NATIONAL

IAF reopens base after 43 years

Back to life: An Indian Air Force aircraft lands at Daulatbeg Oldi airbase in Leh Division of Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday.

Back to life: An Indian Air Force aircraft lands at Daulatbeg Oldi airbase in Leh Division of Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: PTI

It will boost the capability to survey the strategic Karakoram highway that links China and Pakistan

Leh: The Indian Air Force (IAF) on Saturday operationalised the Daulatbeg Oldi (DBO) airbase in the Ladakh region after a gap of 43 years.

An AN-32 transport aircraft carrying Air Officer-in-Chief Western Air Command Air Marshal P.K. Barbora landed at the unpaved runway at 8.50 a.m. after flying from Chandigarh.

The airbase could give India the capability to have an eye on the strategic Karakoram highway that links China and Pakistan.

Near Aksai Chin



The airbase is almost a stone’s throw away from the Aksai Chin area of Jammu and Kashmir, which had been under Chinese occupation since 1959.

The base is located at an altitude of 4,960 metres near the base of the Karakoram Pass, still held by India on the old silk trading route to Yarkand in China.

Other air fields too

The IAF plans to revive air fields at Chushul and Fukche in eastern Ladakh, also along the Chinese border.

Set up during the conflict of 1962, the base was operated with American-supplied Fairchild Packets. It was closed down in 1966 when an earthquake caused loosening of the surface soil, making the area unsuitable for fixed wing aircraft.

“As part of moves to bolster aerial and land reconnaissance capability in the strategic region, the Army carried out repair work to make the airbase operational again,” sources in the IAF said. “Regular operations by AN-32 will be initiated in due course,” the sources said. — PTI

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