Coimbatore: The Indian Air Force (IAF), which has an air base in Sulur, has decided to set up a ‘weapon storage point’ nearby and plans to construct a parallel taxi way at the base. The facility would help the IAF store strategic weapons, including missiles, in Sulur and it would be easy to move these during war across southern India.

The Ministry of Defence has approached the state government to acquire 700 acres of land near the Sulur air base for this. The district administration has sent details of the land to be acquired to the state government. It is awaiting administrative sanction, said a source. Once the state government grants administrative sanction, an officer will be appointed exclusively to acquire land. The Union government will bear the compensation to be given to land owners.

The Ministry of Defence and the state government have been corresponding for the past few years. There is no major weapon storage point in the Southern Air Command that covers the entire Bay of Bengal up to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. If the facility is set up near the Sulur air base, moving weapons across the region will be easy.

The source said the Ministry of Defence had decided to speed up the project to face challenges looming in the horizon. With Gotabaya Rajapaksa, whose support for China is known, in the saddle in Sri Lanka, it would be prudent for India to focus on the Southern Air Command, particularly the Bay of Bengal. It is only in the initial stage, revenue department officials told TOI. “If the Ministry of Defence asks us to speed up the land acquisition, the state government would do so,” said a source from the revenue department.

When contacted, Dhanya Sanal K, public relations officer of Defence Southern Command, said such details cannot be revealed by the department.