Following intellegence inputs that terrorists might carry out airborne strikes, air traffic control officials have been asked to keep a hawk's eye on unidentified flying objects.
“A circular was sent to all air traffic officials on Wednesday that said that no aircraft or unidentified object should be left unattended. We have been asked to be extra vigilant,” said a senior ATCO at the Indira Gandhi International Airport on conditions of anonymity.
“Though our radars are sophisticated enough to detect any flying object even if it is flying below 1,000 feet, you never know what kind of technology the terrorists may use,” he said.
“We usually get signals from the transponder of an aircraft to identify its position. Even without the transponder, the radar signal is reflected back by the aircraft body. However, the body of the aircraft can be specially painted to deflect the radar signal,” he said.
The defence minister held consultations with the three Armed Forces chiefs on Wednesday to review preparedness against terror threats from the air.
The Civil Aviation Secretary and Director General of Civil Aviation met the Air Chief Marshall on Thursday and discussed measures to step up coordination between the Air Force and Civil Aviation authorities in air surveillance and other related areas.
The intelligence reports had also mentioned that terrorists planning suicide attacks could use unused airstrips as base by using small aircraft. There are inputs on a fidayeen attack on major airports of the country.
A senior air force official told HT that the IAF had put its air defence machinery, including aircraft, in the Western Air Command’s area of responsibility in a state of alert. The fighter bases of the command are scattered over a vast area, extending from Jammu and Kashmir to the Thar Desert.
He said: “We are in a state alert to cater to any misadventure, especially in the National Capital Region.”
Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major said the IAF was prepared to counter a 9/11-type of terror attack on high-value targets. He said the issue was discussed during the meeting of three service chiefs with Defence Minister A.K. Antony on Wednesday.