Thanjavur (Tamil Nadu), May 27: Strengthening India's presence over the Indian Ocean region, Defence Minister A K Antony on Monday inaugurated the first fighter aircraft base here in southern India where the IAF is stationing its most lethal Su-30MKI combat aircraft.
“Thanjavur airbase is going to be another strategically important airbase of the Indian Air Force. By stationing our frontline fighter aircraft Sukhoi at Thanjavur, IAF can protect vast area of interests,” Mr. Antony said after inaugurating the airbase.
The establishment of the premier fighter base is important in the view of current geo-political scenario and threat perception in the peninsular region and in the Indian Ocean, the Defence Minister said.
“There is a threat of piracy and terrorism and also emerging security scenario around the country is volatile,” Mr. Antony said.
“Even though we are a peace loving country but we have to be ever ready to face any kind of aggression towards our national security,” he said.
The Defence minister mentioned that the assets envisaged for the futuristic airbase would be able to provide security to all the strategic and vital installations in this region.
“The new airbase and induction of the Sukhoi will instil confidence in the country and neighbourhood as Indian Air Force can protect our interests from this Air Force Station more,” Mr. Antony said.
The inauguration ceremony was marked with the flypast by two Sukhoi-30 aircraft.
This would be the first ever fighter base in Southern Peninsula under the control of Southern Air Command.
The full Sukhoi squadron (16 to 18 jets) will be deployed at the base by 2017-18, after the requisite facilities come up over the next few years.
So far India has inducted over 170 of the 272 Sukhoi-30MKIs contracted from Russia.
Pune and Bareilly already have housed two Sukhoi squadrons each, while Tezpur, Chabua, Halwara and Jodhpur have a squadron each.