To counter the growing Chinese might, India has to be ready for a future air war
 
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Guest Column - Force Magazine
The Dragon Rises

To counter the growing Chinese might, India has to be ready for a future air war
 

Air Marshal Anil Chopra (retd) Air Marshal Anil Chopra (retd)

China is already a super power that has moved aggressively onto the world centre stage. Their active expansion into South China Sea by reclamation of islands; the construction of USD 46 billion China-Pakistan-Economic-Corridor (CPEC) connecting the mainland to the strategic Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of Indian Ocean; the trans-Siberian oil pipeline from Russia; significant role in Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), BRICS and United Nations; and powerful cyber-warfare capability are being watched closely by the world.

The Chinese armed forces are modernising aggressively, and especially the very comprehensive aerospace approach is a serious long-term challenge to the world order. People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) is rising like the phoenix. Chinese industry is pushing forward in aviation design and production and aggressively marketing aircraft in Pakistan, Iran, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and many African nations.

The Chinese armed forces have started conducting military exercise with India’s neighbours. PLAAF fighters, bombers and early warning aircraft have participated in exercises with Pakistan Air Force (PAF). PAF has shown interest in Chinese aircraft beyond the J-17 Thunder which is already jointly produced in large numbers. India’s serious boundary disputes with both China and Pakistan and continuing animosity have security concerns for India. With global shift of power to Asia-Pacific region, India chose to strengthen strategic links with the US, Japan, Vietnam and Australia. Aviation is where action is, and India has to prepare for any future air war and also build deterrence to prevent misadventures.

Defence Budget Comparisons
China’s defence spending was close to USD 155 billion (1.67 per cent of GDP) in 2016 which was more than the combined defence budgets of India, Japan and South Korea — the three largest Asian economies. It is three times India’s military outlay and the second highest after the US. China is also known to have large hidden budget, so actual figure could be higher.

The allocation for defence in the recent Indian budget for 2017-18 stands at USD 53.5 billion. It is just 1.56 per cent of the GDP down from 1.65 per cent last year. USD 16.8 billion is for capital spending. A significant part of India’s modernisation budget goes to payments for committed liabilities. Because of its importance and high cost of aviation the Indian Air Force (IAF) gets nearly 22 per cent of the defence budget, and also has the largest component and increase in Capital outlay. As Chinese economic growth starts slowing and Indian economy continues to grow faster, Indian defence allocation should grow. It is clear that to catch up with China in defence preparedness, India needs to allot much more and perhaps as much as 2.5 per cent of the GDP.

PAF has shown interest in Chinese aircraft beyond the J-17 Thunder which is already jointly produced in large numbers
PAF has shown interest in Chinese aircraft beyond the J-17 Thunder which is already jointly produced in large numbers
 
 
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