The Indian Air Force (IAF) plans to make Andhra Pradesh its strategic base to strengthen its presence on the eastern seaboard, given its strategic importance amid growing Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea.
The main part of the IAF's plan is the setting up of helicopter training facility at Donakonda in Prakasam district. The other plans put before the Andhra government are; setting up facilities at the Rajahmundry and Vijayawada airports to base fighter aircraft and other assets and construction of a drone manufacturing facility in Anantapur district. A cybersecurity centre is also likely to be set up in Amravati, reports PTI
"With China moving fast in the region, the strategic importance of the east coast is growing and IAF wants to increase its presence by having bases in the state," a bureaucrat told PTI.
"On its part, the government has constituted a task force to coordinate with the IAF on these projects. Preliminary ground survey has been done and we have asked the IAF to submit detailed project reports," said another bureaucratic.
Apart from basing fighter and other reconnaissance aircraft at Rajahmundry and Vijayawada airports to patrol along the east coast, helicopters and other rescue aircraft will also be positioned at these airports to carry out rescue and relief missions in case of natural calamities.
Around 2700 acres of land adjoining an abandoned World War-II airstrip was offered to the IAF for the proposed helicopter training facility but IAF has identified 1200 acres for the project.
"Around 300 acres out of this parcel of land will be given to the Airports Authority of India for carrying out operations for civilian aircraft while the remaining 900 will be used for helicopter training facility by the air force," a bureaucrat in the revenue depart told PTI.
The drone manufacturing factory will be set up at Anantapur district as it is close to Bengaluru's Yelanhanka air base.
Meanwhile, the air force is planning to expand its air force station at Suryalanka in Guntur district and has asked the state government for land.
IAF has also asked for allotment of land for setting up of Air Force enclaves in Nellore and Bhogapuram, where an international civilian airport is proposed.