IAF issues shoot-at-sight order to secure airbases

Force is drawing up plan for better security

IAF issues shoot-at-sight order to secure airbases
The Indian Air Force has issued shoot-at-sight order for intruders in bases under the Western Air Command to ensure better security of air stations in the wake of Pathankot terror strike last month.

In addition, the IAF headquarters is readying a Rs 6,000 crore to Rs 8,000 crore plan to upgrade security of at least 54 major air stations. To be submitted to the defence ministry shortly, the proposal has been fast tracked following the terror attack.

“All IAF stations under the Western Air Command are on high alert and shoot-at-sight order has been issued for people trying to enter the base without any authorisation either by scaling the perimeter walls or through a breach in the wall. The civil administration has been informed about it,” a senior IAF official said here on Wednesday. The order was issued on the basis of intelligence inputs received from different agencies.

The WAC includes permanent airbases at Adampur, Ambala, Avantipur, Chandigarh, Halwara, Hindan, Leh, Palam, Srinagar and Pathankot. There are also forward base support units at Amritsar, Bhatinda, Sirsa and Udhampur. These air stations house various types of fighter jets, transport aircraft and helicopters.

The air headquarters has asked the government to enforce an existing rule of not allowing any civil construction within 100 meters of any air station and within 900 metres of an explosive dump. “The rules are poorly enforced as of now. We have approached the government once again on constructions near the IAF base,” he said. Removal of encroachment from the IAF areas and imposing restriction on civil construction in the vicinity of air stations are two crucial demands of the IAF following a special security audit of every Air Force establishment in the aftermath of the Pathankot terror attack. A detailed plan, being prepared to improve the perimeter at IAF bases, is at the final stage.

“We will send the proposal to the defence ministry soon. In the first phase, it will cover 54 large air bases,” he said.

Currently the security of IAF bases focuses more on valuable assets and vulnerable points, which are also monitored by electronic sensors besides armed guards. Learning lessons from Pathankot episode, IAF now wants to put the same emphasis in securing the boundaries.

A comprehensive perimeter security system will comprise of a smart fence, vibration detection system, closed circuit television cameras and drones to monitor the perimeter. “The proposal is at an advanced stage. Installing the entire system would cost Rs 100 crore to Rs 150 crore for each base,” said the officer.
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