The forward airbase near the India-China border is abuzz with activity, as Russian-origin Su-30MKIs and the MiG-29s and other aircraft fly constantly in and out as the Indian Air Force (IAF) invites reporters to demonstrate how prepared this wing of the country’s defence is.
The IAF is using Transport aircraft including the American C-17 and the C-130J along with their Russian counterparts Ilyushin-76 and the Antonov-32 to ferry troops and equipment from faraway locations. These are to be deployed on the Line of Actual Control (LoAC) with China.
Apaches are prominent as they carry out regular sorties with their only mandate of a combat role in the Eastern Ladakh sector.
The American-origin attack chopper along with its heavy-lift counterpart Chinook have played an important role in the area after the Chinese Army started building up along the LoAC in Eastern Ladakh in May this year.
But what is the importance of a forward airfield? The entire base is seeing a flurry of activity and is playing a crucial role in enhancing the combat readiness of the country along the China border. “This base plays a very important role in undertaking operations in this area. It is cleared for all contingencies and all combat and support operations to be undertaken in this area,” a Flight Lieutenant said.
An IAF wing commander, playing a crucial role in ensuring preparedness at the airbase, said, “The Indian Air Force is fully prepared for operations and is ready to meet all challenges. Airpower is a very powerful aspect of war-fighting and more relevant today.”
How is the IAF readying itself in view of tensions following the Galwan Valley clash? The wing commander said, “Airpower will play an important role in this area in both combat and support roles. We have all the resources in terms of men and equipment to meet all the challenges.”
“The Indian Air Force is ready in all aspects to undertake all operational tasks and providing the requisite support for all military operations,” the wing commander added.
The Chinook heavy-lift helicopters along with the Russian fleet of the Mi-17 V5 helicopters deployed at the base are carrying out regular sorties to take the Indian Army and ITBP troops to forward locations.
To prepare for a long haul, Chinook helicopters could be loaded with important equipment for being delivered to forward bases as China has also dug in heels all along the LAC in this area.
The air activities in the Ladakh area and other places along the China border went up extensively soon after the Chinese started building up and went up further after the Galwan Valley clash on 15 June in which 20 Indian soldiers and even more Chinese soldiers lost their lives.