Upgrading infrastructure, developing airfields in northeast
NEW DELHI: The Indian Air Force is shoring up its facilities in the northeast by upgrading infrastructure, improving airfields and moving a Sukhoi frontline fighter base to Tezpur.
“We certainly have plans to improve infrastructure in the region. We are in the process of developing four or five airfields and advance landing grounds, and putting our assets there. Soon we will be moving one squadron of Sukhois to Tezpur,” Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major, who demits office this month-end, said at his farewell press conference. He was responding to questions about the IAF’s plans in the wake of reports on developments across the eastern border.
To a question on China, Air Chief Marshal Major clarified that little was known about its actual capability, and downplayed a report attributed to him that Beijing was New Delhi’s enemy. He said the IAF was working to improve its capability, away from being “threat centric.”
The IAF had completed flight trials for mid-air refuel tankers and a decision was awaited on the choice between the two competitors, European and Russian. The government, he said, recently re-issued a Request for Proposal for supply of 22 attack helicopters and 15 heavy lift helicopters.
Assessing his tenure as Chief of the Air Staff, he said the IAF was in the process of a major transformation that would have a far-reaching impact. Almost every aspect of its capability was being systematically addressed with the acquisition and upgrading of a vast variety of equipment.
Air Chief Marshal-designate P.V. Naik, who was present, said that since January this year the IAF had decided to give women permanent commission in three streams — administration, accounts and legal. Referring to the April 30 Sukhoi crash near Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, in which one pilot was killed, the Air Chief-designate said while the court of inquiry was on, the accident was being probed for two problems —in the flight control system and the ejection system.