Reactivation of abandoned Air Force airstrips

Tanmay

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During World War 2, many military airstrips were constructed by British-American forces for defence of India. Post independence such airstrips went into disrepair and were encroached upon. You can see large number of such airstrips in and around Bengal region due to threat of Japanese invasion in WW2.

However with the IAF ramping up capabilities many of them are being revived especially to function as emergency landing strips. The government is also interested in these strips for UDAN scheme as they don't have to acquire private land with time, cost and court case liabilities.

Some interesting things about these airstrips:

1) British-American influence on design. Compare the aircraft dispersal pattern/blast pen pattern with our usual airbases.

2) Almost all of them are with 2 cross runways.


Starting this thread to track the progress.
 

Tanmay

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Sholavaram Airstrip (near Chennai, Tamil Nadu)


sholavaram .PNG


sholavaram.PNG



https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com...orld-war-ii-airstrip/articleshow/68237609.cms

CHENNAI: The unused World War II-era airstrip at Sholavaram, located around 26km from the city, will soon find a place on the nation’s strategic map.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) is looking at the possibility of setting up its first east coast air surveillance base at the facility and is planning to station a few attack helicopters at the airstrip which has been lying unused since the 1950s.



The move comes as part of efforts to intensify security along the east coast in the wake of expanding Chinese influence in Sri Lanka, Maldives and Myanmar, said an official.

Sources told TOI that the air surveillance base at Sholavaram will help the forces to secure the 2,500 kilometre coastline covering Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.

According to sources, strategic assets would be set up to monitor the movement of intruder aircraft into Indian air space in the eastern and southern region.

In the event of any attempt to hit Indian assets, the air surveillance base would activate defence forces to neutralise the intruders.

This would bolster INS Rajali, the Indian Naval Station at Arakkonam, which carries out surveillance through Boeing P8I, a long range maritime patrol aircraft. Defence sources said the range of air surveillance coverage in this part of the country would significantly expand because of the new facility.

The current coverage of air surveillance ranges from 100km to 350km.

‘Presence of Chinese defence establishments in Sri Lanka, Maldives poses security risks’

The porous southern peninsula, sources said, face security risks due to the presence of Chinese defence establishments in Sri Lanka, Maldives and Myanmar.

“Tamil Nadu, which is the second largest industrialised state has vital installations like nuclear and thermal stations on the coast. Andhra Pradesh is also emerging as a leading industrial hub,” the defence source said, driving home the point on the necessity for an additional air surveillance base to protect these assets.

A former defence official said the issue should also be viewed from the prism of heightened naval cooperations and exercises between India, US and other countries in pacific region of Bay of Bengal in the recent period. “The air surveillance base can play multiple roles including for peace activities such as aviation and shipping,” the official added.


Sholavaram air strip was created by the British in 350acres during World War II. The British had a squadron at the airfield at the time. However, it was declared as an abandoned facility in 1950’s. This resulted in largescale encroachment by outsiders, wherein about 200 acres have been gobbled up in the last 40 years by private parties.

IAF issued notice to encroachers two months ago and has kickstarted a drive last week to retrieve the land by evicting encroachments. So far, 55 acres has been recovered. Sholavaram also figures in the list of small airstrips to be developed under the Regional Connectivity Scheme (UDAN) of the Union civil aviation ministry. Sources said the existing cross runway at Sholavaram would be reconstructed to facilitate civilian air operations.


 
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Tanmay

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Surichua Airstrip (West Bengal)
It's supposed to act as emergency airstrip for Panagarh AFS which houses 6 C-130Js (Hindon AFS near Delhi has another 6 C-130Js).

Kalaikunda AFS has Su-30 MKIs. Kalaikunda AFS was built by Americans. Even today Cope India exercise between IAF and USAF is held at Kalaikunda.

