New Delhi (Sputnik): Indian Air Force (IAF) Chief BS Dhanoa, in a first-ever frank assessment of the northern neighbor's activities, has described China's People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) as one of the fastest growing air forces in the world, ranked second in terms of combat airpower. Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa also said that during the process of modernization PLAAF has developed credible year-round capability in the world's toughest terrain — the Tibet region.
"Over the past few years, we have seen a significant increase in aircraft and aircrew in the Tibet Autonomous Region from other military regions. The deployment of Sukhoi-27 and J-10 fleets (in Tibet) for continuous operations during the winter months affords them a credible year-round capability. Earlier, many years back they only used to occupy the airfields during the summer," Dhanoa said during a talk on the "Role of IAF in the Changing Security Environment" at the Vivekananda International Foundation (think tank) in New Delhi.
ANI quotes Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa: For China, the geography works against them, especially in the Tibetan autonomous region. Over the past few years, we have seen significant increase in deployment of aircraft & air crew in Tibetan autonomous region. pic.twitter.com/BrrDL43ZlQ— Times of India (@timesofindia) April 26, 2018
"It has a credible mix of multi-role fighter and strike aircraft. They have got an adequate reserve to replenish after attrition. They have multi-layered air defense systems and rocket forces that allow them (China) to fight a ground campaign without a decisive air victory," Dhanoa added.
The IAF chief explained that the relationship between the two air forces is friendly. "I told my counterpart during Aero India…the chief of staff of western theatre command, Chinese air force that let us meet more on the ground so that we don't have to meet each other in the air."
“I told my counterpart during Aero India…the chief of staff of western theatre command, chinese air force, that let us meet more on the ground, so that we don’t have to meet each other in the air.”: ACM Dhanoa https://t.co/IYQV5A1CxC— Yusuf Unjhawala 🇮🇳 (@YusufDFI) April 26, 2018
The IAF Chief's statement comes after the force, that is currently facing a shortage of over 200 fighter jets, recently conducted an exercise named "Gangashakti." The exercise aimed at testing the IAF's "Plan B" which it intends to press into action in the event of a "two-front war" situation.
"We need to plan as per an adversary's capabilities, for intentions may change overnight," Dhanoa said.
The IAF has claimed the exercise was successful beyond any expectation, but it still needs combat power at par with the requirement assessed by the government.