IAF ramping up deployment in key bases along border with China
The Indian Air Force is significantly enhancing deployment of its frontline jets, attack helicopters and transport fleet in all its key bases guarding the airspace along the Line of Actual Control in view of heightened border tension with China in eastern Ladakh, people familiar with the development said on Saturday.
The IAF has also pressed into service a fleet of C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft as well as C-130J Super Hercules in transporting heavy military equipment and weaponry to several forward bases to further ramp up India's military preparedness in the region.
The IAF is also using its Ilyushin-76 fleet to transport troops to various areas along the Line of Actual Control, the 3,500 km de-facto border between India and China, the people cited above said.
They said the force has already moved a sizeable number of its frontline Sukhoi 30 MKI, Jaguar, Mirage 2000 aircraft to several key air bases including Leh and Srinagar.
It has also deployed Apache attack choppers and Chinook heavy-lift helicopters to transport troops to various forward locations.
The frontline fighter jets have increased their sorties in Ladakh and nearby areas in the last few days as part of increased alert level, and probably as a response to expanded activities of the Chinese air force, the people said.
"We are fully ready to deal with any situation," said a senior official when asked about increasing activities of the IAF in Ladakh and other regions.
Last month, Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria made a quiet visit to Ladakh and Srinagar air bases to review the Indian Air Force's preparedness to deal with any eventualities in the region.
The Indian and Chinese armies are locked in a bitter standoff in multiple locations in eastern Ladakh for the last seven weeks.
The tension escalated manifold after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a violent clash in Galwan Valley on June 15. The Chinese side also suffered casualties but it is yet to give out the details.
India has been insisting on restoration of status quo ante in all areas of eastern Ladakh to restore peace and tranquillity in the region.
India and China have held several rounds of diplomatic and military talks in the last few weeks to ease tension in the region. However, there was no visible sign of end to the standoff though the two sides agreed to initiate disengagement of the forces from the region.
India on Thursday said it expected China to ensure expeditious restoration of peace and tranquillity in the border areas in sync with provisions of relevant bilateral pacts.
Following the Galwan Valley clashes, the Army has sent thousands of additional troops to forward locations along the border besides moving in heavy weapons.