The Indian Air Force (IAF) plans to base the Dassault Rafale fighter jets, which it is expected to acquire from 2019, at its Hasimara air base near the Indo-Chinese border which currently plays host to a squadron of Su-30 fighter aircraft.
The two front-line fighter aircraft of the IAF at the same base shows the strategic significance being attached to the Line of actual control, the border between the two Asian giants. China has recently revealed that its Russian sourced Su-35 fighter jets are involved in patrolling duty with the PLA air force’s southern command whose area of operation includes Tibet and the country’s southern border with India.
“Hasimara Air Force Station in Alipurduar district, about 128km from Siliguri, is of strategic importance for its proximity to the India-Bhutan border. Also, the base is in the Siliguri corridor, to the north of which is China,” The Telegraph quoted an unnamed air force officer as saying last week.
Hasimara used to house the MiG-27 ML till the aircraft were phased out towards the end of 2017. Now, there are Su-30MKI fighter jets.
“A 8,500 to 9,000ft-long runway in Hasimara will be relaid... it will take around six months to complete the job,” the officer said. “The hanger will accommodate both Rafale and Sukhoi fighter jets. We have drawn up futuristic plans.”
Chinese Military news portal recently posted photographs of Su-35 fighter jets attached to an aviation brigade of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force Southern Theater Command taxi on the flightline during a round-the-clock flight training exercise earlier this month.