India’s Air Force chief, RKS Bhadauria, pulled no punches regarding the ongoing Chinese threat at his annual press conference ahead of IAF Day on October 8.
Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria boldly stated that China can’t get the better of India in any conflict, and the air force, with its capability and intent serving as a deterrent for the adversary, is ready to handle any contingency in the Ladakh sector, The Hindustan Times reported.
“There is no question of not taking on the threat there,” he said on Monday, insisting India was fully prepared for a two-front war with China and Pakistan.
“We are very well positioned there and China can’t get the better of us in any conflict scenario there. We have full capability for a two-front war.”
But the IAF chief was quick to temper his comments, adding there was no question of underestimating the capabilities of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) as it had made huge investments in “technology, systems and numbers,” the Times reported.
He also spoke about the IAF’s assessment of the Chinese J-20 fifth-generation fighter aircraft, calling it “(a) work in progress.”
“Their strength lies in the number of surface-to-air systems they have deployed in that area and air-launched long-distance weapons,” he said.
“What we do is we integrate our systems and we train to handle such threats based on our assessment. It’s all a combination of training, systems and integration and then the area that we are going to get deployed in,” he said.
He added that the PLAAF’s J-20 was a fifth-generation fighter, with the latest technologies but its engine technology was still not fifth-generation, the Times reported.
The IAF chief said how things unfold in the Ladakh theater would depend on the outcome of the ongoing talks that were currently progressing slowly.
“What we see is an increase in effort to dig in for the winter in terms of forces on ground, and the deployment of air assets. We hope that the talks will progress in the right direction,” he said.
Responding to a question on the DBO airstrip in eastern Ladakh, the IAF chief said it was a “big threat” to the Chinese as India had the capability to operate aircraft close to the disputed Line of Actual Control (LAC), the Times reported.
On China using air bases in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, including Skardu, and the possibility of a two-front war, the IAF chief brushed it aside, adding a slight insult.
“Whether China will use Skardu is an open-ended question. But if China needs Pakistan’s help to confront us … I have nothing to say.
“If Skardu gets used by China and we are in conflict with China, then it’s a collusive threat. And we will deal with it accordingly,” Bhadauria said.
Meanwhile, in a significant capability demonstration, India on Monday successfully tested supersonic missile-assisted release of torpedo (SMART) from a defence facility off the Odisha coast, the defence ministry said.
The capability will allow India to target enemy submarines at long ranges, officials said. The system is a missile-assisted release of lightweight anti-submarine torpedo to strike targets way beyond the latter’s range, the Times reported.
“All the mission objectives including missile flight up to the (desired) range and altitude, separation of the nose cone, release of torpedo and deployment of velocity reduction mechanism (VRM) have been met perfectly,” a ministry statement said.
“This launch and demonstration is significant in establishing anti-submarine warfare capabilities,” it added. Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) chief G Satheesh Reddy said SMART was a “game changer” technology demonstration in the realm of anti-submarine warfare.
India has conducted a series of significant weapon tests in recent weeks, the Times reported.
On Saturday, it tested a new version of the nuclear-capable hypersonic Shaurya missile that has a range of 750 km, days after the extended-range BrahMos supersonic cruise missile was successfully tested.
On September 7, India took the first steps towards developing a new class of ultra-modern weapons that can travel at Mach 6 and penetrate any missile defense, with the DRDO carrying out a successful flight test of the hypersonic technology demonstrator vehicle (HSTDV) for the first time, the Times reported.