IAF to upgrade 6 airstrips in Arunachal

Sino-Indian standoff: China had not objected to President Pratibha Patils visit to the state

 
The advanced landing grounds (ALG) will be upgraded so that the armed forces’ regular troop carrier AN-32 or the upcoming heavy-lift C-130J Hercules could land there, IAF vice chief Air Marshal PK Barbora said here on Wednesday.

Machuka, Tuting, Vijainagar, Ziro, Walong and Pasighat are the six ALGs being upgraded for landing of transport planes with materials and troops. This is part of a prime ministerial package to improve the aviation infrastructure in the north east.

In the last one and half years, three old ALGs in Ladakh – Daulat Beg Oldie, Fukche and Nyoma – have been activated in the last one and half years for AN-32 landing.   The vice chief did not anticipate Chinese objections in improving the aviation infrastructure in the north east, which in a couple of years will house two squadrons of Su-30 MKI fighters in Tezpur.

Incidentally, China did not bat an eyelid when the dilapidated ALGs in Ladakh were reopened after structural modifications.  “China is developing Linzi airport on their side. Why should they object to our work,” said Barbora, who had headed the IAF eastern command at Shillong. Linzi airfield is within 30 km of the Sino-Indian border.

Asked about Beijing’s strong reaction to Prime Minister  Manmohan Singh’s visit to Arunachal, he said one has to “read between the lines” as the objections are probably linked to the democratic election process being held in Arunachal Pradesh.

China did not object to President Pratibha Patil’s visit to Tawang in April, even though the president is the head of the armed forces.

PM’s visit

The prime minister too visited Tawang in January but there were no protests either from the Chinese side. “The current protest is probably in connection with holding election in an area which they say disputed,” Barbora said. After two squadrons of Su-30 MKI in Tezpur, two more squadrons of this advanced multi-role fighter will come in Chabua during the 12 five year plan.

Man-portable mountain radars will be deployed in the mountainous borders in the north east to improve the surveillance capabilities.

Govt response timid, says BJP

New Delhi, DHNS: The BJP on Wednesday described the Centre’s response to the Chinese criticism of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh as “timid” and “apologetic.”

“The BJP is dismayed at the almost apologetic tone and tenor of the response of the external affairs minister to China’s protest over the PM’s visit,” said BJP spokesperson Ravishankar Prasad here.

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