IAF to deploy more surface-to-air missiles for high-value targets in Gujarat, Maharashtra

In order to protect “high-value targets” on the coasts of Gujarat and Maharashtra that lies in close proximity to Pakistan, the Indian Air Force (IAF) will be increasing the number of surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) in its jurisdiction, said Air Marshal RK Dhir, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of South Western Air Command (SWAC) on Thursday.

Talking about the situation that prevailed in Gujarat and adjoining areas during the last three months after Uri terrorist attack, Air Marshal Dhir, AVSM VM, while addressing media persons at SWAC headquarters in Gandhinagar said, “In this region of SWAC — which comprises of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Goa — along with Southern Command of the Army and the Western Naval Command of the Indian Navy, we had joint plans to ward of any threats. The IAF had taken specific measures to launch an offensive if the need arose.”

“In times of precautionary measures, we also have surface-to-air guided weapons (SAMs or surface to air missiles) and will increase their number to protect the various economic and strategically important locations that are value targets for our enemy in the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra. This is a very critical area of our nation,” said the SWAC chief while talking about the defence preparedness on the coastal boundaries of states like Gujarat on Thursday.

IAF has traditionally been operating SAM squadrons of Russian origin like the Pechoras. Recently, the indigenously developed “Akash” missiles have been inducted, while the process is on to acquire and induct Israel-orgin SPYDER missile systems, defence sources told The Indian Express. Apart from the SAMs, fighter squadrons of IAF have also been giving air cover to oil and gas installations in Gujarat.

Talking about the radar surveillance in states like Gujarat, Air Marshal Dhir who did not take any questions said, “In this region particularly, we have gap-free radar cover throughout. All along we keep aircraft armed and ready to take action against any aircraft or any element seen in the sky so that we can either destroy or force it to land where we want.”

On the international border and coastal regions stretching from Rajasthan to Goa, there is an unbroken chain of long, medium and short range radars that have a range of over 300-350 kilometers and can keep a tab on movements deep inside enemy territory. The long range radar systems with overlapping coverage are located at Jodhpur, Barmer, Kutch, Saurashtra, Mumbai and Pune, sources said.

Briefing about the upcoming air-show organised on the eve of Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit, Air Marshal Dhir said that the 40-minute air-show is an example of bonhomie that exits between Gujarat government and the defence forces and will help IAF showcase its strength to both the common people and invitees of the Vibrant summit. IAF will be conducting a full dress-rehersal of the show which will include Surya Kiran and Akash Ganga teams on January 7 at Gandhinagar. This will be open to public. The final show will be held on January 9 which will largely be restricted to invitees of Vibrant Gujarat summit.

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