Ladakh: The Indian Air Force on Tuesday landed a C130J-30 Super Hercules aircraft at the world's highest airstrip - the Daulat Beg Oldie in Jammu and Kashmir. The landing is very significant as it is a major show of strength by the IAF in a region where the Chinese troops had recently entered the Chumar sector. Daulat Beg Oldie is an important Army forward area post which links the ancient silk route to China.
The aircraft flown by Group Captain Tejbir Singh and his crew landed at Daulat Beg Oldie at a height of 5065 metres in the Aksai Chin area of Jammu and Kashmir. The Commanding Officer and the crew of the "Veiled Vipers" along with senior officer of Air Headquarters touched down on the Daulat Beg Oldie airstrip at 6:54 am after taking off from their home base at Hindon.
The effort is all the more laudable given that the aircraft is very heavy and has the capability to carry up to 20 tonnes of material. The base was built during the Indo-China conflict in 1962 and came into prominence when Packet aircraft of the IAF operated from Daulat Beg Oldie between 1962 and 1965.
The strategic base gained importance once again when it was resurrected and reactivated by the IAF along with the Indian Army and made operational when a twin engine AN 32 aircraft from Chandigarh landed there after a gap of 43 years.
Considering the limited load carrying capability of AN 32 and helicopters, a decision was taken by the IAF to land the C130J-30 aircraft. With this enhanced airlift capability the IAF will now be in a better position to meet the requirements of the forces who are heavily dependent on the air bridge for sustenance in these higher and inhospitable areas.
The tactical airlift C130J-30 aircraft of the special operations squadron the "Veiled Vipers" is capable of undertaking quick deployment of forces in all weather conditions, including airdrops and landings on unprepared or semi prepared surfaces.
This was the same aircraft and crew that operated at Dharasu during "Operation Rahat" for the Uttarakhand flood relief.