The prestigious Sukhoi-30MKI fighter aircraft, equipped with 'special weapon' BrahMos supersonic cruise missile, was inducted into the Indian Air Force at Thanjavur airbase on Monday. Sukhoi 30 multirole fighter jets are the current backbone and front line fighters of the Indian Airforce.
CDS Bipin Rawat, Air force chief RKS Bhadauria and top naval officers of the eastern command were present during the inauguration ceremony. The ceremony began with the aerobatic show of the Sarang helicopter display team and Surya Kiran team, which ended with the take-off of the Su30s, cruising in sonic speeds.
Though there is an airforce base in Sulur of Coimbatore, which is the base for the first fighter squadron in the State with LCA Tejas and other training choppers, the south has never seen a powerful squadron & hence, the IAF decided to inaugurate the old Thanjavur airstrip, which was also used by the royal airforce during World War 2 emergencies and it also served as base during the 2008 floods.
The facility, however, was expected to open by early 2010 but was delayed due to various reasons. The airstrip is located at Thanjavur/Tanjore district,18 miles off the coast and 253 feet above the sea level, with two runways.
It will strategically be important as it is closer to the eastern coast of the Bay of Bengal and hence will guard the lands and seas of Indian oceans for the radius of 1,500 to 2,000 km, with Powerful Sukhoi 30s making it more powerful.
The base will have 8 fighters, which is squadron 222 Tigersharks, which has a history since the 60s from Ambala airforce station and later was shifted to Halwara station during 1971 Indo-Pakistan war, which had Su 7s then. Later, the squadron was upgraded to MiG 27s in 1989.
Now, the squadron is upgraded with 4.5 generation multirole fighter jet Sukhoi MKI 30, which is waiting for its operational Clarence to carry 2+ ton BrahMos, which can cruise 300 km away and hit the target with the supersonic speed, which gives extra range to the super fighter.
The capability of the missile coupled with the superlative performance of the Su-30 MKI is all set to change the paradigm of maritime surveillance, security, and strike in the region. Thus acting as deterrence to the maritime intruders of all the categories.
Notably, the Air Force Station in Thanjavur was dedicated to the nation on May 27, 2013, when AK Antony was Defense Minister, with the primary aim of strengthening air defence capabilities under the Southern Air Command.