The DBO operation has instilled a lot of confidence in our capabilities... As long as the pilot has the desired skills, we can go ahead and land on any altitude
Air Officer Commanding, Hindan Air Force Station, Air Commodore Anil Sabharwal
Interview AOC HindanWhat is the history of Hindan air base and what are the platforms you currently operate from here?
Hindan airbase came into existence in 1965 and it is one of the old bases. The prime reason for this is that post 1962 war, it was thought that there should be an airbase in the vicinity of New Delhi to provide air defence cover. Marshal of the Air Force, the then chief of the air staff, Air Marshal Arjan Singh instituted and set up this place. It covers a vast expanse of the land around 3,000 acres. It is a very well conceived base. Till almost the late Nineties, we had fighters (MiG-27) operating from this base. Once Delhi and NCR region started developing, all the slaughterhouses in Delhi got pushed out to the outskirts and also one of the landfill areas (G T Karnal) falls exactly in the take-off path of Hindan. As such, there is a lot of bird activity because of these changes. Post that, the air force had to take the decision to move the fighters to other air bases. We did not have any fighters operating from there for a long while, only the helicopters operated. Now, we have decided that we will move the heavy lift aircraft, C-17 and C-130, to Hindan.

The aircraft that are operating from this air base are C-17s which are the latest acquisitions inducted on September 2. In addition, we have C-130 J Super Hercules which started operating from February 2011, and Mi-17 1V helicopters which are medium-lift helicopters for VIP communication. We also have Cheetak-Cheetah which carries out search and rescue (SAR) missions for the entire region.

Doesn’t high bird activity hinder operations by heavy lift aircraft as well?
Bird effect is potentially on all the aircraft. But comparatively the effect is much more on a fighter than transport aircraft and helicopters. The reaction time in the case of the fighter jets is very less. A fighter aircraft, which travels at about 900 km/hr, gets only three-four seconds of reaction time which is a potential risk.

We have been taking a lot of anti-bird measures. Some of the measures have already been implemented.

These constraints (unfavourable conditions for the fighter aircraft due to bird activity) rule out the possibility of military exercises at this base.
No, it is wrong to say that it rules out any case of military exercise. The first Cope-India exercise, which is an Indo-US exercise that took place in 2004, is actually a transport exercise and took place in Agra. The exercise for fighters was done in 2005 in Gwalior. Major heavy lift reserve of IAF is based out here in Hindan. And these aircraft will certainly participate in the exercises. So, directly or indirectly, there is participation.

But to answer the question of whether Hindan can be the venue to military exercises, Air Force Day is celebrated here with participation from various fighter jets and transport aircraft. This is a sort of military exercise.
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