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Thanjavur, May 27 (IBNS): Defence Minister AK Antony on Monday inaugurated the new Air Force station at Thanjavur and said it would strengthen the air defence capabilities of the Indian Air Force.
Speaking to reporters here, Antony said: "The operationalisation of the Air Force station would strengthen the air defence capabilities of the Indian Air Force in general and the Southern Command, in particular."
He said various sensitive, strategic, industrial, aerospace and economic assets are coming up in the Southern Peninsula and the station will play a vital role in providing protection to those assets.
The event was attended by the COSC and the Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne and the AOC-in-C Southern Air Command Air Marshal RK Jolly.
Antony said, "The station will also help protect our island territories and Sea Lines of Communication in the Indian Ocean Region(IOR)."
He said,"Even though we are a peace-loving nation, we have to protect our national interests from threats such as piracy and terrorism."
Antony said the IOR is increasingly becoming more and more active.
"In the emerging security scenario, the presence of Fighter Planes in Thanjavur will not only guard our interests but also give a feeling of safety to our neighbours," he said.
Earlier, on his arrival at the Thanjavur Station, Antony was presented a guard of honour.
He unveiled a plaque marking the dedication of the station to the nation. Two SU-30 MkI aircraft took off from the station.
Thanjavur airbase is poised to become a premier airbase in Southern Air Command.
The air base is now ready to undertake fighter, transport & helicopter operations and detachments of these aircraft will be planned every year.
The Air Force station is also slated to house an array of IAF platforms in the future including Su-30 ‘Air Dominance’ Fighter Aircraft, Medium Transport Aircraft, Remotely Piloted Aircraft and a Medium Power Radar on build up of further infrastructure.
Speaking on the occasion, Air Chief Marshal Browne said, "In the years ahead, the strategic importance of the Thanjavur Air Base will grow in stature."
He thanked the Defence Minister for settling issues relating to the relocation of some villagers for the expansion of the station.
Antony thanked successive governments of Tamil Nadu for their help and support to the activities of IAF and the MoD.