Anti-terror base to fortify capital

May 10th, 2009 - 4:50 pm ICT by IANS  

By Ritu Sharma
New Delhi, May 10 (IANS) Learning a lesson from its unpreparedness to deal with the terror attack on Mumbai last year, the Indian government is setting up an operational base close to the capital where special forces, including the elite National Security Guard (NSG), will be based.

The base is being established at a cost of $4 million at the Indian Air Force (IAF) station in Hindon near Ghaziabad and will also house fighter jets and military transport planes.

“Our fleet of newly acquired Super Hercules C-130Js will be based at Hindon, for which infrastructure is being set up there at the cost of $4 million. The fleet will be used for special operations,” a senior IAF official told IANS on condition of anonymity.

India has last year purchased six Super Hercules C-130J military transport planes from the US firm Lockheed Martin under a $596 million deal. The six aircraft will be equipped for special operations.

The added advantage of the C-130J would be its ability to provide ‘passive defence’ - a platform for aerial refuelling, providing reinforcements and rapid deployment capabilities.

“The transport aircraft will be the backbone of anti-terror operations. The planes will be used for ferrying special forces and thus help cut down on the time taken to dispatch the troops,” the official said.

The NSG is currently stationed at Manesar in Haryana. When their services are requisitioned, the special forces have to first reach Delhi airport by road and then take an available aircraft to travel to their destination - a time-consuming affair.

During the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, the NSG had to wait for a crucial one hour at the Palam air force station as no plane was available and an aircraft had to be requisitioned from Chandigarh. The terror strike, that traumatised the country, left at least 170 people dead.

The NSG at present does not have a dedicated aircraft.

“Apart from the Hindon base, the NSG is in talks with the IAF to get space at the Palam airport so that there is no delay in the dispatch of troops in times of emergency,” the official added.

After the Mumbai terror attacks, the cabinet had approved setting up of NSG hubs in Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Hyderabad for quick mobilisation of troops when needed.

The Hindon airbase will also have infrastructure for fighter jets. After the Mumbai attacks, three MiG 29s combat jets were flown to Hindon.

While the Hindon base has military aircraft, plans are on to make it a permanent station for fighter jets too with the heightened fear of more Mumbai-style terror attacks, officials said.

Last year, India purchased 18 Spyder surface-to-air missiles from Israel, some of which are likely to be deployed at the periphery of Delhi to protect high value assets.

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