New Delhi: In a first, an AN-32 transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) successfully landed at Sikkim’s Pakyong, one of the highest airfields in the country. The crew was led by Wing Commander SK Singh.
The Pakyong airport, the state’s first greenfield airport, is located around 60 km from the India-China border. It was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September, last year.
The military aircraft landed at the airport on Wednesday. Briefing about the landmark achievement, a senior IAF official said, “This is the first landing by an AN-32 class of aircraft at this airfield, which is one of the highest airfields in India.”
Last year, a Dronier aircraft of the IAF had landed at the airport, situated at 4,500 feet above sea level, last year.
Sikkim’s dream of having an airport came true nine years after the foundation stone for it was laid, around 33 km from state capital Gangtok, in 2009. The first commercial flight from Pakyong began from October 4, 2018.
Following the Doklam standoff in 2017, India has been ramping up infrastructure along the nearly 4,000 km border with China.
On January 14, a C-130J aircraft of the IAF had for the first time landed at the Tezu airfield in Arunachal Pradesh. The landing was carried out both during the day and at night with an aim to boost mobility of troops and material in the region.
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.
(Inputs from PTI)