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Posted at: Sep 17, 2019, 11:45 AM; last updated: Sep 17, 2019, 1:25 PM (IST)

IAF to reopen airstrip on eastern-most tip at Vijaynagar in Arunachal

IAF to reopen airstrip on eastern-most tip at Vijaynagar in Arunachal
Photo for representational purpose only.

Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, September 17
 
Indian Air Force will reopen the strategically vital air-strip at Vijaynagar—the eastern-most tip of India —and has upgraded landing facilities and to make the air-strip fully operational to land transport planes and special operations planes like the C-130- J and the C-17.
 
This comes after the IAF made all six airfields, called advanced landing grounds (ALGs), in Arunachal Pradesh operational in the past few years.
 
The one in Vijaynagar will be re-opened when an AN 32 transport plane of the IAF lands there on Wednesday. IAF’s Eastern Command chief Air Marshall R D Mathur, Army Eastern Command Chief  Lt Gen Anil Chauhan will be on board the plane, sources told the Tribune.
 
India shares a 1,100 km-long disputed boundary with China in the far-eastern state. 
 
The six ALGs are at Passighat,  Mechuka,  Walong , Tuting , Ziro and Along besides the helicopter landing ground at Tawang.
 
Each of these ALGs is in a deep Himalayan valley and is vital for moving troops and equipment of the Army’s newly set-up Mountain Strike Corps. In October, the Corps, will be conducting its second major exercise since it was raised in 2013. 
 
It did one exercise in July-August 2017 in Eastern Ladakh.
In April 2018, the IAF while conducting exercise ‘Gagan-Shakti’ had operationalised these six ALG’s for conducting inter valley troop transfers (IVTT), Special Heliborne Operations, Air Landed operations and Special Operations. The lead fighter jet Sukhoi 30-MKI also operated from most of the ALGs.
 
Vijaynagar in Arunachal (also known as Vijoynagar) is surrounded by Myanmar on three sides and the nearest road-head is at Miao, some 180 km away. For the locals, it is a four-day trek. An old airstrip exists in the valley. It is not in use since 2016.
 
The disuse stems from the logistical nightmare, as all repair material, including road rollers, petrol, diesel and bitumen, etc, has to be ferried via helicopters.
 
The repair work involves cleaning of the runway surface on which grass and moss had accumulated due to the non utilisation of the surface over a long duration. This task required large number of people as it is manpower oriented. In an unprecedented move, people from 11 villages around Vijayanagar came forward and volunteered to help Air Force authorities to undertake this task by carrying out ‘shramdaan’.
 
 

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