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IAF brass to discuss operational strategies amidst continuing military confrontation with China

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Top IAF commanders will get together this week to discuss operational capabilities, strategies and challenges, even as India maintains military preparedness while keeping a hawk-eye on Chinese deployments, missile batteries and airbases amidst the continuing troop confrontation in eastern Ladakh.

“The apex-level IAF leadership will meet for three days at the bi-annual commanders’ conference, which will be inaugurated by defence minister Rajnath Singh on April 15. They will address strategies and policies related to capabilities that would give IAF a significant edge over its adversaries,” said an officer on Monday.

The conference comes soon after the 11thround of corps commander-level talks between India and China failed to register any progress on April 9. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was obdurate about even completing the stalled troop disengagement process at Gogra, Hot Springs and Demchok in eastern Ladakh, let alone the blocking of Indian patrols in the strategically-located Depsang Plains.

“China has not reduced its troop deployments, heavy weaponry and missile batteries along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Chinese airbases facing India also continue to have additional deployments of fighters and other aircraft,” said another officer.

Apart from upgrading roads, bridges and other military infrastructure along the 3,488-km LAC, China has also augmented its capacities and built additional blast-pens at its airbases like Hotan, Kashgar, Gargunsa (Ngari Gunsa), Lhasa-Gonggar and Shigatse, as was reported by TOI earlier.

The Indian armed forces, of course, also continue to maintain high operational readiness ever since the confrontation erupted after multiple incursions by the PLA into eastern Ladakh in May last year.

The IAF, for instance, has forward deployed Sukhoi-30MKI, Mirage-2000, MiG-29 and Jaguar fighters as well Apache attack and Chinook heavy-lift helicopters and surface-to-air missile squadrons, among other platforms, in Ladakh and elsewhere.

The Chinese air force is four times the size of IAF but the latter enjoys an edge in air combat power along the LAC. The adverse geographical and weather conditions virtually halve the weapon and fuel-carrying capacity of the fighters operating from the Chinese airbases located in high-altitude areas.