New Delhi, Oct 3 (IANS): Gaining from its experience of using the Kargil airfield for military operations during the 1999 war with Pakistan, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is all set to develop the airfield into a fullfledged base that can operate all types of medium and heavy lift transport planes.
The IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal Norman Anil Kumar Browne, said at the annual press conference ahead of the Air Force Day October 8 that the IAF plans to expand the 6,000-foot runway to enable the base to operate all major transport aircraft such as the Soviet-origin IL-76 heavylift planes, the newly-ordered C-17 heavylift aircraft from the US and the already acquired C-130J Super Hercules for sepecialist operations.
Soviet-origin medium-lift AN-32 transport planes are being operated from the Kargil airfield, in the northern part of Jammu and Kashmir, since the 1999 Kargil war.
The Jammu and Kashmir government had activated the airfield in 1996 for civilian aircraft operations and was under the Airports Authority of India (AAI) till the Kargil war, when the military operations began there.
Since then, the IAF has been operating the AN-32s from the airfield, apart from the Jammu and Kashmir government using it for operating tourist flights.