Guwahati: Indian Air Force fighter jets on Friday got one more base near China when MoS (Home) Kiren Rijiju inaugurated the upgraded Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) at Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh.
Rijiju inaugurated the ALG in the presence of Air Marshal C Hari Kumar, noted playback singer Asha Bhosle and other senior officers from the IAF and civil administration. This is the fifth ALG to be upgraded and made operational in the strategically-sensitive state. The four other ALGs are at Walong, Mechuka, Along and Ziro. The ALG at Walong is the closest to China.
According to defence sources, a flypast by a formation of three Sukhoi-30 MKI Air Dominance Fighter aircraft, which took off from a forward airbase, was the highlight of Friday’s event. This was followed by a Su-30MKI’s landing at the ALG.
The IAF described as “a historic first” the touchdown by a frontline fighter jet at the ALG.
“The new runway surface and other infrastructures built are similar to the other upgraded ALGs that have been inaugurated in recent months. Replete with facilities such as aprons for ground manouevering, ATC tower, perimeter road and a security wall, the ALG will facilitate operations of fixed wing aircraft as well as helicopters of both civil and military operators,” the IAF said in a statement.
It also said the ALG at Pasighat would not only facilitate air connectivity but also boost tourism in the state. The Airport Authority of India is in the process of setting up a civil terminal, the construction of which is yet to commence, the statement added.
The IAF took over the ALG at Pasighat in February, 2010. Earlier, it was utilized for air maintenance sorties and casualty evacuation by the IAF.
In June 2009, the Arunachal government had signed an MoU with the Ministry of Defence to upgrade eight ALGs, including infrastructure development, at an overall outlay of nearly Rs.1,000 crore. Apart from the five ALGs already upgraded and made operational, two ALGs at Tuting and Tawang are expected to be ready by year-end while the ALG at Vijaynagar will be undertaken for reconstruction once the road connectivity is restored.