Air Force Chief Visits Ladakh, Fighter Jets, Choppers Seen Over Leh

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Air Force Chief Visits Ladakh, Fighter Jets, Choppers Seen Over Leh

IAF jets and attack helicopters, including the Apache chopper, were spotted over Leh

New Delhi:

Indian Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria visited Ladakh for two days - on Wednesday and Thursday - to review the preparations of the IAF, after the face-off between Indian and Chinese soldiers in the Galwan valley in which 20 Indian troops were killed on Monday night. 

Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria visited the Leh airbase on Wednesday and the Srinagar airbase on Thursday. The IAF operates several air force bases in Jammu and Kashmir, with Srinagar, Awantipora and Leh operating either fighter squadrons or fighter detachments. 

"The Air Force chief was on a two-day visit where he checked the operational readiness of all the platforms that have been moved to the area in view of the Chinese aggression along the LAC in the Eastern Ladakh where more than 10,000 troops have been amassed by China," ANI quoted government sources as saying.

Today, Indian Air Force fighter jets and attack helicopters, including the recently-acquired Apache chopper, were also spotted over Leh.

The IAF has moved its critical frontline assets including the Sukhoi-30MKI, Mirage 2000 and Jaguar fighter aircraft fleet to advanced positions where they can fly in at a very short notice to carry out operations, news agency ANI reported, and added that the Apache attack helicopters have been deployed in the close vicinity of the areas where operations by the ground troops are taking place at the moment.

The IAF has so far not confirmed details of Chinese Air Force activity, though NDTV has independently been able to confirm - through satellite imagery - the rapid build-up of infrastructure at the Ngari Air Force base in Tibet, not too far from the Pangong Lake where large scale Chinese incursions have taken place.  

China operates several air force bases in Tibet which could have a direct bearing in any conflict with India. Pakistan's air base of Skardu, in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, could also house Chinese fighters. The Indian Air Force is monitoring the situation closely in Skardu but has not confirmed the presence of Chinese fighters at the Pakistan base.

All of China's air bases are at high altitudes which pose serious operational difficulties. Operating from high altitude bases often means that aircraft have severe weight restrictions and need to cut down on the number of weapons that they carry. 

The IAF fighters do not face this issue. In addition to its bases in Jammu and Kashmir, Indian Air Force jets operating from the plains from bases such as Bareilley and Adampur have no weight penalties and can operate with a full weapons and fuel load.

With inputs from ANI

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