The Indian Air Force (IAF) will base a squadron of agile Sukhoi Su-30 fighter aircraft in Thajavur, making it the first fighter squadron in southern India, with a view to keep strategic vigil over the Indian Ocean and cover up country's
southern flank up to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, IAF officials said here.
The IAF will keep deploying its regular fighter and transport aircraft detachments here since the runway and other facilities are in place here now. This would also be the first of fighter squadrons under the Southern Air Command of the IAF at any place in southern India.
The IAF has upgraded the two runways at the airbase, which has been existing for several decades and used extensively for relief operations during the tsunami and flood situations in Tamil Nadu in the recent past.
The inauguration of the base will see the landing and take off of the SU-30s but the full squadron of these aircraft including 16 to 18 jets will be completed by 2017-18 only.
The Sukhois were inducted into the IAF at Lohegaon airbase in 2002. Thereafter, they were deployed at Bareilly, followed by Tezpur, Chhabua, Jodhpur, Bhatinda and Halwara. Pune and Bareilly already have housed two Sukhoi squadrons each, while Tezpur, Chabua, Halwara and Jodhpur have a squadron each. So far India has inducted over 170 of the 272 Sukhoi-30 MKIs contracted from Russia.