“TIGERSHARKS”, First Squadron of Sukhoi-30 MKI aircraft inducted by IAF in Tamil Nadu

On January 20, 2020, the 222 Squadron of Sukhoi-30MKI fighter jets was inducted by the Indian Air Force in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu. The squadron has been named “Tiger Sharks”.

Highlights

The squadron has been inducted with modified Sukhoi-30MKI fighter jets that are modified to carry BrahMos missiles.

Background

The 222 Squadron of Sukhoi-30MKI squadron called the Tiger Sharks was first raised in Ambala, Haryana in 1969. It also took part in 1971 Indo-Pakistan war. In 1985, Tiger Sharks were the first squadron to be equipped with MiG-27.

In 2018, during the Gagan Shakti-2018 Indian Air Force Exercise, the capabilities of the aircraft were demonstrated at large scale.

Tiger Sharks

So far there are 12 squadrons of Tiger Sharks inducted in India including the one recently inducted in Tamil Nadu. The other 11 were deployed in Pune, Halwara, Sirsa, Jodhpur, Tezpur, Bareilly, Chabua.

Why Tamil Nadu?

The Squadron is being inducted in Tamil Nadu to check the fast-expanding strategic footprint of China in the Indian Ocean Region. China had established its first military base in Djibouti in the region surrounding Horn of Africa. In fact, the base at Djibouti was the first overseas army support base established by Chinese People’s Liberation Army. The squadron will help to check China’s fast-growing footprint in Indian Ocean.

China’s Malacca Dilemma

China has been constantly finding ways to reduce its dependence on Straits of Malacca. This is to ensure long term energy security policy as piracy in the route is increasing. This policy of China seeking alternate routes is called “Malacca Dilemma”. It was introduced by President Hu Jintao in 2003.

Malacca Dilemma’s alternate routes

China on the lines of Malacca Dilemma has opened oil and gas pipelines in 2013 between Port Sitwe (in Myanmar waters) and Chinese Kunming in Yunnan province. Also, China is developing Gwadar port of Pakistan on the side lines of BRI initiative. A proposal to construct a canal across Isthmus of Kra is still under consideration.

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