he Chinese Air Force redeployed its J-20 fifth-generation fighters close to the Indian territory, days before the Chinese troops attempted to carry out fresh transgressions near the southern bank of Pangong Tso lake in Ladakh.
“The J-20 fighter jets have been operating close to the Indian territory in the last few days and the move was taken by the Chinese Air Force just a few days before their Army attempted to do incursions into newer areas in Ladakh,” top government sources told India Today on Monday.
As per sources, fighter aircraft are still carrying out extensive flying near the LAC.
India released a statement on Monday saying the Army blocked Chinese attempt to carry out “provocative military movements” to “unilaterally” change the status quo on the southern bank of Pangong Tso lake.
The J-20s reportedly operated from the Hotan airbase in Xinjiang province of China where strategic bomber and other fighters’ operational deployment is also on, the government sources added.
India Today TV’s OSINT team was the first to report on August 25 the second deployment of J-20s at Hotan airbase. Through satellite images provided by Planet Labs, we found that China sent two of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) fifth-generation stealth aircraft J-20 to Hotan.
The aircraft with new ammunition building having proper environmental protection and all-around revetments indicate that both are probably related developments.
The Hotan airbase is 250 km from Karakoram Pass and 380 km from the Finger 4 area of Pangong Tso in eastern Ladakh.
The aircraft have probably arrived from the Dingxin base, which now has about eight J-20 aircraft deployed.
The move by the Chinese Air Force to redeploy their latest aircraft at airbases near Ladakh comes after India started operationalising the Rafale fighter jets, five of which have joined the Air Force.
Sources said the Indian Air Force and other agencies concerned have been keeping a close eye on the Chinese Air Force activities and have taken all measures to thwart any misadventure in air.
India is keeping a close watch on seven Chinese airbases along the LAC opposite Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh.
According to top government sources, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has upgraded a number of these bases in recent times, including the construction of hardened shelters, the extension of runway lengths and deployment of additional manpower.
Sources had told India Today that these military airbases under Indian watch included three opposite eastern Ladakh — Kashgar, Hotan and Ngari Gunsa. The other bases include Shigatse, Lhasa Gongkar, Nyingchi and Chamdo Pangta, the sources added.
“Satellites and other forms of surveillance are being used to keep an eye on the seven Chinese military bases which are situated in Xinjiang and Tibet Autonomous Military Region,” government sources had said.