New Air Force Station at Thanjavur dedicated to nation
On May 27, Defence Minister A.K. Antony dedicated the new Air Force Station at Thanjavur to the nation. Speaking to reporters, Antony said the operationalisation of the Air Force Station Thanjavur would strengthen the air defence capabilities of the Indian Air Force (IAF) in general and the Southern Command, in particular. He said various sensitive, strategic, industrial, aerospace and economic assets are coming up in the Southern Peninsula and the station will play a vital role in providing protection to those assets.
The event was attended among others by the COSC and the Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne and the AOC-in-C Southern Air Command Air Marshal R.K. Jolly. Antony said the station will also help protect our island territories and sea lines of communication in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). He said even though we are a peace-loving nation, we have to protect our national interests from threats such as piracy and terrorism. He said the IOR is increasingly becoming more and more active. “In the emerging security scenario, the presence of fighter planes in Thanjavur will not only guard our interests but also give a feeling of safety to our neighbours.”
Thanjavur airbase is poised to become a premier airbase in Southern Air Command. The status of the airbase as the pride of Southern Air Command befits the city of Thanjavur, which was a jewel in the crown of the Chola and Pandya kingdoms. The airbase was first constructed in 1940 by the Royal Air Force.
The airbase has been used extensively for relief operations whenever the southern peninsula was affected by natural calamities. During heavy floods in Tamil Nadu in November 2008, the IAF helicopters operating from Thanjavur dropped 15,000 kg of relief material in Papanasam, Mulanguri and Pandalenur areas. Earlier, on his arrival at the Thanjavur Station, Antony was presented a guard of honour. He unveiled a plaque marking the dedication of the station to the nation. Two SU-30MKI aircraft took off from the station.
Speaking on the occasion, Air Chief Marshal Browne said, “In the years ahead, the strategic importance of the Thanjavur Air Station will grow in stature”. He thanked the Defence Minister for settling issues relating to the relocation of some villagers for the expansion of the station. Antony thanked successive governments of Tamil Nadu for their help and support to the activities of IAF and the Ministry of Defence.
Defence Minister A.K. Antony unveiling the plaque to dedicate the Air Force Station Thanjavur to the nation. Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne and AOC-in-C Southern Air Command Air Marshal R.K. Jolly are also seen