In yet another sign of the growing India-China military ties, the air forces of the two countries will stage their first joint war game in 2012, the Indian Air Force (IAF) chief said Monday.
'The planning has commenced. We are expecting political approval soon. In all probability, the exercise will be conducted in 2012,' Air Chief Marshal Pradeep Naik told reporters here.
With this, all three wings of the armed forces would have engaged in joint exercises with their Chinese counterparts.
The Indian and Chinese navies had initiated the process in November 2003, holding their first joint exercise off Shanghai. Subsequently, two ships of the Indian Navy made port calls at Qingdao and participated in a joint exercise with the Chinese navy in 2007.
The first bilateral army exercise between the two countries was organised in Kunming China late in 2007. The next joint army exercise was held in India in December 2008. The next round of these will be held in either country in 2011.
The year 2008 also saw high level visits of armed forces officials and defence ministry officials.
In January, Defence Secretary Padeep Kumar had led a 10-member delegation of senior armed forces officers and defence ministry officials to China. He had met, among others, Chinese Defence Minister Gen. Liang Guanglie. The delegation also visited an armoured division of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) and the Academy of Military Science.
'The two sides have identified a number of areas in which further action will be taken for military cooperation. For 2010, both sides have discussed high-level delegation visits, exchanges between military training institutes and reciprocal exchanges for various courses, including language courses,' a defence ministry official said after Kumar's return.
India and China had fought a bitter border war in 1962 and their relations remained frosty till the mid-1980s, when Rajiv Gandhi, who was then the prime minister, made a path-breaking visit to Beijing.
Since then, there has been a steady warming of ties with exchanges in the political, economic and cultural fields. The two countries have also named special representatives to work out a roadmap for resolving their border row.