In preparation for a potential territorial conflict with India, China has deployed HQ-9 air defense missiles to Hetian airfield in the south of the Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region in the country’s northwest, according to the Communist Party publication Global Times on July 3. Hetian is only 260 kilometers from India-administered Kashmir.
Kanwa Defense Review, a Chinese-language magazine based in Canada, said the radar vehicles of HQ-9 air defense missiles have recently been seen at the base and assessed that they are there to defend China’s western border from a potential air strike launched by the Indian Air Force.
Hetian airfield is the staging base of the PLA Air Force’s 37th Air Division, from where the unit’s JH-7A fighter bombers can carry out airstrikes against targets in India. As such, it is likely to be a target for the Indian Air Force in the event of a war.
Kanwa also said the PLA Air Force made another decision in late June to send another air defense brigade from the Guangzhou Military Region to the Gobi desert.