With Naxal violence reaching menacing proportions, the Air Force is gearing up to provide additional support to paramilitary forces in Maoist zones. The IAF, however, has no plans to carry out offensive operations against the Naxals.
A senior IAF officer said, “We are anticipating the government will ask us to deploy additional assets for carrying out surveillance.”
The Air Force’s Mi-17 helicopters are currently being used for casualty evacuation, ferrying security personnel and
carrying out reconnaissance.
The IAF has assigned four helicopters for logistics support to state and central forces engaged in anti-Naxal operations.
The officer said Israeli Heron UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) could be deployed for reconnaissance and surveillance to
track Naxal movement. The IAF had deployed these UAVs for high-altitude land surveillance in Maoist areas two years back.
But their effectiveness was limited due to the terrain in some pockets.
The IAF is using armoured Mi-17 helicopters to transport security personnel in Naxal-affected states.
The Naxal problem and training of para-military forces was even discussed at the ongoing Army Commanders' Conference, chaired by Army chief General V.K. Singh.