According to reports in the Indian media, the Indian Air Force Chief of Staff and Congress Party leaders have recently stated that they are “ready for air strikes against China” and “can quickly repel China”. Is the Indian military really ready for air strikes against China?
The Indian Air Force Chief is reported to have remarked recently that the integration of the Rafale fighter jet gives India an advantage over its rivals, including those of “pre-emptive strike” and “deep strike” capability. The senior Indian Air Force commander also said, “The Indian Air Force is ready to carry out air strikes against China, but (the situation) has not reached that point yet. The situation has not reached the point of warranting airstrikes, but the Indian Air Force is ready for it.” Indian Congress Party leader, Rahul Gandhi, also claimed on 6 June that “if the Congress Party was in power, Indian security forces would have pushed back China 100 km from the border in 15 minutes.”
An anonymous military expert told the Huan Qiu Shi Bao that the Indian Air Force’s show of confidence can only be in words, and its actual preparations for air strikes against China, which must address many difficulties such as ushering in and adapting new weaponry and preventing Chinese counter-attacks, are far from complete. The introduction of a more powerful ground attack capability of the Rafale fighter jet does give the Indians added bottom line stemming from the Rafale’s past performance, mainly in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Mali where it has had combat performance. But these results were achieved under ideal air conditions. “Rafale” has not been tested by high-intensity battlefield environment and complex meteorological conditions in the high altitude, strong wind, low pressure and other harsh environmental conditions of the China-India border region; will it be able to adapt ?
Can the Indian Air Force take over the French-made Rafale in a hurry at this time and quickly gear up to give full play to its combat effectiveness? There are many unknowns.
Other analysts believe that the Indian Air Force’s plan to use non-stealth fighters to carry out air strikes against China, which has a well-developed advanced air defence network, is an absolute moth to a flame. For example, they lack a dedicated means of interference outside the zone In last year’s cross-border air strikes against Pakistan, only a few trees were blown up, without causing any substantial damage to Pakistan. That shows the level of its air strike capacity. Therefore, the induction of “Rafale” fighter jets in service will not greatly enhance India’s ground combat capability.
Experts say, the Chinese army has always emphasised the maxim ” I will not offend if people do not offend me”. So far the Chinese side has been observing restraint on the China-India border, but this does not mean that the Chinese army is not ready for combat. If the Indian Air Force wants to air attack China, it will either use Su-30 air-launched “Brahmos” cruise missiles, or the “Rafale” air-launched “Storm Shadow” cruise missile. At that time, the Indian warplanes will not only have to face the aerial hunting of advanced fighters such as the J-20, J-16, and J-10, but also have to bypass the air defense firepower network composed of “Hongqi-9” and “Hongqi-16”. Moreover, once the dangerous move of air strikes is carried out, it means complete break down of restraint of China and India at the border. Many important targets of the Indian side are within the attack radius of the Chinese Air Force. The dangerous situation of India is also something that Indians who are clamoring to expand the war need to seriously consider.