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India and China Air Forces hold maiden talks in Ladakh as LAC tension escalates to sky

Chinese aircraft have repeatedly breached agreed positions along the LAC, while Indian Air Force continue with forward deployment in areas close to it.

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New Delhi: Senior Air Force officers from India and China held maiden talks this week to cool tempers as tension along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) escalated from the surface to the sky in the last one and a half months.

Sources in the defence and security establishment said talks were held Tuesday at the Chushul Moldo meeting point in eastern Ladakh, during which the Indian Air Force (IAF) made it clear that China had violated existing agreements on flying norms along the LAC.

Sources said the two sides had agreed that no fighter aircraft would come within 10 kilometres of the LAC while the limit for logistics helicopters was one kilometer. The 10-kilometre rule also stands for armed helicopters.

However, and as reported by ThePrint, Chinese fighter aircraft have breached the 10-kilometre radius multiple times under the guise of massive air exercises by the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF).

Also read: What does the future of India-China ties look like? 8 experts speak

China’s violation was raised by the Indian side during the last Corps Commander level talks held on 17 July. Sources said the Chinese continued to push jets inside the agreed radius even after the dialogue.

These violations forced the IAF to scramble its own fighters from bases not just in Ladakh but elsewhere too.

On the maiden discussions between the two air forces, a source said: “The talks were held to ensure that tension is brought down and agreements reiterated.”

Both Army and IAF officers participated in the negotiations – the IAF was represented by single-star officer Air Commodore Amit Sharma from the Operations branch, while a Major General-rank officer from the Leh based Fire and Fury Corps spoke for the Army.

The PLAAF and the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) were also well represented at the meeting.

In late June, a Chinese J-11 fighter aircraft flew very close to a friction point around 4 am. The aircraft was immediately picked up by a string of radars and anti-aircraft systems installed by the IAF, which then took tactical action.

Such violations have repeatedly taken place and sources believe it is part of the PLAAF’s plan to gauge the response time.

ThePrint reported in 2021 that the IAF remains battle-ready in Ladakh with missiles, radars and fighter jets.

The air force is operationally deployed against China, with fighter aircraft continuing with forward positions along with new radars and surface-to-air missile sites close to the LAC.

Also read: India-US to hold high-altitude military exercise near LAC amid rising tensions with China

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