IAF voices concern over infrastructure projects near airbases

Last Updated: Monday, February 22, 2010 - 18:40

New Delhi: In the wake of two British men
being detained on charges of recording conversation between
pilots and air traffic controllers here recently, the IAF
today said it has voiced concerns over high-rise buildings and
other infrastructure projects coming up near its air bases
exposing the air force`s assets.

"We have been voicing our concerns not only about Palam
but (those in) all over the country," IAF chief Air Chief
Marshal P V Naik said when asked whether the Palam airport,
where IAF has some assets based, is vulnerable to such
snooping due to nearby Gurgaon flyover.

However, he said Palam Technical Area, where air force
assets were based, was on the cantonment side of the airport
and there was a nine to 10 feet high wall protecting it. "You
cannot really see anything inside," he said.

But the other side of the airport was open to Gurgaon
flyover, he said, admitting that in one of the hangers there,
the IAF had based some of its transport aircraft.

Naik said earlier there was an Ordinance, which stated
that within 900 metres of an airbase there should be no
building.

"However, that got cancelled and Parliament did not renew
it. We took up the case again. After a lot of fighting, we had
it renewed with different terms. Of course with population
growing, 900 metres (bar on construction) is not possible as
already building had come up in the absence of the Ordinance.
In sensitive areas, 900 metres (barrier still) exists," he
said.

"When called upon, we will deliver combat power with
precision and lethality... this is what we intend showcasing
in Vayu Shakti-2010. An exercise of this magnitude in the day,
followed by dusk and followed by night is for the first time
it is being staged. The last Vayu Shakti in 2004 was a day
affair. So, there is a vast difference between the two," Naik
said introducing the exercise concept.

"About 70-odd aircraft with another 30-odd standby
aircraft will be delivering precision weapons and display our
capability as of today. The weapon load being delivered
include both precision as well as non-precision weapons. The
targets at Pokhran will be simulating live targets as much as
possible," he added.

Asked why Vayu Shakti was being held after a gap of five
years, Naik said the IAF used to hold the exercise annually,
but later "we ended up in the phase of paisa illey (no
money)".

"All these weapons cost money although these are part of
our training. But, the country did not have money. Then, we
started opting for international exercises. We went to Red
Flag exercise in the US.

"Last year, we decided to hold one major international
exercise once in two, three years and to hold Vayu Shakti
biennially," he said, noting that the domestic exercise cost
about Rs one crore and the Red Flag a few crore due to the
logistics involved in flying to the US for the exercise.

To another query, Naik said the IAF had already informed
its neighbours, including Pakistan, about the exercise as "we
should not raise alarm unnecessarily, as it is a planned
exercise."

PTI



First Published: Monday, February 22, 2010 - 18:40

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