IAF operates Sukhoi-30s from four civilian airports in Northeast
The air force will operate its Sukhoi-30 fighters from Dimapur, Imphal, Guwahati and Kolkata in the first leg of the exercise from October 16 to 19.Updated: Oct 17, 2019 09:33 IST
The Indian Air Force (IAF) on Wednesday launched fighter jets from four civilian airports in the country’s east as part of a two-phase training drill to conduct operations from dispersed locations in case of hostilities, an IAF spokesperson said.
The air force will operate its Sukhoi-30 fighters from Dimapur, Imphal, Guwahati and Kolkata in the first leg of the exercise from October 16 to 19, while airports at Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh and Andal in West Bengal will be covered in the second phase from October 29 to Novermber 1, the spokesperson said.
British-origin Hawk advanced jet trainers will also take part in the exercise being undertaken by the IAF’s Shillong-based Eastern Air Command.
“The exercise will familiarise the IAF crew with the procedure of flying from these busy airfields and coordinate with their civilian counterparts. It will also help familiarise the civilian functionaries at these airfields with the conduct of military operations,” the spokesperson said, describing the drill as part of capacity building. The IAF has Su-30 bases at Chabua and Tezpur in Assam, while the Hawks are based at Kalaikunda in West Bengal.
“The IAF regularly exercises its fighters and aircrew away from their parent bases. It’s good that such activation is taking place from civilian airfields as their personnel too will get trained to handle frontline offensive operational assets,” said Air Vice Marshal Manmohan Bahadur (retd), additional director general, Centre for Air Power Studies.
The IAF also plans to deploy its new attack choppers and heavy-lift helicopters in the eastern sector in the near future. The IAF plans to deploy US-made Apache AH-64E attack helicopters in the eastern sector in two years after a base there is fully ready to support the choppers. The helicopters are part of a $1.1-billion deal India inked with the US in September 2015 for 22 Apaches to modernise its assault capabilities to counter ground-based armoured targets and aerial threats. Eight of those have been delivered.
Also, the army’s new ultra-light howitzers can be sling-loaded to the IAF’s CH-47F (I) Chinook helicopters and swiftly deployed to high-altitude areas in the east. India ordered 15 Chinook helicopters from the US for $1.18 billion in September 2015. Six of them have already been delivered.