Why Deesa airbase, 130km from Pakistan border, makes strategic sense
Constructing the airbase will ensure that the operating range of IAF's fighter range increases and the response time at the time of war will be reduced.
Seeking to enhance the existing defence capabilities in the region, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday laid the foundation stone of 52 Wing Air Force Station at Deesa in Banaskantha district of Gujarat, during the inauguration of the 12th edition of DefExpo2022 in Gandhinagar.
In his address, Modi stated that the Gujarat government had made avail the land for the airfield in 2000, but the previous UPA government did nothing to get it materialised. The Atal Behari Vajpayee government had given in-principle approval for the airbase, but the UPA government put the project on the back burner.
The base, which will be constructed in 21 months, is situated just 130km away from the India-Pakistan border. The new airbase at Deesa will play an important role in strengthening the country’s western front and will improve connectivity within the region, the Prime Minister said.
He further said that the base would act as a warning to the aggressor across the border against indulging in any sort of misadventure and, if needed, give an appropriate response if the need arises.
What is the significance of Deesa airbase?
Since it is just 130 km away from the international border, the Indian Air Force will be able to give a better response to any threat emanating from the western side. It is pertinent to mention that the Deesa air base would have strategic importance due to its location and proximity to the border. It will be tasked to secure the skies of Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra.
Military Engineers Service will execute the planning for the new airbase, which is scheduled to be completed by 2024. Currently, the base has a single airstrip with a 1000m runway, which is being used for VIP movements.
The airbase can be developed for civilian purposes under the regional connectivity scheme -- UDAN. The forces can carry out high availability disaster recovery (HADR) operations smoothly during a natural disaster. It should be noted that the IAF had to face a lot of challenges when floods hit the Banaskantha district hard in 2017. It was then that the process of developing the airbase gained momentum.
Constructing the airbase will mean that the distance between the other bases within Gujarat will be trimmed by 350 km. This would ensure that the operating range of IAF's fighter range increases and the response time at the time of war will be reduced.
As per Indian Army's Engineer-in-Chief Lt Gen Harpal Singh, the Deesa airbase will bridge the gap between Gujarat's Bhuj and Uttarlai in Rajasthan once it becomes operational. It will be coming up in two phases with a total cost of Rs 1000 crore.