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IAF's Bhatinda base to become operational by next year

MARLBORO, US (PTI): The Indian Air Force base at Bhatinda in Punjab, which is being modernised under the Modernisation of Air Force Infrastructure (MAFI) plan, will become operational by June next year.

"We are looking at making the Bhatinda air force station operational under MAFI by first quarter of the next year," Saranjit Aujla of Raytheon's Network Centric Systems told a delegation of Indian journalists here.

Tata Power SED has won the US 240 million dollar contract for modernising the air force station which includes new runways, new lighting system and Air Traffic Control (ATC) systems.

The ATC component is being provided by the US-based Raytheon Company, which will be installing Auto Trac III systems at the IAF stations.

Aujla said the company, as part of MAFI phase one, has undertaken work on 30 IAF stations while work on another 25 stations would be taken up in the second phase.

"The work on phase I began in July this year and would be completed in three years (2014)," he said.

The official of the leading supplier of defence and civil aviation communications equipment said the work on second phase would begin in 2013.

The US company, which has its foot prints already in the civil aviation sector of India, would impart maintenance and adaptation training to the personnel of the TATA power SED, which is the prime contractor for MAFI project.

"The Controller training of the personnel for operation of ATC systems will be imparted in India as there were some issues related to visa," Aujla said.

A team of TATA Power SED is already undergoing training at Raytheon's Network Centric System facility here in Massachusetts.

Asked about the security concerns that might arise out of Raytheon people visiting the Air Force Station in India, the official said they have already submitted the resume of engineers for clearance to avoid delays.

"We have visualised all possibilities in advance and have been working on them. We have submitted the resume of our engineers (who will be visiting the sites for installation of ATC systems)," Aujla said.


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