Keeping a strong vigil near the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and maintaining operational preparedness, the Indian military is conducting airdrops by paratroopers in Nyoma in east Ladakh (J&K) area. The combat drills near the LAC are part of India’s strategy to augment border security in view of the growing Chinese military presence and their infrastructure along the border.
According to sources, the first-ever ‘static line paradrop’ from a heavy-lift Ilyushin-76 aircraft was conducted at Nyoma in eastern Ladakh during August end. The static line paradrop occurs when parachutes, linked to the plane with cords, open on exit in classic airborne infantry mode. The airdrop, with a mix of 20 Army and IAF paratroopers jumping from a record altitude of over 15,000 feet, was conducted by the ‘Mighty Jets’ IL-76 squadron.
The advanced landing ground (ALG) at Nyoma in eastern Ladakh is located just 23 km from the LAC at an altitude of over 13,300 feet. The advanced landing ground (ALG) at Nyoma, activated in 2009, has been facilitating the landing of joint IAF-Army airdrops and AN-32 landings at the airstrip.
The location of Nyoma is very crucial to the Indian military due to its strategic location. However, the harsh terrain and weather has been a major challenge for the military. Having an airstrip at such a location has been a major milestone to counter China with its expanding military infrastructure in border areas. India’s Ilyushin-76 aircraft enables transport of over 120 combat-ready paratroopers, which is three times more than an AN-32 aircraft.
Meanwhile, India has been eager to expand Nyoma into a major air base from where IAF can operate each and every platform in its inventory including fighter aircraft. IAF has also already chalked out a detailed Rs 3,500 crore project to upgrade the Nyoma ALG into a full-fledged airbase. The new airbase will have a 12,000 feet runway. The IAF has approached the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for permission and the project will take about four years once the approval comes.
The Nyoma ALG is located at an altitude of 13,300 ft and lies just 23 kms from the border with China. IAF Chief NAK Browne had stated earlier that the infrastructure of the Nyoma ALG can be developed to station Sukhoi-30 MKI aircraft there “permanently” in future. While Nyoma ALG is not necessarily being developed due to threat from China, it will boost the IAF’s capabilities to deal effectively with any security threat to India.