To counter China’s aggressive infrastructure expansion on its eastern front, five advanced air strips will be ready for use next month. These advanced landing grounds, capable of landing all types of transport and military aircraft, are developed in Arunachal Pradesh.
In 2011 the Centre planned to develop seven advanced landing grounds on strategic locations in Arunachal Pradesh such as Tawang, Mechuka, Vijaynagar, Tuting, Passighat, Walong, Ziro and Along at a cost of Rs 720 crore. According to sources, advanced landing grounds in Passighat, Ziro, Along and Mechuka will be ready by next month while the Walong air strip was ready a fortnight ago. And the Tuting and Tawang air strips are expected to be operational early next year.
The office of the Chief Construction engineering, Northeast projects, have managed to upgrade the British-era small, mud-paved landing strip of Walong, which was used during World War II for operations in Burma, to land heavy transport military aircraft like Super Hercules C-130-J, Globemaster C-17 and AN-32 aircraft. Analysts claim that strategically these transport aircraft allow swift movement of troops, artillery guns, armoured vehicles and tanks in case of any contingency.
Sources said that in the case of Vijaynagar airstrip, the state government had built nearly 150 km of roads to develop an advanced landing ground for military operations.Indian agencies have been criticised severally for delayed infrastructure development in the eastern theatre especially on the China border. Recently, it was learnt that Chinese military is expanding six key civilian airfields in Tibet to handle military operations. It is also believed that China is deploying advanced military aircraft and support systems, such as air-to-air refuelling capabilities, airborne advance warning systems, sensors, air defence systems and missile stocks on the border.
However, in contrast, India recently opened three advanced landing grounds (ALG) in Ladakh region at Daulat Beg Oldi, Fuk Che and Nyoma, all close to the nearly 4,000-km Line of Actual Control.
In August 2013, the IAF’s C130J Super Hercules touched down at Daulat Beg Oldie, the world’s highest airfield at an altitude of 16,614 feet, located within 10 km of India’s de-facto border with China.
Since then, there have been regular C-130J flights to Daulat Beg Oldie. The IAF has plans to upgrade the Nyoma ALG, located within 25 km of the border, as well as the Kargil air base into full-fledged airfields.