Indian Air Force equipment during the 1962 War 'cannot be compared to that of China' and it was 'not successful' in delivering supplies to beleaguered Indian troops, an official Chinese daily claimed today, days after IAF Chief NAK Browne said the use of Air Force would have changed the outcome of the conflict.
In the first such write-up ahead of the 50th anniversary of the eight-day war which broke out on October 20, 1962, a commentary in the Chinese edition of Global Times claimed that the combat capability of the IAF was very limited leaving it a 'spectator'.
"On the eve of the war the backbone of the IAF in terms of equipment cannot be compared to that of China," it said, adding the IAF mainly consisted of British WWII Spitfire turboprop aircraft and "second hand" Vampire aircraft.
"The Vampire aircraft had been trounced by the Chinese people's volunteers as early as the Korean War. As for the 100 MK6 fighter aircraft and 90 Canberra light bombers ordered by India from the UK, they were not yet delivered by the end of 1962," it said.
"The Indian military did not deploy any combat aircraft in frontline airports at Indian border, and basically sent transport planes to provide supplies to the Army," it said.
"Owing to a lack of real world experience, the majority of the supplies fell into the gorges and gullies. In many cases, the parachutes did not open and damage was caused to the supplies," the commentary claimed.
The commentary came days after Browne said the outcome of the 1962 war with China would have been different had the Air Force been used in an offensive role.
According to statistics, the Chinese daily said, "during the entire Sino-Indian border war, only 40 per cent of the airdrops fell into the Indian Army hands. This was far removed from the amount required to maintain normal operations needs."
Also, it claimed that India did not deploy fighter aircraft based on Central Intelligence Agency information that China has already deployed bombers on the Qinghai-Tibet plateau.
"The Chinese aircraft combat radius could cover Delhi and strikes by IAF in Tibet would inevitably lead to a tough retaliation by China. Ultimately, the request of armed intervention by IAF had to be shelved," it claimed.
"By the end of the first phase of the Sino-Indian border war, the IAF had become a 'bystander'," it said.
After October 28th, when China announced 'a unilateral ceasefire, the IAF helicopters were out in force. They were rescuing the remnants of the Indian army'.
Even in the Arunachal sector in the second phase of hostilities on November 16, "IAF continued to mobilise Otter aircraft to provide supplies to the besieged troops. But this could not save the Indian Army from the fate of defeat.
Chinese army gunfire successfully brought down, and seized, an Otter aircraft in Wanong," the commentary said. The article, however, said the IAF went on modernisation drive soon after the war as the US provided a number of C-47 transport aircraft to India. "France accelerated production of the Indian Skylark helicopter with high altitude flight capability."
"India has also leased a C-130 transport squadron from the US. The leasing of an entire transport group is unprecedented. At the same time, India and the Soviet Union's military cooperation became increasingly closer. In 1962, India purchased the first batch of seven MiG-21 fighters from the Soviet Union," it said.