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4 Sukhoi fighters inducted at Tezpur base

June 15, 2009 15:41 IST

India on Monday inducted four Sukhoi fighter aircraft in Tezpur, which will soon be the base for a full squadron of the IAF's frontline combat jets.

An induction ceremony was organised in the hangar of the Tezpur airbase in Assam in the presence of Eastern Air Commander Air Marshal S K Bhan, sources in IAF headquarters in New Delhi said.

"Monday's event was only a formal induction. The four SU-30MKIs had landed here on June 13," they said.

The four air superiority fighter aircraft were scheduled to carry out practice sorties from the Tezpur airbase in the last two days, but could not do so due to bad weather, the sources added.

"Soon, Tezpur will be the base for a full Sukhoi squadron, though the IAF is yet to decide which of its four Su-30MKI squadrons will be placed at the disposal of the Eastern Air Command," the sources said.

In fact, Chabua, another fighter base in Assam, is also being readied to host a Sukhoi squadron in the future, they added.

The positioning of the most potent fighter aircraft in the northeast is aimed at strengthening the IAF's assets closer to the Sino-Indian border, the sources said.

India's efforts to have a stronger IAF presence near the Line of Actual Control with China began last year with the Western Air Command activating Advanced Landing Grounds, Daulat Beg Oldi and Chushul, that were dormant since the 1962 Sino-Indian war.

A similar approach was followed in the northeast too, with modernisation plans, including extending the runways from 9,000 feet to 11,000 feet, for five airfields -- Tezpur, Chabua and Jorhat in Assam, Purnea near Bihar and Panagarh in West Bengal -- taken up for implementation.

Tezpur's Sukhoi squadron of about 20 aircraft would be raised over two months.

In five years, the IAF will have over 200 SU-30MKI in its fleet.

IAF's future plans for Sukhois include a squadron each in Halwara near Ludhiana in Punjab and Jodhpur in Rajasthan by the end of 2010.

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