Mountain radars for Northeast


Nohwar in Shillong on Wednesday
Shillong, July 27: Sophisticated mountain radars that can detect aircraft 450km away would soon replace conventional radars in high-altitude areas of the Northeast, a top Eastern Air Command officer said today as the air force geared to tackle threats of cross-border intrusions.
Air Marshal K.K. Nohwar said the Eastern Air Command was also in the process of upgrading six Advanced Landing Grounds in Arunachal Pradesh for improving communication.
Nohwar — who is set to take over as vice-chief of air staff at air headquarters, New Delhi, from August 1 — didn’t name China but said the air force was prepared to defend Arunachal at all cost when quizzed on the threat from the neighbour at a media conference.
Nohwar said installing sophisticated mountain radars in hilly, rugged areas of the region would help improve surveillance with their higher coverage.
Placed at a higher altitude and with a range of 450km, they can detect aircraft, helicopters and spy drones earlier than the low-level conventional radars that have limited reception.
Sources said the air force would conduct a recce to set up new stations in vulnerable border areas where the new radars would be installed. The sources, however, wouldn’t say how many mountain radars the air force planned to set up in the eastern sector because of security reasons.
Nohwar said the process of upgrading Advanced Landing Grounds like Tuting, Menchuka Along, Passighat, Vijaynagar and Ziro in Arunachal was on to ensure better connectivity. Besides the recently inducted Sukhoi squadrons in Assam’s Chabua and Tezpur, two more squadrons will be inducted in Chabua by 2014 as part of upgrading the fleet, the air marshal added.
The air marshal, however, said the upgrade was primarily aimed at improving air connectivity in land-locked Arunachal to ease the problem of transporting people and goods and not so much for strategic reasons.
“There is hardly any good road communication network in several parts of Arunachal Pradesh and people have to trek long distances. The upgrade of the ALGs will solve the connectivity problem of the people of the Northeast,” Nohwar said.
The officer also said the surface of the ALGs now was not conducive for landing of civilian aircraft and, with the upgrade, “aerial lifeline will be available to civilians”.
But the upgrade assumes significance in the context of Chinese claims on the state. Moreover, military aircraft will also land in these ALGs for operational purposes.