India will operationalise a new airfield for its fighter jets in the Rajasthan desert along the borders with Pakistan in an effort to bridge the air defence gap in the western sector.
The new airfield at Phalodi will be capable of operating all types of fighter, transport and rotary wing aircraft, IAF officials said.
IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal PV Naik will inaugurate the airfield on Tuesday, that would be just 102 km away from the international border with Pakistan, they said.
The airfield, located in the centre of the Jaisalmer-Jodhpur-Bikaner triangle, would have modern infrastructure and would augment the facilities available for fighter operations in Jaisalmer and Jodhpur airbases.
"The airbase located between Jaisalmer and Jodhpur will straddle the distance between the two airbases. The base is ready to undertake all types of operations of IAF," IAF PRO, Wing Commander T K Singha, said in New Delhi.
The inauguration ceremony will comprise fly past by various fighter formations including Jaguars and landing of the first fighter aircraft at the base.
IAF's Southern Western Air Command's Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Air Marshal P S Bhangu will also witness the ceremony, with the base coming under his command.
The Phalodi airbase was approved by the government in April 2000, keeping in mind the geo-political scenario and the need for in-built flexibility in operational requirements, Singha said.
The airbase would also have a Care and Maintenance Unit (C&MU), who was the first to come up in July 2001. The government sanction for establishment of Air Force Station at Phalodi was accorded in July 2006 and the station had already started functioning independently under SWAC since then.