Thanjavur: The Indian Air Force (IAF) is all set to get unmatched capability in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) with the induction of the mighty Sukhois (Su-30MKIs) into the recently-resurrected No 222 Squadron at the Air Force Station (AFS) Thanjavur on Monday.
Preparations hit the last lap at the base with IAF’s brand ambassadors -- the Sarangs (ALH) and the SKAT (Hawks) – conducting a final round of practice ahead of the big day. An impressive fly-past by Tejas trio from AFS Sulur was the highpoint of the day.
The Sukhois, meanwhile, seem to be watching all the fun unmoved, basking under the sun, with the temperatures shooting up to 32 degrees, despite sudden showers last night.
Two impressive hoardings have been put up inside AFS Thanjavur ahead of tomorrow's the induction of the frontline fighters; with one having the catch-line ‘Thanjai Warriors’ and other ‘Southern Strikers.’
“Thanjai Warriors is being given to add the local flavor. We value the local pride of the people of Thanjavur and its history. Southern Strikers conveys the message clearly and our intended role,” adds an official.
Along with the world-famous Brihageeswarar Temple, Schwartz Church and the Saraswathi Mahal Library, now Thanjuvur will also be known as home for the Sukhois.
Armed with the supersonic BrahMos cruise missiles, the Sukhois are ready to capture a place in the hearts of the local inhabitants alongside the irresistible Surul Poli –real crispy pooris coated with sugar syrup and filled with coconut inside!
What makes tomorrow’s event special will be the presence of several top officials from various Service wings and other aerospace and defence organisations.
Sources confirm to Onmanorama that the new squadron will be locked on to the new ideas of jointness enabling armed forces to share their strengths and intelligences to take on the challenges.
“The IAF missions from AFS Thanjavur will have a lot of jointness embedded into the system, right from the planning stages. We will have many coordinated missions with the Indian Navy, who has maritime domain expertise. Coupled with IAF’s reach, mobility, flexibility, shock and awe, swiftness and surprise element will be a heady mix for any adversary,” an official said.
Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat is expected to be present at AFS Thanjavur to witness the top event.
The renewed military presence in Thanjavur harks back to the past glory of it being the strategic capital of South Asia, during the Chola Empire.
When Raja Raja - 1 brought South Asia under his feet through his ambitious naval build up and made Thanjavur as the capital from Uraiyur, little would he have thought that the formidable platforms Sukhoi and BrahMos would add a whole new dimension to strategic importance of the town for the military planners.
BrahMos Aerospace CEO Dr Sudhir Kumar Mishra told Onmanorama that Sukhois at Thanjavur gives a huge strategic boost to IAF.
“Team BrahMos is very proud to contribute to the national security. Thanjavur has a very strong history in the Chola dynasty. We are confident that BrahMos will certainly bring glory to all endeavors of IAF. It is certainly a huge boost to the might of IAF,” says Dr Mishra.
The resurrected squadron will be fitted with BrahMos ALCM (Air Launched Cruise Missile), capable of hitting both land and ship targets.
(The writer is an independent aerospace and defence journalist, who blogs at Tarmak007 and tweets @writetake.)