Kumbhirgram, the Indian Air Base and gate way to Silchar in Assam
In the Indian Far East i.e. the state of Assam lies the city of Silchar. It is the only Bengali speaking city in Assam .Surrounded by lush tea gardens the city of Silchar is a thriving centre of trade and commerce in Assam. The airfield that caters to Silchar is located at Kumbhirgram about 20 km away from Silchar. Khumbirgram itself is a small place and is connected to Silchar by a motorable road, which does become difficult to negotiate when heavy rains set in.
This is a historical airfield and was built by the British just before the start of the Second World War, when it played a significant role in operations against the Japanese. The B24 and other planes of RAF an dthe USAF took of from here to bomb Japanese positions in Burma and China. The Airfield is presently is home to the Indian Airforce which has been using this airbase for over 7 decades.
I had an occasion to visit the airbase during my service tenure and was impressed by the handiwork of the English. A travel by jeep all around will show a number of disused runaways that were used by aircraft during the war. Now however the IAF uses it as a transport base and has helicopter units stationed there. It houses the 22 wing of the IAF.
The development in this region is courtesy the English, who built the railway line (Meter gauge) way back in 1899. But it is a sad commentary that this line is still not upgraded by the Indian Government though the British left India in 1947.
The airbase at Kumbhirgram is of great strategic importance as the heli gunships of the IAF as well as communication helicopters are located here. As the entire region is a hilly one, the use of choppers is significant. In addition these helicopters provide significant support to operations against the insurgents in Nagaland and Tripura. The airfield was also used by the USAF bombers during World War II for bombing missions. At present the airfield is also used by the civil aviation and flights operate from this airfield to Calcutta, Gauhati and Dibrugarh.
Th airfield is one of the most important in this region and again credit must go to the English who first set it up. The airfield is now upgraded and has the latest NAV facilities. Jet aircraft can easily operate from here. For the Indian Air Force its importance cannot be under estimated as it fills a void of an airbase in this region. Working and flying at Kumbhirgram is a pleasure and something to be remembered for ever