Shoot-at-sight, says Western Air Command

- Varun Sharma   04-02-2016


India in no mood for a second air base attack

Just after a month of the Pathankot air base attack, the Indian Air Force has issued shoot-at-sight orders against any person attempting to scale the boundaries of the bases for all western Air Command stations in the country. Indian Air Force assets are of crucial importance for the country; such strong steps are being taken to prevent any further wrongful entry within their boundaries.

"All bases in the Western Air Command have been put on high alert. Shoot-at-sight orders have been issued against anyone attempting to enter the base by scaling the perimeter wall or through unauthorized access," a senior IAF officer said.Precautionary boards have put out warnings for the public, asking them to stay away from the air bases or face dire consequences.

It was on January 2 that six terrorists gained entry into the Pathankot Air Base, and held their ground for four days before being killed. In return, they were able to take the lives of some of India’s finest defence personnel. It was through their sacrifice that the terrorists were unable to gain access to the aircrafts parked at the base, and destroy crucial air assets.

Technically, construction within 100 meters of an air base isn’t allowed, nor is construction of property within 900 meters of its ammunition depot, but a lack of civil oversight has ended up in flouting of rules hilly-nilly. The IAF has asked the government to take strict action in imposing these bans.

Answering to the query about the safety audit done at air bases after the attack, the office said that there were no ‘major’ weaknesses in the security, however, some vulnerabilities were identified and would addressed soon. On the question regarding the possibility of an insider as an accomplice to the attack – he said that NIA (the investigating team) has found nothing to substantiate the theory in its preliminary probe.

Describing the Pathankot attack as a "learning experience", the official said that IAF is in the process of finalising a Rs 8,000-crore comprehensive security proposal for its 54 main flying bases in the country. It will include smart perimeter intrusion system, CCTVs, motion detectors, quadro drones, among other things. The cost will come to about Rs 100-150 crore per base, he said.

The officer said, "These proposals were already in the pipeline. Because of financial constraints, we are doing it in a phased manner. Our first focus was to protect the main assets and then move to the perimeter wall." 

He said the government has told IAF that there will be no financial constraints for these works.

"The proposal is being prepared. We hope to get it going as soon as possible," he said, adding that the IAF is fast-tracking the process.

Security is being beefed up across the board on a priority basis and the procurement of boundary protection systems will be fast tracked by the government.