China is upgrading air defence of its Western Theatre Command, which looks after the security along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), to “confront any threat from India”, an official media report quoted a military expert as saying.
The Chinese military has released photographs of a J-10 fighter jet – a lightweight multi-role fighter aircraft – along with J-11 – a single-seat, twin-engine fighter jet – flying over the high-altitude plateau in western China during the current Chinese New Year and Spring Festival holiday, state-run Global Times reported on Tuesday.
The jets are attached to an aviation brigade of the air force under the PLA Western Theatre Command, the website of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) said.
China has also recently commissioned its stealth fighter, the J-20, which is first in the region.
The Western Theatre Command is mainly responsible for mountain warfare at the border area with India. The LAC stretches to 3,488-km including the high altitude Tibetan plateau.
India and China have been trying to reset their ties after last year’s 73-day standoff between the two sides at Dokalam in Sikkim section of boundary.
It is significant for China to strengthen control of airspace over the mountainous region, Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times.
“Strengthening the 3.5-generation fighter jets or even stationing more advanced fighters in the Western Theatre Command has been urgent for the PLA,” Song said, adding that such upgrades have been usually first conducted in south and east theatre commands.
Considering that India possesses 3rd-generation fighter jets, China’s stationing of its 3.5-generation jets would be able to deal with any current threat from India, Song said.
Apparently referring to India’s acquisition of Rafale fighter jets from France, Song said, “with India importing new jets, China will continue strengthening its fighter jets in the Western Theatre Command.”
Since he took over power in 2013, President Xi Jinping, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China and chairman of the Central Military Commission, has been pressing the PLA to step up live firing drills to win local wars.
(Photo released by China’s military of a J-10 fighter jet attached to an aviation brigade of the air force under the PLA Western Theater Command taxies on the runway during an aerial combat training exercise in Western China on Feb.13, 2018)