China’s Challenge To The Indian Air Force In Ladakh And A Bit 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 is the subject 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 that 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, the C-17 Globemaster, Il-76 and An-32 transport aircraft and the Cheetals of the ‘Siachen Pioneers’ 114 Helicopter Unit in their operations at, to and from the Indian Air Force’s AFS, Leh. India has ramped up its military posture along the Northern borders 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.

‘The Himalayan Frontier’ Part VII

In this episode, 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 and sorties conducted by the Cheetal helicopters, 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 to document the Indian Air Force’s operations in the northern Himalayan frontier along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China in Eastern and Southern Ladakh and China-occupied Tibet, and in the Siachen Glacier as well as along the Line of Control (LoC) and the Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) with Pakistan. We also visit the Thiksey Gompa or Monastery modelled on the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. Priceless Buddhist religious literature, documents and thangkas at the Gompa have been smuggled 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 document 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 has over the last five or six years been a surge in what we are planning to do and are doing in Ladakh”. 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”.

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