Mirror mirror on the wall, Who is the most fearsome of all.
The Chinese army has disengaged from Tibet-Ladakh border and the process will continue from both ends, and de-escalation between Indo-China armies may also start soon. Meanwhile two of USA’s Aircraft Carriers are exercising in South-China Sea. Have you ever wondered what is the issue there? Even more interesting is the reason how it is connected to India?
South China Sea Dispute
China has many maritime neighbours like Japan, Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and many others and not to forget Taiwan which it claims as part of it’s own territory. Every country has right over it’s land and12 nautical miles into the sea from where it’s sea shore, ends. It is more complicated than that and read here for complicated version. Beyond that, the water is common to all for navigation. In 2013 China started to build/expand Spratly Islands and the Parcel Islands in this area called South China sea. Thereby it sought to extend its 12 nautical miles limit to be counted from the islands, rather than it’s sea shore. That is the shortest version of the South China Sea dispute. Needless to add that no country in the region agrees with this interpretation. But first we need to delve into history of India for a while.
Jianli Yang, a former Chinese military official and son of a leader in the Chinese Communist Party, made a sensational claim. As per Yang, ‘More than 100 Chinese troops were killed in the dreadful conflict between Indian and Chinese soldiers, on the night of 15th June. But the Chinese regime is hiding this information from the Chinese people.
Possibility of rebellion in army:
President Xi Jinping is worried that if the information regarding the soldiers, killed in the Galwan Valley, is disclosed, the serving as well as the retired soldiers could revolt. Not only this but also there could be a rebellion within the Communist Party.’
In his article written for the newspaper, Washington Times, Jianli Yang accused that the Chinese regime is not willing to disclose the information regarding the Galwan Valley conflict.
Yang reminded that in the last few days, Zhao Lijian, the spokesman of the Chinese foreign ministry has dodged questions regarding the Chinese casualties, in the Galwan Valley, during various news conferences. Yang made vitriolic criticism saying that China is not willing to openly state the number of casualties in the Galwan Valley conflict. On the other hand, the Indian government honoured its martyrs.
Yang presented the plight of the soldiers saying ‘It is better not to think of the state of the retired Chinese army personnel when China does not care even for the serving soldiers and martyrs from the military. The Chinese regime frequently treats the retired soldiers, who participated in the China-Vietnam or the Korean war, with contempt. These soldiers are protesting for pension, medical facilities and employment, for the last many years against the Chinese regime. But the Chinese government is not willing to take cognisance of their demands.’
News channels now a days do not tell news like good old times. Rather they tell stories. Similarly wars are now battled in theatres. Except that the war theatre is an outlined piece of land. In case of present Indo-China stand off, the theatre is in northern India. The terrain looks like this:
India does not have border with China.
That was until China annexed Tibet in 1950-57. Ladakh is the India’s northern State bordering Tibet. Leh, capital of Ladakh is at an elevation of 11562 feet from sea level. To give a perspective, Himalaya mountain’s peak is more than 29029 feet. That is the highest peak in the world. The highest peak in India on which skiing is possible around the year is Kufri which is 16 Km from Simla, has elevation of 8600 ft. Present stand off between the forces of India and China are at three places on this border.
To take off, planes need runway and it needs airports to assist it’s maintenance. Further, aircraft also has to breath oxygen like human. Lesser the oxygen, lessor the thrust. Taking off an aircraft from the ground is the most challenging aspect as gravitational pull is more. If you have been to any hill station, remember how difficult the climb is. That is the twin effect of gravity and less oxygen.
Tibet (means China) has 4 air bases, out of which only Ngari is close to Ladakh. The other 3 Shigatse, Lhasa and Nyingchi are 1500 to 2500 kms away. These four airbases in Tibet are at a high altitude of more than 13000 ft (4000 mtrs) The airports at such high altitude has problems. Aircrafts have to be operated at half to 2/3rd load. Not to mention special tweeking in the aircrafts. Read this news report from 2017 reported in China daily, now archived:
“Konggar Airport in Tibet, one of the highest-altitude airports in China, was able to accommodate a Tibet Airlines wide-body Airbus 330 aircraft overnight for the first time, the airline announced Wednesday.
The 3,600-meter-high airport in Lhasa was able to accommodate the plane after the airline’s technicians solved the problem of re-starting the aircraft’s engine in a low air pressure environment after an overnight stay.
A new oxygen diffusion device has been designed to increase air supply during the engine ignition process, the airline said.
High-altitude airports (over 2,438 meters above sea levels) pose safety issues for pilots as low air pressure affects flight performance. All five airports in Tibet are classified as such.”
The above problem relate to a commercial airbus aircraft which has much more big and stable engine. Imagine the take off of a fighter plane? Do not know the difference. See this commercial plane taking off from Lhasa’s Gonggar airport:
Now see this flight of a Rafale fighter plane:
Have you noticed the difference? Presently we are not discussing the specifications of plane. We can assume that China and India have similar planes and they have same numbers as well. Now compare those four airports within the radius of 600 kilometres inside Tibet with position of India.
India has the following air bases in this theatre as also in adjoining areas – (1) Leh (high altitude), (2) Srinagar, (3) Awantipora (Medium altitude), (4) Jammu, (5) Pathankot, (6) Adampur (Jullundur), (7) Amritsar, (8) Halwara (Ludhiana), (9) Bhatinda, (10) Suratgarh, (11) Ambala, (12) Chandigarh, (13) Sarsawa (Saharanpur), (14) Hindon (Delhi), and (15) Bareilly.
There are three more within 900 km distance (1) Agra, (2) Gwalior and (3) Bakshi Ka Talab (Lucknow). All these are full fledged air bases with full support to squadron of aircraft of any type. If at any given time India chooses to attack these bogus tents put up by China in Galwan Valley, how is China going to respond? Deploying aircraft to dog fight will be not an easy task. Assuming that four airstrips will support and planes will some how fly, can that number be any more than a dozen at given time as three airstrips has no hanger or even space to house a full squadron of aircraft there?
Remember we have not discussed the fighter planes or their quality so far. I have also ignored the Doulat Bagh Oldie, the India’s landing site and world’s highest and longest landing strip at highest altitude.
So what did the China do? It has deployed air defence missiles. Will it work? We will discuss that tomorrow.