New Delhi: India today rectified a 54-year-old mistake of not having a combat-ready infrastructure in its North-East bordering China during the 1962 war. By landing a Su-30MKI air dominance fighter jet of the Indian Air Force at Pasighat, India reactivated an Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) in Arunachal Pradesh, demonstrating its first-ever combat aircraft operations capability in the border state.
Indian Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju, who comes from Arunachal Pradesh, did the honours in the presence of Shillong-headquartered Eastern Air Commander Air Marshal C. Hari Kumar.
The Sukhoi aircraft had taken off from an Eastern Air Command airbase that the Air Force failed to name in its media statement issued after the ALG was declared open. Now, Pasighat is also capable of operating aircraft such as the C-130J Super Hercules, C-17 Globemaster and AN-32, allowing rapid movement of troops, artillery guns, and armoured combat vehicles.
The new runway surface and other infrastructure built at Pasighat ALG are similar to the other upgraded ALGs that have been inaugurated in the recent months. Replete with facilities such as aprons for ground manouevering, Air Traffic Control Tower, perimeter road and a security wall, the ALG will facilitate operations of fixed wing aircraft as well as helicopters of both civil and military operators.
The ALG at Pasighat will facilitate air connectivity with rest of the country and give a huge fillip to tourism in the state of Arunachal Pradesh. The Airports Authority of India (AAI) is in the process of setting up a civil terminal, the construction of which is yet to commence.
The ALG at Pasighat was taken over by the IAF in February 2010. Previously, it was small strip that was partly paved, partly grassy, and reinforced with perforated steel plates. It was utilized in the past for air maintenance sorties and casualty evacuation by the IAF. Commercial helicopter operations were also being undertaken from the helipads that existed earlier.
Following a MoU between Government of Arunachal Pradesh and Ministry of Defence in June 2009, the IAF had embarked on an ambitious reconstruction plan to upgrade eight ALGs, including infrastructure development at an overall outlay of nearly Rs. 1,000 crore.
The ALGs at Walong, Ziro, Along, Mechuka and Pasighat have since been upgraded and are operational now. Two ALGs at Tuting and Tawang are expected to be ready by the year end, while the ALG at Vijaynagar would undertake for reconstruction as soon as the road connectivity between Miao and Vijaynagar is restored.