"We have a Naval Air Wing, which has 238 aircraft at the moment. It has a combination of fighters, helicopters and maritime patrol aircraft, both- long range and short range. We also have a plan in place that in a decade's time this Naval Air Wing will grow to close to 500 aircraft of different types," Admiral Lanba said at a press conference.
Admiral Lanba reviewed the Combined Graduation Parade at Air Force Academy here.
Replying to a query on the issue of Sabi Giri, an Indian Navy sailor, who was discharged from service for undergoing a sex change surgery, the Naval Chief said the force cannot take her into direct employment, but is willing to accept her if she comes through any agency as a contract staff.
Defending the termination of the sailor's employment, Admiral Lanba said the Navy is a gender-neutral service but Ms Giri's actions violated the rules.
"Specifically to the issue of Giri, he was inducted as male in the Navy. And there is no provision in the Navy or in the rules and regulation where you can go and do what he has gone and done. That's why he has been dismissed from the service for violating the rules and regulations. We have told the court that we cannot do that (take her into employment). And we have told the court that if a private party is willing to employ her, she can come back as a contract worker in the Navy (as an employee of the private party, not as Navy's direct employee)," he explained.
"We are a gender-neutral service. We make no distinctions based on gender. We induct both men and women. They both have rigorous training and same rules and regulations are followed," he added.
The Navy chief said the defence wing is committed to the government's 'Make in India' programme and currently as many as 34 ships and submarines are under construction in Indian shipyards.
Meanwhile the Air Force Academy said in a statement, that 105 flight cadets passed out today as Flying Officers, including 15 women officers. The officers include two fighter pilots, it said.