The Indian Air Force (IAF) is enhancing its operational capacity in the northern sector by constructing a second runway at the strategically vital Leh airbase in Ladakh.

This development aims to accommodate the increasing military and civilian air traffic while ensuring uninterrupted operations, especially during potential hostilities along the border.

The Leh airbase, situated at a high altitude, has experienced a significant surge in air traffic in recent years. However, its operational window for aircraft has been limited to morning hours due to the rarefied air and challenging climatic conditions. The construction of a second runway seeks to address these constraints and enable round-the-clock operations.

An unnamed IAF officer highlighted the intensified military activities in the region, including frequent operations by fighter aircraft and attack helicopters like the Rafale, MiG-29, Su-30, and Apache.

The officer emphasized the importance of uninterrupted operations, citing an incident last year where a stranded C-17 transport aircraft blocked the runway for two days, underscoring the potential risks of such situations during volatile border conditions.

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The Leh airbase plays a pivotal role in maintaining India’s military presence along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and Siachen glacier.

It serves as a crucial hub for transporting troops, supplies, weapons, and equipment, particularly during the winter months when road connectivity to the region is cut off due to snow.

The airbase is complemented by other airstrips and landing grounds in the area, forming a vital network for military operations.

The addition of a second runway will make Leh the first high-altitude airbase in India with dual runways, a feature already present in several IAF stations and naval airbases in other parts of the country.

In comparison, China has also been upgrading its airbases in Tibet, with some, like Hotan, Shigatse, and Changdu Bangda, boasting multiple runways

Satellite imagery has revealed new facilities and infrastructure at these bases, highlighting China’s ongoing efforts to enhance its military capabilities in the region.

(With Agency Inputs)