Quoting wikipedia

Kalaikunda was designed for B-24 Liberator use. In 1943, it was designated as a B-29 Superfortress Base for the planned deployment of the United States Army Air ForcesXX Bomber Command to India. Advance Army Air Forces echelons arrived in India in December 1943 to organize the upgrading of the airfield and thousands of Indians labored to upgrade the facility for Superfortress operations. It was one of four B-29 bases established by the Americans in India.
suruchi.PNG


suricua.PNG


Same old story of encroachments.

https://www.telegraphindia.com/stat...ed-during-world-war-ii-operational/cid/228119
Surichua (Birbhum), Jan. 3: The Indian Air Force is in the process of setting up an auxiliary air base on two abandoned airstrips in Birbhum’s Surichua last used during World War II.

An air force spokesperson said the new base, which will also be used as a training centre, would be monitored from Burdwan’s Panagarh air force base, 120km away.

In the past one month, the IAF has conducted four trial landings of helicopters on two of the six Surichua airstrips that are fit for use.

The two strips have been repaired and cleared of rubbish.

The four other airstrips, sources in the district administration said, had developed cracks and would require major repairs. The IAF does not have immediate plans of using them.

Birbhum district magistrate J.P. Meena told The Telegraph: “Air force officials informed us that they want to make the abandoned aerodrome in Surichua functional and also use it as a training centre. They had sought our help in clearing the place and we have provided it.”

A senior officer of the Eastern Air Command in Shillong, under which Surichua falls, said, the IAF had planned to develop the air base because of its “strategic location and the availability of air strips”. He said the base was close to international borders.

The air base, which is 11km from Birbhum’s Rampurhat town and near the Bengal-Jharkhand border, has been cleared of undergrowth and unwanted trees. The work was carried out under the Centre’s 100-day job scheme and was monitored by the local Kusumba gram panchayat.

The total area of the abandoned air base is around 550 acres. The land belongs to the defence ministry. But as there is no boundary wall, encroachment has taken place on a portion of the land.

“Fortunately, the encroachment is minimal as there are dense forests around the air base,” a district official said.

An IAF officer said it was “imperative” to build a boundary wall. “It has been decided that a boundary wall will be built, but we still don’t know when work will start,” he said.

The officer said C-130J Super Hercules aircraft would operate from the Surichua air base. “The runway is long enough for such aircraft to land here. Besides, the area is sparsely populated,” he added.

Dividers are now being marked on one of the two airstrips, each around 2km long. The air force is supervising the restoration. Officers and residential quarters will also be used.

Birbhum police said the IAF had requested them to provide security around the air base.

“We have assured the air force of adequate security would be provided for the safety and well-being of the air force staff,” a senior police officer said. “They can rest assured.”

The officer said the air base has been “neglected” for years. “But as it is the property of the central government, the district administration had not taken any steps to protect it,” he said.

“Occasionally, men from the army would come to inspect the air base. But such inspections took place very rarely. This is evident from the condition of the base.”

Local residents had used the airstrips as walkways for years. Trucks had also been using them, opening up cracks and often leaving behind a trail of pebbles and sand.
 

Tanmay

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Deesa Airstrip (Gujarat)

Deesa is a small airstrip (<1km runway) in Gujarat.
Have a look at its location. It's meant to fill the 300km gap between Bhuj AFS (Gujarat) and Uttarlai AFS (Rajasthan) which can be exploited by PAF.
deesa2.PNG



In 2018, GOI cleared it to become a new air base. Apart from upgrading the airstrip, the IAF will be building blast-proof pens to keep fighters.

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/sto...-air-base-for-iaf-at-deesa-1195974-2018-03-23
In a major move to boost infrastructure along the India-Pakistan border, New Delhi has cleared construction of a new frontline airbase at Deesa in Banaskantha district of Gujarat for the Indian Air Force (IAF). The construction of the airbase is expected to cost the Indian exchequer over Rs 1000 crore.

The decision to construct the airbase was taken recently at a meeting of Cabinet Committee on Security - the highest decision-making body on security headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.


A top source told India Today, the Deasa Airbase will complement Bhuj and Nalia Airbase in Gujrat and the Bikaneer Airbase in Rajasthan.

The Deesa Airbase will play a critical role for the South Western Air Command (SWAC) against Pakistan. Deesa is near the border and will to bridge the aerial gaps in Indian Air Defence along the western border. The SWAC is tasked to protect the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra.

Although in the plans for decades, construction of the airbase was not seen as a "priority" earlier, top government sources told India Today on conditions of anonymity.

