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By Bulbul Singh

The Indian Air Force has decided to deploy one full squadron of MIG 29 aircraft at its foreign base in Tajikistan. Initially only 12 of the 18 aircraft will be deployed by October at the Aini air base, about 18 kilometers outside Tajikistan capital Dushnbe.

The Indian Air Force (IAF)has opted for the MIG 29 aircraft as they are in its inventory and can be flown in and out the region. Indian Air Force officials however did not rule out the possibility of deploying its multi-role SU30 MKI aircraft in the future.

The SU 30 MKI aircraft can fly up to a range of 3000 kilometers with mid-air facility and can carry nuclear weapons.

Sources say, even Russia will deploy its helicopters and aircraft at the same base as the foreign base of India in Tajikistan is coming up with the cooperation of the Russians.

India and Tajikistan have an agreement between them which stipulates the presence of both Indian Army and IAF personnel.

In 2001 the Indian army opened a 25 bed hospital at the base to treat Afghan northern alliance members injured fighting with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The base at Tajikistan is part of India’s efforts to secure its energy interests in the central Asian region said an official of the Indian Foreign Ministry. However, defence ministry sources said, the base is part of strategy to contain Pakistan from air, in the event of a future war.

Currently Indian personnel from the Border Roads Organization, which maintain border roads are building infrastructure around the base and hangars are also being completed to accommodate the Indian Air Force aircraft.

There are unspecified number of the Indian army and Indian air force officials in Tajikistan overseeing the infrastructure work, which is also being assisted by private contractors from India, said sources in the Indian defence ministry. Indian Air Force technicians have been in Tajikistan since 2001, repairing the Russian helicopters of the Northern Alliance fighting the Taliban.

Even Russian troops are present around the Aini base said sources adding that Russian aircraft are using the airport facilities in Dushanbe airport.

The presence of Russian Troops in Tajikistan alongside the Indian activities on the Aini airport is a joint effort between the two countries inside Tajikistan said sources. No details are available on the arrangement between Russia and India.

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