Nyoma To Be Upgraded As Major Air Base Close To China Border1 October 2010
New Delhi: India will upgrade IAF's Nyoma advanced landing ground (ALG) in Ladakh into a full-fledged air base closer to the borders with China to deploy its top-notch fighter jets including the Sukhois there. The proposal for modernising the compact airstrip at Nyoma, just 23 km from Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China, has gone to the Defence Ministry for approval, IAF's Western Air Command chief Air Marshal N A K Browne told a press conference here today. 'Nyoma ALG is to be expanded into a major base and a proposal in this regard has been sent to the government. It is being currently examined actively by the Defence Ministry. If the approval comes today, it would take about four years to get it ready as a major base,' Browne said. 'When we look at developing a base, in our view we have to be able to operate each and every platform of the Air Force at that base. It will not be confined to one or two types of aircraft alone,' he said to a query if Sukhois could be deployed there permanently. 'We have to be able to operate (from Nyoma) fully with all our capabilities....So fighter aircraft is part of the air force inventory,' he said, explaining that all modern fighter planes of the IAF fleet were capable of operating from the 13,300-feet altitude airbase. IAF had activated Nyoma in September last year when an AN-32 medium lift transport aircraft landed on the hitherto unused airstrip. In the last two years, IAF has activated three such airstrips. The other two ALG activated in 2008 are Daulat Beg Oldi at 16,200-feet altitude and Fukche at 13,000 feet much closer to the LAC. Though the IAF had claimed that the activation of the three airstrips was for providing transport link to remote parts of Ladakh to promote tourism, it is a well-known fact that the ALGs enhance the armed forces' capability to lift troops to the LAC much faster now. However, Browne said no other ALGs would be developed any time soon, including Chushul in Ladakh that was being considered earlier.