The Indian Air Force (IAF) is laying a network of radar systems and advanced sensors along the line of actual control (LAC) with China to fortify its air defence capabilities.
Air Marshal NAK Browne, who heads the operationally critical Western Air Command, said on Friday that the air force was acquiring special mountain and low-looking light weight radars as part of reinforcing its operational infrastructure in the sensitive northern sector.
Browne said, “The air force is keenly examining the option of special radars to take care of detection of any incoming threats.” He said a credible air defence network would be in place over the next four to five years.
The fresh thrust on bolstering air defence capabilities in the Ladakh sector comes after Chinese helicopters reportedly violated Indian airspace in June.
Refusing to be drawn into the China debate, Browne said, “What we need to do is keep talking to all our neighbours and keep our gunpowder dry. We should maintain our preparedness at the highest levels.”
The IAF has activated three defunct advanced landing grounds at Daulat Beg Oldie, Fukche and Nyoma in northeastern Ladakh over the last one year to transport men and material to forward areas.
Browne said it was “highly possible” to rig up the Nyoma airstrip, located at a height of 13, 300 ft, for operating fighter aircraft in the coming years. But, he clarified saying, “It will give us more options but there is no real requirement for that.”
Asked to comment on Air Chief Marshal PV Naik’s remarks that the IAF fleet was just a third of the Chinese, Browne indicated that numerical superiority was not a game-changer. He said, “It is not just a question of numbers. There are other issues such as technology and capability as well. We are extremely well balanced on all fronts…”