In light of the Pathankot attack last month, the Indian Air Force has issued shoot-at-sight orders to secure more than 20 key bases in the western sector to pre-empt a repeat of the terror strike. Security personnel have been ordered to shoot down intruders without issuing the standard warning.
Fifty-four vital bases were identified in a special audit by the IAF where security will be upgraded at a cost of more than Rs 8,000 crore. It plans to tap smart technologies available globally for perimeter protection of huge bases.
These upgrades will include smart fences, vibration detection systems, mini drones, thermal cameras and night vision equipment to detect intruders and respond swiftly in case of an attempted breach.
However, a consistent problem the IAF has been dealing with is the unauthorised constructions that take place in in the vicinity. The IAF has raised the matter with the government again to ensure that the rules are implemented – no construction within 100 metres of any airbase and within 900 metres of its ammunition depots.
Here is a look at some of the airbases where the orders have been issued:
Halwara, Punjab: It was one of the first airbases to be built after Independence. The fighter base, located near Ludhiana, is home to IAF’s front-line Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter planes. The IAF operated MiG-23s from here till 2009.
Ambala, Haryana: It is one of the largest airbases of the air force. It is home to Jaguar deep-strike penetration aircraft and upgraded MiG-21 fighter planes. The 2 Corps, one of the three strike corps of the army, is also based in Ambala.
Hindon, UP: Located just outside New Delhi, the airbase is home to C-130J Super Hercules special operations planes bought from the US. The annual IAF day parade is held here.
Pathankot, Punjab: Six terrorists stormed the 18 Wing fighter base here on January 2 with the intention of destroying Russian-origin MiG-21 fighters and a mix of Mi-25 and Mi-35 attack helicopters parked there.
Chandigarh: One of the main transport bases of the IAF, Chandigarh is home to IL-76 heavy-lifters and AN-32 medium lift cargo planes. The base plays a key role in supporting army deployments in the Ladakh sector.
Avantipur, J&K: The fighter base is home to MiG-21 warplanes. Terrorists had made a failed attempt to storm it in October 2001. The Garud commando force was raised three years later.
Srinagar, J&K: Another fighter base that is home to MiG-21 fighters. As terrorists have regularly targeted military installations in the state, the armed forces have to stay prepared for all contingencies.
Leh, J&K: Hub of IAF’s transport and helicopter operations. The base plays a crucial role in providing logistics support to troops deployed in forward posts along the disputed Line of Actual Control with China and Siachen glacier.
Sarsawa, UP: It’s a small base from where the IAF operates its helicopters. But the IAF is taking no chances until it implements its comprehensive plan to secure its bases with smart solutions.