South Asia and Beyond

Indian Air Force’s China Challenge In Ladakh And A Slice Of Tibet

The Indian Air Force’s Leh base. The challenge from the China and Pakistan two-front threat. Protecting India’s borders from Chinese aggression. And preserving Tibet’s Buddhism from Chinese repression. Those are the subjects of this documentary. In ‘The Himalayan Frontier’ Part VII here’s a look at Shakti & Shanti (Power & Peace) in Ladakh. We record a day in the life of the Indian Air Force’s Air Warriors at the Air Force Station (AFS), Leh in Ladakh. The AFS is at the frontline of dealing with the China and Pakistan two-front threat.

Continuing our series, a StratNews Global team of Amitabh P. Revi, Rohit Pandita and Karan Marwaha document the IAF Mig-29, Sukhoi-MKI and Rafale fighter jets. As well as the C-17 Globemaster, Il-76 and, An-32 transport aircraft. Last but not least, we film the Cheetals of the ‘Siachen Pioneers’ 114 Helicopter Unit. Watch their operations at, to and from the Indian Air Force’s AFS, Leh. India has ramped up its military posture along the Northern borders. This came after the deadly 2020 Galwan clashes with China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) forces. And the Indian Air Force’s AFS Leh plays a significant role in that defence posture.

‘The Himalayan Frontier’ Part VII

Specifically, we film the Indian Air Force’s Mig-29, Su-MKI and Rafale fighter jets. The C-17, Il-76 and An-32 transport aircraft. The IAF and Indian Army Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Dhruv & Rudra. As well as sorties conducted by the Cheetal helicopters. We also speak to the Air Officer Commanding (AOC), the Commanding Officer (CO) of the 114 Helicopter Unit (HU), Mig-29 and Cheetal pilots and the Engineering Officer, 114 HU. Watch this episode as we document the Indian Air Force’s operations in the northern Himalayan frontier. Their role is all along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China in Eastern and Southern Ladakh. As well as China-occupied Tibet. As well as in the Siachen Glacier along the Line of Control (LoC) and the Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) with Pakistan.

Finally, we also travel to the Thiksey Gompa or Monastery. It is modeled on the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. In conclusion, we find priceless Buddhist religious literature, documents and thangkas at the Gompa. They were secretly brought out of Tibet to preserve them from Chinese repression.

Northern Front Ground Reports

In earlier episodes of this series, in Part VI, we interview Air Commodore D.S.Handa, AOC of the Indian Air Force’s AFS, Leh on how the IAF is dealing with the two-front China and Pakistan threat in Ladakh. SNG’s team documents its journey to Leh on the strategic third, alternate axis—the Darcha-Padam-Nimu (NPD) Road, in episode III and episode IV. The route provides critical connectivity. In episode V, Lt Gen Raghu Srinivasan, the DG, BRO in an interview on the frozen Zanskar River Chadar Trail at Chiling near Leh in Ladakh notes “the impetus for connectivity and the surge in Ladakh”.

Nitin A Gokhale WhatsApp Channel

In part II of this series, the Indian Army Chief, General Manoj Pande tells StratNews Global Editor-in-Chief Nitin A. Gokhale in an exclusive interview, that talks with China are continuing at both military and diplomatic levels. But India is maintaining a robust posture along the LAC. Then Northern Army Commander, now Vice Chief of the Army Staff, Lt Gen. Upendra Dwivedi also tells Nitin Gokhale in Part I, that the “situation is stable but sensitive and not normal”.

Editor’s Note: This episode was first published on February 16, 2024, and hit 300,000+ views on YouTube on March 3, 2024. It crossed the 400,000+ mark on April 1.


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Amitabh P. Revi

Russian language speaker and conflict journalist. Amitabh Revi has been there, done that—from the battlefields of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan to sublime Russia, Australia and the United States. Along the way he's picked up the Dag Hammarskjöld Distinguished Journalist Fellowship, the Ramnath Goenka award for coverage of the Iraq War and RT's Khaled Alkhateb Award for his reporting from Palmyra, Syria.