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Updated January 7th, 2024 at 10:18 IST

IAF achieves 1st historic night landing at Kargil airstrip with C-130J Super Hercules

IAF achieved a significant milestone by executing the first-ever night landing at Kargil using the C-130J Super Hercules, employing terrain masking techniques.

Digital Desk
Garud Commandos deboarding the C-130J Super Hercules
Garud Commandos deboarding the C-130J Super Hercules | Image:Indian Air Force
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Kargil: The Indian Air Force (IAF) achieved a milestone by conducting its first-ever night landing at the Kargil airstrip using its C-130J aircraft, also known as the Super Hercules. While sharing operational details, the IAF mentioned that the exercise involved utilising the natural terrain for cover during the journey. This feat was accomplished as part of a training mission that included the Garuds, the IAF's Special Forces Commando unit.

 An IAF representative stated, “In a first, an IAF C-130 J aircraft recently executed a night landing at the Kargil airstrip. By employing terrain masking en route, the exercise was seamlessly integrated into a training mission involving the Garuds.”

IAF’s heroic exploits using C-130J Super Hercules

This wasn't the first time the IAF showcased its  capabilities with the C-130J. Earlier, in a daring rescue operation in Uttarakhand, the IAF successfully landed two Super Hercules aircraft on a rugged and challenging airstrip in Dharasu, ALG. This critical mission aimed to aid the rescue of 41 workers trapped inside a mountain tunnel. Despite adverse weather conditions, the IAF airlifted 27,500 kilograms of vital rescue equipment to a gravel airstrip high in the mountains, where the workers had been stranded for over 120 hours.

Similarly, the IAF displayed exceptional skills in Sudan during a nocturnal mission. In a daring move, the C-130J Super Hercules landed on an unprepared runway in the dark to evacuate 121 individuals from a conflict-ridden area. The airstrip in Wadi Sayyidna lacked essential navigation aids and lighting for night landings, making the mission extremely challenging. However, using Night Vision Goggles (NVGs) and sophisticated sensors, the IAF executed flawless landings and take-offs, ensuring the safe rescue of the stranded individuals.

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The IAF's operations in Sudan were part of 'Operation Kaveri', which aimed to evacuate stranded Indians from the violence-hit region. A total of 754 people were brought back to India, with 392 flown to Delhi in a C-17 transport aircraft, and the remaining 362 brought to Bengaluru.

The conflict in Sudan involves ongoing clashes between the country's army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF). Despite the risks and challenging conditions, the IAF's successful missions stand as a testament to their bravery, operational excellence, and ability to conduct daring operations during humanitarian crises.

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Sudan rescue ops. | Image: IAF

These instances highlight the IAF's exceptional skills in utilising the C-130J Super Hercules aircraft for critical missions, showcasing their commitment to serving and protecting people both within and outside India's borders.

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Published January 7th, 2024 at 10:16 IST

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