Panaji: The Indian Navy has decided to go ahead with its expansion plans at the Dabolim airport, which includes construction of a Shore Based Test Facility (SBTF) to be used by its MiG-29K fighter jets and the naval variants of the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA).
The SBTF, which will come up at the naval station INS Hansa, is meant to train fighter pilots for take-off and landings on aircraft carriers.
According to the commanding officer of INS Hansa, Captain Surendra Ahuja, the SBTF in India will be only the second of its kind in the world, with Russia being the only other country to have such a facility.
Capt Ahuja also said the navy's expansion plans included construction of several new facilities at the airport, including three additional hangars and two simulators.
He said work was already afoot on constructing a 1,255 metre airstrip for the SBTF facility. A feature of the project would be the construction of a ski-jump that would be facing the sea. This ski-jump would replicate the one that pilots would have to use onboard the mother ship- the INS Vikramaditya - once it becomes available by December 2012.
Since the MiG-29K's flight operation on the aircraft carrier will be in the Short Take Off But Arrested Landing (STOBAR) configuration, two wire arresting systems are also being set up at the INS Hansa naval base.
"The STOBAR system will help arrest both the LCAs and the Mig-29Ks safely," he said.
He said that India is the second country in the world to have a 'wire arresting' system, besides Ukraine.