Reactivation of an advanced landing ground (ALG) at Vijayanagar on the Sino-Indian border in Arunachal Pradesh is of strategic importance for the region, Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne said on Friday.
"The reactivated airstrip at Vijayanagar will enable us to land medium-lift transport aircraft like AN-32 and C-130J Hercules in addition to helicopters. The renovated airfield will be of strategic use to improve logistics and develop the region," Browne told reporters in Bangalore.
The IAF Friday resumed operations at the 4,000-feet long airstrip at an altitude of 4,200 metres (12,600 feet) with the landing of its AN-32 with Arunachal governor General (retd) JJ Singh and Eastern Air Command chief, Air Marshal S Varthaman, onboard for its formal inauguration.
"The renovated air base will support the army and the Arunachal government with better air connectivity to its troops and people in the region. Though it will be extensively used for transporting men and materials (goods), combat aircraft will not be able to land as the airstrip is shorter in length,” Browne said on the margins of a conference on aerospace medicine.
Located at the tri-junction of India, Myanmar and China border, the upgraded ALG in the Changlang district of the border state was set up in 1962 as a strategic base for operational reasons in the difficult terrain.
"The ALG was shut down in 2009 to rebuild it and strengthen the military infrastructure, strike capabilities and operational logistics in the eastern sector," an air force officer told IANS.
"We are upgrading other ALGs in the north-eastern sector like Pasighat, Mechuka, Walong, Tuting and Ziro as well as helipads in Arunachal," the officer said.
Clarifying that modernisation of infrastructure in the north-eastern region was not to counter the Chinese build-up across the border, Browne said the efforts would provide greater access to the hinterlands, which could not develop due to lack of connectivity.
"The increased accessibility will lead to all-round development of the northeast region," he added.
The modernissation measures include raising a new mountain strike corps with 45,000 troops in addition to the two new mountain infantry divisions, with 1,260 officers and 35,011 soldiers in Nagaland and Assam.
The region has also seen deployment of Sukhoi-30MKI fighters, spy drones, helicopters and missile squadrons.