Sukhoi makes maiden landing near China border

Sukhoi makes maiden landing near China border

Sukhoi makes maiden landing near China border

Sending strong signals to China, the Indian Air Force (IAF) on Friday landed a Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter jet at the newly upgraded Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) at Pashighat in Arunachal Pradesh.

The new ALG was inaugurated on Friday by Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju in the presence of Air Marshal C Hari Kumar, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Eastern Air Command.

The ALG, very close to the Sino-Indian border, was made operational for all kinds of fighter and transport aircraft. A flypast by a formation of three Sukhoi-30 MKI Air Dominance fighter jets that took off from the Sukhoi base at Tezpur in Assam was the main highlight of the event.

The maiden touchdown by a frontline fighter jet of the IAF close to the Sino-Indian border in Arunachal Pradesh was a historic event.

Singer Asha Bhosle, who had flown in to Bomdila in Arunachal Pradesh on Thursday to celebrate Raksha Bandhan with the defence personnel, was the special guest at the inauguration.

“This is a red letter day in the history of IAF. This ALG is located 120 km away by aerial distance from the border and we have been able to land a modern fighter jet like Sukhoi here. This ALG will help both in transport and defence,” Rijiju said.

The ALG at Pasighat will facilitate air connectivity with the rest of the country and will give a huge fillip to tourism in Arunachal Pradesh. The Airports Authority of India (AAI) will be setting up a civilian terminal, sources said.

The ALG at Pasighat was taken over by the IAF in February 2010. Previously, it was a small strip that was partly paved.

Following a 2009 MoU between the Government of Arunachal Pradesh and the Ministry of Defence, the IAF embarked on an ambitious reconstruction plan to upgrade eight ALGs, including infrastructure development, at an overall outlay of nearly Rs 1,000 crore.

The ALGs at Walong, Ziro, Along, Mechuka and Pasighat have since been upgraded and are operational now.

Two ALGs at Tuting and Tawang are expected to be ready by the year end, while the ALG at Vijaynagar would undergo reconstruction as soon as the road connectivity between Miao and Vijaynagar is restored, sources added.

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