LEH: Ten months after the creation of the post of Chief of Defence Staff for a unified command, the Army and Air Force are preparing to jointly counter the Chinese forces at the Eastern Ladakh sector.
The Leh airfield is abuzz with the Indian Air Force’s C-17s, Ilyushin-76s, and C-130J Super Hercules aircraft flying in with rations and supplies for the troops deployed on the forward locations opposite the Chinese forces.
“The instructions from the top at Air Headquarters are clear that whatever requirements are projected by the Army and other security forces here have to be fulfilled. The results are here for everybody to see,” a senior Air Force commander posted in the Ladakh region told ANI about the combat support missions being carried out by his service.
Army chief Gen Manoj Mukund Naravane and Air Force chief Air chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria are coursemates from NDA days and have been good friends since then.
An Army officer deployed in a forward area said Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat and the chiefs of two services meet often to discuss and plan the action against the Chinese forces.
The Army, which is deployed in an eyeball-to-eyeball face-off situation against the Chinese troops, is also regularly updating the Indian Air Force on the actual position on the ground to enhance their domain awareness. Both the forces have also planned some operations jointly in case the situation worsens further on the LAC, the officer said.
The effort can be seen on the ground as the forces are preparing to tackle both China and Pakistan.
On the road from Leh towards the Line of Actual Control in Eastern Ladakh, one could see the Chinooks flying over the Indus river to provide supplies to the Army troops stationed on the front battling both the Chinese and the extremely harsh winters.
Close to the LAC, Chinook and Mi-17V5s helicopters of the Air Force can be seen flying towards an Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) to drop supplies including panels of shelters which are being erected in the border areas to tackle harsh winters.
“Thanks to the lift capability of our helicopters, we are in a position to lift and shift the container habitat to wherever it is required to be placed at very short notice,” 14 Corps Chief of Staff Maj Gen Arvind Kapoor had told ANI during a visit to a prefabricated shelter for troops in Eastern Ladakh.
Indian Air Force’s new acquisitions including the Chinook and the Apache attack helicopters are also playing key roles in the ongoing conflict with the Chinese.
“The Chinooks are supplying men and material to the border areas on a daily basis while the Apaches would come into the picture in a big way if the two sides get engaged in a tank battle in the high altitude wide valleys of the Indus and other rivers in the Eastern Ladakh sector,” the official said.
Officials also expressed confidence the two forces would be better prepared to fight wars jointly by the time the border conflict with China ends.