Ayni Air Base

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Not to be confused with Farkhor Air Base.
Ayni Air Force Base
Rudaki, Tajikistan
Ayni Air Force Base is located in Tajikistan
Ayni Air Force Base
Ayni Air Force Base
Coordinates 38°30′N 68°42′E / 38.50°N 68.70°E / 38.50; 68.70
Type Air force base
Site information
Controlled by Military of Tajikistan
Site history
Materials Asphalt
Garrison information
Occupants Military of Tajikistan

Ayni Air Force Base, also known as Gissar Air Base, is a military air base in Tajikistan, just 10 km west of the capital Dushanbe.[1]

During the Cold War era, Ayni served as a major military base of the Soviet Union. However, following Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, the base's infrastructure deteriorated significantly. Between 2002 and 2010, India spent nearly US$70 million to renovate the air base — the runway was extended to 3,200 meters and state-of-the-art navigational and air defense equipment were installed.[2][3] It was speculated by some media outlets that India was keen on establishing a military base in Ayni so as to gain a strategic foothold in Central Asia.[3]

In January 2011, Tajik Foreign Minister, Hamrohan Zarifi, officially launched negotiations with Russia to discuss possible deployment of Russian military at Ayni. Zarifi also ruled out deployment of Indian or American forces at Ayni.[4]


Reports began circulating in early 2000s that India would establish air bases at Ayni and Farkhor in Tajikistan. Both Indian and Tajik officials issued immediate denials, but they did admit that India had been renovating the bases since 2002. India eventually did establish itself at Farkhor, but not Ayni. When fully operational, the Indian base was expected to host 12 to 14 MiG-29 fighter bombers, according to various reports.[5]

Strategic location and geopolitical implications[edit]

The Indian military presence in Tajikistan would give India the required depth and range in seeking a larger role in South Asia and is a tangible manifestation of India’s move to project its power in Central Asia, a policy goal formally enunciated in 2003–2004.[citation needed]

The potential implications of such moves would go far beyond the Indo-Pakistani rivalry on the subcontinent. Russia, the principal economic and political partner of Tajikistan, has also expressed its opposition to any military presence in Tajikistan other than its own.[6]

Former Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf, raised Pakistani concerns with the Tajik government on the fact that Indian planes would be able to reach Pakistan within minutes.[7]

According to media reports, an Indian air force contingent, including Indian Mi-17 helicopters and leased Russian fighter jets, are currently deployed to the base under joint Indo-Tajik control. The Russian equipment is maintained by Russian contractors, creating a sort of joint control over these assets.[citation needed]

See also[edit]