As the stand-off between India and China completes its third month, the Indian Air Force has stationed its jumbo Hercules CJI 130 at Panagarh in West Bengal.
Arjan Singh Air Base at Panagarh is around 150 km away from Kolkata and is a major air base for the IAF near China border. This is the second air base for Hercules aircraft after Hindon in Ghaziabad. The hangars at Panagrah have been made by technicians and engineers of Lockheed Martin, the company that makes Hercules aircraft.
A senior IAF official also revealed that apart from Hercules aircraft, the air base will have a squadron of Su-30 MKI and IL-78 mid air refuelers. These aircraft together will strengthen the Eastern Command and will be able to tackle any situation in the Eastern sector of the country.
The airbase was inaugurated in the last week of July with six Hercules aircraft. Hercules is not a transport aircraft but is the most modern and technologically well-equipped aircraft of its class. The super jumbo, despite its humongous size, can land on a small airstrip and can ferry a lot of weight.
The aircraft is also capable of strict vigilance and reconnaissance. It can also be used for para dropping and other tactical operations. The twin-pilot aircraft has been purchased from the US and was used extensively in the US operations in Afghanistan.
On August 20, 2013, the Indian Air Force performed the highest landing of a C-130J at the Daulat Beg Oldi airstrip in Ladakh at a height of 16,614 ft.