India will receive all its Rafale fighters by April next year i.e. by 2022. The first squadron of Rafale fighters are already deployed in Ambala Air Base in the Golden Arrows squadron. The next squadron is planned to be inducted at Hasimara Air Force Station.
Today in this article we will discuss the history and strategic importance of Hasimara Air Force Station……… Let’s start…..
Location And History of Hasimara Air Force Station
Hasimara Air Force Station is located in Alipurduar district, West Bengal. It is operated by Eastern Air Command (EAC), which is headquartered at Shillong, Meghalaya. The air base has its origin after the Sino-Indian war of 1962, to oversee the Chinese presence in the region. The Air Force station was operationalised on April 7, 1963 when an IAF Caribou aircraft landed at Hasimara.
The Hasimara Air Force Station was home to No. 22 Squadron of IAF. It was first equipped with the Gnat fighters and was assigned the task of ground attack and air defence. At the time of formation the No. 22 Squadron was based in Bareilly, UP. But after the extensive role of Gnat fighters, operationalizing from Hasimara during the 1971 Indo-Pak war, the No. 22 Squadron was permanently moved to Hasimara in Dec 1975.
During the 1971 war, the Hasimara Air Force Station played a pivotal role by conducting many ground attacks on Pak airfields, infrastructures, rail lines, and on their force deployments.
Here is a list of aircrafts operated by No. 22 Squadron of IAF :-
Till 2018-19 the Hasimara Air Force Station had a squadron of MiG-27 which were phased out in the same year. As per the government and IAF decision, the Hasimara Air Force base will now be home to the 2nd squadron of No. 101 Squadron (Falcons) of the Dassault Rafale (the 1st squadron being stationed in Ambala).
The No. 101 Squadron was earlier active till 2011 when its MiG-21 fighters were phased out. Earlier the role of No. 101 Squadron was of Photo-Reconnaissance missions. But now its role is revamped and was assigned to air defence and ground attack roles. The squadron is divided into two sub-squadron of the Dassault Rafale, one squadron operating from Ambala and another from Hasimara.
List of aircrafts operated by No. 101 Squadron :-
Strategic Importance Of Hasimara
Hasimara is located strategically near the Indo-Bhutan border. It is also the closest Indian Air Base to the Chumbi valley, the tri-junction between Sikkim, Bhutan, and Tibet.
The airbase has its importance as the two-front threats of India can’t be ruled out. The tension with China at the Ladakh border is still continuing, the Chinese are also making attempts to open a new front on the eastern side. The induction of Rafale at Hasimara will act as a deterrent for China, as the capital of Tibet i.e. Lhasa is barely 300 kilometers from the Hasimara.
China has already deployed its J-20 fighters near Indian borders. The induction of Rafael at Hasimara will give an edge to the Indian side. According to various reports and comparisons, Rafale fighters are more capable than Chinese J-20’s.
Also read: Rafale vs J-20! Which one is best?
The continuous Chinese threat in Sikkim and at Siliguri Corridor (India’s Chicken neck) will also be sorted out after Rafale’s induction. Due to its long-range, Rafale can also cover the areas up to Arunachal Pradesh.
The Sukhoi Su-30MKI’s are already deployed in the eastern sector of India. The combination of these two fighters will be a deadly combo for any air and ground threats coming from China.
The government has already started the revamping of Hasimara with extended runways, ammunition depots, hangers, personnel accommodation, maintenance bays, etc. The airbase is designed in such a way that, in the future, it will be capable to station both Sukhoi Su-30MKI and Rafale.