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Big boost to military infrastructure near China border! IAF opens another ALG in Arunachal

FE Online
An AN-32 transport aircraft landed at Vijayanagar ALG in Arunachal Pradesh.

Another advanced landing ground (ALG) has been reopened by the Indian Air Force today at the remotest tip of Arunachal Pradesh. The decision to re-open has been taken in an effort to protect its 1,100 km-long disputed boundary with China and to further strengthen its infrastructure along the border with Myanmar too. An AN-32 transport aircraft landed at Vijayanagar ALG in Arunachal Pradesh.

This airstrip which is located at the eastern tip of India is surrounded by Myanmar on three sides and the only road available is almost 180 Kms away and for the locals, it is a long walk for almost 4-5 days.

The inaugural flight had Eastern Command chief Air Marshall R D Mathur, Army Eastern Command Chief Lt Gen Anil Chauhan on board the plane. The facilities have been upgraded and are now fully operational for the AN-32 transport aircraft, special operations aircraft including the C-130- J and the C-17. With the opening of this ALG, IAG has now eight operational airfields in the region of North East.

According to the IAF, this airfield was not upgraded as there is no motorable road and all the building material, rollers for the roads, bitumen, petrol, and diesel all had to be airlifted and that was causing huge delays.

The up-gradation has been possible due to the shramdaan which was undertaken by the locals coming from 11 nearby villages who had offered to help the IAF authorities.

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Over the past few years, the IAF has operationalized six advanced landing grounds (ALGs)in Arunachal Pradesh which include Passighat, Mechuka, Walong, Tuting, Ziro and Along. There is also a helicopter landing ground in Tawang. These ALGs are located deep and are used for moving equipment, troops of the Indian Army's new Mountain Strike Corps.

As has been reported recently this Mountain Strike Corps is going in for a major exercise next month. So the opening of another ALG is going to help in the movement, explained a senior IAF officer.

During the major Ex- 'Gagan-Shakti' last year, IAF had operationalized these six ALGs which were used for various tasks including Special and heliborne operations and inter-valley troop transfers (IVTT). It may be noted the Su-30 of the IAF has operated from these ALGs.

These ALGs were used during the 1962 India-China war for airlifting the troops and their supplies, however, were subsequently stopped. The plans to refurbish the seven advanced airfields were cleared by the government in 2009, as part of major infrastructure development across the 1,080 Km border of Arunachal Pradesh. The Rs 1000 crore project was initiated keeping in mind the 15 small to medium airfields which China has in Tibet autonomous region from where the fighter aircraft can be launched.