NEW DELHI: Indian Air Force chief Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria on Tuesday said the situation along the India-China border was that of "no war, no peace", but the military was prepared for any eventuality.

The "present security scenario along our northern frontiers is at an uneasy no war no peace status. Our defence forces are prepared for any eventuality," the IAF chief said.

Tens of thousands of Indian and Chinese soldiers are locked in a stand-off in eastern Ladakh, the most serious since their 1962 conflict.

Tensions between New Delhi and Beijing have been simmering since May when India first detected multiple Chinese military intrusions into Ladakh. The Indian government also noticed a major military buildup across the border inside Chinese territory which included air defence systems, tanks, fighter air craft and missiles besides troops.

On 15 June, soldiers of the two countries were involved in a violent clash in which 20 Indian personnel and an unknown number of Chinese troops were killed. Tensions spiralled again in late August as India took vantage positions on some mountain features in Ladakh in a pre-emptive move. Chinese and Indian troops fired warning shots in September in at least two instances – a first in 45 years.

The “no war no peace" situation seems to have come about after the foreign ministers of the two countries met in Moscow on 10 September. Military commanders of the two countries have met once since then and more meetings are expected in the coming days. But New Delhi is readying itself for a long drawn out troop deployment on the heights in Ladakh.

It is in this context that the role of the Indian Air Force becomes critical, ferrying supplies and other essentials besides guarding against any aerial attacks .

In his remarks, Bhadauria said the recent induction of Rafale jets along with the C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft as well as Chinook and Apache helicopters have provided the IAF with substantial tactical and strategic capability.

"Air power will be a crucial enabler in our victory in any future conflict. It is, therefore, imperative that IAF obtains and maintains technological edge over our adversaries," he said at a conference on the Indian aerospace industry.

India inducted five of 36 French-made multi-role Rafale fighter jets into the IAF on 10 September and the aircraft have been carrying out sorties in eastern Ladakh.
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