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World War 3 concerns have reignited amid ongoing tensions between the nuclear-armed Asian giants India and China over the sovereignty of the disputed Ladakh region. And now it has emerged China has doubled its fighter jets – 36 aircraft and helicopters are at the Hotan airbase in China’s Xinjiang region, near Ladakh.
Estimates by the US Air Force’s China Aerospace Studies Institute said Beijing’s military prowess includes six older J-8 fighters, two Mi-17 helicopters, 24 Russian-designed J-11 or J-16 Flanker fighters, two Y-8G transports, two KJ-500 airborne early warning aircraft and a number of CH-4 strike and reconnaissance drones.
CASI’s images from the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-2 Earth observation satellite “suggests that there is at least some flight activity, so these aircraft are not just parked for show,” according to research director Rod Lee.
Mr Lee said forces were “well suited” in the event of all out war.
He told Forbes: “The focus does appear to be oriented towards counter-air missions, although this could be a function of the relatively small scale of the clashes.
“Presently, the PLAAF’s role is likely to provide ISR [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] support and help deter India from escalating by its presence alone.
“If things were to escalate into the shooting war, the present force is well suited to create the conditions necessary for the PLA Army’s mountain offensive campaign by specifically establishing information and air superiority.”
The news comes after India confirmed plans to revive military plans to strengthen the border with China.
Military officials confirmed New Delhi will revive Mission Cheetah in order to deter Beijing from attempting to extend their influence past the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
The project includes plans to equip India’s Heron UAVs with laser-guided bombs as well as anti-tank missiles.
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India warns China’s fighter jets ‘don’t come close’ to New Delhi’s [INSIGHT]
It follows two months of stalemate in negotiations between Beijing and New Delhi following an escalation of tensions over Ladakh.
The two countries have been rowing over the disputed region for over forty years but violent clashes have been limited over the years until June when Chinese and Indian soldiers were killed and injured during violent clashes at the China-India border.
There were losses on both sides of the battle following a “violent face off” at Galwan Valley, one of the four clash points in the eastern Ladakh sector.
India and China agreed to resolve a dispute over their shared border in the Ladakh region through diplomatic channels earlier this year.
Indian officials said both sides would first focus on getting both the Indian army and the People’s Liberation Army to pull back additional troops and equipment deployed in the area.
At the time both sides said they were working to “properly resolve relevant issues,” while maintaining close communication through diplomatic and military channels.
Both sides recalled the consensus reached by their two leaders that peaceful, stable and balanced relations between India and China would be positive for stability in the current global situation.
But progress is yet to be made.
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