Amid tensions with China, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is carrying out night time combat air patrols over the Eastern Ladakh sector. Team ANI reached a forward airbase near China border from where the Indian Air Force is carrying out intensive night operations involving its fighter aircraft including the MiG-29 and Sukhoi-30MKI along with its Apache attack helicopters and the Chinook heavy-lift helicopters.
Notwithstanding the strong winds and the chilling weather, the ground crew and pilots are flying using even very small windows when the wind speed is low.
Explaining the significance of night time operations, senior fighter pilot Group Captain A Rathi deployed at the forward base told ANI, “Night operations have an inherent element of surprise. Indian Air Force is fully trained and ready to undertake an entire spectrum of operations in any environment with the help of modern platforms and highly motivated personnel.”
At the forward airbase near China border where team ANI spent more than six hours till late in the night, the first to take off were the lethal Apache attack helicopters.
The pilots of the Apache choppers could be seen flying with their night vision goggles which allows them to navigate through the mountains around the airbase and the dark night.
The strong late evening winds at the airbase and the weather warning almost led to calling off the night sorties but around 10 PM everyone was back to their respective aircraft as the wind speed receded.
Soon after, the mighty Chinook choppers came out on the runway and hovered for some time adjusting to the wind speeds before taking off towards the eastern parts of Ladakh.
The Chinook with its high tech gadgets and navigation aids is fully ready for 24×7 operations and played a big role in transferring troops to the Line of Actual Control from rear locations.
Around 2300 hours, the late-night fighter aircraft operations started with the thundering noise of take-off of MiG-29 fighters which have been at the forefront of high-tempo operations after the hostilities broke out on the LAC.
With its after-burners employed, the high-speed take-off roared over the high mountains around the airbase.
Around the same time when the MiG-29s were taking off from the forward airbase, multiple air bases in the northern sector were activated from where fighter including the Mirage-2000, Su-30MKI and Jaguars took off towards different locations along the Line of Actual Control from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh.
Team ANI had shown the day time operations two days ago and the night time operational tempo was nothing less as well beyond midnight, the air warriors were active on the base.
“The motivation level of troops at the airbase is very high. The morale is very high like our motto Nabha Sparsham Deeptam (Touch the Sky with Glory),” Warrant Officer P Sharma told ANI.
The entire base with its flurry of activities is playing a crucial role in enhancing the combat preparedness of the country along the China border.
“This base plays a very important role in undertaking operations in this area. It is cleared for all contingencies and all combat and support operations to be undertaken in this area,” a Flight Lieutenant had told ANI on importance of the forward airfield.
The officer had stated that in view of the operations along the borders with China after the clash in Galwan valley and the tensions at the border, “Air Power will play an important role in this area in both combat and support roles. We have all the resources in terms of men and equipment to meet all the challenges.”
“The Indian Air Force is ready in all aspects to undertake all operational talks and providing the requisite support for all military operations,” the Wing Commander had added.
Air activities in the Ladakh area and other places along the China border had gone up extensively soon after the Chinese started building up and went up further after the Galwan valley clash on June 15 in which 20 Indian Army men lost their lives.