We scramble fighters in response to China’ air activity: IAF chief

Published on Jul 18, 2022 12:21 AM IST

Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari’s comments came days after reports of a Chinese fighter jet flying too close to a flashpoint on the LAC in eastern Ladakh emerged.

Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari speaks to the media on the Chinese aircraft provoking India by flying close to Line of Actual Control (LAC), in New Delhi on Sunday. (ANI Photo) (ANI)
Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari speaks to the media on the Chinese aircraft provoking India by flying close to Line of Actual Control (LAC), in New Delhi on Sunday. (ANI Photo) (ANI)
By, New Delhi

The Indian Air Force (IAF) is closely monitoring Chinese air activity across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Ladakh sector and taking appropriate measures to counter it, IAF chief Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari said on a day India and China held the latest round of military talks to cool tensions along the border.

Also Read | India, China conduct 16th round of talks at LAC after 4-month gap

“Whenever we find that Chinese aircraft or remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) are coming a little too close to the LAC, we take appropriate measures by scrambling our fighters or putting our systems on high alert. This has deterred them to quite an extent,” the IAF chief said on Sunday.

His comments came days after reports of a Chinese fighter jet flying too close to a flashpoint on the LAC in eastern Ladakh emerged. The incident took place in June when the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force was conducting airborne drills in the area, following which, IAF scrambled its fighter jets in line with standard procedure.

Also Read | Chinese fighter jet flew very close to eastern Ladakh in June: Report

Chaudhari said IAF has bolstered its surface-to-air guided weapon capability along the border and also increased the number of mobile observation posts in the area to track activities across the LAC. “We get a lot of inputs from the army and other agencies deployed there. The air activity across LAC is being continuously monitored,” he said.

Since the June 2020 Galwan Valley skirmish, the principal operational elements of the IAF have been in place in the Ladakh region to counter the adversary’s activities, said Air Marshal Anil Chopra (retd), director general, Centre for Air Power Studies. “IAF is maintaining a high level of preparedness along other sectors of LAC too, including Arunachal Pradesh,” he added.

A trust deficit still persists between the Indian and Chinese armies after their soldiers were involved in the brutal clash in Galwan Valley on June 15, 2020, and the lack of confidence in each other has hampered the disengagement process. The clash left 20 Indian soldiers and an undisclosed number of Chinese troops dead.

The IAF’s Rafales, MiG-29 fighter jets, Sukhoi-30s, Apache AH-64E attack helicopters and CH-47F (I) Chinook multi-mission helicopters are among the aircraft undertaking missions in the mountainous Ladakh terrain, amid the border row in Ladakh and worst tensions there since the 1962 India-China war, as previously reported.

The IAF chief said the induction of the S-400 air defence missile system was on track, and while its first firing unit was deployed, the second one was in the process of being inducted. He said all deliveries of the system were likely to be completed next year. India ordered five S-400 missile systems from Russia for 39,000 crore in October 2018.

The S-400 is capable of destroying a variety of aerial threats, including enemy fighter jets and missiles, at a range of 400 km. It comes with a mix of radars and missiles that allow it to knock down threats at various height and range bands.

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