New Delhi: In the middle of an India-China stand-off in Ladakh, the Indian Air Force on Thursday landed its giant C-17 Globemaster aircraft very close to the border with China.
The aircraft landed at the high altitude Mechuka Advanced Air Landing Ground just 29 km from the border, which is 3,500 km long from Ladakh in the west Himalayas and Arunachal Pradesh in the east Himalayas.
The C-17 landed on a short 4,200-foot runway, a move that demonstrated the ability of the Indian Air Force to reach the remotest parts of the country.
Mechuka is located in the west Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh. It takes at least a two-day drive of about 500 km on partly damaged roads to get there from Dibrugarh in Assam.
The Air Force says such high altitude landings help in the faster transfer of men and material in rugged terrain featuring valleys and high mountain ranges that inhibit road connectivity. A series of such landing grounds have been commissioned in Ladakh and Arunachal, some of which, like Mechuka, are just seconds away by air from China. The aircraft landing caused a flutter a day after Chinese soldiers reportedly entered Indian territory in Ladakh and stopped work on the construction of an irrigation canal being built under the rural development or MNREGA scheme.
Around 55 Chinese soldiers reportedly arrived and halted the work, a news agency quoted unnamed officials as saying. 70 Indian soldiers fortified the area and prevented their march deeper into Indian territory, the sources reportedly said.
Army sources denied any Chinese incursion and said: “(There are) routine objections and clarifications which either party seek whenever there is construction related activity. The issue is being resolved through established mechanisms.”