In this screenshot from a video, a fighter aircraft seen taking off from Dimapur Airport on October 16. (Morung/screenshot Photo)
Sukhoi Su-30MKIs, Hawk Mk 132 jets conduct
exercise from six civilian airfields in Eastern India
Morung Express News
Dimapur | October 16
The Indian Air Force (IAF) on Wednesday launched a major exercise in two rounds with Sukhoi Su-30 MKI fighter aircrafts and HAWK Mk 132 aircrafts at six airfields in five states- Nagaland, Assam, West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur in the eastern theatre.
This could be the first time that Dimapur Airport has been utilized for the said war-time exercise which happens to be an annual affair. Owing to the exercise, the State Helicopter service was not available on October 14 and 15 and Chopper service operation has been restricted from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm from October 16 & 18.
While two aircrafts have been deployed from 106 squadron at Imphal, two more are from 102 Sqn at Dimapur while three others from 2 Sqn at Kolkata with 2 from Chabua and 5 from Tezpur, according to sources. At least seven of them are SU-30s, the Asian Age has reported.
The exercise in two phases involves Sukhoi Su-30 MKI combat aircraft and Hawk Mk. 132 trainers from six airfields in its area of operations in West Bengal and the Northeastern states. The airports which will see the Su-30 MKIs and Hawk Mk 132s landing and taking off are Dimapur (Arunachal Pradesh), Pasighat (Arunachal Pradesh), Imphal (Manipur), Guwahati (Assam), Kolkata (West Bengal), and Andal (West Bengal).
PRO Lt Col Sumit Sharma, PIB Defence Bureau in a press statement received by The Morung Express confirmed that the exercise will be conducted in two phases from October 16-19 (Guwahati, Imphal, Dimapur and Kolkata) in first phase and from October 29 -November 1 (Andal and Pasighat) in the second phase as part of capability building and operational training for undertaking operations from dispersed locations in case of hostilities.
The exercise will familiarize the IAF crew with the procedure of flying at these busy airfields and coordinate with civilian counterparts. It will help familiarising the civilian functionaries at these airfields in the conduct of military ops. The SU 30 MKi and Hawk 132 will be taking part in this exercise, the PRO stated.
As part of the drill SU-30 aircraft landed at the Kolkata airport from its base in Assam in the afternoon.
IAF has been steadily bosltering its capabilities and infrastructre in the Northeast areas, a report from Zeenews stated.
While Kolkata, Guwahati and Imphal are well known and connected with several major cities of the country by air, Dimapur, Pasighat and Andal are smaller ports.
Dimapur airport was built during World War II and now handles civilian traffic. Pasighat airstrip came into existence during the India-China 1962 war. After several decades of disuse, Pasighat airstrip was redeveloped in 2009 and inaugurated in 2016. During the inauguration, an IAF Su-30MKI jet landed on the airstrip. Andal's Kazi Nazrul Islam Airport is also for civilian use and has been functioning since September 19, 2013, Zeenews reported.
With anticipated threat mainly from China, there have also been reports that a 2-kilometer stretch of ongoing the 4-lane road project along Jharnapani area of NH 29 between Dimapur and Kohima is being developed into emergency landing strip.
If this is true, the highways will be open for public during normal times, but in case there is an emergency, then normal traffic will be blocked and the stretch would be used for aircraft landing.