The Indian Air Force will get a new airfield this Friday capable of fielding all types of aircraft in the eastern region barely 100 km bordering China.
“The refurbished advanced landing ground at Pasighat in south east Arunachal Pradesh is as good as new, with a complete airstrip,” NDTV quoted a senior IAF officer as saying Wednesday. “Pasighat ALG is a strategic asset it is capable of operating all types of aircrafts and helicopters. It improves our response time. Besides it will also increase our air operations in the eastern frontier," Group Captain Amit Mahajan said.
The advanced landing ground can be used by heavy fighters like the Su-30MKI and heavy lift transport planes like the US-built C-130J Super Hercules aircraft. It will be one of the operating bases under the Eastern Air Command capable of operating all types of aircraft and helicopters.
This is the fifth forward airfield that has been refurbished and opened up for air operations in recent times. Earlier this year, the forward airfields at Mechuk, also in West Siang district and Ziro, Along and Walong were made operational.
The forward airfields or the advanced landing grounds had been used during the 1962 India-China war to airlift troops and supplies but their use was subsequently stopped. Most of these airfields including the Pasighat air strip were partly paved with grassy patches. Some of the other advanced airfields were reinforced by perforated steel sheets. Pasighat airfield was taken over the Indian Air Force in 2010.
Plans to refurbish the seven advanced airfields in Arunachal Pradesh were cleared by the government in 2009 for a cost of about Rs. 1,000 crore ($150 million). The decision to refurbish and operationalise forward air fields was taken following massive infrastructure development across the 1,080 kilometre border of Arunachal Pradesh. China has 15 small to medium airfields in Tibet autonomous region from where fighters can be fielded.