India Deploys Rafale Jet Near Tibet as China Hardens Position on Border Issues
Rishikesh Kumar. Sputnik International
17:10 GMT 28.07.2021
China's President Xi Jinping visited Nyingchi - which adjoins Arunachal Pradesh - and Lhasa, last week, thereby indicating that his position regarding Tibet and the ongoing border issues with India had hardened. Despite several rounds of high-level talks, both sides continue to amass a military presence along the 2,100-mile Line of Actual Control.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) has sent a batch of Rafale jets into No 101 Squadron at Hasimara air base in Eastern Air Command, which is around 300km from Tibet. The induction ceremony, attended by Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria, included a flypast and a traditional water cannon salute.
"The induction of Rafale has been carefully planned at Hasimara, keeping in mind the importance of strengthening IAF's capability in the eastern sector," Bhadauria said.
Bhadauria said he has no doubt the squadron will dominate whenever and wherever required and "ensure that the adversary would always be intimidated simply by their presence".
According to a statement on Wednesday from India's Minister of State for Defence, Ajay Bhatt, India has so far received 26 of the 36 Rafale aircraft it ordered from French firm Dassault Aviation. "The delivery of 36 Rafale aircraft is proceeding as per schedule," Bhatt added. The multi-role Rafale jets are known for air superiority and precision strikes.
The deployment has come just days after China's President Xi Jinping visited Tibet, his first trip to the region since taking over in 2012 and the first visit by a Chinese leader in 31 years. While meeting the army officers and soldiers stationed in Lhasa, Xi stressed that developing border areas needed strengthening and emphasised that "it is necessary to implement the party's thinking of strengthening the army
in the new era, implement the military strategy of the new era." Indian intelligence reports suggest that China has been increasing its air force facilities near the Indian border by constructing or expanding at least 16 airbases across the Tibetan Autonomous Region.
The two Asian giants have stepped up their military infrastructure development works since June 2020 when a violent clash broke out in the Galwan Valley, leading to casualties on both sides. The two sides started sending reinforcements in recent months as the disengagement process stalled after February this year. New Delhi and Beijing have been accusing each other of trespassing borders in Depsang plains, Gogra post, and Hot Spring areas.
Meanwhile, refuting the common perception among security analysts that Quad was a group to counter China, visiting US Secretary of State Antony Blinken insisted that the alliance of US, Japan, India and Australia has no military ambitions but is designed to foster cooperation on regional challenges while reinforcing international rules and values.
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