‘China can’t get the better of us’ Indian air force chief defiant over border conflict
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The nuclear-armed neighbours are engaged in a bitter, months-long stand-off which erupted in violence in June when brutal hand-to-hand fighting led to the deaths of 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of fatalities on the Chinese side. Tensions have been simmering ever since, with both sides deploying thousands of troops and military equipment to the remote mountainous region in the eastern Himalayas. Diplomatic efforts to de-escalate the crisis have had a limited effect with neither side appearing willing to scale back troops numbers.
There is no scenario, in any conflict situation, in which China can get the better of India
And India’s Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria took a defiant stance today as he addressed the media ahead of the country’s 88th Air Force Day on October 8.
He said: “We are firmly in place to handle any contingency.
“There is no scenario, in any conflict situation, in which China can get the better of India.
“We conduct bilateral and multilateral exercises with leading air forces of the world and let me share with you with confidence that operationally we are amongst the best.”
Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria denied the Indian Air Force (IAF) had come close to air strikes on China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) after the killing of 20 Indian soldiers in the Galwan valley in June.
But he acknowledged the IAF had been ready for strikes if ordered.
The IAF chief said the capability provided by an airfield at Daulat Beg Oldi was “a big threat” to the Chinese.
He admitted the Chinese air force’s long-range strike capability was an “area of strength” but said their fifth-generation J-20 fighter was still a work in progress, with advanced weapons and sensors, but no indigenous engine.
He said: “Our offensive strike capability has been honed with upgradations and new inductions of weapons and platforms, ably supported by combat enablers and a networked decision-making environment.
“In the next three years, we will see the Rafale and light combat aircraft Mark 1 squadrons operating with full strength, along with additional Sukhoi-30MKI and MiG-29 aircraft that are being ordered, besides the current fleets.
“The mid-life operational upgrade of Mirage-2000, MiG-29 and Jaguar fleet would add to our capability in this period.
“We have the largest strategic airlift capability in our region comprising IL-76, C-17 Globemaster and C-130 Super Hercules platforms.
“We have significantly enhanced our heli-lift capabilities with our helicopter inductions.”
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He pointed out the IAF’s tactical airlifters enabled the army to quickly block Chinese troops from trespassing even deeper across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh.
He said: “Our airlift capability was also brought into focus as we supported the Indian Army in rapid mobilisation of troops and equipment to the operational area at a pace which our adversary didn’t expect.”
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