With tensions mounting on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China, Indian agencies are keeping a close watch on the activities of the People’s Liberation Army’s Air Force (PLAAF) according to latest reports.
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“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.
PLAAF has recently upgraded its airbases including the construction of hardened shelters, the extension of runway lengths and deployment of additional troops to carry out more operations, they said.
Sources have also added that the Linzhi airbase opposite the Northeastern states is used mainly as a helicopter base and the Chinese have also built a network of helipads there to enhance their surveillance activities in those areas.
As reported earlier by EurAsian Times, two Chinese J-20 stealth fighter jets were spotted at Hotan airbase in the Uighur autonomous region of Xinjiang. The PLAAF has also deployed its Chinese version of the Sukhoi-30. Beijing had also deployed its at least six H-6 bombers with KD-63 cruise missiles at Kashgar airbase, also in Xinjiang, around 500 miles from Ladakh.
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To counter Chinese moves, India also moved additional troops to key areas of Eastern Ladakh. The Indian Army has decided to maintain its current strength of troops tanks and other weaponry along with Indian Air Force (IAF) on high alert on forwarding airbases along the LAC.
IAF has deployed its Su-30, MiG-29 and MiG-29K fighters in the border region and could eventually deploy newly acquired Rafale jets in the region. Indian warplanes are regularly patrolling the area.
Meanwhile, it is not just India who is keeping an eye on the activities of PLAAF on its airbases, China has also displayed cautiousness. According to Colonel Vinayak Bhat (Retd), who analysed satellite images said that China is closely monitoring the Tezpur airbase in Assam and the Dr Abdul Kalam Island, India’s missile testing facility off the Odisha coast which are “extremely critical to India’s strategic and military capabilities.”
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Citing the satellite images, he further wrote that China is keeping a close eye on these important locations from Ruili county in Yunnan province bordering Myanmar. Additionally, China has developed a radar system following the Doklam standoff between the Indian and Chinese armies, which stands only three kilometres away from the Myanmar border.
“The satellite images vividly display a 13 metre wide, possibly a phased array radar mostly directed exactly towards the Dr Abdul Kalam Island which is 1,150 kilometres from the radar site. The latest satellite imagery shows that the radar face is directed towards Indian Air Force’s premier airbase at Tezpur, 575 kilometres from the radar, indicating that it probably also has a role in detection and monitoring of aircraft,” wrote Bhat.
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He also pointed out the Measurement and Control Facility that exists on the Chinese side nearly seven kilometres south of the radar location. “The satcom dishes and other equipment at this base suggest very strongly that this facility could have a possible role in directing Chinese ballistic missiles for midcourse corrections,” he notes. He concluded saying that IAF should take note of all these facilities and bases during operational planning.