NEW DELHI: Recent developments suggest that the Chinese air force’s ability to operate from airfields on the Tibet Plateau have improved considerably, and to the point where they now have an edge over the Indian Air Force. How true is this? Air Marshal Anil Chopra, head of the Centre for Air Power Studies in Delhi, gives us his perspective on The Gist. He looks at the new dual use airports coming up in Tibet, and the range of fighter aircraft being deployed there. The infra development is in his view impressive and so is the deployment of aircraft in numbers that could be far in excess of what India can put in the air. But does that give China an edge? Chopra notes that it’s important to look not just at numbers and infra. One should also look at capabilities, operational experience and the flexibility to do more with smaller numbers. Here the Indian Air Force is second to none. He also points to an undeniable fact: the IAF has planned and fought wars unlike the Chinese air force, which may have engaged in some limited military operations in 1979, against tiny Vietnam.
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