The airbase at Thanjavur was first constructed in 1940 by the Royal Air Force (RAF). During the period 1942-45, 36 Sqn, 353 Sqn and 60 Sqn of RAF operated from this airfield with Hudson, Wellington 1C, Hurricane and Thunderbolt aircraft. These aircraft were used in various roles which included fighter operations, air transport, anti- shipping and anti-submarine patrol. After independence, the airfield was handed over to the Airports Authority of India and Vayudoot operations were undertaken from the base. In mid-1980s, a need was felt to build up the country’s air power capabilities in the Southern peninsula to provide air defence protection to high value national assets as well as island territories.
In addition, there was a growing need felt to protect the country’s maritime trade and the large exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the coming years. The government, therefore, decided to create Southern Air Command at Trivandrum in 1984 and also gave approval for the formation of 47 Wing at Thanjavur. The IAF took over the airfield in March 1990.