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China has taken steps to address its historical disadvantage in air combat over high-altitude terrain. This strategy involves deploying additional fighter jets, bombers, reconnaissance aircraft, and drones.

The improvements include upgrades to airfields in Hotan, Kashgar, Gargunsa, Shigatse, Bangda, Nyingchi, and Hoping. These upgrades encompass new and extended runways, reinforced shelters for aircraft, and increased storage capacity for fuel and ammunition.

Hotan Airbase in Xinjiang province exemplifies this approach. New additions include two JH-7A fighter-bombers and three Y-20 heavy-lift aircraft, bolstering the existing force of nearly 50 J-11 and J-7 fighters, five Y-8 and Y-7 transport aircraft, and a KJ-500 airborne early-warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft.

This focus on high-altitude airpower strengthens China’s military capabilities in strategically important regions.