India and China Are Building up Their Air Power on the Border. What Happens Next?

    Zachary Keck

    Security, Asia

    A prelude to a crisis? 

    China and India are engaging in an air force buildup along their shared border.

    This week, Chinese state media outlet Global Times reported that Beijing has been deploying more advanced jets along its border with India. “China is upgrading its Western Theater Command in order to confront any threat from India,” the Global Times reported, citing images posted by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). “The pictures posted on the English version of the PLA website show a J-10 fighter jet and J-11 fighter jets conducting aerial combat training exercises in Western China on February 13.”

    According to the article, the J-10 and J-11 fighter jets were part of an air brigade assigned to China’s Western Theater Command. It went on to quote a military expert, Song Zhongping, as saying that the PLA views stationing more advanced fighters along the Indian border as an “urgent” task. That is because, as Song pointed out, India itself has been deploying more advanced jets alongside its own border with India. “With India importing new jets, China will continue strengthening its fighter jets in the Western Theatre Command,” Song said.

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