New Delhi: With air-power going to play a major role in any confrontation with China, top Indian Air Force commanders will meet this week to discuss operational readiness on the Line of Actual Control and the possibility of deploying Rafale jets in the Ladakh sector.
The top commanders of the Air Force will meet on July 22 for the two-day commanders' conference to focus on the operational issue, their preparedness, overall planning and assessment of the situation due to heightened tensions with China.
They will also discuss the rapid deployment and operationalisation of the Rafale fighter jets which will be armed with deadly Meteor and Scalp cruise missiles and are arriving in the country by end of this month from France.
The conference will be chaired by Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria and will be attended by all seven of his commanders-in-chief. They will discuss the situation on the borders with China and the forward deployments done by IAF in the Ladakh and northern borders
Chinese Air Force has shifted its J-11 and J-8 fighter aircraft at Hotan, Kashgar and Gargunsa air bases.
Indian Air Force (IAF) has also deployed Sukhoi-30MKI, Mirage 2000 and Jaguar fighter aircrafts to advanced positions.
IAF Apache attack helicopters and Chinooks helicopters are also active in Leh and are carrying out day and night operations. Chinook has been used to rapidly transport heavy weaponry and men to the high altitude areas along the LAC under tough weather conditions. Apache attack helicopters called 'flying tanks' are flying in the Leh and these helicopters are armed with air to ground Hellfire missiles, 70 mm Hydra rockets and air to air Stinger missiles. In May, a Chinese helicopter had aggressively come closer to an Indian helicopter which was flying senior army commanders to LAC. Presence of Apache attack helicopters at LAC is likely to deter Chinese from carrying out such maneuvers in future.
Rafale jets, which are coming by the month-end, will give India an edge over China and Pakistan as they will be armed with the most advanced beyond visual range Meteor air-to-air missiles which have a range of upto 150 kilometers. Both Pakistan and China Air Force don’t have a missile to counter it. These Meteor air-to-air missiles will prove deadly during a dogfight. Rafale fighters will also be armed with Scalp cruise air to surface missiles, which have a range of over 300 kilometers. The deliveries of both these missiles have already begun.