Report By: Nandika Chand | Last Updated June 3, 2020
With no signs of tensions thawing between India and China, New Delhi has started work on an airstrip in Kashmir for fighter jets to make emergency landings in war-like situations. The project for a 3.5km-long airstrip is underway along National Highway 44 (Srinagar – Banihal) in southern Kashmir.
However, Indian officials have refused to link this project with the current border tension with China. They said the decision for the airstrip was taken in June, 2019. “The Ministry for Road Transport identified 29 highways for the construction of airstrips, out of which only 13 were found feasible to be constructed,” the officials said. India has also been constructing roads from Arunachal Pradesh to Uttarakhand and J&K for all-weather connectivity to civilians and troops of border areas.
Not taking the standoff lightly either, Chinese troops held an infiltration exercise in Tibet to test their combat readiness at night in a high altitude area. They used night vision devices on their vehicles to avoid drone surveillance from the “enemy side”. Moreover, China media reports said the Chinese troops sent drones and dropped explosives when they saw “blocks set up by the enemy”. Ma Qian, a commander of the scout battalion said over 2,000 munutions, including rifle grenades and rockets, were fired during the drill.
Song Zhongping, a Hong Kong-based military affairs commentator, said it was inevitable the PLA would step up high altitude night drills because of tensions with India. War or no war, he argued it is necessary for the PLA to train troops and prepare for war. “It is more urgent to boost combat missions in mountain plateaus, especially in all-weather combat capabilities,” Zhongping said.