Recent studies from the Belfer Center at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in Boston and the Center for a New American Security in Washington suggest that India maintains an edge in high-altitude mountainous warfare over China

  1. Better Air Preparedness – India has about 270 fighters and 68 ground-attack aircrafts
  2. India also maintains a series of small air bases near the Chinese border from which it can stage and supply those aircraft
  3. China has 157 fighters and a small fleet of ground-attack drones in the region. The PLAAF uses eight bases in the region, but most of those are civilian airfields at challenging altitudes.
  4. The high altitude of Chinese air bases in Tibet and Xinjiang, plus the generally difficult geographic and weather conditions of the region, means that Chinese fighters are limited to carrying around half their design payload and fuel
  5. Indian Air Force (IAF), with its Mirage 2000 and Sukhoi Su-30 jets, a qualitative edge in the region, where China fields J-10, J-11 and Su-27 fighters.
  6. India has developed these bases in the region with China in mind, according to an October 2019 report from the Center for a New American Security. “To weather a potential People’s Liberation Army (PLA) attack
  7. India has placed greater emphasis on infrastructure hardening; base resiliency; redundant command, control, and communications systems; and improved air defence
  8. Recent conflicts with Pakistan give the current IAF a level of institutional experience in actual networked combat,” it says. Lacking such experience, Chinese pilots may have difficulty thinking for themselves in a dynamic aerial battlefield
  9. India is by far the more experienced and battle-hardened side, having fought a series of limited and low-intensity conflicts in its recent past,” the CNAS report says. “The PLA, on the other hand, has not experienced the crucible of combat since its conflict with Vietnam in 1979
  10. In the event of an India-Chin war, US intelligence and surveillance could help New Delhi get a clearer picture of the battlefield. The Belfer report uses the example of what might happen if China was to surge troops from its interior to the front lines in the mountains
  11. India participates in joint military exercises with countries like the US, Japan, France and Australia. “Western troops participating in such war games and exercises regularly have revealed a grudging admiration for their Indian counterparts’ tactical creativity and a high degree of adaptability,” the CNAS report says. “China’s joint training endeavours, on the other hand, thus far have remained comparatively basic in scope — with the notable exception of its defence drills with Pakistan and Russia

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