Shillong: Amid the increased tension with China in the eastern sector of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the Indian Air Force (IAF) has planned to conduct a significant air combat exercise in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, and other northeastern states.

This exercise, to be conducted in the first week of February, will involve frontline fighters, helicopters, other aircraft, and drones, TOI reported.

From February 1 to February 5, the Eastern Air Command, which has its headquarters in Shillong, will participate in a “command-level” exercise to evaluate its operational preparedness.

According to a source quoted by TOI, “it will encompass all eastern sector assets, including Rafales and Sukhoi-30MKI fighters flying from air bases including Hasimara, Tezpur, and Chabua.”

After the physical skirmishes between Indian and Chinese soldiers at Yangtse in the Tawang sector of Arunachal Pradesh on December 9, the IAF also carried out a two-day drill in the Northeast in December.

“The forthcoming exercise will be bigger in scale and will include a variety of platforms, including C-130J ‘Super Hercules’ aircraft, Chinook heavy-lift and Apache attack helicopters, among others,” the newspaper reported.

For the third winter in a row, China has kept over 50,000 troops and heavy weapons deployed along the eastern Ladakh border, and it has so far refused to discuss army pullout at the strategically important Depsang Plains and Demchok areas.

Indian and Chinese troops clashed along the LAC in the Tawang sector of Arunachal Pradesh on December 9 resulting in ‘minor injuries’ on both sides.

Six Indian soldiers were injured in the face-off.

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