The recent clashes between the Indian and Chinese ground troops clearly suggest that relations between both the nations are not at ease. Last year on 5th May 2020, both Indian and Chinese troops engaged in an aggressive commotion at the LAC and as per media reports, this aggressive tumult resulted in casualties on both the side. After this incidence, both the sides are keeping a close eye on each others movement by ordering their aerial units to conduct regular surveillance and reconnaissance operations at the LAC.
Comparing the aerial power of both the sides, one could easily say that China has the upper hand in terms of fleet and strategic inventory, but the IAF deploys more reliable platforms and strategic bases, combined with experienced troops.
Places where the Dragon roars harder
PLAAF being the second largest force in the world has a colossal fleet of aircraft, air defence systems, huge inventory of 2000 combat aircraft, long range strategic bomber fleet, a massive convoy of airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft and combat drones.
In a detailed view of fighters, PLAAF is equipped with 600 fourth-generation aircraft that includes J-10B/C, J-11B, J-16, and Su-30. Apart from that, currently, PLAAF is developing its fifth-generation aircraft such as J-20 and FC-31/J-31.
On the strategic bombing front, PLAAF has H-6 Badger bomber variants in its arsenal that provides the Chinese air force with the capability to strike long-range targets with precision. This aircraft can be fitted with six land-attack cruise missiles (LACMs), making it a lethal bombing machine floating in the sky. When it comes to early warning aircraft, China currently owns around 20 AWACS and airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft. With KJ-2000 Mainring, KJ-200 Moth and KJ-500 PLAAF keep a very close eye on its border. Also read IAF desperately needs to augment its aewcs fleet.
Apart from these, PLAAF has a huge fleet of UAVs, attack helicopters, transport aircraft, drones, surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles.
Where the Indian Tiger stands
No doubt, China has an extended fleet of arsenal inventory compared to India, but Indian Air Force has certain edges over its counterpart at the LAC. IAF pilots are constantly operating at high-altitude and have combat experience of Kargil which make them more competent to successfully conduct high-altitude operations. Apart from that, IAF bases are more strategically located at the LAC to provide them a regular supply of arsenal and other necessities. With the induction of combat-proven aerial platforms AH-64E Apache and CH-47F Chinook, IAF has added extra muscle to its combating arm. China has also started deploying J-20 which is claimed to be their fifth-generation fighter but experts comment that it is no match to Indian Air Force’s recently inducted 4.5 generation aircraft Rafale.
IAF also has a long fleet of 270 Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighters accompanied with HAL Tejas, MiG-29, MiG-21 and Jaguar fighters. India lacks behind on the bomber fleet front as the only option available is to deploy AN-32 transport aircraft along with multi-role fighters to conduct bombing missions. When it comes to early warning aircraft, IAF installs indigenously developed DRDO AEW&C system which is mounted on Embraer ERJ 145 aircraft and EL/W-2090 Phalcon AEW&C installed on the Beriev A-50 platform.