Itanagar: In a major boost to the country's rapid airlift capability in Arunachal Pradesh, the mighty C-17 Globemaster aircraft today made its first landing at Mechuka Advanced Landing Ground, just 29 km from Sino-Indian border.
At an elevation of 6,200 ft with a landing surface only 4,200 ft long, the plane landed, validating its short field landing performance at high altitude.
The ALG at Mechuka in the Yargyap river valley of West Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh had been upgraded recently.
Situated along the international border, Mechuka was one of the strategic locations during the India-China war in 1962.
The IAF had started its operations with Dakota and Otter in 1962 in the area and subsequently the Antonov-32, popularly known as AN-32, was operated till October 2013 before the upgrade work was started.
The road connectivity to the nearest air/rail head at Dibrugarh, about 500 km away, is generally two days of travel, unless the roads get damaged due to frequent landslides.
"This is a quantum jump from the existing capability of An-32 and C-130J aircraft. Such airlift capability facilitates speedy transfer of men and material in this rugged terrain, interspersed with valleys and high mountain ranges that inhibit road connectivity," a statement by the IAF said.
In the event of a disaster in the region, C-17 operations to the remote ALG can enhance the speed and quantum of national relief effort.
IAF has plans to validate airlift operations to and from various ALGs in the region that would usher in a new dimension in enhanced disaster response.
This trial landing is expected to pave the way for operation of civil flights operating to and from the newly upgraded ALGs, which has an enormous potential to boost tourism by improving connectivity to remote locations in the North East.