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IAF's Eastern Command building capability to use any available airfield: Air Marshal Dharkar


A PTI photo

GUWAHATI (PTI): Air Marshal SP Dharkar said the Indian Air Force is developing its capability to use any available airfield, including civilian ones, in the eastern part of the country to mitigate the shortage of such landing facilities.

He said the Eastern Air Command is introducing all the latest technologies to be able to protect the country's air space and borders in a more efficient way.

"There are a number of airfields around us. We have the capability and we are building the capacity to be able to use every airfield that exists in this region," Dharkar told reporters here on Sunday.

The IAF is developing its prowess to use a civilian airfield or military airfield or even an advanced landing ground in case of a need, he added.

"We have that capability and we retain that plan. There is continuous improvement taking place in that regard," said Air Marshal Dharkar, the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Eastern Air Command.

Because of this strategy, the IAF will also have enough number of airfields in this region, in the same way "any other neighbouring country" has such facilities, he said.

Asked about the technological advancement of the IAF's Eastern Command, Air Marshal Dharkar said, "As and when new technologies are invented, we are inducting the same here."

"We have the Integrated Air Command and Control System, which is present across India, including this part of the nation. We have two nodes here also that operate the air command system," he said.

On the possibility of having a second base of Rafale jets in this region, he said that having an aircraft base is related to a facility to station the machines during peacetime only for training and practice purposes.

"The flexibility of an aircraft and the ability to operate it from any location is unique for the air force. In that regard, we can place an aircraft very quickly from one air base to the other. Within one particular zone or region, we can relocate an aircraft very quickly," he said.

Given the requirement, the entire set of assets that the air force has anywhere in the country can be brought into this region, Air Marshal Dharkar said.

"We have two Rafale squadrons. When the requirement arises, of course, I am very certain, the Air Headquarters would take that call and position a second Rafale squadron here if that is what is going to provide us the requisite amount of security as may be necessary at that given time," he said.

The first Rafale squadron is based at the Ambala air force station in Haryana, and another one is at Hasimara air base in West Bengal. A squadron comprises around 18 aircraft.

Talking about the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, Dharkar said: "There are some differences as well as some similarities (with India's Eastern Air Command). This is the only air command that has five surrounding countries -- Nepal, China, Bhutan, Myanmar and Bangladesh."

"The border here is very stretched out and the altitude ranges from sea level to 20,000 feet. So, it has its own challenges," he added.

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