Deesa has an airstrip and is used by civilian and charter flights. Apart from upgrading the airstrip, the IAF will be building blast-proof pens to keep fighters.

The airbase that will be the base of top line fighters will be spread over 4000 acres.

"Land had been acquired earlier, but previous governments had not moved on the proposal to build the airbase," sources said.

With India-Pakistan on slide and borders unusually active with repeated ceasefire violations and infiltration bids by Pakistan-based terrorist the "IAF had moved a fresh proposal to build a new airbase a few months ago," sources said.

Apart from plugging the existing aerial gaps in India's air defence, the airbase will protect vital industrial installations in Gujarat, top sources.
2010 GE imagery
deesa.PNG


2019 GE Imagery
deesa1.PNG


While the runway has not been extended, it has been repaired over years.

However new construction can be seen around and they look like private buildings and not IAF residential areas. Looks like usual civilian construction is taking place around to make quick buck by selling prime properrty near upcoming civil cum military airport. So there is little room for a spacious airbase with blast pens.

Trivia:
Phalodi AFS was also designed to be another such gap filler frontline airbase. Even after a decade has passed it has NOT got blast pens or Pechora SAMs though it bases Sukhoi squadron.
 

Subham Show

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Surichua Airstrip (West Bengal)
It's supposed to act as emergency airstrip for Panagarh AFS which houses 6 C-130Js (Hindon AFS near Delhi has another 6 C-130Js).

Kalaikunda AFS has Su-30 MKIs. Kalaikunda AFS was built by Americans. Even today Cope India exercise between IAF and USAF is held at Kalaikunda.

Quoting wikipedia



View attachment 35770

View attachment 35769

Same old story of encroachments.

https://www.telegraphindia.com/stat...ed-during-world-war-ii-operational/cid/228119
There is a ww2 airfield in madhIauganj near durgapur n panagarh operated by the USAAF
 

Tanmay

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Badangi Airsstrip (near Vishakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh)

Badangi Airstrip is a WW2 airstrip used by Royal Air Force. It consists of two cross runways. Its located around 90km from Vishakhapatnam.

Vishakhapatnam is one of the biggest cities on eastern coast and a major port. It has extensive military facilities too. Vishakhapatnam International Airport operates as a civil enclave within INS Dega (a Naval Air Station ). As a result civil operations are faced with constraints from military flights. The airport won't keep pace with the rapidly expanding civil growth of the city.

Badangi Airstrip was a proposed solution for the Navy to relocate some of its operations there and free up space for civil ops at Vishakhapatnam Airport.

badangi.PNG




badangi1.PNG


Badangi Airstrip reactivation plans in 2013

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com...-reactivated-by-Navy/articleshow/25344686.cms
Updated: Nov 7, 2013

BADANGI (VIZIANAGARAM):
The eight-decade-old Badangi airstrip, one of the oldest airstrips in the state which is lying neglected, is all set to get a facelift soon as the Indian Navy is planning to reactivate the strip near Bobbili, chief of naval staff Admiral Devendra Kumar Joshi confirmed here on Wednesday.
Admiral Joshi, who was in Visakhapatnam for the induction ceremony of the Hawk Mk132 advanced jet trainer (AJT) aircraft, said that to cater to the growing security needs of the country , the Navy is looking at developing an alternative airfield on the eastern sea board at Badangi near Bobbili. “The project will be taken up in consultation with the civil administration and the local population for acquisition of land and other matters,” Admiral Joshi told newspersons on the sidelines of the induction of the AJT.

According to Admiral Joshi, most of the assets and infrastructure of the Navy were set up in the 1940s during independence, which is why due to the growing security needs there is a need to look for additional bases. “The Indian Navy has plans to set up additional bases on the West Coast as well as the East Coast and Badangi base is part of this strategy,” he said. Eastern Naval Command Flag Officer commanding-in-chief Vice admiral Anil Chopra said that though the Navy has inducted a large number of aircraft at Visakhapatnam, they do not have an airfield closer than Hyderabad or Bhubaneswar. “If an emergency situation arises, it will be useful for us to have an alternative base, which is why we are looking at reactivating Badangi airfield as an alternative,” Vice admiral Chopra said.

