Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria on Monday said that the Indian Air Force was ready for any possible conflict including a two-front war, reported PTI. His comments come at a time when bilateral ties between India and China have been tense since May due to the border stand-off along the Line of Actual Control.

“The emerging threat scenario in our neighbourhood and beyond mandates need to have a robust capability to fight across the entire spectrum of warfare,” Bhadauria said during a press briefing ahead of the National Air Force Day on October 8. “I can share with you with confidence that operationally, we are amongst the best.”

He said the force was “very well positioned” when asked whether they were ready to deal with any challenge from China in Ladakh. “Be rest assured that we are deployed strongly to deal with any contingency,” Bhadauria said. “Our position as a credible combat-ready force is vital, given the role Air Force will play towards ensuring victory in any future conflict. We have made deployment in all relevant areas; Ladakh is a small part.”

The IAF chief said the integration of Rafale fighter jets has given India an edge over others. “Integration of Rafales brings in a platform which is way ahead and would give us an edge and capability to strike first and deep,” he added. The IAF currently has a fleet of five Rafale fighters. India ordered 36 Rafale jets from France in a deal worth Rs 59,000 crore in September 2016.

Last month, Bhadauria had said the situation on the India-China border is an uneasy “no peace, no war” one, but reiterated that India’s defence forces are prepared to face any threat.

The border standoff

Military heads of both India and China have engaged in several rounds of talks over the last three months after 20 Indian and unknown number of Chinese soldiers were killed in violent clashes in Galwan Valley in June. But these talks have so far failed to break the impasse.

On September 22, both the countries had issued a joint statement about the sixth round of Corps Commander-level talks and said they resolved to stop sending more troops to the frontline. The statement added that both sides will refrain from unilaterally changing situation on the Line of Actual Control. The seventh round of Corps Commander talks to work out measures for disengagement and de-escalation is scheduled for October 12.

On September 10, Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar met his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Moscow on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit. The two ministers agreed on a five-point plan to defuse tensions between the countries and said the current situation in the border areas of Ladakh was “not in the interest of either side”. This was after skirmishes between the two sides early in September.