Thanjavur Air Force Station may start functioning as a major air base by 2012, said Air Marshal Sumit Mukerji, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Air Command, Indian Air Force here on Tuesday.

“Construction work both technical and infrastructure is currently in progress .

We foresee most of the things to be in place by 2012 and certainly we may have major operations from here,” he told ‘The Hindu'.

The runway is expanded now in the station. The plan is to increase the length of the runway to make it capable for major operations, said Air Marshal Mukerji. The base will be developed to handle not only fighter and transport aircrafts but also refuelling aircrafts. Asked about the type of fighter aircrafts that will be operated from here, Air Marshal Mukerji said it will be decided by Air Force high command. It may be the new Light Combat Aircraft or Mirage aircraft. Final basing of aircrafts will be decided by high command only, he said.

To a query on a domestic airport at Thanjavur, he said that Indian Air Force is working with Airports Authority of India with respect to civil aviation.

Air Marshal Mukerji, accompanied by Mrs. Nandita Mukerji, President, Air Force Wives' Welfare Association (regional), is on a two-day inspection visit to Thanjavur Air Force station. He will be visiting units, sections and important works sites besides reviewing a presentation by the station covering operational tasks, commitments, maintenance activities and administration. He inaugurated the newly constructed officer's mess and senior Non-Commissioned Officers' mess .

Ms. Nandita Mukerji will visit station medicare centre and Air Force school on Wednesday. She will interact with the members of the Air Force Wives Welfare Association (local) and review various welfare measures adopted at Air Force station, Thanjavur.

On his arrival at the Air Force station, Mr. Mukerji was received by Group Captain Sushil Gera, Thanjavur Air Force Station Commander. He was given a guard of honour.