Kolkata, May 5 (IANS) The Panagarh airbase in West Bengal, renamed Air Force Station Arjan Singh, become operational on Thursday as the second hub for the C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft.
Two C-130J Super Hercules from the Hindan-based ‘Veiled Viper’ squadron, flew in to the airbase while a batch of six aircraft would be handed over to Indian Air Force by US aviation major Lockheed Martin beginning early next year.
Beginning his two day visit to the Eastern Air Command, IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, reviewed the new hangar facility at the airbase which was renamed in the honour of the country’s only living five-star officer, Marshal of the Air Force Arjan Singh, on his 97th birthday on April 15.
As a turnkey project, Lockheed Martin built the hangar facilities and other associated infrastructure, which are similar to the facilities built world over for Super Hercules tactical aircraft that IAF operates since February 2011.
A fly-past by a single C-130J Super Hercules flying in from Hindan was timed to coincide with the air chief’s visit even as another was parked at the tarmac for static display. Air Chief Marshal Raha also interacted with the air warriors of the airbase and Lockheed Martin officials.
A new transport squadron will be raised at AFS Arjan Singh to operate the Super Hercules aircraft. Presently, two AN-32 squadrons operate out of the Jorhat airbase in upper Assam, while a flight of Avro aircraft undertakes VIP communication duties from Borjhar airbase, Guwahati under Eastern Air Command.
Constructed during the Second World War, the base is located in Burdwan district, some 112 km from state capital Kolkata.
The surface at Panagarh was laid during the Second World War by the allied forces as part of their China-Burma-India campaign.
Air Chief Marshal Raha will also visit other adjoining airbases of Kalaikunda, Salua and Purnea during his visit.