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IAF executes maiden night landing at Kargil airstrip, inserts Garuds (WATCH)

The operation, a first for the region, incorporated terrain masking techniques and was seamlessly integrated with a training mission involving the Garuds.

Video IAF executes maiden night landing at Kargil airstrip, inserts Garuds
First Published Jan 7, 2024, 9:11 AM IST

In a massive achievement, the Indian Air Force's C-130J aircraft has successfully executed its maiden night landing at the Kargil airstrip, marking a significant milestone in its capabilities. According to Indian Air Force officials, the operation, which involved employing terrain masking en route, was seamlessly integrated with a training mission of the elite Garuds. 

Taking to social media, the Indian Air Force shared details of the historic event, stating, "Employing terrain masking en route, the exercise also dovetailed a training mission of the Garuds." In addition to the announcement, a 1-minute 2-second video clip was released, providing a closer look at the challenging night landing of the C-130 J aircraft on the rugged Kargil airstrip.

The successful execution of a night landing at this strategic location not only demonstrates the enhanced capabilities of the Indian Air Force but also showcases their commitment to operational excellence and preparedness in challenging terrains.

The Kargil strip, situated amidst the formidable Himalayan terrain at an altitude exceeding 8,800 feet, has become a crucial location for the Indian Air Force (IAF). Since 2020, both the C-17 Globemaster III and the C-130 J Super Hercules aircraft have been conducting numerous sorties to facilitate the transportation of troops and military equipment to the forward bases in this challenging region.

In a remarkable display of versatility, the IAF's C-130 J Super Hercules was utilized in April of the previous year for a daring night rescue mission in Sudan. Taking off from Jeddah at around 8 pm, the C-130 J carried a standard crew, including two pilots, a navigator, a flight gunner, a flight engineer, and two to three technical staff. Notably, eight Garud Commandos, the IAF's elite special forces team, were also on board. Equipped with weapons, contingency gear, night vision devices, and tactical flashlights, the team successfully executed the night operation with precision.

IAF's C-130J transport aircraft 

The IAF currently has 12 C-130J aircraft, operating from the 77 Squadron at Hindan and the 87 ‘Wings of Valour’ Squadron at Panagarh. The Lockheed Martin-made C-130J is the most advanced airlifter and India has acquired it from the United States under a US Government Foreign Military Sales programme. It is a highly integrated and sophisticated configuration primarily designed to support India’s special operations requirements. The aircraft is fitted with an infrared detection set and can do precision low-level flying, airdrops and landing in blackout conditions. 

Self-protection systems and other features are included to ensure aircraft survivability in hostile air defence environments. The aircraft also is equipped with air-to-air receiver refuelling capability for extended-range operations. Besides transport aircraft, the C-130J also carries out a range of missions including special operations, aerial refuelling, search and rescue, paradrop, electronic surveillance and even weather reconnaissance.

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