In a move that is seen as part of the Indian Air Force’s move to strengthen its overall operations in the strategically-key border state, the IAF’s largest transport aircraft, C17 Globemaster, on Tuesday landed at Arunachal Pradesh’s Tuting airfield which is close to the Chinese border.
“The C17 Globemaster of IAF carried out a historic landing at Tuting ALG, Arunachal Pradesh, today. The challenging airfield is in midst of high hills in a narrow valley. The mission was executed flawlessly owing to its superlative performance and excellent flying skills of pilots,” the IAF tweeted.
The IAF also called the landing “a strategic leap in terms of operation performance demonstration and tactical air mobility.”
After the trial landing, C17 carried out an Operations mission and airlifting 18 tons of load into the austere airfield. Airfield is in close proximity to Chinese border.
Earlier, in November 2016 too, the IAF had successfully carried out landing of C-17 Globemaster at its strategic Advanced Landing Grounds (ALG) of Mechuka in West Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh.
Menchuka being just 29 kilometers from the border with China. The Menchuka ALG, which was re-activated in May 2016, was non-functional since 2013 following its reconstruction work along with the ALGs of Aalo, Ziro, Tuting, Pasighat and Tezu.
Mechuka was one of the strategic locations during the Indo-China war in 1962. It takes two days by road to travel to area from Dibrugarh, the nearest railhead.
The IAF had started its operations with Dakota and Otter in 1962 in the area and subsequently, the Antonov-32 was operated till October 2013 before the reconstruction work was started.
Troops of India and China were locked in a 73-day-long standoff in Doklam from June 16, 2017, after the Indian side stopped the building of a road in the disputed area by the Chinese Army. The face-off ended on August 28, 2017.