Amid heightened tensions along the India-China border in Ladakh following the Galwan Valley clash earlier this week, Indian Air Force Chief RKS Bhadauria has visited Leh and Srinagar to review preparedness at the bases there. The visit came as the IAF was reported to have moved its various assets including fighter jets to forward bases and airfields following the spike in border tensions with China, after 20 Army soldiers including a Colonel were martyred in a clash with China’s People’s Liberation Army troops on the intervening night of 15 and 16 June along the Line of Actual Control at Galwan Valley.
Sources said that Air Chief Bhadauria paid a two-day hush-hush visit to the Leh and Srinagar airbases, which could host the most critical part of operations to be carried out by the IAF in eastern Ladakh in view of an eventuality.
The visit came as the top government leadership reviewed the situation at the India-China de-factor border following the Galwan Valley incident. It may be noted that India has lost its troops for the first time in 45 years along the LAC. An undisclosed number of Chinese soldiers are also believed to have died in the violent hand-to-hand clash. Indian Army sources put the number of dear or injured on the Chinese side at around 43.
“The IAF Chief went to Leh and Srinagar air base on a two day visit there. The two air bases have now stationed frontline fighter aircraft of the force there from central and south India to tackle the requirements on the China border,” top government sources said.
The visit came days after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in pre-meditated and planned attack by Chinese soldiers at Galwan Valley in Ladakh on Monday night. This was the biggest military confrontation in over five decades that has significantly escalated the already volatile border standoff between the two countries.
The Leh airfield has also seen deployment of twin engine fighter planes which can carry out operations in high altitude locations.
The frontline air bases in Srinagar, Ambala, Adampur and Halwara have also seen the induction of aircraft with lethal long-range capabilities to carry out operations in the last few days.
The Air Force base in Bareilly is also on high alert for operations around the Tibet region. Air Force has also activated its air bases in the northeastern states to prevent any misadventure by the Chinese army.
The IAF has officially not confirmed whether its chief visited Ladakh this week. IAF spokesperson Wing Commander Indranil Nandy only said “no comments” when asked about the visit.
The report said among the frontline assets moved to forward bases and airfields include Sukhoi-30MKI, Mirage 2000 and Jaguar fighter aircraft fleet. The assets have been moved to forward locations so keep them ready for operations that may be required at a very short notice.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold an all-party meeting today to discuss the situation on the country’s border with China.