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Kolkata: Pointing out that the combat aircraft strength of Indian Air Force has gone down in recent years due to obsolescence, former IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal (Retd) Arup Raha on Wednesday said the political parties in the country should sort out the ongoing disputes over the Rafale fighter jet deal so that the procurement process is not delayed any further.

"We know that the combat aircraft strength of the Indian Air Force is coming down because of obsolescence. We are retiring some of the old aircrafts like the MIG-21 and MI-22. So we need sufficient number of replacements. Rafale is one component of our capability," Raha said on the sidelines of a seminar on cyber security organized by BCCI and CENERS-K here.

"The processes need to get simplified. If there is so much of orchestration regarding any deal, we need to sort that out. We need to cut down the time and sort out the problems separately. The procurement process should not be delayed or stopped," he said.

Noting that air warfare will become significantly important in the coming days, Raha said sufficient replacement of old combat aircraft is necessary as they are an important component of the country's combative capacity.

"In future days, air warfare is going to be very important. A nation can have a large standing army, but if it does not have aerospace power, it may not win the conflicts. So increasing the aerospace power is very important and one of the major components of that is the combat air craft," Raha said.

"All politicians serve the people of the nation. I hope all the political parties understand that. Otherwise the orchestration will carry on every time there is deal. It is not good for the country," he said.

When asked whether India is lagging behind neighbouring countries like China and Pakistan in terms of revamping its defence infrastructure, he said the country should focus on capacity building in every aspect to secure all fronts.

"Every nation has to carry out its threat assessment. India has fought several conflicts and wars in the last 40-50 years since independence. So you have to prepare yourself and build capacity to tackle these eventualities. It is not related to any particular country or adversary. It is about capacity building so that if the situation becomes adverse, it can be applied to anybody," the former air chief said.

He also noted that even though the threats of cyber warfare is on the rise, India cannot afford to divest in other sectors and invest only to combat cyber terrorism as threats on the other fronts are equally relevant.

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