Shailesh Kumar is an independent journalist with over 17 years of experience in crime, political and defence reporting for leading media brands including Star News, India TV and NewsX. He is the founder editor of defence and security news portal, National Defence.
New Delhi, 03 November 2016
At an elevation of 6200 ft AMSL with a landing surface only 4200 feet long, a trial landing was carried out by the mighty C-17 Globemaster aircraft on 02 Nov 16, thereby validating its short field landing performance at high altitude. This operation demonstrated the IAF capability to reach out to this remote ALG (Advanced Landing Ground) located just 29 km from the Sino-Indian border.
The ALG at Mechuka in the Yargyap river valley of West Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh had been upgraded recently. The road connectivity to the nearest air/ rail head at Dibrugarh, about 500 km away is generally two days of travel, unless the roads get damaged due to frequent landslides.
This is a quantum jump from the existing capability of An-32 and C-130J aircraft. Such airlift capability facilitates speedy transfer of men and material in this rugged terrain, interspersed with valleys and 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.
IAF has plans to validate airlift operations to and from various ALGs in the region that would usher in a new dimension in enhanced disaster response. This trial landing is expected to pave the way for operation of civil flights operating to and from the newly upgraded ALGs, which has an enormous potential to boost tourism by improving connectivity to remote locations in the North East.
The aircraft was received by the Detachment Commander Flt Lt S Dixit on its maiden landing in Mechuka. The aircrew who were part of this historic landing were Gp Capt TR Ravi, Wg Cdr P Sisodia, Wg Cdr AK Patnaik, MWO Tripathi and WO Nirana Ram.