IAF holds mega drills in Northeastern region

IAF helicopter

The Indian Air Force, bolstered by its full complement of Rafale combat jets, on Thursday launched a major exercise covering the Northeastern region amid a fresh spike of border tension with China along the Line of Actual Control in
Arunachal Pradesh.

The two-day mega exercise is involving almost all its frontline fighter jets and other assets deployed in the region, people familiar with the drill said.

In a tweet, the IAF said the last of the 36 Rafale jets joined the force. The IAF inducted the Rafale aircraft into its 101 Squadron of the Eastern Air Command at the Hasimara in July last year.

An IAF official said the exercise was planned well in advance and it is not associated with recent developments in the Tawang sector.

Indian and Chinese troops clashed in the Tawang sector of Arunachal Pradesh last week, the first such encounter between the neighbours since the deadly Galwan valley incident in June 2020. At least six Indian soldiers are believed to have sustained injuries and are being treated at the Army hospital in Guwahati.

People residing at Tawang have shown confidence in the Indian Army and expressed their support, following the December 9 border clash where the Indian soldiers thwarted the Chinese attempt to change the status quo along the LAC in the Yangtse sector in Tawang.

The locals claimed that the atmosphere in the bordering town is very good and they have not faced any problems following the clash. “The atmosphere in Tawang is very good now. We heard that there was a skirmish at the border between the Indian and the Chinese armies but we have not faced any problems here due to the presence of the Indian Army at the border,” said Nima Sarang, a local. He also said that the government is undertaking various development works in the area and they would continue to support the Indian Army in future.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for de-escalation in the tensions between India and China. Stephane Dujarric, the spokesperson to UN Secretary-General said.

“We have seen these reports. We call for de-escalation and to ensure that the tensions along in that area do not grow,” Stephane Dujarric said in the press briefing.