The Indian Air Force today said it has kept its aircraft on stand-by as monsoon could wreak havoc in flood-prone Brahmaputra valley in Assam and other states in the region. “Since monsoon is on and Assam’s entire region and the Brahmaputra valley is prone to floods, our aircraft are already standing on standby,” Eastern Air Command (EAC) Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Air Marshal Anil Khosla told reporters here. He said the Air Force stations are already in touch with the respective state governments. “Whenever required, they will be activated,” he said. Air Marshal Khosla was addressing the media at the sideline of a three-day ‘Nabhas Rahat’, an exercise on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR), involving the Navy, the Army and all the paramilitary forces with the state government agencies including the police to upgrade the coordination between the Central and the state agencies in case of a disaster. “The exercise was conducted in the calamity-prone region of the northeast and adjoining states with an aim to synergize the efforts of all stakeholders in executing HADR operations,” he said. The IAF Eastern Air Command chief also informed that the Indian Air Force is inducting six C-130J Super Hercules aircraft in its base in the region to reduce the response time in case of an emergency the area of operations (AOR) of the EAC apart from inducting heavy lifting helicopters for firefighting purposes.
The IAF Eastern Air Command is in charge of at least 12 eastern states including Jharkhand, Bihar and Odisha apart from the eight North Eastern states. “We have plans of inducting the C-130J aircraft, which are coming very soon within a month or two. Not only that it is a special aircraft but it is quite useful in disaster relief and once they come in, our response time will reduce and capability will get enhanced in the AOR of the EAC,” the Air Marshal said. Stating that even now, these aircraft will be pressed into service from wherever they are stationed, Air Marshal Khosla said, “If there is a major disaster in any states, it is not only those in the EAC but the entire nation’s assets that will be brought in.”
On the firefighting, Air Marshal Khosla said, “After seeing a lot of major fire incidences where the air force have been called in and with the capabilities of helicopter taking water from lakes to douse fire, the air headquarter has already initiated the process of acquiring fire fighting capabilities of these aircraft,” he said. The force is also acquiring the roll out kit for the C-130 aircraft which can be converted within a short notice for firefighting, he said. Meanwhile, officials at the Eastern Air Command informed that the Air Force headquarters is also looking to induct heavy lift helicopters like the LCA, MMRCA, CHINOOK besides the attacking APACHE helicopters in its eastern command.