Chinese - Indian relations and borders
Trip Start Jan 30, 2007
632Trip End Dec 31, 2011
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While Yunnan shares borders with Vietnam, Burma and Laos, in the past Yunnan was the main entry point into China for those flying 'The Hump' from Indian and Burma.
Yunnan's relations are as much with other Mekong countries as with coastal China. Flights from the capital Kunming go to most SE Asian nations, including a new flight to India. But it was surprising to see this piece about the conflicts between China and India and how China could possibly use Kunming, Lijiang or even Zhongdian airports for strikes on India (and vice versa).
Within the next four months, a first batch of eight Su-30MKI multi-role fighters will be positioned at the Tezpur Airp Base in the Indian state of Assam, near the border with China, an Indian Navy source has revealed. This is almost six months ahead of the timeline reported some time ago in the Indian media.
This will be the first time for Su-30MKI fighters to be deployed so close to the China-India border. The deployment of two squadrons of Su-30MKI fighters at the Tezpur Air Base in the eastern part of the country will greatly enhance India's capability to launch aerial precision attacks on China.
Not taking into consideration the aerial refueling capability of the fighters, the Su-30MKI's 1,500-kilometer (932-mile) combat radius is enough to cover all the major cities in southwest China, including Kunming, Chengdu and Chongqing. India plans to outfit the fighters with the latest BrahMos air-to-ground supersonic missiles, which have a 290-kilometer (180-mile) range.
Along the India-China border air power has been shifting in favor of India. First of all, India has quite a number of airports in Assam and the disputed territory of Arunachal Pradesh, making troop maneuvers easier. In the Tibet region, China has only the Kang-ko Airport in eastern Tibet, the Gongka Airport in Lhasa and one more known as the Hidden Airport. Fighter aircraft are not normally stationed at any of these airports.
China has sent Su-27SK fighters to this area for airport transfer training on the plateau. Troops that took part in this training reportedly faced difficulties in logistic support and supply. In the nearby Chengdu Military Region, the only air force units with decent combat strength are one J-10A regiment under the PLA Air Force's No. 44 Division and one Su-27 regiment under the No. 33 Division. The Diqing and Zhongdian airports in Yunnan province could be used for operations against India, but these are small civilian airports.
India has built a number of airports in the state of Arunachal Pradesh, including seven military airports. The small Teju New Airport located close to the border with China has only one runway and is mainly used for rapid transport by helicopter. It could be used as a runway for MiG-21 fighters to take off and land. There is another similar airport in Machuka, again close to the border. A small airport at Sookerating has one runway, while the Along Airport is also available for fast landing and takeoff of helicopters, indicating that the Indian Air Force attaches great importance to fast reaction capability.
Other small frontline airport facilities include the Jorhat Airport and Lilabari Airport. The Chabua Airport can field not only An-32 light transport aircraft but also Mi-8/17 helicopters, and is the pivotal airport for the Indian Air Force to quickly deliver troops in the region. Two runways have been built at this airport.
To the south of Arunachal Pradesh is Assam, where Tezpur is the largest military airport. Tezpur Airport, now preparing to receive the Su-30MKI fighters, is no more than 500 kilometers (310 miles) from the practical line of control at the China-India border. The Indian Air Defense Force No. 30 Squadron is stationed there, armed with 16 MiG-21FL fighters, all of which are now anchored in mound-structured hangars.
Two other small airports have been built in Assam, the Dimapir and Kumbhirgram dual-use airports. The Indian Air Force also has the Lengpui, Barapani and Guwahati airports in the area.
In the strategic direction of Bhutan and central Nepal, the Indian Air Force has built three major military airports, sufficient to provide deterrence over the central part of Tibet. These airports include the Baghdogra (Avantipur) Air Base, where at least 16 MiG-21FL fighters and An-32 transport aircraft are based. The airport is equipped with mound-structured hangars, each accommodating two MiG-21 fighters. The Baghdogra Airport is also only 500 kilometers (310 miles) from the border with China, and is the home base of the Indian Air Force No. 8 Squadron.
In this region, the Hashimara Air Base is one of the better-equipped military airports with large, full-fledged facilities. There are 18 MiG-27ML attackers based here, and during a confrontation with China, these could hit targets deep in Tibet through the Bhutan-Nepal corridor. The No. 22 Squadron of the Indian Air Force Is stationed at this airport. In addition, a simple runway has also been built at Cooch Behar.
India and China have been following very similar paths in the construction of airport facilities and SAM-2 ground-to-air missile positions, as they are the students of the same Soviet Union professor. Nonetheless, the Chinese Air Force is ahead of the Indian Air Force in the construction of underground airport facilities.