In a significant first, Indian Air Force’s C-130J Super Hercules makes night landing at Kargil airstrip

Team India Sentinels Sunday 7th of January 2024 12:24 PM

An Indian Air Force C-130J. (File photo for representation.)

New Delhi: In a significant milestone, an Indian Air Force C-130J Super Hercules tactical transport aircraft recently landed in the Kargil airstrip during night for the first time. The Kargil airstrip is a military airfield situated at an altitude of 2,927 metres (9,606 feet) above sea level in the Union territory of Ladakh.

In a post on X, the Air Force said the exercise, which used terrain masking on its route to the airfield, also carried Garud commandos for a drill. The Garud is the Air Force’s elite special forces unit.

The landing is significant in many ways. It would now enable the armed forces deployed in the challenging terrain to get logistical support and reinforcements quickly and at any time if the situation demands. The Garud training mission there at night also boosts the armed forces’ capabilities of quickly deploying special forces for special operations in the area.

Earlier, on August 20, 2013, an IAF C-130 J had landed at the world’s highest airstrip at Daulat Beg Oldie near the line of actual control with China in eastern Ladakh. It is just 17 kilometres away from the strategic Karakoram pass.

The historic landing of the IAF C-130J Super Hercules at Daulat Beg Oldie, on August 20, 2013. (Photo: Defence ministry)

It may be noted that the DBO airstrip is at an altitude of 5063.95 metres (16,614 feet) above sea level. It was commissioned in July 1962, just three months before the India-China war started that year. However, in 1966, an earthquake damaged the strip following which fixed-wing aircraft stopped landing there, although helicopter operations continued.

The airstrip was reactivated for fixed-wing aircraft in 2008, with an An-32 landing there on May 31 that year. Air Marshal Pranab Kumar Barbora is credited for reactivating the DBO airstrip, who was then the air officer commanding in chief (AOC-in-C) of Western Air Command at that time.


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