Defending Peninsular India: IAF opens new airbase in South India, deploys Sukhoi fighters


Defence News India: Indian Air Force opened a new airbase at Thanjvur in southern state of Tamil Nadu on Monday. The IAF has deployed its most modern combat jet Sukhoi 30 MKI at the newly opened airbase, a decision that will not only boost the safety of peninsular India but will also help the country to counter growing Chinese presence in Indian Ocean region and Malacca straits. The Sukhoi fighters that have a combat radius of over 1,500 kilometers are equipped with lethal Brahmos missiles that have a range of 300 kilometers, providing enough punch to the force to deter any adversary in the aerial and maritime domains.

India’s newly appointed Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat inaugurated the Thanjavur airbase at a ceremony attended by Indian Air Force Chief Air Marshal RKS Bhadauria, Dr G Satheesh Reddy, Chairman of DRDO.

Indian Air Force has resurrected its No. 222 Squadron known as Tiger Sharks.

General Bipin Rawat said the resurrection of Tigersharks Squadron highlighted the integration and jointness which are the future of Indian Armed Forces.

He said that deployment of Sukhoi 30 MKI aircraft at Thanjavur airbase along with the BrahMos missiles will be a game-changer which will extensively enhance the country’ maritime security.

The Tigersharks Squadron will operate closely with the Indian Army and Navy to get the ball rolling in jointness of the Indian Armed Forces.

Bipin Rawat RKS Bhadauria

Bipin Rawat RKS Bhadauria at Thanjavur base

IAF Chief RKS Bhadauria said Thanjavur airbase was chosen for deployment of Thanjavur airbase because of its strategic location.

Thanjavur Airbase is less than 150 kilometers from the northern most point of Sri Lanka and about 1,500 kilometers from Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the home to India’s first tri-services command that is located between the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea, giving the country ability to monitor traffic passing through Malacca Strait.

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Sukhoi 30 MKI has a range of 1,500 kilometers without mid-air refueling and with the IL 78 tankers they can loiter and cover a big part of Indian Ocean and Malacca Strait.

This is for the first time that the country has deployed its frontline fighters in peninsular India that have normally been deployed in northern and western part of the country to counter any threat from China and Pakistan.

Sukhoi 30 MKI equipped with air version of Brahmos missiles that can tackle naval targets will significantly enhance the country’s deterrence posture in the maritime domain as it faces growing Chinese presence in the indo-pacifici region.

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Deadly Combination: Sukhoi jets equipped with Brahmos

India has decided to deploy Sukhoi fighters equipped with Brahmos missiles within just five weeks after the successful firing of air version of Brahmos missile at a naval target in Bay of Bengal. India has tested both air and land versions of the missile last month to validate its accuracy and the air version of 2.5 tonne cruise missile was fired from a Sukhoi fighter against a naval target off the Odisha coast.

The opening of Thanjuavur base in deep south is also important as Southern Air Command worked overtime to advance the operationalisation of airbase by almost a year.

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Dr G Satheesh Reddy, Secretary of the Department of Defence R&D and Chairman of DRDO; Air Marshal Amit Tiwari, Air Officer Commanding–in–Chief (AOC-in-C) of Southern Air Command (SAC); Vice Admiral Atul Kumar Jain, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief (FOC-in-C), Eastern Naval Command (ENC); R Madhavan, CMD of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Prajaul Singh, Station Commander of Thanjavur Air Base were present on the occasion.

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