C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft landing in Ladakh

The Indian Air Force (IAF) recently landed its C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft at the Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) located at Mechuka, a small town in the West Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh. The ALG, operationalised in 2016, is located at an elevation of about 1830 metres and close to China border.

The transport aircraft, which was carrying artillery guns of the Indian Army, landed at the ALG as part of the IAF’s ongoing Gagan Shakti exercise.
As part of the exercise, which began on 10 April and is likely to continue till 23 April, the Air Force has mobilised more than 1100 combat, transport and rotary wing (helicopter) aircraft to practice the real-time war scenario. More than 300 officers and 15,000 airmen have also been mobilised to participate in the exercise.

Mechuka ALG was used during the 1962 war with China, but left unused and abandoned for a long time after the war. A decision was taken in 2013 to reconstruct the ALG to allow the IAF to operate from the area.

In the last few years, India has operationalised a number of ALGs along the border with China, especially in Arunachal Pradesh. In recent years, ALGs at Pasighat, Ziro, Along and Walong have been made operational by the IAF.

“The strategic location of the ALG at Mechuka will make it a launching pad for the IAF operations as well as help the local administration in management of the border areas. The ALG will also provide air support in meeting various challenges during natural calamities by carrying out casualty evacuation and humanitarian assistance,” the Defence Ministry had said after the ALG at Mechuka was operationalised.