The Indian Air Force (IAF) has successfully executed a night landing with the Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules at the unidirectional Kargil Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) which is near Ladakh’s Line of Control (LoC). The successful landing was the first such conducted in the dead of night at the 9,700 feet-high airstrip surrounded by hills with elevations as high as 15,000 feet, making night landings extremely risky and difficult. Onboard the aircraft were IAF Garud commandos, further proving that special operations troops could be airlifted even in the night for covert movements in addition to various other operations day and night, a major milestone for India’s military.
Furthermore, the pilots used night vision goggles and infared thermal imagery to facilitate the landing, however the use of such technology also presents several obstacles. For instance, the aforementioned technology affects the depth perception of pilots. Pilots often use the terrain to their advantage through terrain masking, where pilots evade enemy radar by using natural or man-made terrain which conceals the aircraft movement. The C-130J pilots used the surrounding hillscape to mask their movements to the airstrip.
Prior to this, the IAF landed an Antonov An-32 transport aircraft on the airstrips but they lacked night landing capabilities in Kargil. In 2013, the C-130J landed at the highest airfield in the world located at Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) in Ladakh’s Depsang Valley. Another ALG in Nyoma is currently being converted to a full-fledged air base. shp/adj/dl (Pix:Indian Air Force)