by Devesh Agarwal
|DBO near the top of the map. Image: Wikipedia|
In a significant capability demonstration move by the Indian Air Force (IAF) achieved a world record when it landed a C-130J-30 Super Hercules aircraft landed at Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) Advanced Landing Ground (ALG), the highest airstrip in the world at 06:54 hrs today.
The Commanding Officer Group Captain Tejbir Singh and the crew of the “Veiled Vipers” along with senior officer of Air Headquarters touched down on the DBO airstrip located at 16,614 feet (5,065 meters) in the Aksai Chin area after taking off from their home base at Hindon, near the capital New Delhi.
DBO is a very important and highly strategic post for India. DBO is located a stone’s throw from the Karakoram Pass which links China with Pakistan.
The base was built during the Indo-China conflict in 1962. The IAF operated a Packet aircraft between 1962 and 1965. In recent years, China has become increasingly belligerent in the Aksai Chin area, with repeated violations of the border. The IAF along with the Indian Army re-operationalised the DBO ALG and landed a twin engine AN 32 aircraft from Chandigarh in 2008 after a gap of 43 years.
However, the AN-32 has a limited payload at these extreme altitudes, and India does not have road connectivity in to this area. This limits the ability of the Indian armed forces to react to repeated Chinese provocations.
The IAF decided to land the C-130J-30 Super Hercules which is capable of lifting up to 20 tonnes of load, to improve supply lines. With this enhanced airlift capability the IAF will now be in a better position to meet the requirements of Indian land forces who are heavily dependent on the air bridge for sustenance in these higher and inhospitable areas.
The tactical airlift C-130J-30 Super Hercules of the special operations squadron the “Veiled Vipers” is capable of undertaking quick deployment of forces in all weather conditions, including air-drops and landings on unprepared or semi prepared surfaces created history today by landing at this altitude and hostile terrain conditions.
This achievement qualifies for the world record for the highest landing by an aircraft of this class. The Super Hercules was the same aircraft and crew that operated at Dharasu during “Op Rahat” for the Uttarakhand flood relief.