An India-China war today will be different from that fought in 1962. As per the general perception, China holds a military advantage over India. However, according to studies by Belfer Centre at the Harvard Kennedy School in Boston, and Centre for a New American Security (CNAS) in Washington, India maintains an edge in high altitude mountainous warfare over China.
According to the Belfer study, India has about 270 fighters and 68 ground-attack aircraft which can be used to counter China. India also maintains a series of small airbases near the Chinese border from which it can stage and supply those aircraft, the study claims. On the other hand, China has 157 fighters and a small fleet of ground-attack drones in the region. India can rapidly boost its strike and resupply capability, especially if backed by the United States.
“The high altitude of Chinese airbases in Tibet and Xinjiang, plus the generally difficult geographic and weather conditions of the region, means that Chinese fighters are limited to carrying around half their design payload and fuel. Inflight refuelling would be required for PLA Air Force to maximise their strike capacity. China had only inducted 15 such tanker aircraft nationally as of 2017, meaning only a handful of its forces will benefit from this solution. Against these underpowered fighters, Indian Air Force (IAF) forces will launch from bases and airfields unaffected by these geographic conditions, with maximum payload and fuel capabilities,” the study titled “The Strategic Postures of China and India: A Visual Guide” says.
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