Sending a big message to China, an Indian Air Force (IAF) C-17 Globemaster aircraft landed at the ALG (Advanced Landing Ground) in Arunachal Pradesh’s Mechuka. According to the IAF, the trial landing of the C-17 validates its short field landing performance even at a high altitude. Conventional military cargo aircraft can operate from 9000 ft long runways even at sea level airfields. At an elevation of 6200 ft above mean sea level, the 4200 feet long runway is located just 29 kilometers from the Sino-Indian border. The C-17 is the biggest aircraft in IAF’s inventory. The payload carriage of the C-17 is 75 tonnes.
The ALG is at Mechuka in Yargyap river valley of West Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh. It has recently been upgraded. It also demonstrates IAF’s capability to reach out to a remote ALG, the Defence Ministry release said. Many ALGs in Arunachal Pradesh have been renovated of late, and the IAF plans to validate the airlift operations capability at each one of them.
Watch: IAF C-17 Lands At Mechuka, Arunachal Pradesh (video from Youtube – Shiv Aroor)
According to the release, the trial is a quantum leap from the existing capability of An-32 and C-130J aircraft. “Such aircraft capability facilities 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. In the event of a disaster in the region, C-17 operations to the remote ALG can enhance the speed and quantum of national relief effort,” the release added.
In August this year, IAF inaugurated the upgraded Pasighat Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) in Arunachal Pradesh by landing a Sukhoi-30 MKI. Arunachal Pradesh has several ALGs at varying altitudes. Pasighat ALG is a strategic asset and would be one of the operating bases under the Eastern Air Command capable of operating all types of aircraft and helicopters. India is shoring up its defence capabilities along the border and also in the seas to check China. Reports suggest that India is even deploying spy drones and missiles in the North-East. Additionally, to counter China, India recently placed an order for four more Boeing P-8I (Poseidons) long-range surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft. P-8Is are often called the “hawk eyes” of the Indian Navy in the Indian Ocean region.