By Tenzin Dharpo
J-11 fighter jets attached to an aviation brigade of the air force under the PLA Western Theater Command taxi on the runway during an aerial combat training exercise in Western China on Feb.13, 2018.
DHARAMSHALA, Feb. 22: Chinese fighter jets conducted exercises in occupied Tibet’s western region bordering India, in what experts say, is a show of force to its neighbor which is also in the process of upgrading their own air force.
Last week, Beijing’s military website released images of Chinese military aircraft conducting military training activities over the Tibetan plateau. Chinese state media Global Times said "China is upgrading its Western Theater Command in order to confront any threat from India."
J-10 and J-11 3.5 generation fighter jets, which can deliver destructive payloads, were attached to an aviation brigade under the PLA Western Theater Command, which has operational control over the boundary with India.
Chinese military expert and commentator Song Zhongping told Global Times
that, “Strengthening the 3.5-generation fighter jets or even stationing more advanced fighters in the Western Theater Command has been urgent for the PLA. With India importing new jets, China will continue strengthening its fighter jets in the Western Theater Command.”
India is set to acquire first of its 36 fourth-generation Dassault Rafale multirole fighter jets from France in 2019. India and French aircraft maker Dassault Aviation signed a 7.87 Billion Euros agreement for the sale of 36 Rafale fighter jets in September 2016.
On Tuesday, former Tibetan PM prof. Samdhong Rinpoche said that China and India never had military confrontations prior to 1951 with Tibet, an independent nation, then being a buffer zone between the two Asian giants.
The two countries whose relations dictate stability in Asia spend billions of dollars in military spending. Chinese occupied Tibet shares 4,057 km border along the Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.