India has deployed a squadron of its Mig-29 Fighter jets in Srinagar Air Force Station to tackle adversaries on two fronts: Pakistan and the Peoples Republic of China (PRC).
The name of the squadron is “Tridents”, and it is calling sign is “Defenders of the North”. The squadron has replaced its earlier MiG-21 jets with MiG-29.
Strategic Location of Srinagar
“Srinagar lies at the centre of the Kashmir Valley, and its elevation is much higher than plains. It is strategically better to place an aircraft with a higher thrust-to-weight ratio and less response time due to proximity to the border, and it is equipped with better avionics and coupled with long-range missiles The MiG-29 fulfils all the criteria due to which we are able to take out enemies on both fronts,” said Squadron leader Vipul Sharma.
Advantages of using MiG-29
The MiG-29 has more significant advantages than its predecessor aircraft, the MiG-21 Bison. They have successfully defended the area of responsibility in the Kashmir Valley for many years and also managed to strike down the F-16 Falcon of the Pakistan Air Force in the Balakot Strike in 2019.
The fighter jet is equipped with very long-range air-to-ground as well as air-to-air missiles after its successful upgrade by the Indian Air Force and is armed with lethal weaponry making use of the emergency procurement powers given to the Indian Armed Forces.
“It has the capability to jam the enemy aircraft’s fighting capabilities during times of conflict,” officials said. Another officer of the IAF, Squadron leader Shivam Rana said that the upgraded aircraft could operate during the night due to its night vision goggles and has longer air-to-air refuelling capability.
“We have also included the air-to-ground weaponry, which was not there earlier. The biggest capability of the aircraft is the pilots who are handpicked by the IAF to serve on this aircraft,” he said.
The MiG -29 moved to Srinagar Air Base in January 2023 and have flown extensively in Kashmir Valley along with the Ladakh Sector, where they would be useful in responding to airspace violations by the Chinese.
The MiG-29 were the first aircraft to have been deployed in the Ladakh Sector to handle the threats from China after the Galwan Clash of 2020 and has thwarted multiple attempts since then.
Two-Front War Scenario
India faces dual security threats from two prominent external actors, which are the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the Peoples’s Republic of China. Pakistan is located westwards, whereas China poses a challenge in the north as well as in the northeast.
The Indian Air Force is facing a multitude of problems while dealing with the strategic China-Pakistan collusively. The challenge from the combined forces of both nations can be a tough nut to crack for the Indian Armed Forces. The first drawback is the shortfall of the strength of its fighter squadrons.
In addition to the quantitative decline, most of the fighter aircraft, such as Sukhoi-30MKI, Jaguar, and Mirage 2000, are decades old and some of them are not airworthy enough. The same problem is faced by transport aircraft and helicopters too.
Though the IAF is much more enhanced and far better than its Pakistani counterparts, the involvement of China and the PLAAF (Chinese Air Force) will complicate the situation in India’s favour. The PLAAF is the second largest air force in the world, and it has multiple airbases situated all across the Line of Actual Control, all are designed to target India. Besides that, China’s continuous logistical help to Pakistan will be challenging to tackle. A simultaneous attack on both fronts at the same time can be catastrophic for the Indian Armed Forces.
However, the induction of Dassault Rafale, Tejas, Apache Attack Helicopters, C-130 Hercules, C-17 Globemaster, Chinook and Prachanda LCH Helicopters into its inventory will prove to be a game changer regarding the two-front challenge.
Moreover, Russian technology is highly prone to malfunctions and disorders, Technology and military support from US and Israel will fill in the gaps, such as the acquisition and procurement of unmanned aerial vehicles.