Why is Deesa Airbase so important to the IAF’s ability to fight in war?
In the worst-case scenario, Gujarat’s more than a trillion dollar industrial complex in and around Ahmedabad, Bhavnagar, and Vadodara will be the target to economically hit India, and the Deesa air base will be the fire wall between enemy aircraft taking off from Mirpur Khas, Hyderabad, and Shahbaz F-16 airbase in Jacobabad in Pakistan.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today laid the foundation stone for Indian Air Force (IAF)’s new airbase at Deesa in Banaskantha district of Gujarat and described it as an effective center of India’s security. He said the Deesa air base, mere 130 kilometers from the Indo-Pak border, will be able to give a better response to any threat coming from the western side.
Although the Vajpayee government gave the Indian Air Force (IAF) an in-principle approval for the Deesa airbase back in 2000, the project was put on hold by the UPA government for the following 14 years. The project was restarted when Narendra Modi became prime minister, but it was actually given life by the severe floods that hit Banaskantha in 2017.
It was extremely challenging for the Air Headquarters, then led by Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa, to provide a relief air bridge to the affected area due to bad weather and the lack of a nearby airfield as Deesa was still lying-in files when PM Modi and then Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman requested IAF to provide flood relief.
It is pretty obvious that the IAF would have a new forward base with air defence fighter aircraft in position in the next two years as a result of PM Modi securing the funding release for the airbase development through the current Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
Although PM Modi said the Deesa airbase will give the IAF in this sector a faster offensive capability, the new airport will also close a critical tactical gap between the forward air bases at Naliya, Bhuj in Gujarat, and Phalodi in Rajasthan.
In the worst-case scenario, Gujarat’s more than a trillion dollar industrial complex in and around Ahmedabad, Bhavnagar, and Vadodara will be the target to economically hit India, and the Deesa air base will be the fire wall between enemy aircraft taking off from Mirpur Khas, Hyderabad, and Shahbaz F-16 airbase in Jacobabad in Pakistan. With its deep penetration strike aircraft, Deesa will also make the Pakistani cities of Hyderabad, Karachi, and Sukkur vulnerable.
Since Deesa is a forward airbase, the IAF has no plans to station its front-line Su-30 MKI or Rafale planes here. Instead, it would station MiG-29 and Tejas air defence fighters to intercept enemy aircraft and hinder their ability to hit Gujarat’s industrial complex.
In addition to supporting any upcoming land offensives, the airfield has the capability of retaliating against Pakistan in the event of a significant terrorist attack in Gujarat or along the south-western sector.
The Pakistan air force is anticipated to increase its aviation assets in the area as Deesa airfield is anticipated to become operational in the following two years in 2024. If the red flag is raised, Indian fighters can cross the international boundary in under two minutes at Mach 2.0 speed.
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