Reports have surfaced that India has deployed half a dozen refueling aircraft at Panagarh, an Indian Army and Air Force base in West Bengal, as a supplement to fighter planes deployed on the Chinese border. Rajeev Sharma in The Diplomat sees this as a sign that India is “upping the ante” with China:
However, the latest Indian move is hardly sufficient to counter the vast military infrastructure that China has already built in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) right on India’s doorstep. Indeed, this is the case . . . even if one takes into account that India has also reopened airfields in Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh (Jammu and Kashmir) and raised two additional divisions of troops in the northeast. [...]
Significantly, the Director of the U.S. National Intelligence Agency (NIA) stated in an unclassified report to the Senate Intelligence Committee on January 31, 2012: “Despite public statements intended to downplay tensions between India and China, we judge India is increasingly concerned about China’s posture along the border and Beijing’s aggressive posture in the Indian Ocean and Asia-Pacific Region (APR)”.
These two titans probably aren’t itching for a military confrontation; nor are they looking to be caught off guard. War has broken out on these borders before.
The India-China rivalry is real and it is likely to sharpen rather than diminish in the months and years ahead. Look for more interesting moves in the unfolding Asian Game of Thrones.