IAF focus on China frontier

The Telegraph

The Indian Air Force eastern command has been asked to brace for a major modernisation drive that includes upgradation of airfields, network-centric operations and air defences along the border with China.The drive will cover air bases from Kalaikunda in Bengal’s south to Vijaynagar, the country’s eastern-most “advanced landing ground” (ALG) in Arunachal Pradesh.

“The (Eastern Air) Command shoulders a big responsibility, considering the fact that we share maximum borders with other countries in the area of responsibility of this command,” Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik said at the commanders’ conference in Bagdogra in north Bengal today.

“The emerging security scenario has the attention of highest levels in our government. I can assure you that we have full support in the implementation of various modernisation plans in EAC’s area of responsibility.”

The IAF has already begun moving its most advanced fighter aircraft — the Sukhoi 30 MKi — to Tezpur and Chabua in Assam. The Sukhois will also be deployed in Kalaikunda, Panagarh and in Jorhat, which is a major transport aircraft base, but not at airfields that are any closer to the frontier with China.

The air chief marshal did not specifically dwell on threat perceptions from China’s rapid military modernisation. But the moving of the assets and the priority being assigned to the reinforcing of air defences along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) is an indicator of just how closely air headquarters is watching the ramping up of military infrastructure by China.

An IAF source said that apart from the deployment of the Sukhois, the two priority areas in the eastern command’s area of responsibility was the induction and use of special “mountain radars” to detect low-level flying objects (such as unmanned spyplanes).

It is understood that the IAF will this year begin deploying low level transportable radars made by French company Thales at station along the LAC from Arunachal to Ladakh. Each of these radars has a range of 180km.

Since 2006, the IAF has taken up a modernisation of airfield infrastructure (MAFI) project that is now being expedited. MAFI projects in the east include, apart from Kalaikunda and Panagarh, Pasighat, Along, Menchuka (the three are ALGs) and Chabua, Mohanbari, Jorhat, Guwahati, Bagdogra, Hashimara and Tezpur.

The second priority area is induction of network-centric capability — fundamentally an inter-connectivity between aircraft, airfields, radars, air-defence artillery and operations centres that will communicate data and pictures almost instantly. At the core of the IAF’s network-centric capability is a communication backbone called AFNET (air force network).

“We are in the process of developing an integrated air command and control system (IACCS) and are establishing the required infrastructure in air force nodes to complete connectivity…. The process is aimed at spending the barest time from sensor to shooter, which is, reacting fast to emerging situations,” Air Chief Marshal Naik said.

He gave senior officers and commanders in the eastern command an assessment of internal and external threat perceptions.

“I can assure you that we have full support in the implementation of various modernisation plans in EAC’s area of responsibility,” he said.

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Posted by pilotpaul on Jun 30 2011. Filed under Airforce, All News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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