China-Ladakh Clash: India moves air defence system close to China border

Last Updated 28 June 2020, 02:56 IST

Consolidating the border defense, the Indian armed forces have moved some of its air defense missile systems closer to the disputed Sino-Indian boundary in eastern Ladakh which is witnessing a tense stand-off between the Indian Army and Chinese People’s Liberation Army for more than 50 days.

The deployment of the advanced surface-to-air missile systems to guard the skies coincides with the Indian Air Force launching combat patrolling in Ladakh in which Su-30MKI and MiG-29 fighter aircraft, and Apache and Chinook helicopters are regularly taking off from Leh and Srinagar airbase and flying close to the border areas.

"As part of the ongoing build-up in the sector, the air defense systems of both Indian Army and Indian Air Force have been deployed to prevent any misadventure by the Chinese Air Force fighter jets or the PLA choppers,” news agency ANI reported, quoting unnamed sources within the BJP-led NDA government.

When asked the Indian Army and IAF refused to disclose any information on such a deployment on operational grounds.

However, independent sources within the armed forces told DH that in such a heightened state of readiness, necessary measures had been taken by all services working in an integrated environment to ensure that the armed forces were ready for all eventualities.

In the last fortnight, Army Chief Gen M M Naravane and Indian Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria visited Ladakh to oversee the preparations of the forces in guarding the Line of Actual Control against any PLA offensive campaign.

Over the last one and half months, the Army too has moved two of its divisions in Ladakh besides the 3 Division that is already stationed in that area. Along with thousands of troops, the army also brought in howitzer guns, tanks, and other weapons in the arid cold desert that witnessed a clash between Indian and Chinese troops in 1962.

So far the PLA aircraft, however, didn’t cross the LAC as they are flying maintaining the 10 km distance from the disputed boundary. The frequency of flying has increased with the PLA Air Force strengthening its air bases in the depth areas of Tibet.

In a shift from the past practice, the Chinese troops also heavily intensified its positions on the northern banks of the 135 km long Pangong lake, stopping the Indian Army from patrolling the areas that India used to patrol in all these years. The Chinese have increased its troop strengths on the southern banks of the lake too.

Other areas in eastern Ladakh where the PLA augmented its strength are Patrol Point-14, PP-15, PP-17 and PP-17A in the Galwan valley as well as the Depsang bulge, north of Galwan, aiming to cut Indian troops access to areas closer to the LAC and compromising the strategic Darbuk-Shyok-DBO road that connects the world’s highest airstrip Dault Beg Oldi airfield near Karakoram pass to Leh.

(Published 27 June 2020, 15:47 IST)

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