IAF’s C-130J aircraft makes night landing at Kargil advanced landing ground

New Delhi: For the first time, a C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) carried out a night landing at the high-altitude Kargil advanced landing ground near the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan.

The night landing of the tactical lift aircraft with the elite Garud commandos on board at the Kargil airstrip demonstrated the IAF’s operational capabilities in the strategically crucial sector, people familiar with the matter said.

The night landing was carried out recently.

According to the sources, while such ALG landings have been done earlier and are part of the practice, this is the first time when a night landing has been undertaken.

“The uniqueness of the Kargil ALG is that it is at about 10,500 feet and the approach is unidirectional. It is surrounded by hills, which gives limited space for manoeuvring. Hence, pulling off a night landing is very difficult,” a source explained.

The sources said that the IAF would keep practising similar landings at the Kargil ALG before trying other ALGs.

“The aircraft had IAF commandos, the Garuds, on board and it shows the capability to carry out any kind of operation at night or day,” the source cited above said.

According to the sources, the sensors on board the C-130J, which is meant for undertaking special operations and landing at uneven and short runways like the ALGs, made it possible for a safe landing.

Besides the Kargil ALG, there is also one at Nyoma, which as reported earlier, is being converted into a full-fledged air base. India also has Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) and Fukche ALG in Ladakh.

The sources said that the full exploitation of the ALGs is crucial for operational needs and this was felt during the ongoing stand-off with China at the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

As reported earlier, the Galwan clash in 2020 saw the IAF ferrying over 68,000 additional troops along with nearly 90 tanks and over 300 infantry combat vehicles into the icy heights of Ladakh.