Today's Paper

‘Both India and China respect McMahon Line’

Raktima Bose

Plans are in the pipeline to upgrade Chabua airbase

“No aerial intrusion by China in the recent past”

CHABUA (ASSAM): “There has been no aerial intrusion by our Chinese counterparts in the recent past and both of us respect the McMahon Line,” Air Commodore S. Harpal Singh, Commander of the Chabua Air Force station has said. He ruled out any imminent air threat from China.

He, however, said, “India need not worry in the case of an air threat from China as the Indian Air Force is strengthening its fleet and crew in the northeast.”

Located at a strategic position from where the Chinese border is — 180 km away — and the Myanmar border (80 km east), the Chabua station lies within a 500-km diameter of four Chinese airbases on the other side of the border.

Defence spokesperson Group Captain R.K. Das said: “Plans are in the pipeline to upgrade the Chabua airbase by April 2009 when it is expected to get a squadron of Sukhoi-30s, strengthening the already existing fleet of 26 MiG-21s there.”

He said the basic infrastructure was available at all air bases under the Eastern Command.

On the frequent accidents involving MiG-21s, Group Captain Das said: “The IAF has got 10 squadrons of MiG-21, which is higher than any other model of fighter jets, so it is obvious that cases of MiG-21 accidents will be higher than others.” He, however, agreed that there was a need to modernise the IAF’s fighter fleet and said the global tender floated to procure 126 combat jets worth $10 billion would cater to that need.

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