As tensions escalate, India and China have ramped up the security at the Indo-Sino border by deploying thousands of troops and heavy artillery along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
According to reports in ET, while Indian Air Force (IAF) has deployed its Su-30 MKIs, Mirage 2000s and MiG-29s at the LAC, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has also mirrored the deployment with the Chinese version of the Sukhoi-30 called the Su-30MKK and indigenous J-series fighters.
IAF has also boasted its newly acquired Rafale jets which landed in India in July. The first batch was officially inducted on September 10, in a grand ceremony attended by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh with his French counterpart Florence Parly at the Ambala airbase.
As earlier reported by EurAsian Times, the Rafale fighter jets were practicing night flying in the mountainous terrain of Himachal Pradesh so that it is ready to be deployed at forward bases if the situation along the LAC deteriorates.
According to a report in Hindustan Times (HT), a government official said the top-of-the-line fighter jets are staying away from the LAC lest the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) radars in occupied Aksai Chin identify their frequency signatures and use it to jam in the worst-case scenario.
The Ambala Airbase not just has a solid infrastructure with multiple layers of advanced warning systems, it holds a strategic and geographical advantage as well. It is centrally located from the LoC and the LAC on its northwest and northeast respectively.
The report further quoted an expert saying that even though the Chinese PLA has placed their electronic intelligence radars on mountain tops in the occupied Aksai Chin area for a clear line of sight, the war-time signature of Rafale will be different from that in practise mode.
“The PLA aircraft detection radars are good as they have been manufactured keeping the US air force in mind.”
Rafale possesses multirole capabilities including electronic warfare, air defence, ground support and in-depth strikes. The French origin fighters are made by Dassault Aviation and are equipped with the deadly Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile and SCALP air-to-ground stand-off weapons.
The Meteor is the next generation of Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM) system with a large ‘no escape zone’. It is believed that the Meteor’s capability is linked to its long-range, which is estimated to be well over 120km. According to MBDA, the pan-European consortium that builds the Meteor, the missile has a large No Escape Zone.
The SCALP missile has a range of over 300 km and is designed to hit high value. It has the ability to evade air defence systems and can take down targets in all weather conditions, given its pinpoint accuracy.
In an interview to PTI, former Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal (retd) B S Dhanoa said the Rafale, with its fantastic electronic warfare suite and manoeuvrability, will be able to use mountainous terrain in Tibet to its advantage and blind the enemy before India’s strike aircraft penetrate hostile airspace to carry out their missions.
PLAAF has upgraded its airbases including the construction of hardened shelters, the extension of runway lengths and deployment of additional troops to carry out more operations. Sources have revealed 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.