Indian forces get foothold in Central Asia

July 18th, 2007  

Topic: Indian forces get foothold in Central Asia

Indian forces get foothold in Central Asia
17 Jul 2007, 0057 hrs IST,Rajat Pandit,TNN

➢ Immediate plan is to deploy Mi-17 choppers and some trainer aircraft at Ayni airbase
➢ Later, MiG-29s could be stationed there
➢ The base will help New Delhi to keep tabs on its energy interests in central Asia
➢ It will also allow close watch on anti-India activities on Pak-Afghan border
➢ In situations like Kandahar hijack, special forces can be moved in quickly when national interests are threatened (TOI Photo)

NEW DELHI: Quietly, very quietly, India is preparing to deploy at least one squadron of Mi-17 helicopters at the Ayni airbase in Tajikistan. This will be its 'first real military outpost' on foreign shores and give New Delhi 'strategic reach' in energy-rich Central Asia.

The 'immediate' plan may well be to deploy Mi-17 helicopters, as well as some Kiran trainer aircraft to train Tajik pilots, at the airbase before the end of this year. But sources confirmed that this was just the prelude to 'a larger strategic imprint' in the region, which India sees as crucial to its growing energy needs. The 'eventual aim' is to station even MiG-29 fighter jets at the airbase.

"It may be just a military outpost at the moment but will develop into a full-fledged base in the future," said a source. This will also give India the option to even rapidly 'insert' its special forces into nearby areas if its interests are threatened, as they were during the hijack of IC-814 to Kandahar in December 1999.

Officially, the defence ministry and IAF strongly deny the move to establish an Indian military base at Ayni. But there is also a quiet sense of satisfaction at the unfolding of the Ayni plan, first conceived in 2002, which will see India break out of its self-imposed strategic constraint that rarely extended beyond its immediate neighbourhood.

Sources say the defence ministry has sought the Cabinet Committee on Security's formal approval to begin operations at the Ayni airbase, renovated and upgraded with India's help at a cost of almost Rs 100 crore.

With the help of engineers from Army and Border Roads Organisation, India has extended and relaid the runway at the airbase, around 15 km from Tajik capital Dushanbe. It has also constructed three aircraft hangars and an air-control tower besides implementing perimeter fencing around the base.

This was done under a three-way agreement among India, Tajikistan and Russia. It has gained momentum since the Ayni airbase — lying largely unused since the mid-1980s — has now become 'fully-ready' for operations after four years of hard work.

India, on its part, wants "military presence" in the area to keep tabs on "any anti-Indian activity" in the terrorism-infested Pakistan-Afghanistan region.
July 19th, 2007  

Topic: Region

Is this a India ploy to get maybe some day a fighter squadron on Pakistan's northern border/flank or is really to safe guard there oil interest? The other question I have about this will there be more Russians or Indian's deployed at this base? Thanks
July 19th, 2007  
Better India expand its sphere of influence than China or Pakistan.
July 19th, 2007  

Topic: India

I agree 100% and would even offer transport aircraft to move more assets there for them.

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