India to move army, air defence units closer to Pakistan border commander reviews preparedness at Siachen

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NEW DELHI: After a deep internal review of the recent conflict with Pakistan, the Indian Army is planning to deploy a number of its air defence units close to the border to thwart aerial threats emanating from Pakistan.

“Some of the fighting formations including air defence and other defensive formations are now planned to be moved closer to the borders,” top Army sources told ANI.

“With these air defence units deployed closer to the border, we would be able to tackle any possible aerial strike from enemy side and thwart it close to the border itself,” they said.

The sources said the location of the air defence units deployed in Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Gujarat and Rajasthan were reviewed by the force and it was felt that a number of them can be moved to forward locations to thwart enemy aerial strikes close to the borders itself.

The air defence assets of the Indian Army include the indigenous Akash air defence missile systems along with the Russian Kvadrat and other old legacy systems. The force is also set to receive the latest MR-SAM air defence system which has been produced by the DRD-Israel joint venture.

After India hit the Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist training camp in Balakot town of Khyber Pakhtunwa province of Pakistan, the neighbouring country launched a big aerial attack in Jammu sector along the Line of Control. Pakistan denies such attacks.

Even though the attack was thwarted by the Air Force air defence fighters including the MiG-21s and the Su-30MKIs and one Pakistani F-16 was also shot down, it was felt that presence of air defence units in the area could have caused more damage to the Pakistanis.

Due to the aggressive response of the Air Force, the Pakistanis could come only a couple of kilometres inside the Indian territory.

The Pakistani air attack on February 27 was in response to the Balakot hits by the Indian Air Force a day earlier. (ANI)

Siachen preparedness

Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Western Air Command, Raghunath Nambiar visited Kumar post at 17,000 feet in Siachen Glacier on Wednesday to review air maintenance operations and preparedness along the Indo-Pak border. Siachen Brigade Commander Brigadier Bhupesh Hada also accompanied him.

Nambiar, a Kargil war hero was appointed the new chief of Western Air Command on February 28. He took over from Air Marshal Chandrashekharan Hari Kumar.

Air Marshal Nambiar is credited for shooting five of the eight Laser Guided Bombs on the Pakistani positions during the Kargil war from his plane. The WAC is headquartered in the national capital and controls the area from north of Bikaner in Rajasthan up to Siachen Glacier and controls almost 40 per cent of the air bases of the Indian Air Force.

Nambiar has the distinction of having the highest number of flying hours on the Mirage-2000 in the IAF, with over 2300 flying hours on the aircraft to his credit, and a total of 5100 hours of flying experience.

He is a member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and was the Project Test Pilot for the Light Combat Aircraft “Tejas”. Air Marshal Raghunath Nambiar has been a Flight commander of a Mirage-2000 Squadron, the Senior Test Pilot and Commanding Officer of the Flight Test Squadron at Aircraft System Testing Establishment (ASTE).

He has commanded the oldest Squadron of the IAF, the prestigious No. 1 Squadron.

He flew the Mirage-2000 in combat during the Kargil conflict and has flown 25 operational missions. Nambiar was also awarded the Vayu Sena Medal for Gallantry by the President of India for the Kargil Operations. He was awarded a Bar to the Vayu Sena Medal for flight testing the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) in 2002, during its first phase of flight testing. (ANI)