquisition of high-tech weapons from Israel and we are happy to continue to cooperate in this way. We greatly appreciate the ties between India and Israel. This conference has bolstered the connection between our two corps and we now understand the Israeli military better.”
Dhanoa is expected to fly back to India on Thursday night after the conference ends on “the wonderful direct flight to New Delhi that was recently launched,” he said.
The Indian general also noted how impressed he was by Israel’s connection to its historical heritage.
”I will take from Israel the dedication, the fact that things were built here with people’s sweat. We were exposed to the history we read about and we met the people who created it. For me, it was an amazing experience,” he said.
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