GUWAHATI, Jan 2 � The Indian Air Force has started the process of replacing its old fleet of craft in the Eastern and North Eastern Region with Sukhoi and Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRC) in a phased manner, while, the airfields and the advanced landing facilities are also being upgraded.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, Air Marshal (Retd) PK Borbora, who retired as the Vice Chief of Air Staff of the Indian Air Force on December 31, said that there was a long-felt need for augmenting the airfields and the advanced landing facilities in the East and North East part of the country and the process has already started. He said that the Tezpur airfield has already been upgraded with the required infrastructure for maintenance and regular operation of Sukhoi craft and the process of upgrading Chabua airfield for the same would be completed within this year.
Air Marshal Borbora said that the Government of India has started the process of renovating and upgrading not only the airfields and advanced landing facilities but also the helipads and the Air Force, which has the expertise of doing the same, is carrying out the job not only in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh but also in West Bengal. This has been done not because India is apprehensive of any threat from China but the necessity of doing the same was felt for a long time. He revealed that apart from Tezpur and Chabua, the airfields and advanced landing facilities at Jorhat, Zero, Tawang, Pashighat, Tezu, Machuka, Hasimara, Bagdogra etc., are also being renovated and upgraded.
The Air Force will complete the process of upgrading the advanced landing facility at Vijoynagar in Arunachal Pradesh by February, which is the eastern most advanced landing facility of the country. After completion of the renovation of the advanced landing facilities, the AN 32 carrier aircraft would be able to land in those places, which would help the forces immensely in transportation of men and material including supplies, while, it would also be beneficial for the civilian population in the remote parts of the country. For example, Vijoynagar is completely cut off from rest of the country and there is virtually no road for at least 140 kilometres. The Air Force is the lifeline for that area. Construction and renovation of the helipads will also give a major boost to tourism in Arunachal Pradesh, while, the Government of Arunachal Pradesh has been pressing the Central Government for construction of a civilian airport near Itanagar.
Replying to a question on the possibility of any air strike by China, Borbora admitted that as far as the number of aircraft is concerned, China has advantage over India but �we are not apprehensive of any strike from the neighbouring country as we are equally powerful or may be more at least in the Eastern and North eastern part of India.