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Chinese air intrusions in Arunachal rare, mostly errors: IAF chief

Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa admitted that there might have been one or two violations due to navigational problems

Press Trust of India  |  Guwahati 

IAF Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa
IAF Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa. File photo

Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa said Thursday broadly, there has been no violation of Indian airspace by China, barring one to two incidents due to navigational problems, in with both sides maintaining the perceived line of actual control.      

He also said the Air Force's fields were developed to improve air connectivity in the Northeast and civil operators were welcome to operate flights.

"We have confidence building measures (CBM) on both sides. Our fighter aircraft don't come less than 10 or 12 km from the perceived line of actual control. But in the broad picture, the CBMs are being maintained and both sides did not violate each other's airspace," the IAF chief told a press conference here.

Dhanoa was replying to a question on if there was any violation of Indian airspace in the state recently by China.

He, however, admitted that there might have been one or two violations due to navigational problems. 

"On both sides, even during the Doklam crisis and subsequent huge exercise Gagan Shakti there was no violation of peace time profile. The CBMs are in place and both sides respect this confidence building measure," the IAF chief said.

Chinese and Indian troops in July last year faced off on the disputed Doklam plateau between Bhutan and China after the Chinese People's Liberation Army began building roads through the area.

Held in April, Gagan Shakti was the biggest exercise by the (IAF) in three decades in which over 11,000 sorties were carried out by combat, transport and rotary wing aircraft of the force to test its combat readiness.

The air chief marshal also said during his meeting with the Chinese air commander of the western theatre in February last year, it was decided that "we must meet more often on ground and not meet each other in the air".

On permitting civil aviation flights to use the Air Force's landing grounds in along the China border, he said, "The Eastern Air Command has seven to eight brand new and refurbished air field facilities at Tawang, Along, Tuting, Mechuka, Zero...

"All of them are ready and some of them have already got civil traffic coming in, tourism has increased," he said.

Our airfields are open for people to use and "we would be willing to take anybody willing to come to our air fields to operate their services regularly", Dhanoa said.

There is no objection from the side of the force to operation of flights by civil operators in the Northeast, he said.

First Published: Thu, November 29 2018. 20:10 IST