Monday, November 30, 2020
Home News Reports I reactivated Ladakh’s Daulat Beg Oldi airstrip in 2008 without informing govt because earlier...

I reactivated Ladakh’s Daulat Beg Oldi airstrip in 2008 without informing govt because earlier 5 requests were denied: Former Air Marshal PK Barbora

After reaching Chandigarh from Daulat Beg Oldi, they informed Delhi that they have reactivated the remote airstrip after 43 years, and that is when the defence minister became aware of it.

In an explosive revelation, former Air Marshal Pranab Kumar Barbora has said that he flew to Daulat Beg Oldi airstrip in Ladakh on 2008 after 43 years without informing the govt first, because all other previous requests for the same were denied. His comments have come at a time when India-China relations are tensed over control of territory in eastern Ladakh.

The Daulat Beg Oldi base has played a vital role for Indian forces during the current stand-off. It was originally built during the Indo-China war in 1962. But after the war, the airbase was not in use since 1965. The airstrip is strategically very important, as it is located next to the Line of Actual Control in Aksai Chin and the Karakoram Pass. Located at an altitude of 16,614 ft, Daulat Beg Oldi has the world’s highest Advance Landing Ground (ALG).

landing an aircraft after 43 years

In 2008, PK Barbora landed on the airstrip in an AN-32, reactivating the base after 43 years. Talking to Economic Times, he narrated the circumstances behind the action. He revealed that no one in the government knew about the mission before it was conducted, not even the then defence minister AK Antony. Barbora said that when he joined as the commander-in-chief of Western Air Command, he analysed the 60-odd Air Force stations under his jurisdiction, and that is when he noticed Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO). The Indian Air Force had planned for other advance landing grounds in Ladakh too, but DBO stood out for various reasons, like, it is the world’s highest ALG, and is located just a few kilometres away from Karakoram Pass.

Talking about why the ALG was abandoned in 1965, the former Air Marshal said that although the army engineers had done a fantastic job in building the ground, a decision was taken to not fly any two-engine aircraft to that height due to safety reasons. At that time, only one aircraft was capable to fly in such heights, and its life cycle had ended in 1965.

 “There were no more operations after 1965. So, practically, we operated the airstrip for just three years and then we had to close it down because we did not have a suitable aircraft,” Barbora said.

Strategic importance, hostile terrain

The base is important for India, but the terrain is too hostile for sending personnel to man it. There is low oxygen content, and it takes several days of walking to reach there. Therefore, at least five attempts were made by the IAF to reactivate it, but all of them were refused by the government.

“When I wanted to reopen the airstrip, I spotted five files. But after examining those, I realised that if I created another file and put up my request in writing, I won’t get a go-ahead. All the earlier files had ended with a ‘No’ for various reasons”, Barbora said.

“So, I decided to reactivate Daulat Beg Oldi airstrip without any written permission. I decided, let’s not create any file, let there be nothing in writing. After all, if you ask for permission, all the old files will be called, and the result will be another No”, he added. Determined to reactivate the airstrip, Barbora then reportedly talked to his counterparts in the Army and select Air Force officials for a quick study on the condition of the airstrip, and other preparations needed. All these was done verbally, without leaving any record. Soon he received a verbal report, indicating that there was no major crack on the ground.

Special training and silence

After an initial report over the ground conditions, the team that was to land at the DBO undertook a special training for the mission, quietly. Finally, after all the preparations were done, PK Barbora talked to than Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major and army chief General Deepak Kapoor in Delhi’s Air Force golf course and obtained their verbal permission. He also informed the vice chief of air staff Pradeep Naik, but the defence minister was not informed.

On May 31, 2008, five people flew in the AN-32 from Chandigarh, two Air Force pilots, one navigator, a gunner and Barbora himself. They kept the operation a secret, and successfully landed at Daulat Beg Oldi in a fixed-wing aircraft after 43 years, officially reactivating it. While returning, one senior army officer stationed at the base accompanied them, and they returned to Chandigarh after taking off from the bumpy runway at the DBO.

After reaching Chandigarh, they informed Delhi that they have reactivated Daulat Beg Oldi, and that is when the defence minister finally became aware of it. After the Air Force had already reactivated the airstrip, there was nothing the government could do to prevent it, and so, eventually, the airstrip was developed to allow the landing of larger aircraft. In 2013, a C-130J Super Hercules was landed by the Indian Air Force at the airstrip, and since then IAF planes are regularly flying to the base to transport men and material.

It is not 1962 anymore

“We broke the ice and proved a point that we were capable. We surprised the Chinese. Later, in 2013, a four-engine aircraft C-130 Hercules landed there. Look, it’s 2020 now, not 1962″, Barbora said.

Talking to ANI, PK Barbora has today said that the government was informed through proper channels only after he had landed and came back from DBO. He said that when govt was informed, he was asked why did it. “It is the Air Force’s responsibility to maintain troops’ logistics support and it falls within our jurisdiction, within Indian territory, so we did it,” he had replied the government. He said the then Defence Minister AK Antony had also asked him what he would tell the Chinese if they raise questions about it during his visit to China where he was taking the earthquake relief supplies. Barbora said the Chinese never raised the issue with the Defence Minister during that visit.

