IAF reopens remote airstrip

With an eye firmly on China, the IAF reopened the Vijaynagar ALG (advance landing ground) in Arunachal Pradesh for military aircraft, even as the Army wrapped up an operational alert exercise in Ladakh near the Line of Actual Control.

The IAF landed an AN-32 aircraft at the Vijaynagar ALG, which is not connected with any motorable road, to re-establish military transport aircraft connectivity at this easternmost hamlet of India. Apart from the three ALGs in Eastern Ladakh, IAF has activated six of them in Arunachal —Pasighat, Mechuka, Walong, Along, Ziro and Tuting — over the last few years for fast mobility of troops and supplies to remote border areas.

Officials said the resurfaced runway at Vijaynagar, which was jointly inaugurated by Eastern Air Command chief Air Marshal R D Mathur and Eastern Army Command chief Lt-General Anil Chauhan, will also assist in effective management of the border with Myanmar and facilitate launch of joint operations for “the defence of the Vijaynagar salient”. “The movement of large transport aircraft will also act as a catalyst for the development of the area,” said an official.

The “all-arms integrated” exercise near Chushul in eastern Ladakh was called “Changthang Prahar (assault)”. Changthang is a plateau in Tibet that extends into southeastern Ladakh.

The Army’s top officer in J&K Lt General Ranbir Singh expressed “full confidence” that the Northern Command, which looks after the LAC and Line of Control, “will continue its legacy of excelling in combat, should a conflict be forced upon the nation.”

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