China wants War with India (Part 6):
The Theatre of War:
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.