(This was originally posted in Republic World by Shloak Prabhu)
In a major boost for the Indian Air Force (IAF), five landing strips have been proposed in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh regions. The emergency landing strips have been proposed for IAF’s fighter and other jets. According to reports, two landing strips will be constructed in Kashmir, two in Jammu and one in Ladakh.
The decision comes amid the prevailing situation along the Line of Control (LOC) and Line of Actual Control (LAC). Moreover, it is expected that the first landing strip will come up in Srinagar, thereby focusing on the Line of Control with Pakistan. This comes as the Indian Air Force is boosting its capabilities.
Earlier on Thursday, Union Ministers Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari inaugurated the first emergency landing strip for aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF). The Emergency Landing Field (ELF) was inaugurated on the NH-925 Gandhav Bakhasar Section of Rajasthan’s Barmer. As a part of the ceremony, multiple aircraft including air superiority fighter- Sukhoi Su-30MKI showcased the emergency landing. The new ELF is situated just 40 km from the International Border with Pakistan.
The ELF is a joint project by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and the Ministry of Defence. In addition, the NHAI developed a 3.0 km section of the Satta-Gandhav stretch of NH-925A as an ELF in order to strengthen the IAF and sustain machinery. The project was built with a budget of Rs 765.52 crore under the Bharatmala Pariyojana.
IAF to procure additional aircraft
Meanwhile, the IAF is set to procure additional aircraft under the Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative. IAF Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria on Wednesday informed that the Indian Air Force is planning to get roughly 350 aircraft from within the nation in the next two decades. He added that the decision was taken in order to ensure that India becomes self-reliant in the defence sector.
On the other hand, the Union Cabinet’s Security Council on Wednesday confirmed the acquirement of 56 C-295MW transport aircraft from Airbus Defence and Space S.A., Spain for the Indian Air Force in a bid to strengthen indigenous capabilities and boost the ‘Make in India’ initiative. The C-295MW is a transport aircraft of 5-10 tonne capacity with contemporary technology that will replace the age-old Avro aircraft of the IAF. The aircraft has a rear ramp door for swift reaction and para dropping of troops and cargo when necessary. The Centre informed that a total of 16 aircraft will be imported in a flyaway condition from Spain within 48 hours of signing the contract while 40 aircraft will be manufactured in India indigenously by the TATA Consortium within ten years of the signing of the contract.