For the first time-ever, the Indian Air Force on Friday landed an AN-32 transport aircraft at the Nyoma Advanced Landing Ground in eastern Ladakh, just 23 km from the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China.
The touchdown by the medium lift transport aircraft signifies India's capability to move its troops quickly to the forward areas, whenever required.
The IAF move comes in the wake of reports of recent Chinese intrusions into the Indian side of the LAC, including airspace violations by their helicopters and painting Mandarin letters on rocks in red.
The AN-32 aircraft, flown by Shaurya Chakra awardee Group Captain SC Chafekar and carrying Western Air Command (WAC) chief Air Marshal NAK Browne and Northern Army Commander Lt Gen P C Bhardwarj, landed at Nyoma at 0625 hours, WAC spokesperson Flt Lt Priya Joshi said in New Delhi.
Nyoma ALG is situated at an altitude of 13,300 feet above sea level and is the third such ALG opened by IAF in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir in the last two years.
The ALGs opened earlier were Daulat Beg Oldi, the world's highest airfield at 16,200 feet, in May last year and Fuk Che in November that year.
The IAF had, before this AN-32 landing, used Nyoma airstrip only for helicopter operations. Only recently, the IAF took up work to convert it into an ALG for transport fixed-wing aircraft operations by laying a compacted airstrip, IAF officials said.
"After deliberating on all aspects and carrying out aerial and ground reccees, it was concluded that Nyoma could be developed for fixed wing operations as well," Joshi said.
An Engineer Regiment of the Army's 14 Corps executed the task of developing the ALG to standards required for fixed wing operations.
"The successful landing of a fixed wing aircraft at Nyoma marks the culmination of joint effort by the IAF and Army to enable the IAF to operate in the inhospitable terrain of Leh-Ladakh region in support of the Army," she said.
"The joint development of Nyoma, braving the extremely difficult working conditions and hostile weather, is yet another step towards enhanced jointmanship between the two services," she added.
Joshi said Nyoma was developed with an aim to connect the remote areas of Ladakh region to the mainland.
"This would also ensure that movements in the area continue when the road traffic gets affected, during the harsh winters besides enabling improved communication network in the region, facilitating economical ferrying of supplies as well as promotion of tourism to the general area," she added.