Can’t rule out probability of Ladakh skirmish, but China faces logistical issues — Dhanoa – Indian Defence Research Wing


Noting that the probability of a conflict between India and China can never be ruled out, former IAF chief Air Chief Marshal (ACM) B.S. Dhanoa Friday said that while on paper the Chinese Air Force has huge capability, a lot of natural and logistics factors are flying against it.

Chairing a session of the Military Literature Festival, which is being held online this year due to the Covid pandemic, he argued the Indian Air Force can actually provide a credible punitive action in the Himalayas as against the People’s Liberation Army’s Air Force (PLAAF).

Speaking about the ongoing stand-off in Ladakh, Dhanoa said, “Probability of India-China skirmish can never be ruled out.”

He added that the Chinese believe in the old Soviet era doctrine of their main offensive being missile and rocket-based.

Dhanoa further said that today’s China is not the same China that fought in Korea. “Taking large casualties is something that a developed China with one-child policy cannot take,” he explained.

About the PLAAF, the former IAF chief said, “On paper, the PLAAF has a huge capability and is supported by a much larger economy funding a defence budget, which is almost three times ours. This is a public defence budget in which a lot many things are hidden.”

He noted that the PLAAF has 1,500 fighters, of which 800 are fourth generation. Dhanoa further said China has also deployed a limited number of fifth generation fighters — J-20 and J-31 — and has also completed the induction of 24 Su-35 that it procured from Russia and the S-400 air defence system.

‘Effect of terrain has to be taken into consideration’
Talking about the PLAAF strength, Dhanoa said China has strategic bombers and has also deployed advanced AWACS (Airborne Warning And Control System), besides having a large fleet of UAVs, including stealth UAV.

He added that the Chinese have rocket forces deployed, which have the ability to target all military installations opposite them and also in the hinterland.

“It has developed Electronic Warfare to counter the US. So it has more than a match for our technology. But the bottom line is how credible are these technologies when we look beyond the Himalayas into Tibet,” Dhanoa said.

He questioned how much of this force can be brought against India given the state of infrastructure in Tibet and Xinjiang.

“Effect of terrain has to be taken into consideration. It has an impact on aircraft operations due to altitude and extreme cold. It has an effect on targeting and weapons ballistic, specially because their adversary, which is us, is likely to be dispersed. It has got serious issues on radar’s line of sight resulting in very poor trans-frontier visibility,” Dhanoa added.

He said all of these result in very low reaction time and by the time the IAF fighters cross the Himalayas, the Chinese will have less time to react.