Amravati: Coming out with major plans, the Indian Air Force intends to make Andhra Pradesh as its ‘strategic base’. With these major plans, the IAF plans to set up a major helicopter training facility at Donakonda in Prakasam district.
Apart from this, the other plans put forth before the Andhra Pradesh government are establishing a drone manufacturing facility in Anantapur district, a cyber-security center in Amravati and making Rajahmundry and Vijayawada airports asset positioning bases.
The IAF, as part of its strategy to strengthen vigil along the east coast, has proposed the use of existing civilian airports at Rajahmundry and Vijayawada for positioning its assets – fighter and other aircraft. For this purpose, the Andhra Pradesh government has constituted a task to coordinate with the IAF on these projects. A preliminary ground survey has also been done to identify suitable locations and IAF has been asked to submit detailed project reports.
IAF currently has a base at Arakkonam near Chennai, while the Navy has INS Dega in Visakhapatnam. In view of the growing strategic importance of the east coast and China moving fast, the IAF intends to strengthen its presence in the region. Setting up asset positioning bases in AP is part of the strategy.
Also, IAF helicopters and other aircraft that could be used for rescue and relief operations in case of natural calamities would be positioned at these bases.
The IAF top brass has already held at least three rounds of talks with chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu and discussed the projects. Last week, IAF Southern Command chief air marshal B Suresh and his team held talks with the chief minister and came up with a fresh proposal to develop Air Force Enclaves at different locations in the state. The state government initially offered 2,700 acres of land at Donakonda, along with the abandoned World War-II airstrip, for the proposed helicopter training facility.
Subsequently, the IAF told the state government that it required less extent of land and, accordingly 1200 acres has been identified for the project. The IAF intends to set up the drone manufacturing facility in Anantapur district since it is close to the Yelahanka Air Base near Bengaluru.