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Arun Chavan asked: What is Air Defence Zone? Does India have such a zone?

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  • Kishore Kumar Khera replies: Air Defence Zone, more commonly known as Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ), is a segment of air space in which entry and subsequent air operations are permitted only after specific authorisation by the controlling Air Defence Authority. Air space over territory, including territorial waters, of a state, is the ADIZ controlled by its armed forces. Any violation of ADIZ is treated as a violation of state sovereignty and appropriate action is initiated to either shoot down the intruder or force the intruder to land at a pre-designated airbase for further questioning.

    Air space over entire Indian territory including Islands and territorial waters is notified as ADIZ, which is controlled by the Indian Air Force (IAF). An Air Defence Clearance (ADC) number is allotted to all aircraft that are cleared to enter and operate within ADIZ. Entry into or air operations in ADIZ without permission triggers a kinetic response. A number of radars, surface-to-air guided weapons and armed combat aircraft ensure compliance. A typical example was in May 2019 when a Georgian An-12 flying at 27,000 feet did not follow the authorised Air Traffic Services (ATS) route and entered Indian air space from an unscheduled point. The aircraft was intercepted by combat aircraft and forced to land at Jaipur for further investigations. However, on 10 August 1999, a violation of Indian air space by Pakistan naval aircraft Atlantic resulted in the aircraft being shot down killing all 16 personnel on board.

    For air defence activities in India, organisational changes including setting up an Air Defence Command are under consideration. For details, please refer to the following MP-IDSA publication.

    Kishore Kumar Khera, “Air Defence CommandA Bold Test Case”, MP-IDSA Issue Brief, 27 January 2020.

    Posted on 4 April 2022

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