New Delhi: The Indian Air Force (IAF) has deployed Apache attack helicopters in Ladakh to provide tactical support to the ground forces if needed, besides using the Chinook heavy-weight choppers to help in the movement of men and equipment amid tensions with China.
The increased deployment also includes regular Combat Air Patrols, besides flying a host of surveillance aircraft, including by intelligence agencies and the Navy’s P8I aircraft, defence sources said.
Mirage 2,000 fighter aircraft, which carried out the Balakot air strikes last year, have also been moved to bases near the Ladakh region from Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, where it is based.
This has been done to ensure they can fly over in the Ladakh region within minutes of taking off, sources said.
Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal R.K.S. Bhadauria has reportedly made a hush visit to Leh and Srinagar air bases Wednesday evening after high-level meetings with the government.
Following the meetings, the Navy and the IAF had been put on high operational alert.
ThePrint had earlier reported that the Navy has sent out additional ships from its eastern fleet for deployment in the Indian Ocean region.
These developments came even as the Army moved in more ground forces and other assets to Ladakh.
On 2 June, ThePrint reported the Army moved in about two additional division strength-level forces to the region. Sources said these numbers have now increased further.
While the 14 Corps, the Army division that looks after Ladakh, is sufficiently armed in terms of artillery, armour, men and reserves, more soldiers have been brought in to create large reserves and forward deployment.
‘Assets are there to be used’
The IAF has remained tight-lipped about the movement of its assets.
However, sources said the Apache helicopters have been deployed in Ladakh and that Chinooks are already doing the work they are meant for.
“The assets are there to be used. These are tactical matters. Apache was brought to provide close air support to the ground forces. Chinooks were brought to enable faster deployment of troops and equipment,” a source said.