Sunday, May 24, 2009

India faces a greater threat from China than Pak: Air Chief

NEW DELHI: India faces a greater threat from China than Pakistan because New Delhi knows little about Beijing's combat capabilities; India's air force chief told a newspaper in an interview published on Sunday.

The world's two most populous nations fought a brief but brutal war over their 3,500 km (2,200 mile) Himalayan border in 1962, and both sides claim the other is occupying big but largely uninhabited chunks of their territory.

India has also been pursuing closer relations with the United States, something that worries China.

China has a standing army almost three times the size of Pakistan's, according to official figures and defence industry estimates, but it is the lack of knowledge about China's military that concerned Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major.

"We know very little about the actual capabilities of China, their combat edge or how professional their military is," Major said.

"They are certainly a greater threat."

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since independence in 1947 and tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours rose sharply after last November's Mumbai attack, which killed 166 people. A slow-moving peace process was paused after the attack.

Major said the Indian air force was upgrading about five airbases, of which two would operate Russian Su-30 MKI fighters

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