NEW DELHI: To counter’s Chinese aggression on eastern theatre, the Indian Air Force strengthened its capability by landing its largest military transport aircraft C-17 Globemaster at Mechuka in Arunachal Pradesh close to the India-China border on Wednesday.
Mechuka air strip is at an elevation of 6,200 feet above sea level, located just 29 km from the Sino Indian border , will be one of IAF’s key forward bases on the eastern front.
According to IAF, trial landing by C-17 aircraft validated its short field landing performance even at high altitude and demonstrated IAF capability to reach out to this remote Advanced Landing Ground (ALG).
“This is a quantum jump from the existing capability of An-32 and C-130J aircraft. Such airlift capability facilitates critical requirement of transfer of men and material in this rugged terrain of several adjacent river valleys, interspersed by high mountain ranges that inhibit road connectivity,” IAF said in its statement.
IAF claims that the force will continue to validate Airlift operations to the remaining ALG’s being renovated in Arunachal Pradesh. This would usher in a new dimension in enhanced disaster response.
The IAF has carried out such daring maneuvers before. Back in 2013, India landed the C-130J Super Hercules at the world’s highest and recently-activated Daulat Beg Oldie airstrip in Ladakh near the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in what was seen as a strong message to China.
Enhancing its airpower capability in eastern sector, four other advanced landing grounds Walong, Ziro, Along and Mechuka have recently been upgraded and are operational now. Two ALGs at Tuting and Tawang are expected to be ready by the year end, while the ALG at Vijaynagar would undertake for reconstruction as soon as the road connectivity between Miao and Vijaynagar is restored.