Ahead of the high-level military talks with China on Saturday (July 31), India has stationed Rafale fighter jets at the eastern front with China in Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet trijunction, reported The Times of India (TOI).
On Wednesday (July 28), eight Rafale jets were officially inducted into the ‘Falcons of Chhamb and Akhnoor’ Squadron at Hasimara Indian Air Force (IAF base) in West Bengal. Air Chief Marshal R K S Bhsduria informed that the new fighter jets have ‘unmatched potential’ and can dominate and intimidate the adversaries whenever and wherever required. The 17 ‘Golden Arrows’, the first fully operational squadron of 18 fighter jets are also undertaking sorties in the Eastern Ladakh sector.
TOI reported that about 10 Rafale jets, contracted under ₹59,000 crore deal in September 2016, will arrive from France to India in batches before April 2022. Besides, Russian-origin Sukhoi-30MKI fighters have also been deployed at the Tezpur and Chabua air bases to counter China’s offensive. It must be mentioned that China has 4 times the number of fighter jets as compared to India. At the same time, it has upgraded its airbases in Kashgar, Hotan, Gargunsa (Ngari Gunsa), Lhasa-Gonggar, and Shigatse with fighter jets and bombers since the border standoff last year.
IAF has terrain advantage; has far superior fighter jets than China
Despite the numerical strength of China, the Indian Air Force has a ‘terrain advantage’ in both ground attack and aerial combat along the Line of Actual Control. China also faces a huge disadvantage as its airbases are located at high altitudes. The rarefied air limits fuel and weapon carrying capacity of the fighter jets. Quoting Indian Air Force officers, TOI reported that India’s bulk of fighter jets in the form of Mirage-2000s, MiG-29s and Sukhoi-30MKI, and Rafale are superior to Chinese fighters.
In particular, the Rafale jets are equipped with long stand-off weapons such as 300-km range ‘Scalp’ air-to-ground cruise missiles. The fighter jets have a combat range of 780 km to 1650 km and a meteor air-to-air-missile range of 120 km-150km. These missiles give Rafale fighters a higher edge over its Pakistani and Chinese counterparts. Although they are housed in Ambala and Hasimara air bases, Rafale fighters can operate from anywhere across the country. To add to that, IAF had ordered ‘Hammer’ air-to-ground precision-guided munitions to destroy hardened shelters and bunkers. They also have a strike range of 20-70 km.
China strengthened its positions at friction points in Ladakh
Earlier, it was reported that China had hardened its stance in the depth areas of eastern Ladakh, during the second wave of the Coronavirus pandemic in India. According to the sources quoted by India Today journalist ShivAroor, far from reducing its presence in Ladakh as previously agreed, China had reinforced its positions with permanent accommodations and depots, a sign of hardening stance even as the talks between the two sides continue.
The images with the Indian military establishment and the ground intelligence hinted that China had no mood to vacate its aggressive positions along the line of control in eastern Ladakh. The grim details of China’s treachery were uncovered on a day when the Chinese Premier Xi Jinping expressed her commiserations to PM Modi over the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in India. “The Chinese side stands ready to strengthen cooperation with the Indian side in fighting the pandemic and provide support and help in this regard. I believe that under the leadership of the Indian Government, the Indian people will surely prevail over the pandemic,” Xi Jinping said.