New Delhi: New Delhi is concerned over China’s construction of underground bomb-proof shelters to house fighters at Lhasa’s Gonggar airport in the Tibet Autonomous Region. Gonggar airport is situated 1350 km away from New Delhi. 

Three officials familiar with the development who asked not to be identified, according to a Hindustan Times report, claimed that the airfield, which was earlier meant to boost “regional connectivity”, is now being turned into a military airbase.

According to one of the officials, a “taxi track” from the airstrip leads to blast- or bomb-proof hangers dug deep inside the mountains nearby. The facility, according to the three officials, can hold around three squadrons of fighters or about 36 aircraft.

Recently Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Chinese president Xi Jinping where they spoke about bettering the ties of the two nations. This came after last year’s Doklam crisis, where troops of both countries were engaged in an extended stand-off.

Explaining the need of bomb-proof shelters, one official said, “You need blast- or bomb-proof hangers for fighters only if there is a possibility of hostilities. Fighters kept in the open are vulnerable to attacks during hostilities, therefore they are kept safe inside bomb-proof shelters. When required, they are pulled out of the shelters and launched”.

“The People’s Liberation Army (Air Force) has such facilities along its border with Russia and the underground bomb-proof facilities along the India-China border in the TAR region is a new development,” another official added.

The security establishment in New Delhi has been informed about the bomb-proof hangars for fighters, however, the Chinese embassy in Delhi did not respond to queries about the same.

Lieutenant General S L Narasimhan, member of the National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) said that China is improving its defence infrastructure and India should do the same.