With an eye on China, the Indian Air Force on Wednesday inaugurated a resurfaced runway in Vijaynagar, in Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh, the eastern-most inhabited locality of the country, while a massive Army exercise was held in Eastern Ladakh region involving integrated troops of all arms and services in “super-high altitude”.
The runaway in Vijaynagar is 4,000 feet long and at present is fit only for AN-32 aircraft operations.
The developments come days after a “face-off” between Indian and Chinese troops in Ladakh.
Testing preparedness, the Army exercise in Ladakh included soldiers of the infantry, paratroopers, T-72 tanks and the mechanised infantry. Eastern Ladakh region is near the Line of Actual Control with China.
General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Northern Command, Lt Gen Ranbir Singh saw the exercise of the integrated troops on Tuesday and was briefed by Lt Gen Y K Joshi, General Officer Commanding, Fire & Fury Corps.
“The exercise encompassed employment of mechanised forces with force multiplies integrating high technology platforms,” the Army said in a statement.
To create a more effective and unified strike forces, the Army is working towards setting up integrated battle groups, which will include infantry, armoury, mechanised infantry and artillery, it stated.
Lt Gen Singh complimented the troops for their “outstanding display of professional competence and war fighting capability in extreme terrain and altitude conditions”. He also said he is “confident that the Northern Command will continue its legacy of excelling in combat, should a conflict be forced upon the nation”.
About the inauguration of the runway in Arunachal’s Changlang district, IAF PRO, Wing Commander Ratnakar Singh, said in a statement, “Air Marshal R D Mathur, AOC-in-C Eastern Air Command, and Lieutenant General Anil Chauhan, GOC-in-C Eastern Command, jointly inaugurated the resurfaced runway at Vijaynagar Advanced Landing Ground…re-establishing military transport aircraft connectivity at this eastern-most hamlet of India.”
“Repair of the runway at Vijaynagar, which was coordinated by Air Force Station Jorhat, was a challenging task because, there being no road connectivity, all load had to be airlifted by helicopters.”
Vijaynagar is not connected by road. Construction on a proposed 157-km road connecting it to Miao, the nearest town, has stopped given several complications. So far, the main mode of transport has been helicopters. A trek from Vijayanagar to Miao is said to take almost a week and sugar reportedly sells at Rs 200 per kg in Vijaynagar.
Vijaynagar is surrounded by Myanmar on three sides and the fourth side comprises stretches of Namdapha National Park.
In the 1960s, over 200 Gorkha families of retired Assam Rifles personnel were settled in the area by the Union government.
These families and people from the Lisu tribe form the residing community here.
Wing Commander Singh stated, “The movement of larger transport aircraft to and from this airfield will act as a catalyst for development in the area and facilitate movement of locals. The airfield is important not only for the local administration, in extending their reach to residents of this remote area, but also crucial from a strategic point of view….”