Thursday, May 30, 2013

Chinese roads and military structures adjacent to Daulat Beg Oldi

In this post I have a map that shows some more detail of the same area that was seen in an earlier map I had displayed in a post entitled Chinese roads in Aksai Chin - 2 also Xinjiang.

The map below shows the Karakoram pass in the northwest corner (top left). The LAC is a red line and Daulat Beg Oldi is marked as DBO on the map. To the east of the LAC the Chinese appear to have a significant military presence. The road network marked is more extensive but the roads are predominantly tracks that are about 5 to 6 meters wide. A red index line indicates 10 km to aid scaling. These Chinese installations are all within 30 km of DBO.

On the road connecting the Chinese highway G 219 to this area are underground military complexes, and what appear to be tunnels. These are about 200 km from the G 219 (by road). Two roads go from these installations towards the LAC from here. Both these roads have a segment that runs parallel to the LAC for a few km. The road marked "two loop road" has a loop at either end that presumably allows patrolling vehicles to reverse direction and go back up or down the road. The other road too is a loop with one part parallel to the LAC. "two loop road" is less than 15 km from DBO as the crow flies, assuming that the LAC and DBO are marked accurately on Google earth.

I wonder what the purpose of these Chinese installations are. I was wondering about offensive intent  in which the Chinese could mount an attack on DBO and then work their way up to the Karakoram pass. But that terrain is mountainous and above 5500 meters high.

On the other hand the Chinese positions could be largely defensive where they are keeping an eye on the Indian side. This view is supported by the fact that the Chinese border roads run parallel to the LAC, "respecting", as it were, the LAC.



    Does that cartoon of the border posts look right to you?

    I doesn't look right to me.

  2. Hmm... another opinion about the tunnels.

    Apparently they have ballistic missiles stored there.


    Look like J-11s with AAMs on wing.

    1. Those J-11s are in Xigaze air base as per the report. Xigaze airfield id about 150 km west of Lhasa air base. Xigaze is situated at an altitude of 3800 meters and has a 5 km long runway. It is 1500 km from the LAC at Aksai Chin. Probably of more significance in the Arunachal Pradesh region.

      The coordinates are:

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  5. Those AAMs look like Chinese versions of the R-27. I have marked out the airfields in Xinjiang - will post soon. I need to compare that cartoon with the sat image on GE to see if I can make sense of it.

  6. Hello Bennedose,

    The nearest airbase to Aksai Chin appears to be Kunshaxiang ~ 600km away from Depsang.

    Elevation and access is comparable to Xigaze.

    If the J-11s can land at Xigaze, chances are they can land at Kunshaxiang/Ngari Gunsa.

    1. No Mav there are 3 airbases in Xinjiang situated at altitude 1200 to 1400 meters above MSL. One is 200 km from the LAC and the others are 500 to 600 km away. I have marked them on a map and will upload after I have searched for others

  7. Actually I take that back - both Hotan and Ngari Gunsa are equidistant.

    Both have runways big enough for a Su27-J11 to take off.

  8. Hello Bennedose,

    The closest airbases to Aksai Chin - i.e. Hotan and Ngari Gunsa are all > 4000m AMSL. The runway there is about 3000-4000 meters. They are distant approximately 300 km from the Depsang plain.

    A J-11 can take off from Hotan with at least an air/air load.

    It may be that given local wind patterns, the airplanes will have a limited time window in which they can take off during the day.

    An empty Su-27/J-11 weighs in at 16 tons, there is about 8 tons or fuel on board. The maximum take off weight for a runway at 4000 meters will be less than the 33 tons that it usually has at MSL. The average PL-12 weighs in at ~ 200 kg. The average PL-9 weighs in at 100 kg. If we say that the J-11 will function in an air-air load only - then it is fair to say that the J-11 will carry 6 PL-9 and 4 PL-12 - about 1.5 tons of weapons. It may be best to cut back on the fuel to the minimum required to take off and refuel and load up on the weapons and refuel in air.

    If they refuel in the vicinity of the airport itself. They will have an operational radius of around 1500 km - of which 600 km will be travel to and from the airbase. This will leave another 900 km worth of fuel for loitering. If the airplane flies at ~ 600 kph. Their loiter time will be 1.5 to 2 hrs. If they attempt high speed maneuvers as they might in a combat situation, they will have much lower loiter time perhaps as little as 20 minutes.

    Pilot safety demands that the average sortie length be ~ 4 hours at max. Lets say the Chinese push their luck in wartime and go for 6 hr long sorties with 2 hours for the takeoff/two refuelings/landing and 4 hours of CAP time.

    Based on these numbers I feel that if the PLAAF wants to mount a continuous CAP comprised of 2 J-11 over Aksai Chin - it will need something like 8 tons of fuel per J-11 for every 2 hours of dwell over the Aksai Chin area. So that is about 100 tons of ATF per J-11 per day. They will need 12 airplanes to keep this up.

    In addition to this, they will need at least two refueling craft - one over the airbase and one close to Aksai Chin. The refuelers will have to fly back to the airbase to top off after every 2 flight refueling. This means they will need something like 4 refueling aircraft to keep a 24 hour CAP in operation.

    This puts a huge demand on their fuel reserves in the area. If they chew through 200 tons of ATF per day of just flying CAPs, they will need a reserve of 1500 tons somewhere and keep a pipeline functioning that can keep topping that off from the mainland.

    1. Interesting analysis of exactly the type I am interested in seeing. Will comment in more detail later - I am still tracing roads in some detail

      But I was thinking that J-10s may work from Xinjiang. I was also wondering how effective the J10s and J11s might be for ground attack against Indian ground targets - given the altitude and air density.

      It would be a good idea to target the refuelers. Also I need to look at where the refuelers could operate from.

  9. I guess the real question here is what is the MTOW for an J11 at that altitude. In order to be maximally effective, they will want to take off with as many weapons as possible and as little fuel as possible.

    If it can take off with enough fuel to make it to one of the PLAAF's refueling planes then it should be okay for the rest of the journey.

    I also wonder if the J-11's returning from a CAP will dump their unused munitions before they land or whether they will attempt to land at high altitude with the ordinance on the wing?

  10. Actually everything hangs from the g219.

    Any of the 16 passes on it are potential choke points.

  11. There is very little cover on the ground for the roads in the plain.

    If there is no CAP by the plaaf the war will end in a day.

    A reverse analysis might be very useful.

    Just put yourself in the plaaf commanders shoes and ask what would I do?