IAF developing Bareilly as hub for Sukhois
Bareilly, Sept. 30 (PTI): The Indian Air Force is developing state-of-the-art infrastructure here, including a world class avionics lab, for the most potent fighters in its combat fleet - Su-30MKI squadron - in a bid to counter threats especially from China.
A modern tech flight hangar, the biggest in the country, is also coming up at the base which will house the Sukhois and other allied equipment for its servicing.
"Bareilly is strategically located, and we are in the process of converting it into a major hub for the Su-30MKIs," Chief Administrative officer of the base Group Captain, P V Gadgil, told a group of visiting journalists.
The multi-role Sukhoi fighters, which have a cruising speed range of 3,200 km coupled with advanced beyond-visual range combat capabilities, are capable of striking deep inside China, said another official.
Chief Engineering officer of the base Group Captain, Rajiv Gandotra, said "the defence of the nation requires the aeroplanes to be available all the time and in highest numbers."
Gadgil said the base was strategically very important as "after the Chinese aggression in 1962, it was realised that the area was left out without having any credible air defence capability."
"Our army is in the hills now after that aggression. We had to deploy the army more or less continuously and if there is war, somebody has to support the army, whether it's close air support by fighter aircraft or by helicopters," he said.
Gadgil said the Eight Squadron which is also based at the air force station will be flying Su-30MKI, once they are delivered by Russia.
It would take anywhere from six months to a year to equip the Eight Squadron with Sukhoi fighters though "lot of uncertainties" are involved in it, Gadgil said adding the Eight Squadron exists without any assets here.
India had signed a deal in early 2007 for purchase of another 40 Su-30MKI to tackle the depleting strength of its fighter squadrons. Another 140 of these fighters, will be built at HAL facilities at Nashik by 2013-2014.
He said the upcoming infrastructure here like the new hangar and the avionics lab would be vital for IAF'S operations.
"It is going to be the biggest hangar in the IAF. It's going to be huge. The hangar will house all allied equipment for servicing. We took help from IIT Kanpur and other agencies to design the hangar," Gadgil said.
He said the avionics lab is one of the best in the country. "The highly-sophisticated avionics lab will service almost all the equipment in the Su 30 MKI aircraft".
Gangotra said equipment from Russian, Israeli and French are installed in the lab where third line of maintenance including structured repairs due to battle damages like bullet hits could be carried out.
"Its a vital infrastructure for us. Now we are capable of even repairing the engines of the aircraft. The aircraft can fly the next day itself after facing any kind of problem. Earlier, we have to send the engines to Russia," he said.