Deesa could turn into full fledged IAF airbase: Official

Deesa airport in Northern Gujarat could get converted into a full fledged airbase for the Indian Air Force operations under South Western Air Command (SWAC), a top official said on Saturday.

Ahmedabad: Deesa airport in Northern
Gujarat could get converted into a full fledged airbase for
the Indian Air Force operations under South Western Air
Command (SWAC), a top official said on Saturday.

"A fighter squadron has begun operations from the
Phalodia airbase in Rajasthan, and we think Deesa airport in
Gujarat could possibly get converted into an additional
airbase for SWAC," Air Marshal A K Gogoi told reporters here,
shortly after after assuming charge as the new Air Officer
Commanding-in-Chief of SWAC.
Deesa airport, located in Banaskantha district, is
near the border with Pakistan.

"The initial formalities for converting Deesa airport
into a full fledged airbase have begun. A proposal in this
regard shall be prepared soon and send for clearance," another
IAF officer said.

Gujarat has two air force bases-- Jamnagar in
Saurashtra region and Bhuj in Kutch.

SWAC is in the process of strengthening surveillance
by inducting a few state-of-the-art digitalised miniature
ground radars in Gujarat, given that the state houses some
vital installations.

"The first medium power radar is going to come in
Gujarat between January and February. The IAF is getting 19
such radars (from Israel)," Gogoi said.

Expressing the need for improving surveillance in
Gujarat, he said "Sir Creek is an area we need to always look
at because its disputed. The lines are not clearly drawn."

IAF has already installed an Aerostat surveillance
radar in one of the border areas of Gujarat for effective
aerial monitoring. The radar is based on cutting edge
technology from the US.
"We have continuous surveillance over that area. It`s
a combined effort with the Border Security Force which is
working on the ground there," he said.

To a query on protection of vital installations in
Gujarat like oil refineries, Gogoi said the SWAC has chalked
out a plan to protect them.

"The IAF, along with Army, Navy and the Home Ministry,
undertakes an exercise every year to identify the vital
installations. As per our last exercise, we have 968 vital
installations in the country.

"There is a special exercise called Defence of
Gujarat which is an annual affair and undertaken jointly with
Navy. It is being conducted for last one decade," he said.

SWAC intends to increase surveillance on the Gujarat
border to protect key installations, Gogoi said.

"The biggest challenge is to train people on the
sophisticated equipment inducted in IAF, maintain them, and
utilise those aircraft systems when the time comes," he said.

PTI

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