Jodhpur: Jodhpur Air Force station, a front-line air base, is all set to receive a batch of five Dhruv advanced light helicopters, which will eventually replace the ageing Chetaks, a defence spokesperson said on Sunday.
The advanced helicopters, developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, will replace Chetak helicopters and used primarily for training, rescue and light transport, Defence spokesperson Col S D Goswami said.
The pilots have also undergone the conversion training to adept to this change from Chetak to Dhruv, he said, adding the Mark 1 Dhruv will further be replaced by Mark III versions. Chetaks will be sent to different air bases.
"We have received 5 Dhruvs and are all set to receive 5 more by December this year," AOC Air Commodore B Saju said.
In addition to transport and utility roles, the new Dhruv choppers can be used as attack helicopters.
Currently, Jodhpur Air Force Station has two squadrons, one each of Chetak and MI-17 helicopters. The induction of Dhruvs is part of modernisation and strengthening of the combat capability in the western sector.
The IAF is also developing the Phalodi air base as a backup station to Jodhpur and recently got a batch of the upgraded MI 17 V5 medium-lift helicopters.
In the recently held air exercises, Iron Fist and Live Wire, the station had worked as the base of fighter aircraft detachment and played a crucial role in the wargames.
Given the hazards, including bird-hits, faced by pilots, the Air Force has also taken up the issues of dumping of garbage and mobile towers around the station.
Saju said that these two issues have emerged as a major threat to the flight operations from the station.
"Garbage leads to congregation of bird, and the threat of bird-hit is always looming large here," he said, adding, "We have taken up the issue with the administration."
In recent past, a couple of incidents of bird-hit have affected the civilian flight operations as well.
Referring to the mobile towers in the vicinity of the station, Saju said that there are 12 mobile towers around the station and their height is also a matter of concern as there are regular sortie flights from the station.
"So far, we have succeeded in getting the height of 3 towers reduced and are looking forward to similar reduction for other towers also," Saju said.