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Ramjee Chaudhari asked: What are the implications on the security of IAF assets due to UDAN operation from IAF bases?

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  • Kishore Kumar Khera replies: Primarily, there are two types of airfields in India - Military Airfield and Civil Airfield. This classification is based on the agency controlling the airfield control zone airspace and ground operations. Creation and maintenance of airfield infrastructure are resource-intensive and duplicating these facilities for the exclusive use of civil operators or military operators is sub-optimal. Therefore, both military and civil operators can utilise facilities at all airfields in India with prior permission and requisite coordination with the airfield controlling authorities. A large number of airfields in India have regular operations by both military operators and civil operators, for example, Jodhpur, Jamnagar, Pune and Chandigarh. The UDAN scheme – Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik or ‘let the common citizen of the country fly’ – plans to expand the civil aviation network in India by activating dormant civil airfields and utilising existing military airfields.

    Although both military and civil aircraft use the same runway for operations, in a dual-use airfield that has regular operations by military operators and civil operators, areas are earmarked for surface operations by different agencies. Civil aircraft operate from an exclusive apron that is segregated from the military area. Similarly, access to the civil airport is controlled by the designated security agency and is separate from entry into the military conclave that is guarded by military personnel. Therefore, there are no additional security implications in a dual-use airfield as compared to an exclusive military airfield. On the contrary, regional connectivity schemes like UDAN, while expanding the civil aviation network in the country, help military aviation by increasing the number of active airfields that can be utilised by military aircraft with minimal additional equipment and resources.

    For more details, please refer to the following IDSA publication:

    Kishore Kumar Khera, “Kargil to Balakot: The Tumultuous Journey of Indian Air Power”, Journal of Defence Studies, IDSA, 13 (3), July-September 2019.   

    Posted on August 13, 2019

    Views expressed are of the expert and do not necessarily reflect the views of the IDSA or of the Government of India.