Friday, October 2, 2009

Air Force's message to China: Alert, gearing up

The fact that the Prime Minister was forced to downplay reports of China's incursions suggested just how tense India was about the issue. And even as the government says there's no reason for alarm, senior Air Force officials are taking no chances. Earlier this week, Air Chief Marshal PV Naik announced that India's buying new planes to compete with China's much-larger fleet. On Friday, another senior commander has added that the Air Force is beefing up along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Tibet to counter the growing Chinese air power in the area.

"We will improve operational infrastructure in Ladakh and northern areas...we intend to do this as soon as possible. The government has given us support in terms of budget for modernisation. We have inducted two indigenous radars, other new radars are to arrive next year," says Air Marshal NAK Browne, Western Air Command chief. Last week, an Indian Air Force plane landed close to the China border in Ladakh making this point: Indian soldiers and their supplies can be moved quickly wherever they're needed despite the remote and difficult terrain.

More evidence of its intent lies in this: despite its declining fleet strength, the Indian Air Force has deployed its most advanced combat planes, the Sukhois 30s, in larger numbers along the northern border to meet any potential threat.


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