SOURCE: INDIA TODAY
Pakistan misses no opportunity when it comes to hurting India. What better situation than the current standoff between India and China? Pakistan has been carrying out psychological warfare, mainly rumour-mongering on social media, for about 10 days now. Several Pakistani Twitter handles have tweeted after June 20, 2020 that 40 Chinese J-10 fighters have landed at Skardu Airport and 10 have reached Gilgit Airport, both in Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir (PoJ&K).
The same has been picked by many in India, including some in government circles. India Today has used the latest satellite imagery of June 24, 2020 to run a reality check on these airports.
Skardu Airport has been under expansion since last summer. The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) had asked for an additional airstrip.
The new airstrip has been under construction but the work was delayed due to coronavirus pandemic. The work has restarted but not yet complete as observed on the satellite imagery of June 24. The apron near the old airstrip has not been upgraded or even renovated as of date.
The airport has only eight hardened aircraft shelters and no other areas for parking these 40 aircraft anywhere in sight.
The airport has a small fuel oil and lubricants (FOL) point in the northern corner but no other infrastructure or equipment to cater for refuelling and other support required by a fighter squadron.
Gilgit Airport, unlike Skardu Airport which is away from population, is located in the heart of Gilgit city.Any deployment would attract an aerial punishment and would endanger the civil population in the bargain.
The satellite imagery of June 24 clearly indicates that there is no deployment of any aircraft at this airport too.
The apron seen in historic Google Earth imagery suggests a size of 150m X 25m which is barely enough for a closely snuggled flight (8 aircraft) of fighters.
The airport has a small support base but no major refuelling facility that can support any basic air operation.
The detailed study of satellite imagery suggests strongly that no deployment has taken place, whether of Pakistani or Chinese fighter aircraft, at either Skardu or Gilgit airport in the PoJ&K.
These rumours need to be nipped in the bud so that a proper assessment of the forces can be made by those in charge.