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IndiaAmid LAC face-off, China deploys J-20 stealth fighters at Tibet airfield

Amid LAC face-off, China deploys J-20 stealth fighters at Tibet airfield


NEW DELHI: China has now deployed its most advanced J-20 stealth fighters at an airfield in Tibet in the eastern sector facing , amid the continuing military confrontation along the entire Line of Actual Control, which is into its fifth year now.

Latest commercial satellite imagery shows the People's Liberation Army-Air Force (PLAAF) has deployed six J-20 fighters at the Shigatse dual-use airport, which is barely 155 km from the LAC and close to Doklam near the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction, in addition to the several J-10 jets and a KJ-500 AEW&C (airborne early-warning and control) aircraft already present there.

“Multiple (satellite) images collected over the course of the same day indicate these aircraft (J-20s) arrived at the air base on May 27, preceded by the arrival of a Y-20 transport aircraft for the probable deployment of ground crew and support equipment,” said All Source Analysis, which looks at geospatial intelligence, in a post on “X”.

A senior Indian establishment official, in turn, said that the twin-engine J-20 fighters “are probably at Shigatse for high-altitude trials”. The PLAAF has been regularly deploying J-20s at its airfields in the western sector like the Hotan airfield in Xinjiang, which is around 240-km from the LAC, since the military confrontation erupted in eastern in May 2020, as was earlier reported.

Apart from the Sukhoi-30MKI fighters based at Hasimara, Chabua and Tezpur in the eastern sector, the IAF also has a squadron (18 jets) of its latest French-origin Rafale omni-role jets deployed at the Hasimara air base in West Bengal, with the other one at Ambala for the western front with Pakistan.

China touts the Chengdu J-20 as the effective answer to the 's only fully-operational and proven fifth-generation jets like the American F/A-22 Raptors and F-35 Lightning-II Joint Strike Fighters.


China has now offset some of its air combat disadvantage due to high-altitude terrain constraints by deploying additional fighters, bombers, reconnaissance aircraft and drones after upgrading its airfields like Hotan, Kashgar, Gargunsa, Shigatse, Bangda, Nyingchi and Hoping, among others. China has constructed new runways as well as extended older ones, along with building new hardened shelters, fuel and ammunition storage facilities at these airfields.

At Hotan, for instance, the PLAAF recently deployed two new JH-7A fighter-bombers and three Y-20 heavy-lift aircraft, among others, to add to the almost 50 J-11 and J-7 fighters, five Y-8 and Y-7 transport aircraft and KJ-500 AEW&C aircraft already present there.



The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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