IAF strengthening defence on China border

Last Updated: Friday, September 25, 2009 - 19:14

New Delhi: The Indian Air Force (IAF) is
strengthening its air defence in Ladakh along the Line of
Actual Control (LAC) with China by putting in place a series
of special mountain and light-weight radars.

Western Air Command (WAC) chief Air Marshal NAK Browne
told reporters in New Delhi on Friday that different types of radars would be put in place along the 667-km LAC with China, the air
defence of which is WAC`s responsibility.

"The Air Force is keenly examining the option of special
type of radars, which we call the mountain radars and we are
also looking at Low Level Light Weight Radars (LLLWR). So
there is a definite plan," Browne said to a question on the
future air defence systems along the LAC.

The IAF`s move comes close on the heels of reports of
recent incursions by Chinese military helicopters into Indian
airspace.

Browne said the IAF would put in place these radars in
the next four to five years to make the air defence system
along the LAC robust.

"When I talk of operational infrastructure to be improved
in the northern sector, the mountainous terrain is very
tricky. Because you have huge peaks and normal conventional
systems are very difficult to maintain there," he said.

Browne said the IAF had already given contracts for 19 of
LLLWRs and that the WAC itself had some of these. "More are in
the pipeline. They are coming starting from next year itself,"
he added.

Browne said the IAF also had the option of an
indigenously developed LLLWR. At present, the IAF has placed
along the LAC two Rohini radars developed by DRDO and
manufactured by BEL.

"One more Rohini radar is to be inducted next year and
placed along the LAC," he said.

"These, I think, will take care of detection of any
threats that come from across the LAC," he added.

Browne parried queries on the IAF`s response to Chinese
helicopters violating Indian airspace in Ladakh, but he
said India needed to keep talking to all its neighbours and at
the same time maintain highest levels of military
preparedness.

"We do need to talk to everybody...every one of our
neighbours and at the same time keep our gun powers dry. We
should maintain our preparedness at the highest levels," he
said.

The WAC chief also admitted that the IAF was fully aware
of what was going on along the LAC, but reiterated that there
were issues such as differing perceptions of the LAC on both
sides.

On the recent remarks of IAF chief Air Chief Marshal PV
Naik that India`s Air Force fleet was just one-third of
China`s, he said the IAF was extremely well-balanced on all
fronts such as numbers, technology, modern platforms and
equipment.

"It is not just a question of numbers, there are other
issues such as technology and capability too," he said,
dismissing the Chinese fleet strength as a threat.

Browne noted that the IAF had in the last year-and-a-half
activated new Advanced Landing Grounds (ALGs) in Ladakh along
the LAC at Daulat Beig Oldi, Fukche and at Nyoma as recently
as a week ago.

"As of now, only these three ALGs will be operated. We do
not have intention to activate any new ALGs in the near
future," he added.

Asked if the Chinese military activity across the LAC
facing Ladakh had increased in recent times, the WAC chief
said it was routine and that they are doing their activity
during summer.

"It is their side of the LAC. They have full freedom,
just as we have, to operate in their area," he added.

On some of the future plans of the WAC, Browne said the
IAF would base two Su-30MKI squadrons in Punjab by 2011, two
units of Mi-171V medium lift helicopters too would be inducted
in Rajasthan and in Jammu and Kashmir, apart from operating
indigenous Shakti-engine-fitted Dhruv Advanced Light
Helicopters and 10 HAL-engine-fitted Cheetal helicopters in
high altitude areas of Jammu and Kashmir, including Siachen.

He said the Light Utility Helicopters, for which IAF had
recently issued tenders, too, would be inducted in Siachen
in the future.

These apart, the IAF would also improve its air defence
units along all over Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir, he added.

"All these are in tune with our focus to improve all-
round offensive and air defence capability, operational
infrastructure, and modernisation plans," Browne said.

Bureau Report



First Published: Friday, September 25, 2009 - 19:14

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