The Indian Air Force (IAF) Chief, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa on April 26, said that there was a ‘significant increase’ in the presence Chinese aircraft and aircrew in the Tibet Autonomous region as compared to any other military region. This statement of the Chief of Air Staff comes at the time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in China for a two-day meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
While speaking at a talk on the role of the IAF in the changing security environment conducted by the Vivekananda International Foundation, Dhanoa said, “Over the past few years we have seen a significant increase in aircraft and aircrew in the Tibet Autonomous Region from other military regions. The deployment of Sukhoi-27 and J-10 fleets for continuous operations during winter months affords them a credible year-round capability. Earlier, many years back they only used to occupy the airfields during the summers.” reported The Economic Times. Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa also warned India to step up preparations, as rival country is strengthening its fire power.
The IAF chief also highlighted the improvement made by the Chinese Air Force. According to Dhanoa, China has developed a modern air force which believes in quality rather than quantity. and China has also the second largest air force in the world. Decribing the capabilities of the Chinese Air Force, Dhanoa said that China had a mix of multi-role fighter and combat aircraft. The IAF Chief also stressed on the fact that China has geographical disadvantage in Tibet due to high altitude and cold temperatures.
The Chief of Air Staff also highlighted the strength of the Indian Air Force, but at the same time, he stressed on the fact that the IAF needs to acquire its full strength of 42 squadrons to compete with the growing air power of the neighbour country. Presently the Indian Air Force has 31 fighter squadrons.
The Air Chief appreciated the efforts of the force in the recently concluded war-like exercise ‘Gagan-Shakti 2018’ as it met the objectives of the force. It is very interesting to note that both India and China have never violated the each other’s airspace.