China is likely commissioning more squadrons of a multirole strike fighter on the border with India, Chinese state media has indicated for the first time, as the militaries of the two countries dig in and deploy latest weaponry along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) amid the ongoing border faceoff.
The People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) western theatre command (WTC) – which is in-charge of the LAC – is said to be commissioning the J-16 fighter aircraft in the country’s western regions.
It appears to be part of WTC’s efforts to upgrade weaponry and logistics for its forces deployed along the LAC.
“A brigade attached to the PLA WTC Air Force recently conducted a confrontational air-to-air combat exercise in order to examine and enhance the unit’s comprehensive combat capability,” the state-backed nationalist tabloid Global Times reported citing an article on the official WeChat account of the PLA WTC.
The jets were being commissioned to “better safeguard China’s territorial integrity in the country’s western regions”.
“This brigade is in a key period of switching to use the J-16 heavy fighter jets, and the goal is to finish the process by the end of the year,” the report said.
The J-16 is a third-plus generation fighter jet domestically manufactured by China.
The reports did not mention the numbers of the fighter jets to be commissioned in the western sector; or which fighters they would be replacing.