India is supplementing its strategy of reactivating old landing strips near the border with China. It is now going to position its US made special ops aircraft within a short flying distance from these strips.
New Delhi (Sputnik) — India has decided to position its six C-130J in Panagarh in West Bengal to improve the mobility of armed forces on the border with China. The location is some distance away from the border but within easy reach of the planes earmarked for special operations and rapid troop redeployment.
“The second squadron of C-130J would be located at Panagarh. The flying will start by March-April 2017,” Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha said ahead of his retirement on December 31. Currently, the Indian Air Force (IAF) operates a fleet of five C-130J-30s and will receive an additional six C-130J-30s in year 2017. The IAF uses its C-130Js to support a variety of missions, from logistics support to providing vital humanitarian aid.
Panagarh will evolve into a significant logistic base as the Indian Army’s 17 Mountain Corps is to be located here. More than 90,000 armed personnel will constitute the 17 Mountain Corps which is being raised for deployment along the 2,521 mile long Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China. However, the lack of financial support for raising a corps has delayed the scheduled deployment. “Lack of financial support is creating hurdles for us. We are using our own reserves to raise the formations as of now. But physically on ground, we are on track,” say senior officials of the force. The Indian Army needs approximately $14 billion for the raising of the Mountain Strike Corps in the next four years.
The IAF may also relocate its refueling tankers at Panagarh. The US Air Force had constructed the Panagarh airfield in 1944 during the Second World War as a part of China Burma India Campaign.