India has supplied Thanjavur air base on its strategic southern coast with Su-30MKI air superiority fighter jets as part of an ongoing effort to boost the defenses of the Indian Ocean region.
On Monday, the jets were officially inducted at Thanjavur Air Force Station in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, which is set to be home to the No. 222 Squadron, known as ‘Tiger Sharks’.
Chief of Defense Staff General Bipin Rawat and Chief of the Air Staff Air Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria were present at the ceremony.
— ANI (@ANI) January 20, 2020
The squadron will have five to six planes, with the number expected to rise to 18 in the future, according to local media. The new aircraft are being equipped with BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles, which were jointly developed by India and Russia and have a range of 300km (186 miles).
The Sukhoi-30 MKI was developed on the basis of Russia’s Sukhoi-30 especially for India (‘MKI’ means Modernised Commercial Indian by its first Russian letters). The planes are highly-maneuverable, equally capable of striking ground targets during a raid and conducting dogfights. In Thanjavur, they will be tasked with defending India’s southern coasts and patrolling maritime areas.
Several days before the ceremony, Air Marshal Amit Tiwari, who leads the Southern Air Command, said that the IAF are ready to “extend the reach into the vast Indian Ocean region.” The strategic region has “an important role to play in regional peace, security and prosperity,” he said.
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