Stand-off Between Indian, Chinese Troops Escalates as Fighter Jet, Helicopters Scramble in Ladakh

The current stand-off in eastern Ladakh is the second such instance since India and China disengaged in Doklam after a 73-day stand-off in 2017. The Indian Air Force (IAF) scrambled its Su-30MKI after it spotted the movement of military helicopters on the Chinese side of the border last week.

A Chinese helicopter was once again spotted in the eastern Ladakh sector on Tuesday for the third time since 5 May, defence sources in New Delhi said.

Border tensions between India and China have escalated in the Ladakh sector as fully armed troops from the two sides have been present at the stand-off site for more than a week.

Defence sources said: “Approximately 100 fully armed troops from the two sides are holding their ground at a position near the Pangong Tso (lake).”

Sources said over 1,200 Chinese troops kept ready as reinforcement near the contested region, where the two sides had hurled stones and engaged in fights on 5 May.

ANI news agency reported that during the stand-off on 5 May, the Indian Air Force scrambled a pair of Sukhoi30 MKI after two Chinese military helicopters were seen flying on their own side.

“No airspace violation by any side in Ladakh. Chinese and Indian choppers were flying in their respective airspace,” defence sources in New Delhi said.

However, the Indian Air Force did not comment on the issue officially, as the movement of fighter jets near the Line of Actual Control is not allowed under the bilateral agreement.

The Line of Actual Control is a loosely demarcated border that separates the two Asian giants, due to which, such transgressions are a common phenomenon, not classified as aggression by either side.

On Monday, while commenting on the face-off, the Chinese foreign ministry had said that People’s Liberation Army’s troops were there to keep peace and tranquility. “We hope India will work with China to uphold peace and tranquility in the border regions with concrete actions.”

The last time the two countries were engaged in a border stand-off was in 2017 when the Indian army objected to road construction by the Chinese in Doklam region, a tri-junction at the border that separates India, Bhutan, and China.

Border standoffs between Indian and Chinese troops occur at regular intervals in different parts of the 4000 kilometre Line of Actual Control between the two nations.