Hasimara Air Force Station in Bengal to be ready by 2020 to house Rafale jets

Kolkata, West Bengal, IndiaWritten By: Pooja MehtaUpdated: Dec 12, 2018, 08:34 PM IST

File photo of the Rafale fighter jet. Photograph:(Reuters)

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The Hasimara Air Force Station has no squadron presently

Hasimara Air Force Station in Bengal’s Alipurduar district is expected to be ready by the year 2020 to house the Rafale fighter jets.

While the first squadron will be based out of Ambala Air Force Station in Punjab, the second such squadron will be based out of the Hasimara Air Force Station in North Bengal.

Previously, it was planned that one squadron of the Rafale would be based out of the Sarsawa Air Force Station in Uttar Pradesh. However, issues relating to land acquisition eventually led to the selection of the Ambala Air Force Station to prepare itself for a two-front war in the northern side of Pakistan and China.

On the eastern frontier, Hasimara was selected as the base to house the second squadron. Hasimara earlier had a MiG-27 squadron which is being replaced by Rafales. 

The Hasimara Air Force Station has no squadron presently.

A senior Air Force official revealed that the jets will start arriving from France in 2019 and a budget of Rs.400 crores has been allocated for these two Air Force Stations -- Ambala and Hasimara -- to build facilities, develop shelters, hangers and maintenance facilities at the two bases.

“As far as the hangar is concerned, we are building in such a way so that it can accommodate both the Rafales and Sukhoi MKIs as we cannot build hangers and keep changing it. When we build a facility, we have to do in a manner so that it serves the Indian Air Force for the next 40-50 years. Engineers and staff of the technical teams of Dassault Aviation from France are working at the Air Force Station on a war footing,” said a senior Air Force official.

This apart, work on building a new facility in the Air Force Station and resurfacing of the runway has begun. 

“Sukhois and Rafales are jets that tend to pick up any particles on the runway. Hence, resurfacing is important for smooth landings and takeoffs. Work on resurfacing the runway has begun already. The runway will be ready in a year,” added the official.  

The last time the 8,500-9,000 ft in length runway was resurfaced was way back in 1993. While there were plans extending the runway, it was dropped later.

Hasimara air base came up post the 1962 Sino-India War. This air base has housed several squadrons of the fighter jets like the - Gnats, Ajeets, Hunters, MiG-21Bis and the Mig-27 ML fighter jets.