IAF to induct more fighters, radars in northeast

July 27th, 2011 - 7:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Shillong, July 27 (IANS) The Indian Air Force (IAF) will induct more Sukhoi Su-30 combat jets, as also more radars in the northeast as part of a strategic deployment of advanced assets close to the Chinese border, an officer said Wednesday.

“Two more squadrons of Sukhois will be inducted by 2015 in the region,” Air Marshal K.K. Nohwar, who currently heads the Shillong-based Eastern Air Command and will August 1 take over as the IAF vice chief, told reporters at his farewell press conference.

The IAF had inducted its first Su-30 squadron at Tezpur in northern Assam in June 2009. In March, a single Su-30 was stationed at Chabua, also in Assam and their number will gradually be raised to full-squadron strength of 18.

The decision to deploy the Su-30s, the most potent fighter in the IAF inventory, follows repeated instances of Chinese incursions in Arunachal Pradesh in the last few years.

The Tezpur and the Chabua air bases are within striking distance of the India-China border along Arunachal Pradesh.

Nohwar also said that light and medium combat jets would be inducted in place of the ageing MiG-21 aircraft that are being phased out from the northeast.

“As a replacement of the MiG-21s, we will induct more aircraft of different types, whether light or medium jets. I am sure the Eastern Air Command would get these aircraft in the near future,” he said.

“The Eastern Air Command would also get a share of Mi-17B-5 helicopters (the IAF is purchasing),” he said.

Apart from the aircraft, Nohwar said the IAF would soon replace the old radars with modern ones to enhance its air defence capabilities over the eastern skies.

“We are upgrading our assets in the region. After all, our old assets need to be replaced,” he said.

Noting that the process of upgrading six Advanced Landing Grounds (ALGs) in Arunachal Pradesh is on, Nohwar said: “The upgradation is primarily aimed at improving the air connectivity in (land locked) Arunachal Pradesh to ease the problem of transportation of people and goods. The ALGs will also be used for operational purposes.”

The ALGs are at Tuting, Mechuka, Along, Passighat, Vijaynagar and Ziro along the Chinese border.

Beijing had in 2003 given up its territorial claim over the Indian state of Sikkim but still maintains that vast stretches of Arunachal Pradesh belong to China.

Arunachal Pradesh shares a 1,030-km unfenced border with China. This frontier is defined by the McMahon Line, a notional boundary that is now known as the Line of Actual Control (LAC). China has never recognised the McMahon Line, and claims 90,000 sq km or almost all of Arunachal Pradesh. India also accuses China of occupying 8,000 sq km in Kashmir.

India and China fought a bitter border war in 1962, with Chinese troops advancing deep into what was then called the North East Frontier Agency (NEFA) and inflicting heavy casualties on Indian troops.

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