PANAGARH (BENGAL): The IAF on Tuesday enhanced its strategic capability with the second-largest base for C-130J Super Hercules here in Burdwan district,which will strengthen its might against China. Air Marshal S B Deo, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Air Command said, “(The) Availability of Panagarh airfield will definitely enhance strategic capability of IAF in the Eastern Area of Responsibility (AOR) and will also augment the mobility of Mountain Strike Corps which will be stationed at Panagarh in the near future.”
“Panagarh is being developed as a base for C-130J. It is a special forces aircraft and that is why it is designated J. There are also plans for a larger aircraft, a tanker variety aircraft to be based here,” he added.
Earlier, Air Marshal Deo inaugurated the newly resurfaced runway at the IAF station here, which is the second designated hub for the second batch of C-130J Super Hercules aircraft after Hindon in Uttar Pradesh “The presence of the C-130J will also help in humanitarian and disaster relief operations in West Bengal and neighbouring regions,” he said, outlining the various utilities of the aircraft, besides its primary role.
The heavy-lift Super Hercules military cargo aircraft can carry about 20 tonnes on a single flight and is used to move troops, equipment and other supplies. It can land on a very small airstrip and even on unpaved surfaces which will provide a major advantage for the IAF to move troops and equipment to the hills in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh which has borders with China.
Initially, it was decided that the C-130J would be stationed at Charbatia in Odisha. But since the headquarters of the Mountain Strike Corps is now located here, the Ministry of Defence opted for this airfield. An IAF official said, “With its ability to land almost anywhere, the C-130J will be give the Mountain Strike Corps the necessary support to rush troops and reinforcements at very short notice.”
India has been consistently strengthening its defence preparedness in the Eastern and NorthEast sectors to combat threats from the Chinese dragon. “It is a strategic decision by the Indian government and the primary role for the C-130J will be to work as special operations aircraft,” the official explained.
The C-130J Super Hercules aircraft were used extensively by the IAF for carrying out the relief and rescue operations during the Uttarakhand flood and earthquake in 2013 and 2014 and during the earthquake in Sikkim in 2011. India had recently deployed this aircraft in the search and rescue operations for the missing Malaysian MH370 flight.