Staff Reporter

Joint exercises with the Army and the Navy on the western coast in January

IAF seeking to extend its reach at minimum cost to itself

Looking for space in the Kochi and Karipur airports, including exclusive tarmac area

Thiruvananthapuram: The Indian Air Force (IAF) will hold joint military exercises with the Army and the Navy on the western coast in January.

Air Marshal S.C. Mukul, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Air Command (SAC), said the exercise, codenamed “Triveni,” involved air-power-backed amphibious assaults by Special Forces.

It was a follow up on “Tropex,” codename for a comparable military exercise held in early 2007.

To extend reach

He said the IAF was seeking special enclaves for itself in civilian airports in Kerala, including the one proposed in Kannur district (chiefly because of the region’s proximity to Lakshwadweep and Minicoy Islands on the Arabian seaboard). Such enclaves would help the IAF extend its reach at minimum cost to itself.

The IAF was seeking space in the Kochi and Karipur airports, including exclusive tarmac area and buildings for housing basic operational infrastructure.

It had expanded and strengthened its tarmac area in the Thiruvananthapuram airport for hosting fighter planes.

The SAC did not have an active air defence position. It could activate its air assets at short notice, he said.

On alert

The SAC has been on an air defence alert ever since the Liberation Tigers of the Tamil Eelam of Sri Lanka acquired minimal air power in 2006.

The Air Marshal said the SAC had beefed up its point defences (mostly radar linked anti-aircraft guns and surface-to-air missile silos) in the peninsula.

Better radars

The Command was seeking more and better radars for high-, medium- and low-level air surveillance. Its surveillance network was already integrated with Navy and civilian radars.

Lookout personnel

The SAC operated a network of lookout personnel who visually scanned the skies for small and low-flying aircraft, such as microlites and flying models, which were normally not picked up by radars.

The IAF was setting up a modern and secure optical fibre communication network, IAF net, which would enable fast data sharing between its various commands. The air bases in Suloor and Tanjore in Tamil Nadu were being upgraded to host fighter and transport aircraft, respectively.

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