After striking a controversy over woman fighter pilots, IAF vice chief air marshal PK Barbora today hit out at the political class saying politics over Defence purchases impinged "very badly" on the country's military requirements.
Barbora also painted a none too optimistic picture about the country's Defence exports saying, "as far as defence goes, we don't even match up with Pakistan."
Making some forthright comments, Barbora said," the internal politics over the years is such that whatever defence requirements are cleared by the government, they are opposed by the opposition parties and the same happens when roles change and opposition sits in government."
"That impinges very badly on our defence requirements," he told a CII seminar on energising aviation sector in India. On Tuesday, Barbora said women may be recruited as fighter pilots provided they do not become mother till a certain age. He also appeared to suggest that having woman pilots in IAF may be a bad investment for the government.
On the present status of the country's capabilities in the aerospace sector, he said India was very happy producing small parts of aircraft and exporting them to Airbus in Europe but China has already started building whole aircraft for the same company.
Aware that his comments in the last two days had a controversial tone, Barbora said he "didn't mean to drop any bricks that day"--apparently referring to his statement on woman fighter pilots.
"I am in a little bit of controversy. I didn't mean to drop any bricks then and don't mean to drop any bricks today. Please pardon me if I have to say some things which I feel have to be uttered. I am in Z-category today," Barbora said.
Barbora also said private industry's participation be increased in the defence sector and India should be "bold enough" to allow more FDI in the area. "We have to take steps...we need to be bold enough to invite Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), more so into defence use," he said.
Stressing on the need for giving more freedom to private industry, Barbora said, "Private industry has to be evolved and given a market of their choosing and not our choosing, of course with certain guidelines." He said bringing in private players was very important for the aviation sector as India was not even contributing one per cent to the world market in the aerospace industry.
Asking the private companies to learn reverse engineering processes the way China did to develop most of its defence technologies, he said, "Forget about ethics. China has done all the reverse engineering. Has anyone ever had the courage to ask China why are you doing it. No one cares a hoot. If you can't do it yourself, you should know how to reverse engineering.
"We have not been able to move forward for some reason or the other," Barbora added. Talking about the transfer of technology (ToT) agreements in the defence deals, Barbora said they were not very beneficial as "what actually has come after so many deals (in ToT) with foreign company or whatever it is, I am sorry, it was tools and kits, which came in bags and containers and we assembled the aircraft here."
Citing example of the success of the European aviation consortium Airbus, Barbora said the Indian industry should also look at building partnerships on those lines and must join hands with other countries to grow.