Delhi runway security: Shoulder-fired missiles top panel’s list of concerns

A committee comprising representatives of various security agencies at the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) has recommended that an audit plan should be developed to determine threats from man-portable air-defence systems (MANPADS) — shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles — to prevent attacks on the runway.

The suggestions were part of a 15-point recommendation to the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MCA) to augment security at the airport.

MANPADS are a threat to low-flying aircraft, especially helicopters. The IGIA is among 22 airports that are in the category of ‘hyper-sensitive’ airports. The committee comprising representatives of the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS), the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), the Delhi Police, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MCA) recently visited the airport in San Diego and the Schiphol airport in Amsterdam to study the security apparatus at these airports. They also undertook a comparison of commercial buildings in the vicinity of runways at these airports with the Aerocity at the IGIA.

The committee stated that due to its closeness to the runway, the Aerocity, which is located on airport land, can also be vulnerable to threats. The committee also recommended that a detailed audit plan regarding threats from MANPADS may be conducted by intelligence agencies, local police and BCAS. Sources said the committee suggested that all areas offering a direct line of sight to the runway and the taxiway be examined for potential to be MANPAD launch sites.

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