Indian Air Force begins hunt for smart airfield security system

The Indian Air Force has initiated its search for a new smart airfield protection system eight months after the Pathankot attack exposed several chinks in the perimeter security at a vital airbase, leading to the death of seven security personnel and a close call for fighters and helicopter gunships stationed there. To start with, the IAF will carry out a pilot project at one of its bases with state of the art systems that will include a smart fence, surveillance systems, thermal cameras, motion detectors and acentral control and command centre.

By air force estimates, it will need to spend over $1 billion on securing its most vital air bases after a security audit post the Pathankot attack pointed to the need for upgraded defences at 54 major bases across the country. The air force's western air command has asked Indian companies to bid for the pilot project that would then be replicated at air bases across the nation.

"IAF intends to procure an Integrated Perimeter Security System (IPSS) for one of the IAF base as a pilot project," an air force document reads, adding that it needs an Indian company to "Supply, Install, Test, Integrate and Commission (SITIC) all the equipment / sub-systems to provide a composite surveillance picture embedded with video analytics to generate decision making solutions".

ET had reported in February that a security audit ordered by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar within days of the Pathankot attack recommended a comprehensive upgrade for perimeter defence at all bases. It also recommended smart surveillance systems, drones, and advanced intrusion detection systems. An air force official said that the cost could come out to be between " Rs 5,400 - 8,100 crore in the first phase".

The air force is also planning to raise new troops to guard the bases besides procurement of surveillance and anti-intrusion systems. Post the attack, the air force also moved an anti-encroachment drive to free up the perimeter of its installations and for strict implementation of the ban against constructionwithin 100 metres of its bases.