Indian Air Force’s (IAF) Pune station will be more secured as Akash, a surface-to-air weapon system, will be made operational in a month or two.
Pune is the second air force station to get the Akash system after Gwalior. “The system has been installed at the Pune air force station and will be made operational in two months,” said Air Commodore Surat Singh, air officer commanding air force station Pune on Monday.
The IAF started the induction procedure of the weapon system and accordingly 90 per cent of the work has been completed. Vajra squadron has been deployed at the Pune air force station for operations of Akash weapon system and they are currently undergoing training.
What is Akash?
The system has been developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) under its integrated guided missile development programme.
IAF officials at Pune air force station said, “This is the first indigenous surface-to-air missile system and it is lighter compared to earlier Pechora system. The system is connected to radar system which can locate any aerial threat and accordingly will activate the missile. The range of the missile is 30 kilometres,” added IAF officials.
Why Pune deserves it?
Installation of Akash system at Pune Air force station holds significant importance as Pune air force station currently has two squadrons- 20 squadron (Lightening) and 30 squadron (Rhinos) of Sukhoi- 30 MKI.
The base holds importance due to its strategic location as it is situated in the western part of the country.
High-rises around IAF base may cause mishaps
t one end, when the work of the ambitious project of the Indian Air Force — Modernisation of Air Field Infrastructure (MAFI) — is expected to commence in Pune air force base from December, officials are concerned that the increasing number of constructions around the base may cause problems.
Under MAFI, modern Instrument Landing System (ILS) will be installed in Pune. But the high-rise structures constructed by flouting safety norms can cause problems to ILS which can lead to major mishaps.
The project involves upgradation of 30 air bases of Indian Air Force in the country. A pilot project is being carried in Bhatinda. Pune will be the second base where the project will be carried out by the IAF.
Air Commodore Surat Singh, air officer commanding of Pune air force station, said, “The high-rise buildings constructed in close vicinity of the base may block the signals sent by ILS which can cause major mishaps.” Singh added, “To avoid illegal construction activities around the base, we are having constant dialogues with the civic administrations and making sure that the safety norms are not violated.”
Group Captain A Bhadra, chief operations officers of the Pune air force station, said, “According to a gazetted notification of 2007, no construction is permitted within 100 metre range from the boundary wall. The permission is granted to three to four floors within 100 to 500 metre from the boundary wall. However, high-rise constructions which have come up before 2007 are considered legal and we cannot do much about them.”
Flight schedule may be hampered
Group Captain A Bhadra said that flight schedules may be hampered due to the project work. “Initially, the excavation work will be carried out on both sides of the runway without hampering the operations. But once the cable laying work starts, the runway will have to be kept close for eight to ten hours. Most of the work will be carried out during night time due to which night schedule of civil flights is likely to be hampered,” he said.
Air Commodore Surat Singh said that once the MAFI project is completed, it will benefit the civil flight operations.
The ILS will help civil flights for better landing even in low visibility. CAT2, a new airfield landing system will improve air space management. Besides, an embedded lighting also will be installed along the runway.