The Air Force needs to "reorient and retrain" itself to a changed paradigm of war, former Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa said on Sunday, adding that the Rafale fighter aircraft and S400 missile defence system will help restore technological asymmetry in India's favour.
"Though the Indian Air Force has trained itself to fight a full-scale conventional war in a joint campaign with sister services, it has to reorient and retrain itself to the changed paradigm. It must plan and address capability voids in time," the former Air Chief Marshal said.
"We come to realise that sub-conventional conflict over terrorist attack on one of our installations and personnel has the highest probability of occurrence, because it can happen anytime and anywhere. This is something for which we need to be prepared 24/7," he said during a lecture in Ahmedabad.
Speaking on likely scenarios of the future, the former IAF chief said, A skirmish or a localised conflict like Kargil due to a terrorist attack that has gone awry like Uri and Pulwama is within the realm of possibility of our western neighbour," he said.
"Hence spending on the integrated perimeter security system of our bases is more important than bemoaning not having a full authorised centre required for a two-front war," he added.
The Former IAF chief said the surgical strike carried out in retaliation to the attack on the Uri base has signalled a paradigm shift in the way Indian government would respond to terrorist attacks involving mass casualties.
"A surgical strike was authorised, and Balakot strike was approved by the government to send a political message to Pakistan that such attacks will incur a heavy price," he said.
"Pakistan got the message that the new government will respond militarily to major terrorist attacks on its soil. This happened because of decisive national leadership," he added.
Regarding the Balakot strike, the former IAF chief said going after a "non military target" was "a very wise decision".
"The operational capability and our intelligence capability cannot be compromised to just try and win th perception battle in the media. But both the Pakistani establishment and Jaish-e-Mohammed got the message," he said.
The former IAF chief further said that there were no major terror attacks between February and June, 2019 till the conclusion of the Lok Sabha polls because the Army, Navy and Air Force were "forward deployed to give a punitive response at a very short notice."
He added that the attack on a terror camp in Pakistan was meant to give a message to that country's establishment, and "not to the Pakistani public, or an effort to win a propaganda battle with the Pakistani and international media".
"Had it been so, we would have used different weapons and different modes of attacks for which presently Pakistan has no counter," the former Air Force chief said.