NEW DELHI- After basing its most potent Sukhoi-30MKI fighters at Tezpur and Chabua, India has now begun deploying six Akash surface-to-air missile (SAM) squadrons in the northeast to deter Chinese jets, helicopters and drones.

Defense ministry sources said IAF have started getting deliveries of the six Akash missile squadrons, which can "neutralize" multiple targets at 25 km interception range in all-weather conditions, earmarked for the eastern theatre.

This delayed but successful induction of the Akash systems, developed by DRDO and manufactured by defense PSU Bharat Dynamics, has also led to scrapping of the protracted discussions to develop the 'Maitri' short-range SAMs with France.

The Akash deployment in the northeast is in tune with the overall plan to progressively achieve "meaningful and credible deterrence" against China.

China, incidentally, has been conducting major exercises with its J-10, Sukhoi-27UBK and Sukhoi-30MKK fighters in the high-altitude Qinghai-Tibet plateau in recent times.