Panagarh gears up for role in Arunachal's defence

Discussion in 'Defence & Strategic Issues' started by Ganesh2691, Sep 7, 2013.

  1. Ganesh2691

    Ganesh2691 Regular Member

    Mar 4, 2012
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    KOLKATA: The establishment was developed by the US army during World War II for what is known as the 'Over the Hump' operations against the Japanese. Today, after nearly 70 years, Panagarh in Burdwan is well on its way into being developed as a hub that will deal with the defences of states like Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). With routine incursions by the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) reported from Arunachal Pradesh, the process to develop Panagarh has been expedited by the Army and Indian Air Force.

    Recently, Air Marshal Ravi Kant Sharma, AOC-in-C, Eastern Air Command, visited Air Force Station Panagarh and reviewed the situation there. The second lot of C-130J Super Hercules, that are to be procured by the IAF soon, will be stationed at Panagarh. Induction of the C-130J at Panagarh — the second squadron after the Veiled Vipers at Hindon — will enable IAF to mobilise troops to the forward eastern front in the shortest possible time. Lockheed Martin will build necessary infrastructure for the aircraft at Panagarh, as part of the package.

    "During his visit to Panagarh, the Eastern air commander emphasized that the air base — used as a diversionary one till recently by the IAF — is of great strategic importance. The base is being developed as one of the major flying bases in the Eastern Air Command, he said. He also urged that officers and air warriors at Panagarh adopt a pro-active approach to ensure timely completion of infrastructure development for the Super Hercules," an officer said.

    At the same time, advanced landing grounds in Arunachal Pradesh like Tuting, Mechuka, Ziro, Aalo, Pasighat, Walong, Tawang and Vijaynagar are also being upgraded to allow the C-130Js to land with troops and material. "Now that the Globemasters have also been inducted into the IAF, mobilization of troops and equipment, including tanks, will be fast. Force multipliers like mid-air refuellers will provide necessary assistance," another officer said.

    With the Cabinet Committee on Security approving the Army's proposal to raise a Mountain Strike Corps, prepartions are also on to develop infrastructure for the 45,000 officers and personnel at Panagarh. Senior officers of the Eastern command have already carried out aerial reconnaissance of the existing base at Panagarh to work out details. The Corps' primary responsibility will be to remain prepared for any offensive strike by the PLA across the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). Given the lack of infrastructure on the ground on the Indian side, an aerial approach is of great importance. The PLA has held several exercises in TAR in recent months, conveying to India its preparedness for high-altitude combat.

    "The Corps should get fully operational from Panagarh within the next few years. It will have two infantry divisions, each with nearly 15,000 men trained in mountain warfare. The infantry brigades in the Corps will also be able to operate independently and mount offensive action across the LAC if required, with helicopter lift and attack support. It will also have an aviation brigade, three artillery brigades, an air defence brigade and an engineering one," the officer added.


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