GUWAHATI: With India’s “eastern neighbour” fast increasing its air defence assets, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has set its sights on the eastern and north-eastern sectors for defence preparedness.
Since the night of Wednesday, the IAF has been carrying out a drill of its Sukhoi or Su-30 fighter jets from the civilian airport in Guwahati. The drill, which will continue for 48 hours, was also conducted from civilian airports in Kolkata and Durgapur in West Bengal earlier.
“This is the first time that a drill, involving Su-30 jets, is being carried out from a civilian airfield in the Northeast. Earlier, our focus was more on the western front but as our eastern neighbour is increasing its air strength, we are keeping ourselves ready to face any threat that may emerge in the future in the eastern sector,” Air Commodore Shashank Mishra, who heads the IAF station adjoining the airport, said.
The two day operations were conducted on 01 & 02 May 19. The frontline SU-30MKI aircraft operated from Kolkata & Guwahati, and the Hawk jets from Andal airfield. The fighters carried out both day and night flying operations during the exercise.@DefenceMinIndia@proshillong pic.twitter.com/lGdX2uy2zz— Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) May 2, 2019
The “eastern neighbour” ostensibly refers to China which is said to have strengthened its air defence assets in Tibet. Mishra said the drill from the civilian airfield would build synergy between civilian Air Traffic Control and IAF pilots.
The IAF drill from the civilian airport in Guwahati was first carried out at 9:30 pm on Wednesday. Currently, in the eastern sector, Su-30 jets operate from military bases at Tezpur in Northern Assam and Chabua in Upper Assam while Hawk trainer jets operate from Kalaikunda air base in West Bengal.
According to an IAF source, some strategic air bases in Northeast would soon get Apache and Chinook fighter helicopters from the US. The country-made Tejas are expected to be based at Hasimara in West Bengal. The MiG-27s, housed there, are likely to be phased out.