Tejas to guard South skies soon

Tejas to guard South skies soon

While the first squadron of 20 fighters – already contracted by the IAF to Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd – will be stationed in Sulur in Coimbatore, the second squadron may be stationed at Kayathar  in Tuticorin, where a new airbase is getting ready, sources  told Deccan Herald.

The IAF has agreed to buy one more squadron of LCA mark-1, the contract for which is being processed at the IAF headquarters. The first squadron is expected to receive initial operation clearance by December.

While Sulur is being gradually converted a major base, the IAF has taken a decision to revive  Kayathar––a World War II air field––in a big way.

“We plan to have a big presence in the South, which will also help the Navy to be a truly blue water navy for which air cover is essential,” said a senior IAF official. Also the IAF is in dialogue with the Airports Authority of India for getting defence enclaves near civilian airfields in the south.

Recently, the IAF has revived WW II bases close to China border in J&K like Daulat Beig Oldie, Fuckche and Nyoma  for transport operation. In the North East, work is underway to revive six advanced landing grounds in Arunachal Pradesh – Pasighat, Machuka, Walong, Tuting, Ziro and Vijaynagar.

Revival of the ALGs in the northern and eastern sector of the Sino-Indian border is expected to aid India in mobilising troops closer to the border on both flanks, as and when required.

However, so far there were not much of fighter operations in the south, where the focus was on training and maintenance. That is set to change with the IAF setting up bases and the defence forces installing radars along the coast to plug the surveillance gaps.

The IAF will increase its activities in under-utilised bases like Charbatia (Orissa) and Ojhar (Maharashtra). A base in Chhattishagrh is also likely as Steel Authority of India favours handing its Nandini-Durg airfield to the IAF.

The air force is upgrading its 30 air fields in the next three years beginning with Bhatinda. The lighting, instrument landing system and navigational aids will be upgraded.

The IAF is expanding its wings by stationing Su-30 fighters in more stations like Tezpur, Chabua, Halwara and Jamnagar. Su-30 fighters are currently in Pune and Bareilly.

By 2022, the IAF aims to have its sanctioned 42 squadrons comprising Su-30, Tejas, the upcoming 126 medium multi role combat aircraft, medium combat aircraft—a mark II version of Tejas with an improved engine—and Indo-Russian fifth generation fighter.

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