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For the first time, Antonov-32 AN-32 transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) carried out a successful landing at Sikkim’s Pakyong, one of the highest airfields in the country.
The successful landing has assumed great importance due to its strategic location of 60 km from the India-China border and it is located 4,500 feet above sea level. The successful landing is a booster for the Indian efforts which is aggressively overhauling the infrastructure, particularly in the North-Eastern region, following the Doklam standoff in 2017.
Pakyong Airport is a Greenfield airport near Gangtok, the capital of the state of Sikkim. It is the first greenfield airport to be constructed in the Northeastern Region of India.
The airport is strategically important and the Indian Air Force is also building on the ability to land certain military aircraft at the Pakyong Airport. Prior to the inauguration of the Pakyong Airport by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 24th September 2018, Sikkim was the sole state in India without a functional airport and Sikkim was dependent on the airport at Bagdogra in the neighbouring state of West Bengal, and Paro Airport in Bhutan.
Indian Air Force (IAF) launched Trans-Himalayan Mountain Terrain Biking Expedition (THE MTB) as part of its celebration of 86th Anniversary on 8 October 2018. The expedition was started on 17 Aug 2018 from Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) in Ladakh for Kibithu in Arunachal Pradesh. DBO and Kibithu are two forward most outposts of India in North and in East with DBO being highest airfield in the world located altitude of 16614 feet.
The aim of MTB expedition is to promote spirit of adventure among Air Warriors to undertake daunting challenges and ‘Go Green’ initiative. The team for expedition consisted of 18 Air warriors (12 riders and 06 support staff) which also include two women officers. It is led by Wg Cdr S Sharathchandra.
The team covered distance of more than 4500 km through mountain terrain passing through states of Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. This is for first time IAF has undertaken mountain terrain biking expedition of such magnitude. Under this adventure expedition, IAF team will undertake involves camping and living outdoors, managing and surviving on their own in snow, rain and extreme climatic conditions throughout the expedition.