In a first, the Indian Air Force landed its Antonov-32 transport aircraft at Sikkim's Pakyong - one of the highest airfields in the country. The successful landing of the military aircraft at the airport, located around 60 km from the India-China border, comes four months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Pakyong airport. The first IAF aircraft to have landed at the airfield – situated at 4,500 feet above sea level – was a Dornier aircraft.
"This is the first landing by an AN-32 class of aircraft at this airfield, which is one of the highest airfields in India," a senior IAF official said. The crew was led by Wing Commander SK Singh.
"The historic landing of An-32 of at Pakyong airfield at Sikkim for the first time. This effort will boost the transportation of troops and material in this region," Defence PRO in Shillong tweeted.
#EnhancingReach For the first time, AN-32 of @IAF_MCC carries out a successful landing at #Pakyong Airfield in Sikkim.— PRO Defence Meghalaya (@proshillong) January 16, 2019
This effort will enhance the Tpt support role(TSR) of IAF in this region.
Earlier only DO-228 has carried out landing here.@SpokespersonMoD@nsitharaman pic.twitter.com/6mDnyFTaQf
"This effort will boost the mobility of troops and materials in this region," he added.
A C-130J aircraft of the IAF had for the first time landed at Arunachal Pradesh’s Tezu airfield couple of days ago. The landing was carried out both during the day and at night with an aim to boost the mobility of troops and material in the region, officials said.
#ExtendingLimits The historic landing of AN-32 of @IAF_MCC at #Pakyong airfield at Sikkim for the #first time.— PRO Defence Meghalaya (@proshillong) January 17, 2019
This effort will boost the transportation of troops & material in this region.@adgpi @easterncomd@SpokespersonMoD @DefenceMinIndia pic.twitter.com/rHKIMXiJCk
India has been ramping up infrastructure along the nearly 4,000 km border with China following the Doklam standoff in 2017. In March last year, the IAF's largest transport aircraft - C-17 Globemaster - had landed at Arunachal Pradesh's Tuting airfield which is close to the Chinese border.