The operational capability of Indian Air Force got a major fillip with the re-launching of two upgraded Advanced Landing Grounds (ALG) at Ziro and Along in Arunachal Pradesh, taking the number of upgraded ALGs in the frontier state to three.
Inaugurating the ALG at Ziro in Lower Subansiri district, Air Marshal C Hari Kumar, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Air Command said these would further enhance the operational capabilities of the IAF. “The ALGs will further enhance our existing operational capabilities in Eastern Air Command. The capacity build-up will also enable operations by some of our new inductions including the C-130J Super Hercules,” he said. The ALGs were inaugurated on Saturday.
Besides enhancing the air maintenance capability of the IAF in the region, the new airfield at Ziro would also soon start facilitating civil air connectivity, Air Marshal Hari Kumar added. The picturesque Apatani Valley, which is vying for inclusion in the Unesco’s World Heritage Sites list, is already growing as a new tourist destination in Arunachal Pradesh.
The airfield in Ziro, 167 kms from Itanagar, which originally belonged to the Airports Authority of India, was lying idle without any maintenance for several years, once had Vayudoot service from Dibrugarh. The IAF had also operated a flying detachment from the Ziro ALG for air maintenance purposes. Arunachal Pradesh shares 1680 kms of international boundary with neighbouring countries, of which 1080 kms is with China.
Giving details, Group Captain TK Singha said the IAF took over the Ziro airfield from AAI in August 2010 and developed it as part of an ambitious reconstruction plan to upgrade the existing eight ALGs across Arunachal Pradesh. The plan included infrastructure development at certain airbases in the Eastern Air Command’s area of responsibility, he said.
The other ALGs that are currently in different stages of upgradation at a total outlay of Rs 1,000 crore are located at Tuting, Mechuka, Along, Tawang, Pasighat, Walong and Vijaynagar. Besides IAF, which operates all year round, Pawan Hans also operates helicopters from these ALGs during non-monsoon periods.
With the inauguration of the ALGs at Ziro and Along, altogether three ALGs have since got upgraded with paved runway surfaces and other facilities such as aprons for ground manouevring, Air Traffic Control tower with associated infrastructure including perimeter road and a security wall, Group Captain Singha informed.
“The new runway surfaces and other infrastructures are being built to the exacting standards for any other modern airfield in the country,” he said. Runway length and width, wherever feasible, have been extended and would soon enable ATR-class of fixed wing operations in most of the ALGs, he informed.
While the ALG at Walong was inaugurated in October last year, three more ALGs – Mechuka, Pasighat and Tuting – are scheduled to be inaugurated in the next three months. The Tawang ALG project, which was taken up only in 2014, is expected to be ready by September this year.
Upgradation of the ALG at Vijaynagar, however is likely to be delayed due to absence of a proper road connectivity to that place for carrying materials, machinery and manpower. “The issue has been taken up at the appropriate levels by IAF authorities with the state government for an early resolution,” Group Captain Singha informed.