The Indian Air Force (IAF) is significantly enhancing deployment of its frontline jets, attack helicopters and transport fleet in all its key bases guarding the airspace along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in view of heightened border tension with China in eastern Ladakh, people familiar with the development said on Saturday.
The Indian and Chinese armies are locked in a bitter standoff in multiple locations in eastern Ladakh for the last seven weeks. The tension escalated after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a violent clash in Galwan Valley on June 15. The Chinese side also suffered casualties but it is yet to give out the details.
The IAF has pressed into service a fleet of C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft as well as C-130J Super Hercules in transporting heavy military equipment and weaponry to several forward bases to further ramp up India's military preparedness in the region.
The IAF is also using its Ilyushin-76 fleet to transport troops to various areas along the LAC, the 3,500 km de-facto border between India and China, the people cited above said. They said the force has already moved a sizeable number of its frontline Sukhoi 30 MKI, Jaguar, Mirage 2000 aircraft to several key air bases including Leh and Srinagar. It has also deployed Apache attack choppers and Chinook heavy-lift helicopters to transport troops to various forward locations.
The frontline fighter jets have increased their sorties in Ladakh and nearby areas in the last few days as part of increased alert level, and probably as a response to expanded activities of the Chinese air force, they added.
"We are fully ready to deal with any situation," said a senior official when asked about increasing activities of the IAF in Ladakh and other regions.
"We have all the resources in terms of men and equipment to meet all the challenges. The IAF is ready in all aspects to undertake all operational tasks and for providing requisite support for military operations," news agency ANI quoted a squadron leader as saying.
Another squadron leader said the flight base plays an important role for undertaking operations in this area. "It's cleared for all contingencies and for all combat and support operations that are planned to be undertaken in this area," he added.
#WATCH A squadron leader of Indian Air Force at a forward airbase near Indo-China border says, "Every air warrior at this base and across IAF is fully trained and capable to meet all the challenges. Our josh has always been high and touching the sky with glory." pic.twitter.com/LsyMlq9iSf— ANI (@ANI) July 4, 2020
Last month, Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria made a quiet visit to Ladakh and Srinagar air bases to review the Indian Air Force's preparedness to deal with any eventualities in the region.
India has been insisting on restoration of status quo ante in all areas of eastern Ladakh to restore peace and tranquillity in the region.
India and China have held several rounds of diplomatic and military talks in the last few weeks to ease tension in the region. However, there was no visible sign of end to the standoff though the two sides agreed to initiate disengagement of the forces from the region.
India on Thursday said it expected China to ensure expeditious restoration of peace and tranquillity in the border areas in sync with provisions of relevant bilateral pacts.
Following the Galwan Valley clashes, the Army has sent thousands of additional troops to forward locations along the border besides moving in heavy weapons.
All the front-line bases of the Indian Army and the air force along the nearly 3,500 km de-facto border with China are on high alert in view of the worst border clash between Indian and Chinese troops.
The Army has already rushed in additional troops to all its key front-line bases and formations along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh, they said.
The Indian Air Force has already raised the alert level in all its front-line bases tasked to keep an eye on the LAC, the de-facto border.
(With inputs from agencies)