In a first, the Indian Air Force on Monday commissioned a squadron of Sukhoi-30 MKI at Thanjavur’s Air Station in Tamil Nadu, the first such base in south India for the fighter jets. The development comes amid China’s rising influence in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), which is critical to world energy flows and contributes around 60 per cent to the global GDP.
The ‘Tigersharks’ squadron of the Sukhoi-30 MKI jets integrated with the BrahMos cruise missiles was inducted by Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat in the presence of Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria and other officials.
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“By virtue of the fact that Thanjavur is strategically very well located in the southern peninsula, from here it can dominate the seas, provide very close and integrated support to Indian Navy. It can also provide support to the land forces,” ANI quoted Bipin Rawat as saying.
“SU-30MKI with BrahMos is the strongest maritime combination that we have, in terms of weapon capability. Thanjavur is the ideal location because of access to both the east & west sides and the Indian Ocean Region. It will bring huge capability in support of Navy,” Bhadauria said.
The Su-30 MKI is an all-weather multi-role fighter aircraft that is capable of undertaking missions related to air defence, ground attack and maritime.
In a statement, the Ministry of Defence said, “This would also provide protection to our island territories and sea lines of communication in the Indian Ocean Region. The IOR is increasingly gaining importance and the presence of a fighter squadron will provide security cover to all our strategic and vital assets in the region”.
(With inputs from agencies)