The Indian Air Force (IAF) on Thursday successfully landed a C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft at the Mechuka Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) in Arunachal Pradesh. The move is aimed at calibrating India’s response capabilities at the border with China.
ALGs are airstrips close to the international border. They play a critical role in the defense of the border in remote areas, by enabling the armed forces to either quickly deliver troops to a particular region or supply rations to troops already stationed in remote areas.
The Mechuka ALG is just 29 km from the border with China. The nearby town was a key strategic location during the 1962 war with China. The McMohan Line, the disputed basis for the border between the two Asian giants, is around 40 km from Mechuka town.
This is part of a larger efforts of the Air Force to test and increase its capabilities at the ALGs. The C-17 Globemaster – inducted into the IAF in 2013 – is among the largest military transport planes in service and the fact that the Air Force can land it at any ALGs signifies an expansion of the overall military capability in that region.
So far, a vast majority of the ALGs have been served by smaller transport aircraft like the AN-32. To put that in perspective, the AN-32 is capable of carrying no more than 50 soldiers at a time, while the Globemaster can carry close to thrice than number.
As part of similar efforts at increasing its capacities along the eastern extremity of the border with China, the Air Force had landed a C-130 J Super Hercules medium-left transport aircraft at the Daulat Beg Oldi ALG close to Siachen in August 2013.