New Delhi: The Indian Air Force is carrying out regular sorties of its frontline fighter jet Su 30 MKI in the Ladakh region amid new border tensions with China but no aircraft was rushed last week after two Chinese choppers were spotted close to the Line of Actual Control, sources said Tuesday.
News agency ANI, quoting government sources, reported Tuesday that the Chinese military helicopters were flying very close to the Line of Actual Control last week and “after their movement was picked up, the Indian Air Force fighter jets flew patrols in the area”.
The report said IAF was “forced to rush” fighter jets.
While there was no official word from the IAF Tuesday, defence sources said that it was an overstatement to say jets were scrambled since fighters regularly fly in the region.
“Helicopters are allowed to fly till the border on both sides. There has been no violation of Indian air space. And never have jets been scrambled in the past for helicopters in the northern sector,” said an IAF officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
He also said that no fighters were scrambled but training flights have been going on.
“If you are asking whether the jets were scrambled, then no. If you are asking if Sukhois were flying on May 5 and 6, I would say regular training flights are taking place, including today,” he added.
The reports come amid new tensions between India and China after soldiers from both sides clashed on the border last week, leaving many injured in fist fights and stone pelting. While the two sides have officially disengaged on 6 May, both have rushed additional troops to the Pangong Tso lake area.
The IAF maintains two main bases in Ladakh — Leh and Thoise air bases. Fighter jets are not deployed at the Thoise air base while at Leh, detachments from various squadrons are operational on rotation throughout the year.
However, sources said that no Su 30 MKI was based in Leh on 5 and 6 May but they were flying from another location.
Sources said that two Chinese choppers were indeed spotted flying in their area just like the Indian helicopters do in that region.
According to the ANI report, the Chinese choppers did not cross the LAC into Indian territory in that particular area.
While there have been tensions at the LAC in the past, which have resulted in physical clashes between the two countries’ soldiers, this is the first time in years the IAF has come into the picture.
ThePrint had earlier reported that though the countries had officially disengaged, additional forces were brought in to ensure no more violence takes place in the area, just as it had been done in Doklam in August 2017.
While disengagement happened in Doklam, both sides have continued with their build-up a few metres away from their face-off location.