The Indian Navy had prepared a proposal to reactivate the World War II airstrip a couple years ago and is now actively considering using it as an alternative airstrip for future needs as it has been planning to station a squadron of the frontline fighter MiG 29K aircraft at Vizag. Sources said a master plan has been prepared for the upgradation of the airstrip, where no maintenance work has been done for decades together. Apart from renovating the airstrip, the Indian Navy has proposed to add some facilities to aid aircraft landing.

The defence authorities have already requested the district administration to establish a base for not only training purpose but also for emergency usage. The airstrip was used as command base for Royal Air Force (RAF) by the British for moving their troops across the region during World War II. Spread over 221 acres, the airstrip was one of the biggest RAF bases then. It has a control room, separate underground armament depot and several bunkers. Once the war was over, the airstrip was shut down in 1946 and the Food Corporation of India (FCI) used it to store paddy and wheat for some time. A part of the defunct airstrip has also been encroached upon by some local farmers, who have been cultivating paddy there.
https://www.telegraphindia.com/indi...e-plan-to-revive-bobbili-in-andhra/cid/318904

2015 News : Badangi airstrip likely to be ready by 2018
https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com...-to-be-ready-by-2018/articleshow/48799927.cms


TNN | Sep 4, 2015, 11.49 AM IST
VISAKHAPATNAM: The additional airstrip that the Indian Navy is planning at Badangi near Bobbili in Vizianagaram will be ready for operations by the end of 2018 though the land acquisition process for the proposed project is yet to be started.
By the time aircraft carrier INS Vikrant is commissioned and inducted into the Indian Navy and joins the Eastern Naval Command in Vizag, the Badangi airstrip will be readied for Indian Navy's operations, according to Indian Navy officials.

Speaking to media persons here on Thursday, INS Dega air station in-charge Captain Debanil Bhattacharya said the land acquisition process will be initiated by the local revenue authorities after the notification for land acquisition is issued.

Sources said that at present, around 230 acres is available at Badangi, where there is an existing airstrip that was used by the British Royal Navy during the Second World War but was abandoned soon after the war. The Indian Navy plans to utilise this strip for training and other purposes.

The Indian Navy plans to construct two runways of 10,000 feet on the lines of INS Dega in Visakhapatnam. For this, the Navy requires around 2,000 acres, Bhattacharya said.


Keeping in mind the future needs of the Indian Navy and its growing aircraft fleet, the Navy authorities have been actively pursuing the project. Currently, INS Dega has around 40 aircraft, with another 30 aircraft slated to join the ENC fleet in the next five years, which means nearly two more squadrons will be stationed in Vizag.

INS Dega, which started in 1971 with a single helicopter, is also planning to expand, Bhattacharya said. "INS Dega as well as the civilian airport located adjacent to it have been growing and there are plans to expand both, the air station and the airport. We are ready to cooperate with the Airports Authority of India's expansion plans and expect the same cooperation from them for our expansion," he said.
2018 news :
https://www.thehindu.com/news/citie...-of-military-flying-slots/article24374851.ece
https://www.thenewsminute.com/artic...ssenger-flights-vizag-airport-kicks-row-82787


Basically there has been no progress. GE imagery of 2019 shows that farmers are still using the airstrip to store crops. So the navy hasn't even taken back the control of the land from illegal squatters.
 

Anikastha

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Basically there has been no progress. GE imagery of 2019 shows that farmers are still using the airstrip to store crops. So the navy hasn't even taken back the control of the land from illegal squatters.
Navy tried.....cpi became headache....cpi was able to lie innocent farmers that navy will snatch ur pady lands etc etc...uneducated farmers protested...it was during AP telangana bifurication time....state government wasn't stable...so they left it....navy should kick pansy lazy ass Airport authority from INS dega....its navy's land why should compromise...demand for seperate airport was rising from last 15 years....these govt babu's did nothing....
 

