A Sukhoi Su-30MKI air superiority fighter flying over the Himalayan ranges in Ladakh

Itanagar: Aware of China continuing to strengthen military positions and ramping up infrastructures, including developing airports along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Tibet, India has upped its ante to keep a close eye on Chinese activities.

New Delhi’s alertness has intensified since Indo-China bilateral relations took a nose dive after Chinese People’s Liberation Army personnel intruded into Indian occupied territory in Leh on 05.06.20.

The threat perception involves Arunachal Pradesh, which shares 1,129-km of total 3,488-km of Indo-China border, while China dares to claim this Indian state, particularly Tawang as its territory as South Tibet.

Indian defence forces remain always alert to counter any misadventure of the neigbouring nation. The Indian Air Force (IAF) station or Salonibari Air Force Station at Tezpur is the best example. Spread in 22 acres, including its passenger terminal, it is a domestic airport and an Indian Air Force (IAF) station, located in Assam Valley on the north bank of the Brahmaputra River in Salonibari, situated 8.5-km from the city centre.

The British had constructed the airfield between1942–43, but it was formed on 29.09.1959. Tezpur has been home to MiG-21s for over 30 years and currently the base for the MiG Operational Flying Training Unit (MOFTU). The No. 2 Squadron IAF with Sukhoi Su-30MKI is also based at Tezpur IAF station. The Sukhoi Su-30MKI is a two-seater, twinjet multirole air superiority fighter developed by Russian aircraft manufacturer Sukhoi and built under licence by India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the IAF.

The IAF base in Tezpur and other stations in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh showcase India’s Airpower to counter China in the East. The Sukhoi Su-30MKI jets during routine practices are seen often in pair flying over the Itanagar sky during day time. This clearly indicates that IAF always remains alert to thwart any possible intrusion by air force of the neighbouring country.

IAF station’s Air Officer Commanding Air Commodore V J Singh, in an interview to StratNews Global, spoke about operations of various aircrafts, particularly Sukhoi Su-30MKI frontline fighter sorties and air warriors on the base.

Giving overall perspective, Eastern Air Command Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief (October 2021-September 2022) Air Marshal D.K. Patnaik, said that firstly, “All airfields east of the Chicken’s Neck, are at a distance of about 150 to 200-km from the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

Secondly, Tezpur is the centre of this chain of airfields. Their role chiefly is to defend in case of any likely intrusions during peacetime. For other occasions, we have plans in place using all the airfields.” Thirdly, he added that “should the enemy decide to come, there are only a few places from where they will come. Fourthly, for a ground force, which wants to come, it’s not a cakewalk.

Lastly, the IAF has reached a stage where we’re not going to allow them a happy movement, he said with conviction.

(With Agency Inputs)