AK Antony to inaugurate Su-30 squadron at Thanjavur air base

AK Antony to inaugurate Su-30 squadron at Thanjavur air base

Defence Minister AK Antony on Monday will inaugurate an airbase here to house squadron of IAFs lethal Su-30 MKI combat aircraft, making it the first fighter squadron in south India that will help maintain vigil over the Indian Ocean region.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) will base a squadron of agile Sukhoi Su-30 fighter aircraft in Thajavur, making it the first fighter squadron in southern India, with a view to keep strategic vigil over the Indian Ocean and cover up country's

southern flank up to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, IAF officials said here.

The IAF will keep deploying its regular fighter and transport aircraft detachments here since the runway and other facilities are in place here now. This would also be the first of fighter squadrons under the Southern Air Command of the IAF at any place in southern India.

The IAF has upgraded the two runways at the airbase, which has been existing for several decades and used extensively for relief operations during the tsunami and flood situations in Tamil Nadu in the recent past.

The inauguration of the base will see the landing and take off of the SU-30s but the full squadron of these aircraft including 16 to 18 jets will be completed by 2017-18 only.

The Sukhois were inducted into the IAF at Lohegaon airbase in 2002. Thereafter, they were deployed at Bareilly, followed by Tezpur, Chhabua, Jodhpur, Bhatinda and Halwara. Pune and Bareilly already have housed two Sukhoi squadrons each, while Tezpur, Chabua, Halwara and Jodhpur have a squadron each. So far India has inducted over 170 of the 272 Sukhoi-30 MKIs contracted from Russia.

Source: Thanjavur - Press Trust of India News - 27 May 2013

Photo: The Indian Air Force (IAF) Sukhoi Su-30 MKI Fighters (Photo by defenceforumindia.com)

Photo Story: South India’s first IAF fighter base to be operationalised on May 27.
Twenty-five years after deciding to set up a base for combat planes in Thanjavur, Indian Air Force is all set to operationalise its first and only fighter base in south India on May 27.

To be inaugurated by Defence Minister A K Antony, Thanjavur will house a squadron of air-dominance Su-30 MKI fighters by 2017-18 when the required number of platforms will be available.

Till then the IAF will send detachments of Su-30MKI and other planes from other stations as the runway and other associated facilities are at place in Thanjavur.

The base is meant to provide air defence to sensitive installations on the coast, including nuclear power plants and strategic assets. It will give an additional strategic dimension to India's air power as the fighters will be able to fly up to the Andamans and Lakshdweep more frequently in demonstrating India's air dominance on the ocean.

India has contracted 272 Su-30MKI from Russia for licence produced at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, Bangalore.

So far close to 170 platforms were inducted out of which Pune and Bareilly have two squadrons each while Tezpur, Chabua, Halwara and Jodhpur have a squadron (16-18 platforms) each.

A new Su-30 MKI squadron is coming up at Sirsa in Haryana. Moreover, Tezpur, Chabua, Jodhpur and Halwara will get a second squadron after which Su-30 MKI platforms for Thanjavur will be earmarked.

Incidentally, Antony will inaugurate the new base within a week of Chinese premier Li Keqiang's maiden India tour during which he indicated that China would continue its infrastructure modernisation in Tibet and Xinkiang, which could also be used for rapid military mobilisation in case of any need.

Thanjavur base could have been realised much earlier if the IAF did not shift its plans twice after agreeing to convert it as a fighter base way back in 1987. Existence of two runways of 1942 vintage was a determining factor.

After receiving sanction from the Defence Ministry in 1989, the IAF went back on its plan in 1993, projecting Thanjavur only as a care and maintenance hub. Within six years, the previous plan was turned upside down as the IAF pitched for a fighter base in Thanjavur in 1999, the Comptroller and Auditor General said in a report in 2010.

Taken up as a “special project”, completion of the base picked up momentum only after 2003 when the Defence Ministry reviewed and sanctioned additional funding. Now the base has hangers, fuel dum, and repair depots for supporting the fighters.

South India's first IAF fighter base readies in TN



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