IAF Capable Of Surgical Strike, But Decision Will Be Taken By Government: IAF Chief

**New Delhi:** The Indian Air Force has full capability to carry out a surgical strike across the border but only if such a decision is taken by the government, Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa said on Thursday.

Asked if the IAF can also carry out a surgical strike, Dhanoa said: “Surgical strike is a decision that has to be taken by the government of India, Indian Air Force has capability to carry out full spectrum of air operations.”

He was addressing the annual press conference of the IAF ahead of Air Force Day which is on October 8.

Dhanoa said the two recent surgical strikes – along the Myanmar border in 2015 and across the LoC in 2016 – did not have IAF’s involvement.

“In the Myanmar operation air force assets were not involved, nor were Air Force assets involved in any cross-border operation that took place in surgical strikes,” Dhanoa said.

To a question if the IAF was put on alert during the cross-border strike last year, he said: “If any operation takes place, you are always ready that should it go wrong, if there is a response from the other side, air defences are on the highest alert.”

He added that in the case of the surgical strike along the Myanmar border there was no involvement of IAF at all as the “Myanmar air force response was not expected”.

Responding to a question if the IAF can play a role in stopping cross border infiltration by striking on the other side, Dhanoa said: “If IAF takes action across the border, a war situation will arise… But this decision rests with the government.”

He added that at present the IAF is providing recce and surveillance support along the LoC.

Asked if IAF can play a role in destroying nuclear weapons in Pakistan, Dhanoa said that the force had the capability to hit any target across the border, but any step would be guided by India’s nuclear doctrine.

“We have a draft nuclear doctrine, it is answered what happens if the enemy decides to use any kind of nuclear weapon. As far as Air Force is concerned it has the ability to locate and strike, that is not only with tactical nuclear weapon — it is for any target across the border,” he said.

India’s nuclear doctrine is based on a ‘no first use’ policy.

However, last year, then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had said India should say it will use its nuclear powers “responsibly” instead of stressing on “no first use”, stressing that this was his personal view.