The Indian Air Force is shoring up its assets in the Northern region by setting up two squadrons of its frontline fighter jets Sukhoi-30MKI in Punjab and plan to install a chain of radars along the Sino-Indian mountainous border.

The move to place the strike planes in the Western sector is part of the IAF strategic plan to shift its assets further and comes close on the heels of making the Nyoma Advanced Landing Ground 23 kilometres short of Sino-Indian Line of Actual Control operational for the transport aircraft recently.

“By 2011 we will have two SU-30 squadrons in Punjab?we are also building operational infrastructure in the mountainous region by examining the option of installing special type of mountainous radars. We have contracted to get 19 Low Level Light Weight radars,’’ Air Marshal N.A.K. Browne, Air Officer Commanding in Chief, Western Air Command said here.

The IAF already has the indigenously built Rohini radars as part of its air defence equipment and the plan envisages making it robust in the next four to five years to counter the challenge posed by the difficult mountainous terrain and huge peaks.

As of now, the WAC has activated three ALGs including one at Daulat Beg Oldie and Fukche and Air Marshal Browne said there were no plans to activate any more. He said the decision should not be viewed on the basis of mere threat assessment but on logistic support to the Army to move its supplies to forward areas.

While Nyoma ALG is not yet ready for landing a fighter aircraft, Air Marshal Browne said it could be done in the future after building the necessary infrastructure. He said the problem was of surface that suffers due to the winter and requires repairs after the snow melts.

Responding to recent reports about incursions by two Chinese helicopters, the WAC Chief preferred to side step it stating that while the level of preparedness has to be maintained, it is important that India continues to talk with its neighbours.

Asked about the statement of IAF Chief V.P. Naik that India has a third of force level as compared to China, Air Marshal Browne said the issue was not just numbers but should also be looked in terms of equipment and how fast it can be deployed. “It is not A versus B. We are extremely well-balanced” in comparison to China.

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