Excellent article by Air Commodore Ramesh Phadke - posted here elsewhere. I am quoting relevant points as emphasized by Vivek here:http://www.indiandefencereview.com/spot ... r-force/1/
...the PLAAF has some 1,687 combat capable aircraft up from 1,653 the previous year. The Chinese aviation industry now has the capacity to manufacture 40-50 modern fighters every year.
... The PLAAF, however, has almost no combat experience nor has it participated in exercises with air forces other than the one with a few aircraft in Turkey last year. Yet if the type and variety of weapons, especially cruise missiles, UAV and UCAV and the focus on space-based systems such as the GPS/GLONASS, reconnaissance satellites are any indication, the PLAAF is by no means lagging behind other air forces in grasping the essentials of modern air power employment. A majority of the 1,687 combat aircraft, however, are of II/III generation. Barring some 144 J-10, a few Super-10, 243 Su-27/30 and 72 JH-7A, the rest comprise J-7 and J-8 of the older generation.
...Chinese leadership might place a higher-than-normal reliance on the country’s missile force especially on the conventional short range ballistic missiles of the M-9 and M-11 variety. These weapons, available in large numbers, could well be used in the opening phases of a border conflict to convey Chinese political resolve and to keep attrition low. The terrain, large distances to airfields in Sichuan and Yunnan provinces (1,600km – 1,800km from Arunachal Pradesh to Chengdu and Kunming) and the limitations imposed by high altitude on fighter operations from Tibetan airfields could also force the Chinese to bank on conventional missiles. It is also debatable if on their way to targets in India, the Chinese aircraft would be allowed to fly over Myanmar and Bangladesh.
....The PLAAF has a few Il-78 and ten H-6 converted into Tu-160 Flight Refuelling Aircraft (FRA). Their efficiency, state of training and employability however, remain somewhat uncertain. In the event of a face-off between the Chinese and Indian navies, the IAF may be called into action. Given the range, the IAF would have to undertake combat operations with the Su-30 fleet duly supported by FRAs.
The fleet of FRA with the PLAAF is neither large enough nor sufficiently trained to compensate for these limitations of operating from airfields at high altitude. Besides, the airfields in Tibet can be easily targeted by the IAF and hence would remain vulnerable. The IAF today has a fairly large number of combat aircraft and a small number of conventional missiles of the Prithvi class. The Su-30 MKI fleet in the East is being progressively enhanced and together with Mirage-2000 and MiG-29, would be able to counter any offensive by the elements of the PLAAF in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh. The situation would definitely improve once the Su-30 MKI fleet is built up to full strength and the 126 MMRCA and 40 Tejas Light Combat Aircraft are inducted into the IAF in the next decade. By 2020, hopefully the Indo-Russian Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft would also be available to the IAF.
....IAF resources would undoubtedly be stretched in the event of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) also mounting an offensive in collusion with the PLAAF. But even in such a situation it would not be easy for them to prevail. Simultaneous and well-coordinated offensive operations by China and Pakistan are a remote possibility but one for which the country must be ever prepared. For a variety of reasons, at this point in time, neither China nor India is likely to seek to engage in an all-out, copy-book and set-piece conventional war.