China ramping up air power in Tibet bordering India: IAF chief
PTI | Updated: Apr 26, 2018, 22:28 IST
NEW DELHI: Indian Air Force chief BS Dhanoa on Thursday said China has been ramping up its aerial prowess in the Tibetan Autonomous Region bordering India and that the neighbouring country has a "credible mix" of multi-role fighter and strike aircraft.
In an address at a think-tank, the Air Chief Marshal, while talking about requirement of his force, said it needs 42 squadrons of fighter jets to carry out "full spectrum of operations in all contingencies". At present, the IAF has only 31 squadrons of fighters.
At the same time, he, however, said the IAF has the ability to fight a "short" and "swift" war whenever required.
Talking about Pakistan-sponsored terrorism, he said the repeated strikes by terror groups indicate that the Indian deterrence in the sub-conventional domain is not working and emphasised on the need to enhance such capabilities to ensure a behavioural change in Islamabad's approach.
On situation along the border with China, he said, "Over the past few years, we have seen a significant increase in deployment of Chinese aircraft and aircrew in Tibetan Autonomous Region from other military regions."
The IAF chief said the neighbouring country has a "credible mix" of multi-role fighter and strike aircraft.
"The deployment of Sukhoi 27 and J-10 fleets for the continuous operations during the winter months affords them a credible all round capability. Many years back they used to only occupy the air field in summers," he said in an address to a select gathering at Vivekananda Foundation.
Taking a dig at the military establishment in Pakistan, the IAF chief said in most countries the "state has an Army but in Pakistan the Army has a state."
On China bolstering its air defence in TAR, he noted that geography works against the Chinese Air Force there, adding it has an "inherent operational disadvantage" due to high altitude and very cold temperatures.
"Modernisation plan of the PLAF (People Liberation Army Air Force) will ensure that more than 50 per cent of its fleet will comprise advanced multi role combat aircraft," he said.
The Air Chief Marshal said he recently told a Chinese Air Force official that the two sides should meet more frequently to avoid conflict.
This month the Indian Air Force carried 'Gaganshakti 2018', an extensive drill on its borders.
Dhanoa said despite this there was not a single airspace violation from both sides and the two air forces share a healthy relationship.
He said there is a misconception that the Air Force does not need 42 squadrons.
"We have government sanction of 42 squadrons. When they (adversaries) go to fourth generation aircraft, we need a fourth generation aircraft to counter them. You are not fighting against vacuum," he said.