India to revive airbase on India-China frontier

October 4th, 2008 - 2:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Leh (Jammu and Kashmir), Oct 4 (IANS) India is set to revive another air base on the India-China frontier, nearly four months after landing an aircraft at one of the world’s highest airstrips at Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) in Ladakh, officials said.The Fukche airbase in eastern Ladakh, which is only 2.5 km away from the Line of Actual Control (LOAC) - the de-facto border between India and China - will be made operational in a month. The Indian Army has been carrying out repair work at the airbase.

“The airfield should be ready in a month’s time and thereafter the Indian Air Force (IAF) will conduct trials to see if a fixed wing aircraft could land at the base at times of natural calamity,” Western Air Command Chief Air Marshal P.K. Barbora told IANS.

Defence sources said the base will enable India to boost its communication network and improve supplies to the troops positioned in this region.

“The Fukche advanced landing ground would be ready for operation in a month’s time and will boost the operational skills of the force on the India-China frontier,” an army official said on condition of anonymity.

“The strategic airstrip is located close to the LOAC with China near the Aksai Chin area and would help in maintaining supply chain for the troops posted in the area,” he added.

In May this year, the IAF created history by landing a fixed wing aircraft at DBO, the highest airstrip in the world at a height of 16,200 feet, after 43 years.

DBO is an important army forward area post on the ancient silk route to China. This base was built during the Sino-Indian conflict in 1962. Packet aircraft of the IAF operated from DBO between 1962 and 1965. In 1966, an earthquake caused some loosening of the surface soil, making this base unfit for further fixed wing aircraft operations.

The army official, however, said that no plans were afoot to revive the Chushul air base in Ladakh.

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