Helipad in Siachen will help in troop mobilisation

Soldiers will also get fresh food during their long deployments.

October 22, 2015 02:44 am | Updated November 16, 2021 03:53 pm IST - LEH

India has quietly constructed and operationalised an Mi-17 helipad on the Siachen glacier near Kumar post at a height of about 16,000 ft, considerably augmenting the airlift capabilities for troop support and casualty evacuation. This comes 31 years after the Army occupied the icy heights under Operation Meghdoot in 1984.

One officer termed the helipad a “force multiplier” on the glacier. In addition to added capacity, it also means that soldiers can have more fresh food during their long deployments. While the 2003 ceasefire between Indian and Pakistan is holding across the Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL), in case hostilities were to erupt, the helipad can be of great help in troop mobilisation and evacuation, another official told The Hindu .

Helicopters play a pivotal role in sustaining the troops deployed at the height of 20,000 ft on the Siachen glacier where temperatures plummet to minus 50 degrees in winter.

Currently only Cheetahs and their upgraded variant, Cheetals, can land on posts beyond Base Camp, but have limited capacity which further goes down due to high altitude. The indigenously built Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) and Mi-17 cannot land on small helipads and are limited to air dropping supplies. Mi-17 is a medium lift helicopter of Russian origin and is operated by the Air Force in large numbers.

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