India maintains strategic air base in Central Asia
New Delhi: India is in talks with Tajikistan
to set up a military hospital there even as it maintains an airbase in Ayni there, the country's only such facility overseas.
India has collaborated with Tajikistan to "reconstruct and recreate" the airbase which is strategically significant
due to its location next to Afghanistan, government sources
said here today.
While New Delhi maintains that reconstruction of the air
base is part of the assistance programme to Tajikistan, the
nature of such facilities is significant due to its presence
in oil-rich Central Asia.
The facility also assumes significance in view of the
presence major international players like the US, Russia and
others in the region. There are two more air bases in the
region which are manned by Americans and Russians.
Sources said the Russian government had also shown
interest in using the facility but the air base was clinched
by Defence Minister A K Antony during his visit to Tajikistan
in October this year.
Antony had also made a technical halt at the base on way
to Russia in October last year.
According to reports, India has spent USD 70 million to
upgrade the base which was one of the major air hubs in the
erstwhile USSR Central Command.
The abandoned Soviet air base is just 10km away from
Dushanbe and was modernised by India as part of aid to
Tajikistan in building its armed forces.
Sources said India is also discussing a proposal with
Tajikistan to set up a military hospital there.