  Support Us  

Whether NDTV or 'The Wire', they never have to worry about funds. In name of saving democracy, they get money from various sources. We need your support to fight them. Please contribute whatever you can afford

OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

Related Articles

Trending now

What they never told you when they said India was the worst performing emerging economy

India’s economy contracted by 23.9%. For comparison, Brazil’s GDP contracted by 11.9% and Russia’s GDP by 8%. So, did they really do better than India?

Assam closes down temporary Covid-19 care centres, gears up to reopen elementary schools as pandemic gets under control

Assam has been witnessing reduced cases of Covid-19 with recovery rate of 98 per cent and the death rate of 0.46 per cent

Shiv Sena to organise Azaan recitation competition, party leader calls it as important as ‘Maha Aarti’

Shiv Sena is to bear the cost of the event and will also reward the contest winners.

Chinese foreign ministry shares a fake image of Australian soldier murdering an Afghan child; PM Scott Morrison demands apology from Beijing

The fake image was shared in the wake of a report on war crimes committed by Australian forces deployed in Afghanistan

’Is that a water bottle?’: AAP candidate Asra Fatima’s poster for Hyderabad municipal elections has netizens in splits

In a true show of patriarchy, the women's identity of AAP candidate in GHMC polls is reduced to being a wife of party member.

Indian Idol contestant reveals how she faced opposition from conservative Muslim society as singing is ‘not allowed’

The Indian Idol contestant revealed how women in her society are looked down upon if they try to excel in any field.

Recently Popular

Wife of late Wajid Khan writes on her sufferings in an inter-faith marriage, says anti-conversion law should be nationalised

Wife of late music composer Wajid Khan wrote how her husband and his family had been forcing her to convert to Islam after their marriage

Actor Deep Sandhu disappoints Barkha Dutt after she provides platform to ‘distance himself’ from OpIndia report that he supports Khalistan

Barkha Dutt lamented after actor Deep Sidhu refused to condemn Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and to call him terrorist on her YouTube channel

SFJ ads appear on YouTube offering $10m support for farmers, in return, wants Sikhs to join ‘Khalistan movement’: Details

Amid ongoing farmers’ protests in Punjab, Haryana, and Delhi, it is evident that Khalistani supporters have hijacked the protests and now, they are running ads on YouTube

Indian man proposes to his Australian girlfriend during Ind vs Aus cricket match, here is what happened next

While India's performance has been below par, netizens found happiness in the unusual proposal that became the highlight of the match.

‘Will not say Jai Hind, will teach lesson to Modi like we taught Indira’: Khalistani protester in presence of AAP MLA Amanatullah Khan

Sikh protester threatens to teach Modi a lesson in the save way they taught Indira Gandhi in the presence of AAP MLA Amanatullah Khan

Who is the man in farmer protest video, lying about ‘govt snatching farmland’: Profile of an actor and Khalistan supporter

Khalistan supporter Punjabi actor Deep Sidhu has been seen spreading the lie that govt will snatch farmer's land using the new farm laws

Private procurements from Adnai group helped eliminate middlemen and generate more income, reveals apple farmers from Himachal Pradesh

Apple Orchard manager Manjeet Singh Dhillon informed that Adani group had been purchasing apples from farmers since 2006.

Eight months after cutting water supply of migrants to drive them away in middle of pandemic, Arvind Kejriwal govt offers free water to protesting...

Delhi Jal Board VP and AAP MLA Raghav Chadha himself went to Burari to ensure water tankers are available for protesting farmers

‘Shaheen Bagh returns’: Netizens react as protesting ‘farmers’ served biryani at Ghazipur in New Delhi

Biryani at the ongoing farmers' protest brings back memories of the 'organic' Shaheen Bagh protests

Farmer group bats for ‘middlemen’, hails them as ‘service providers’ while scare-mongering about reforms in agriculture sector

Protesting farmers say that they are happy to pay commission to middlemen, claims new farm laws are not needed for their protection

Protests against farm laws are based on rumours and misinformation: PM Modi punctures holes in the propaganda surrounding farm laws

PM Modi noted, "The government is consistently addressing the fears and queries of farmers who are anxious about the government's decision."

Not ‘just a municipal election’, a defeat of TRS in the Hyderabad Municipal Elections will alter the political discourse of the state

Not just top BJP leaders, top TRS leaders are also campaigning hard for the GHMC elections, making it more than just a municipal election

Former PMO official from UPA era gets excited at ‘New Zealand MP supporting farmers,’ except that no MP from New Zealand supported

The former advisor to Manmohan Singh shared a Tweet by Canadian politician to claim that a 'New Zealand' MP is supporting the Punjab farmers' protest

Bijnor: Youth murdered because his brother had run away with a girl, case filed against the girl’s father Asgar and her brothers

Shivan murdered by Asgar and his sons because he was supporting his brother Sagar, who was jailed for having affair with Asgar's daughter

Odisha: BJD MLA expelled from party for links with ‘vigilance raid’ IFS officer and his son, accused of ‘anti-people activities’

The BJD MLA's daughter was scheduled to marry the corruption accused IFS officer's son in December.

What they never told you when they said India was the worst performing emerging economy

India’s economy contracted by 23.9%. For comparison, Brazil’s GDP contracted by 11.9% and Russia’s GDP by 8%. So, did they really do better than India?

Connect with us

245,563FansLike
491,178FollowersFollow
20,200SubscribersSubscribe