At a time when Chinese incursions on the border have raised political temperatures, New Delhi sent out a powerful message on Friday by landing an AN-32 aircraft at the Nyoma airfield, 23 km short of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
The touchdown at an attitude of 13,300 feet by the fixed-wing (non-helicopter) aircraft signifies India’s capability to move its troops quickly to forward areas, whenever required.
Officers described the joint Army and Air Force operation at Nyoma, 210 km east of Leh, as significant. Though helicopters have been landing here, this is for the first time that a fixed-wing aircraft has landed at Nyoma’s compacted airstrip.
Nyoma town is the headquarters of Leh district’s Changthang sub-division, bordering China, which has witnessed a number of incursions in recent weeks.
This is the third major airfield to be activated in the border areas of the Ladakh region. Earlier, the Daulat Beg Oldie and Fukche airfields were reactivated on May 31 and November 4, 2008, for the first time after the Sino-Indian war of 1962.
Fifteen months after an AN-32 landed at Daulat Beg Oldie, the highest airfield in the world at 16,200 feet, the exercise came at a time when the army has heightened its preparedness along the LAC in Ladakh.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah told HT that the incursions should be viewed seriously.