The Defence Ministry has approved a proposal to develop Deesa Airport in North Gujarat as a full fledged air base, a top IAF officer said today.
"We had mooted this proposal to the Defence Ministry, which has granted approval. The first phase of the project will cost over Rs 3,000 crore and it will go towards strengthening infrastructure at the airport," said A K Gogoi Commanding in Chief, South Western Air Command (SWAC).
Considering the strategic importance of the airport, it was thought fit to develop a full-fledged air base at Deesa, which is close to the Pakistani border, he told reporters after induction of 25 squadron at IAF station here.
"We are strengthening IAF towards dealing with possible threats, especially those emanating from the neighbouring countries."
The IAF base at Jodhpur will have a permanent squadron of SU-30 fighter jets in the next couple of years, he said.
Two squadrons armed with Akash, the medium range surface–to-air missile, are set to be deployed in Pune and Gwalior. Six more squadrons will be deployed for checking any threat from China, Gogoi said.
To a question on shortage of aircraft, he said "IAF is expecting to expand the fleet of its fighters after 2012. This will lead to increase in the number of squadrons."
"We are getting upgraded MIG aircraft from Russia. Five such aircraft are expected to arrive soon," he said.
"SWAC is in the process of strengthening surveillance by inducting a few state-of-the-art Medium Power Radars (MPRs)," Gogoi said.
"The MPR has been developed with a view to detect small targets at ranges greater than 300 km," Gogoi said.
Talking about 25 Squadron, popularly known as Himalayan Eagle', he said it was formed on March 1, 1963 in the wake of 1962 Chinese aggression in the Northern Sector.
The unit, equipped with AN-32 aircraft, has been adjudged the best transport unit in the IAF three times.
Its relocation to Vadodara from Chandigarh makes the squadron the first AN-32 unit in SWC.