Navy's P-8Is deployed in Ladakh; MiG-29K jets likely to move to air bases in north
New Delhi, July 21: The Indian Navy's P-8I surveillance planes are carrying out frequent sweeps over the Eastern Ladakh sector, the Navy's maritime fighter jets MiG-29K will be deployed in the Northern sector for operations.
The Indian Navy's Poseidon 8I anti-submarine warfare aircraft have also been deployed in eastern Ladakh to carry out surveillance along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and some of its MiG-29K jets are likely to be stationed in key IAF bases in the northern sector amid the border row with China, sources said on Tuesday.
The sources said the military brass is considering deploying Indian Navy's MiG-29K fighter jets in a couple of air bases in the northern sector as part of efforts to bring in tri-services synergy in dealing with national security challenges. The maritime fighter jets will complement the Indian Air Force's(IAF) efforts to significantly boost deep strikes and air dominance capabilities, they said.
At present, the Navy has a fleet of around 40 MiG-29K jets and at least 18 of them are deployed on board the country's aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya. The IAF has already positioned almost all its frontline fighter jets like Sukhoi 30 MKI, Jaguar and Mirage 2000 aircraft in the key frontier air bases in eastern Ladakh and elsewhere along the LAC, a move that came against the backdrop of the border row with China.
Diplomatic and military talks between China and India are continuing for complete disengagement of troops from a number of friction points in eastern Ladakh. The IAF has been carrying out night time combat air patrols over the eastern Ladakh region in the last few weeks as part of its preparedness to deal with any eventualities in the mountainous region. By the second half of August, the IAF is planning to deploy five Rafale fighter jets in the Ladakh sector which are expected to significantly enhance its combat capabilities. India is scheduled to receive the first batch of five Rafale jets on July 27.
As part of its high-level of alertness, the IAF has also deployed Apache attack choppers as well as Chinook heavy-lift helicopters to transport troops to various forward locations in eastern Ladakh. The sources said Poseidon 8I aircraft of the Navy has been deployed for monitoring the movement of Chinese troops in eastern Ladakh.
The long-range anti-submarine and reconnaissance aircraft was deployed in Doklam along the Sikkim border too during the 73-day standoff between Indian and Chinese troops in 2017. The P-8Is were also deployed to keep an eye on movement of Pakistani troops after the Pulwama terror attack last year.
The deployment of the naval fighter aircraft at the Indian Air Force (IAF) bases is in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's directives for enhancing jointness between the three services and Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat's call for the possibility of deployment of maritime combat aircraft along the northern or western borders with the Air Force.
The Indian Navy has a fleet of over 40 MiG-29K fighter jets that are deployed on the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya and carry out regular flying from the naval fighter base INS Hansa in Goa.
In the midst of the border row with China, the Indian Navy on Monday and Tuesday carried out a military drill with a US Navy carrier strike group led by nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz off the coast of Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
The Indian Navy has increased its surveillance missions and beefed up operational deployment in the Indian Ocean region in the wake of the country's bitter border standoff with China in eastern Ladakh.
The Indian Navy is also ramping up its operational cooperation with various friendly naval forces like the US Navy and the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force in view of the fast evolving regional security landscape, the officials said.
Navies from the US, India, Australia, Japan and France have been deepening their mutual cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region in view of China''s growing attempt to expand military influence in the resource rich region.
Following escalation in tension between India and China in eastern Ladakh, the government put all the three forces on high alert.
The Indian Navy was asked to raise its alert-level in the Indian Ocean Region where Chinese Navy has been making regular forays.