Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman visits forward Uttarlai Air Force base in western Rajasthan after taking charge

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman visits forward Uttarlai Air Force base in western Rajasthan after taking charge

New Delhi, Sept 11: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today made her maiden visit to the forward Uttarlai Air Force base in western Rajasthan. Ms Sitharaman is the first Defence Minister to visit the base since George Fernandes had last visited the base in 2001. “Smt @nsitharaman completes her visit to the Air Force Station in Uttarlai. Last RM to visit the base was Shri George Fernandes in 2001,” said a tweet from the Defence Minister’s official twitter account.

The Minister was received by IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa, senior Air Staff Officer of Southern Western Air Command Air Marshal D S Rawat and Air Officer Commanding of the Air Force Station Air Commodore Sanjay Sharma at the Indian Air Force base in Barmer district bordering Pakistan.

The Minister was presented a Guard of Honour by the Air Warriors on her arrival at the base. She was also briefed on the air base’s role and nature of air operations undertaken from there. Earlier in the day, Ms Sitharaman flagged off sailing boat INSV Tarini carrying Indian Navy’s all-women crew in Goa.

BARMER: Dismissing the CAG report, which stated that the defence forces had ammunition that could last for 20 days in the event of a war, as “factually wrong”, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today asserted there was no dearth of weapons with the defence forces.

Facts were wrong and it was unnecessary to debate on the issue, she told reporters.

“After taking the charge of defence ministry, I have discussed the issue with senior officers and experts. Purchasing weapons…is a continuous process,” she said.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), in its report tabled in Parliament recently, had stated that the defence forces had ammunition that could last for 20 days in the event of a war, instead of the minimum requirement of 40 days.

It criticised the state-run Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) for inadequate quantity of ammunition supplied to the Army since March 2013.

Ms Sitharaman’s predecessor in the defence ministry, Arun Jaitely had told Parliament that the findings of the CAG report, which had talked about the shortage of ammunition, related to a particular point of time.

“Thereafter significant process has been made. It is a continuous process. Therefore, nobody should have any doubt about the availability of equipment or the preparedness of our forces,” he had said.

Ms Sitharaman, who was appointed the defence minister in the last Cabinet reshuffle, visited the Uttarlai Air Force base here.

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