Panagarh: After making the newly resurfaced air force station of Panagarh as the second hub for the C-130J Super Hercules aircraft, the air force will base refueller planes and may have fighter aircraft here.
"We never know when we have to get into action," Air Marshal S B Deo, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Eastern Air Command said while explaining the reason for resurfacing the airbase of World War II era.
He said once the acquisition process is complete, IAF will have larger aircraft -- refueller ones -- based at Panagarh in Burdwan district of West Bengal.
The eastern air force commander said it can also be used for fighter planes later on.
From the new runway which was inaugurated today, IAF will start operating the Super Hercules aircraft beginning May next year and from March 2017 a permanent unit will start.
Deo said this base can become a centre not only for operational reasons but also during disaster, rescue and relief missions.
"This is one base which is not too close to the border nor too far away. It is an ideal base and then air strip is available which is a major contributing factor for selecting Panagarh. An Army base is also coming up here so it is the best choice," he said.
Asked about other airstrips lying unused under Eastern Air Command, he said IAF was prepared to use all airstrips in the eventuality of war.
The air force is going to develop more infrastructure, he said without divulging details.
Panagarh is also close to Kalaikunda Air Force Station and so it can be used as a airfield if there is any need to divert any aircraft.
"Availability of Panagarh airfield will definitely enhance strategic capability of IAF in the Eastern Area of Responsibility (AOR) and will also augment mobililty of Mountain Strike Corps which will be stationed at Panagarh in near future," Air Marshal Deo said.
To a question, he said the air force station "is not directed against any particular country but will help in improving our general capability".