Farkhor Air Base
|Farkhor Air Base|
|Type||Air force base|
|Owner||Tajikistan Air Force|
|Controlled by||Tajikistan Air Force |
Indian Air Force
|Occupants||Tajikistan Air Force|
Indian Air Force
Farkhor Air Base is a military air base located near the town of Farkhor in Tajikistan, 130 kilometres (81 mi) southeast of the capital Dushanbe. It is operated by the Indian Air Force in collaboration with the Tajik Air Force. Farkhor is India's first military base outside its territory. Chabahar Port in Iran, developed by India, provides India surface transport access to Farkhor Air Base via Afghanistan.
In 1996-97, Indian intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) started negotiations with Tajikistan to use the Farkhor airbase to transport high-altitude military supplies to the Afghan Northern Alliance, service their helicopters and gather intelligence. At that time, India operated a small military hospital in the Farkhor region. The hospital at Farkhor was used to treat Afghan Northern Alliance members injured in fighting with the Taliban, including military leader Ahmed Shah Massoud, who was rushed there after a suicide attack against him. In 2002, India acknowledged that it was setting up an air base in Farkhor. It was secured with assistance from Russia. The airbase was in a dilapidated condition and was not used since the 1980s. The Indian Government awarded a $10 million tender to a private builder in 2003 to restore the airbase by 2005. After the builder defaulted, the Border Roads Organisation stepped in to complete the work. In 2006, India was considering deploying a squadron of MiG 29 aircraft at the base.
Strategic location and geopolitical implications
The Farkhor Air Base would give the Indian military the required depth and range in seeking a larger role in the Indian Subcontinent and is a tangible manifestation of India’s move to project its power in Central Asia, a policy goal formally enunciated in 2003/04.
The potential implications of this base go far beyond the Indo-Pakistani rivalry on the subcontinent. Pakistan fears being encircled by India with the base in Farkhor operational. In 2003 the President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf raised concerns to the Tajik government over the fact that Indian planes would be able reach Pakistan within minutes using the air base.
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