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Massive deployment at China’s airbases, aerial exercises underway

UPDATED: October 5, 2020 12:31 IST

 

he Kashgar airbase in China’s Xinjiang region, barely 475 km from Karakoram Pass, has seen hectic activity recently.OSINT team had earlier analysed Chinese deployment of H-6 strategic bombers at the airport.

The dual use Kashgar airport has been within the news since the start of the Indo-China standoff. the primary two H-6 bombers observed here in June were a part of a non-permanent deployment with an eye fixed on Indian forces in Eastern Ladakh. Latest satellite images of Kashgar airport reveal that the missiles loaded on the primary two H-6s were KD-63 missiles. These are air-launched land-attack cruise missiles, providing precision strike capabilities.

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had also reported the arrival of another six H-6 bombers at Kashgar. However, recent satellite images suggest that the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has increased the strength further and made new deployments for extended duration and in additional forward positions than previously known.

The new deployments are available the wake of accelerating tensions and agreements to prevent inducting additional troops in Western Theater Command (WTC). The OSINT team analyses latest high-resolution satellite images to know the possible air assault strategy behind PLA activities in WTC.

A new deployment of a minimum of four and possibly eight H-6s has been noticed at Golmud airbase in central China, which again may be a dual use airbase. Latest satellite images suggest that H-6H bombers seen at Golmud airbase weren’t armed as of August 26.

However, both the deployments at Kashgar and Golmud are possibly from the PLAAF’s 108 Regiment under 36 division located at Wugong. The Wugong deployment is understood to specifically cater to emergencies which will arise keeping India in mind.

PLAAF’s latest acquisition the Y-20 strategic transporter was earlier observed parked at the western end of Kashgar runway in June. This temporary deployment, reported by, was assessed to be an attempt to be used in extreme weather , possibly testing the load-carrying capacity.

The deployment of Y-20 strategic transporters was observed for quite 15 days from August 14 to September 3 at Golmud airbase.

The different locations the Y-20 aircraft were observed on satellite images during this deployment strongly suggest that they were trialling various sorts of loads prepared especially for an air assault, including artillery, air defence and infantry.

Heli assault

The high-resolution satellite images show a deployment of 18 helicopters parked during a Russian-style temporary heliport. The temporary heliport prepared at the eastern end of Golmud runway also features a small helistrip created in 09/27 direction.

A Special Forces combined arms unit with its complete paraphernalia is seen practicing deployment in an occupied environment with proper entry system complete with vehicle barricades on the road.

The unit features a large operations room, storage, cookhouses and living tents. an outsized number of support vehicles are seen parked nearby. the entire facility seen on satellite imagery indicates possible quick deployment practice, prepared as per helicopter loads.

The equipment, depicting artillery and air defence systems, with possibly Special Forces or infantry units, are possibly prepared as per Y-20 strategic transporter loads. a short lived kerbside pump is ready for heating oil and lubricants (FOL) distribution. There are a minimum of five pumps, suggesting it’ll be a quick distribution system which will be connected with any FOL depot in minutes.

All these imply that China could be practising for a possible brigade-size air assault deep inside Indian territory to capture vantage areas to facilitate PLA advance. The brigade-sized force as observed on satellite imagery indicates preparation for the occupation of land much beyond the Chinese claim line.

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