Near the tiny city of Farkhor, lies India’s first and only overseas military airbase. Farkhor is a city in the landlocked country of Tajikistan. The airbase is mainly operated by the Indian Air Force, though, it is done in collaboration with the Tajikistan Air Force.
Before the Indian Air Force took over the airbase, it was in a battered condition. Between 1996 and 1997, the Indian Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) began arbitrating with the Tajikistan government regarding the use of the airbase to help the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance in Afghanistan with supplies and also gathering intelligence. During that time, India was operating a small military hospital to treat the injured Afghan Northern Alliance soldiers It was here that former Northern Alliance leader and ‘Lion of Panjshir’ Ahmed Shah Massoud was treated for his fatal injuries from the suicide bomb attack on September 9,2001.
The base was used to repair the MI series of helicopters belonging Northern Alliance during the Afghan war. This was done by the technicians of the Aviation Research Center (ARC). It was in 2002 that India admitted its intentions to set up an airbase in Farkhor. India used its Russian ties to secure the airbase. In 2003 a private builder was awarded $ 10 million tender to restore the airbase. But the builder backed-off and India’s premier road agency, Boarder Road Organization (BRO) stepped in and completed the construction of the base in 2005.
The presence of the Indian Air Force in Central Asia has implications on India’s relationship with countries like China, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Pakistan already fears being encircled during future wars by India. The Indian presence at Farkhor has also increased depth to India’s military range of strike to operation. Despite negotiations for the withdrawal of international security forces in Afghanistan by 2014, India plans to revive the Farkhor Airbase with intentions of upgrading the defense relationship between the two countries. In addition, India intends to start an Indian-Central Asian University in Bishkek, an e-technology network just like in Africa and even broadcast Russian dubbed Bollywood movies across Central Asia. Looks like India is ambitious in proving that it is as strong a power as China is in Central Asia.
After its completion, a squadron of MiG 29 aircraft would be stationed at the base. As of January 2013, the base still looks untouched, the Google Maps show the runway in bad condition and no visible air force assets, it’s safe to say that the air base looks deserted for some time now. Tell us what you think about an overseas Indian Air Force base.