- Even as the tensions on China border continue over territorial issues, Indian agencies are keeping a close eye on the activities of the People’s Liberation Army’s Air Force (PLAAF) spread all along the Line of Actual Control with India opposite Ladakh in the north to Arunachal Pradesh in the Northeast.
- “We are keeping a close watch on the Hotan, Gar Gunsa, Kashghar, Hopping, Dkonka Dzong, Linzhi and Pangat airbases of the PLAAF in the Xinjiang and Tibet region and all of them have been highly active in the recent times,” government sources told ANI.
- The Chinese PLAAF has upgraded a number of these bases in recent times including the construction of hardened shelters, the extension of runway lengths, and deployment of additional manpower to carry out more operations, they said.
- Sources said the Linzhi airbase opposite the Northeastern states is mainly a helicopter base and the Chinese have also built a network of helipads there to enhance their surveillance activities in those areas.
- The PLAAF has been deploying their fighter aircraft including their Chinese version of the Sukhoi-30 and indigenous J-series fighters opposite the Ladakh sector and other areas along with their strategic bombers which have been under constant monitoring of the Indian agencies through satellites and other means.
- The Indian side has also ramped up its preparedness in the view of the heightened activity by the Chinese forces on their side of the LAC and has deployed its fleet of Sukhoi-30MKIs, MiG-29s, and Mirage-2000s at the forward air bases to tackle any misadventure.
- In the initial phase of the tension with China in the April-May timeframe, the Indian forces had seen the deployment of Su-30s and MiG-29s in the forward air bases and they had played an important role in thwarting an airspace violation bid by the Chinese aircraft in the Eastern Ladakh sector.
- The Indian Air Force has an edge over the Chinese in the Ladakh region as their fighters have to fly and take off from very high altitude bases while the Indian fleet can take off from plains and reach the mountainous region in almost no time.