Hawker Hunter [BA317] at Leh
Leh is the major airport in the Ladakh area in the north-eastern part of the state. With an airfiled located at over 10000 feet altitude, it is in regular use by the Indian Air Force as well as the civilian Indian Airlines. Over the years, many civil airlines have joined in the Leh circuit. The Indian Air Force had even based high performance jets like MiG-29s and Sukhoi-30s over the years.
Leh Air Force Station has a Hawker Hunter [BA317]on display. Phil Hawks has written in detail about the Leh airfield on his page here. He noticed the Hunter first in 1987 , at which point of time it was in Camo scheme. In the mid-nineties, when Phil visited the town again, the Hunter was now in a metal finish and moved to the center of the Air Force Station facilities, the serial number was now missing.
That was not the last avatar of the Hunter. Arun Sharma has seen this Hunter in 2003, the aircraft is now in the all too familiar Grey paint and is displayed on poles outside the airfield. The aircraft has a metal plate bolted over where its gun pack and shell collectors (“Sabrinas“) would have been.
The Hawker Hunter was most probably an ex-No.20 Squadron aircraft, which operated from Leh in the late eighties/early nineties.
One aircraft relic in Leh falls just outside the perimeter. It is the tail fin of An-12 that crashed on approach in 1977, killing over 70 of its occupants. The fin was preserved insitu in a makeshift memorial to those who lost their lives in the accident.