After Tezpur, Sukhoi war planes at Chabua near India-China border

June 2nd, 2009 - 1:04 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 2 (IANS) After stationing the Sukhoi Su-30MIK war jets in Tezpur in Assam, the Indian Air Force will post another squadron of its frontline jets at the Chabua air base under its military policy to boost security along the border with China in the northeast.
On June 15, four Su-30MKIs will land in Tezpur for a symbolic induction, making the airbase the third in the country to house the combat jets.

“It will be a symbolic induction as of now. Currently it’s not clear which of the Sukhoi bases - Pune or Bareilly - the aircraft belong to,” a senior IAF official told IANS.

“The four aircraft will formalise the Sukhoi flying routes. After that plans are afoot to station the Sukhois at Chabua air station in the northeast (Assam) and at Halwara (Punjab) and Jodhpur (Rajasthan) in the west,” the official added, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The basing of the squadron in Assam is in line with the IAF’s policy of capacity-building near the India-China border.

Former IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major, before handing over his charge last weekend, had said: “There is no escalation in threat perception (vis-a-vis China). We know very little about the capabilities of that country.”

Currently India is operating five squadrons of the Russian-built fighter aircraft. out of them three are stationed at Lohegaon in Pune (Maharashtra) and two in Bareilly (Uttar Pradesh). Each squadron operates 18-20 aircraft.

In the next five years, the IAF plans increase the strength of Sukhois in its fleet to nearly 200.

After taking over as defence minister, A.K. Antony had underscored infrastructure development in the northeast as the priority of the defence ministry. Under the same programme, the upgradation of various airfields is in the offing.

“Five bases, including Tezpur, Chabua, Jorhat (Assam), Panagarh (West Bengal) and Purnea (Bihar), will be upgraded. The upgradation will comprise of expanding the length of the runway from 9,000 feet to 11,000 feet,” the official added.

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