In a first, IAF holds fighter operations drill from civilian airports in eastern sector

Currently, in the eastern sector, Su-30 jets operate from military bases at Tezpur in Northern Assam and Chabua in Upper Assam.

Published: 02nd May 2019 07:27 PM  |   Last Updated: 03rd May 2019 01:02 PM   |  A+A-

IAF lands a Sukhoi fighter jet in Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport in Guwahati as part of its drill to use civilian airports for landing fighters during emergency situations. (Photo | PTI)

Express News Service

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 “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.

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