Tanmay

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Phaphamau Airstrip (near Prayagraj, UP)

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com...th-c130-at-allahabad/articleshow/63844468.cms

IAF shows its might with C130 at Allahabad
TNN | Apr 20, 2018, 02.48 PM IST

ALLAHABAD: The Indian Air Force, on Friday morning, showed its might and expertise at the airfield of IAF at Phaphamau when the huge C130 Hercules of the IAF landed at the airstrip, which was not in use since the II World War.

The aircraft, which took off from Delhi, reached Phaphamau at around 9 am. The forces showed how this aircraft can be landed anywhere and help evacuation of large number of men in case of any eventuality.

A crisis was created at the airfield wherein as Hercules landed at the airstrip, the injured, who were undergoing treatment by the doctors of the forces in the tents around the airfield, were quickly shifted inside the aircraft. The idea was to meet out any challenge of mass causality like if the main airstrip of Bamrauli is bombarded, this airstrip, which is lying abandoned for several decades, can be made functional and aircraft like C130 can land and evacuate the injured persons.

Talking to media, Air Vice Marshal, Rajesh Isser said, “The entire exercise of landing, picking up injured people and taking them to the nearest city, equipped with handling critically injured people is to create confidence among the masses that IAF is there for helping the country to meet out any eventuality”. The exercise is also helpful to show that IAF, and this airfield, in particular, could be of vital importance in view of mammoth religious gathering such as Kumbh, he added.
phaphamau01.PNG

phaphamau.PNG
 

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good but we need fighter planes so that we can use these airstrips , IAF planes numbers are falling like hairs . Govt is slow in modernization of IAF .
 

Tanmay

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IAF is constructing emergency Runway along Highway In Kashmir @ Bijbiara, Anantnag..

The Bijbiara railway sttaion is bang opposite to it.
The 4 lane highway also is pretty straight for 4-5 kms.

probably it was a planned feature when highway was designed

 
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Tanmay

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Rupsi Airfield was an abandoned WW2 era British airfield. Dozens of such WW2 era airfields lie abandoned in Assam, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar area


Its approx 80 kms from Hashimara Airbase and very close to Siliguri corridor.

Around 2016-17 Modi Gorvernment under UDAN scheme aggresively started renovating/developing smaller regional airports. Rupsi got a new life.


03.PNG


from 1945 till 2014, the airfield lied in abandoned condition.
01.PNG


2020: Brand new runway and other infra.

02.PNG


The airport has a 6,000 feet runway, most of which has been filled with jungle now.

Sources said last time carpetting work was done in the airport was in 1938.

As part of the plan, the IAF and AAI will jointly develop the airport for both civil and IAF flight operations.

Sources said the IAF is also looking at the possibility of extending the present runway from 6,000 feet to about 10,000 feet to suit operation of fighter planes, provided land is available.

The sources said besides civil operations, the airport will initially be revamped to suit logistic requirement of the defence like transportation of troops and weapons, strategic lifts, etc., and the possibility of operating fighter jets will depend on if the runway can be extended.
Sort of a dream come true for me, looking at abandoned airstrips and hoping they are put back in action.


Further work on Malda airport continues at a slow and steady pace
04.PNG



Balurghat Airport has been redone with a new runway
2014
05.PNG


2020
06.PNG
 

Tanmay

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Old news, but still updating it.

Pasighat ALG, Arunachal Pradesh

01.PNG


Pre 2014: A dirt landing strip established during 1962
02.PNG


Post 2014 : A proper airport with 2 km long runway
03.PNG


business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/udan-reaches-arunachal-pradesh-first-commercial-flight-flagged-off-118052200029_1.html

In 2018 : A 42 seater ATR commercial plane also landed under UDAN scheme . Do notice the two Rosenbauer 4x4 Firefighting vehicle.

01.PNG


Similar truck was unloaded at Tuting ALG by IAF C-17s!


Interestingly IAF which landed a C-17 at Tuting ALG in Arunachal carried a Rosenbauer 4x4 ACFT. Tuting is not even a domestic airport, but just a small airstrip.


Rosenbauer 4x4 ACFT @ Tuting ALF, Arunachal Pradesh

I belive thats the advantage of IAF + AAI combination. Civilian airplanes means AAI will provide good Firefighting and other infra! Good during war or emergencies. Else IAF has older firefighting trucks mostly.
 

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