Underlining that understanding China is “our most important national security challenge” and cautioning against its “possible game plan” and the “deepening and evolving Sino-Pak relationship”, Air Chief Marshal R K S Bhadauria said Tuesday that the Chinese have “fully deployed” their air assets to support troops along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh.
The IAF chief, speaking at an event organised by the Vivekananda International Foundation, said while the strength of the Chinese army presence in the region is well known, its air force “deployment has been very strong” and “we have taken every action that we are required to take and cater to such situations”.
The Chinese, he said, also “have a large presence in the second tier, and large presence of radars and surface-to-air missiles, and surface-to-surface missiles in the reconnable area”.
Asked about the capabilities of Indian forces to meet such a challenge, Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria said, “Whether we have enough today? We have enough. Otherwise, you would have had a different situation in the north.”
“The way all three forces have activated and deployed, there is no need to worry whether have enough to do our bit to hold the situation and to ensure we do not lose territory or sovereignty. So on that issue, we should not have any doubt.”
He said “we have responded adequately” as far as air power is concerned, and “whatever actions we have taken, some very serious and robust actions, which has had results, and we can see that they have stopped in their tracks and they are continuing to remain there”.
With the Sukhoi-30MKIs carrying BrahMos missiles and mid-air refuelling, “there is no target that exists within the String of Pearls (Chinese military and commercial facilities in the Indian Ocean) that cannot be targeted”.
Saying “South Asia is now becoming the hotbed of contest between dominant powers”, he said the “rapidly evolving uncertainties, and instability on the global geopolitical front has provided China, in particular, an opportunity to demonstrate its growing power, and indirectly it has also brought to fore the inadequate effective contribution of major powers to global security, which was understood as a norm… this has led to confusion and insecurity among traditional allies, and nations which were looking to major powers”.
“We are now witnessing a rise in attempts to alter the status quo, through wanton disregard or selective interpretation of established international law and norms… China’s aspirations are quite clearly on the global front, and regional domination is a part of the route to global leadership that they aspire,” he said.
On Pakistan, the IAF chief said it is “increasingly becoming a pawn in Chinese policy” and is under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor debt.
Responding to a question if there could be possible joint exercises like the Malabar naval exercise in which India, Japan, US and Australia –the four members of the Quad — participate, he said, “Quad as an execution, it hasn’t happened so far, but as a plan of action, it is possible that it will come up soon”.
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