The IAF has commissioned a pilot project for Modernisation of Air Field Infrastructure (MAFI) at its Bhisiana air base in Bhatinda that will enable the operation of all categories of military aircraft in day-and-night conditions, including combat jets, enhancing the air space security in the areas bordering Pakistan.
The MAFI project was kicked off at the air station in Punjab on Tuesday by IAF vice Chief Air Marshal R K Sharma, who called the formal acceptance and commissioning of the MAFI pilot project at the model air base “a significant milestone” in the much-awaited and ambitious airfield infrastructure development project of the IAF, Navy and the Coast Guard.
The pilot project is part of the IAF’s ambitious `2,500-crore initiative to modernise all airfields of the three armed forces in a phased manner.
Tata Power (Strategic Electronics Division) bagged the `1,220-crore contract, signed in March 2011 to modernise 30 operationally important IAF airfields and install Doppler VHF Omnidirectional Radio Range (DVOR)/Distance Measuring Equipment (DME) at the naval air base in Kochi in the Phase-I of the project.
The remaining airfields of the IAF, Navy, Coast Guard and the Aviation Research Centre are included in the Phase-II of the project under the ‘option clause’.
The IAF and Navy have seen induction of modern aviation platforms and the upgrade of their existing aircraft fleet at regular intervals in the past. Navigational aids and associated airfield infrastructure commensurately also needed upgrades.
Also, the Airports Authority of India and civil airlines operating from IAF airfields have been demanding installation of the instrument landing system and other navigational aids to avoid cancellation of flights during poor weather conditions.
The MAFI project includes installation and integration of CAT-II Instrument Landing System (ILS), CAT-II Air Field Lighting System, Automated Air Traffic Management System, DME (High and Low Power), DVOR, Tactical Air Navigation (TACAN) and associated infrastructure.
In the project, all the navigational aids will be of international standards and meeting International Civil Aviation Organisation specifications. The upgrade of navigational aids and infrastructure under the MAFI project will enhance the operational capability by facilitating air operations of military and civil aircraft even in poor visibility conditions/adverse weather while enhancing aerospace safety, the IAF said.
The pilot project involved complex and extensive integration of various navigational aids and other equipment, it was first executed at the Air Force Station in Bhisiana, a premier airfield in the western sector close to the Pakistan border, selected as the model base.
“From the experience gained while executing the pilot project and the design review, a template for the remaining airfields has now been crystallised,” the IAF said. The navigational aids and other equipment installed were thoroughly tested over a period of time by trials conducted by the IAF’s fighter, transport and helicopter aircraft.