Flexing its muscles in eastern Ladakh, where the Indian and Chinese armies have had face-offs in recent months, IAF on Tuesday morning landed a C-130J Super Hercules aircraft at the Daulat Beg Oldi airstrip close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
“The commanding officer Group Captain Tejbir Singh and the crew of the “Veiled Vipers” squadron, along with senior officers of Air Headquarters, touched down on the DBO airstrip, located at 16614 feet (5065 meters), in the Aksai Chin area after taking off from their home base at Hindon,” sources said.
DBO is an important Army forward area post which links the ancient silk route to China. This base was built during the India-China conflict in 1962 and came into prominence when Packet aircraft of the IAF operated from DBO between 1962 and 1965.
“Once again this strategic base in the Northern Himalayas gained importance when it was resurrected and reactivated by the IAF along with the Indian Army and made operational when a twin engine AN-32 aircraft from Chandigarh landed there after a gap of 43 years,” they said.
Considering the very limited load carrying capability of AN-32 and helicopters, a decision was taken by the IAF to land the C-130J, which is capable of lifting up to 20 tonnes of load. “With this enhanced airlift capability, the IAF will now be in a better position to meet the requirements of our land forces who are heavily dependent on the air bridge for sustenance in these higher and inhospitable areas,” they officer.
IAF said Tuesday’s achievement will enable the forces to exploit the inherent advanced capabilities of the aircraft by increased capability to induct troops, improve communication network and also serve as a great morale booster for maintenance of troops positioned there. “It is also a projection of the fact that the IAF is capable of operating in such inhospitable terrain in support of the Indian Army,” sources said.