While India has been busy building infrastructure and equipping its eastern front bases, a renewed focus on the western front has also been initiated following a security review by Defence Ministry AK Antony. India has created new bases for its advanced fighter jets as well as sensor units along the Pakistan border on the west. A visit by the Defence Minister to Jammu and Kashmir this week to review the operational situation along the Line of Control (LoC) is also on the cards.
Defence Minister AK Antony carried a top-level review of the security scenario and military infrastructure build-up along the western and eastern fronts with the three Service Chiefs in Delhi. The review was also attended by security advisor Shivshankar Menon and defence secretary Shashikant Sharma.
As of now, squadrons of Sukhoi-30MKI fighters are permanently based in Jodhpur in Rajasthan and Halwara in Punjab. These are fully-operational and integrated with the order of battle on the western front. Earlier, the Sukhoi fighters were based only in Pune and Bareilly, followed by Tezpur and Chabua in the eastern front. However, with Pakistan’s military might growing with new acquisitions like F-16s, basing the Sukhoi squadron in the western front is logical.
Also, the first two nodes of IACCS (integrated air command and control system) are operational in the western sector. The nodes integrate the older sensors with newer ones like ATCR-22, Rohini and medium-power radars as well as Aerostats and Phalcon AWACS (airborne warning and control systems) to provide the air defence cover.
Meanwhile, cooperation between the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force is also being deliberated. The idea is to create synergy between IAF’s Western Air Command and three Army commands, vis-à-vis Udhampur in the north, Chandimandir in the west and Jaipur in south west. The need for coordination is important since the Western Command of the IAF controls air operations over 400,000 sq km stretching from Ladakh in the north till Bikaner in the west.
Defence Minister Antony was also updated with the security preparedness and ground situation on the western, northern and eastern borders. He was also informed about the steps taken to enhance military capabilities by the three Service Chiefs. Other important aspects of the top-level review included maritime security on the strategically important Indian Ocean. Over 70 per cent of India’s trade is pursued through sea lanes in this region.