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Defence

Chinese military desecrates religious sites at Kailash Mansarovar, says report

Satellite images have revealed that Kailash Mansarovar – a Hindu pilgrimage site – now looks like a war zone with heavy artillery and military presence.

Chinese military build-up along India’s border is being reported for the past months. They have been enhancing military facilities, deploying surface-to-air missiles near Mount Kailash.

An India Today report has revealed that when the Chinese were clearing space for fresh constructions, they did not even spare religious sites. Satellite images have revealed that Kailash Mansarovar – a Hindu pilgrimage site –now looks like a war zone with heavy artillery and military presence.

China’s PLA says won’t remove troops from strategic Green Top area near Pangong Lake

The militarisation of Mount Kailash comes amid hostility between India and China. Although the troops have not engaged in any hostility since the violence in Galwan Valley in Ladakh, both nations have been strengthening border security silently.
This development also comes at a time India got embroiled in a diplomatic row over the construction of a road leading to Lipulekh located at the India-China-Nepal tri-junction. The road is touted to make the pilgrimage to Kailash Manasarovar shorter and easier.
These areas used to be a part of Indian territory until the late 1950s, when the Chinese forcefully took over parts of Mount Kailash, Mansarovar, and Eastern Ladakh. China has been trying to constrain the access of Indians to both Mansarovar and Mount Kailash for a long time by closing certain routes citing myriad reasons.

India makes ‘heavy deployments’ in Ladakh in response to increased Chinese presence: Report

More recently, they had released videos where tanks could be seen moving near the Mansarovar area, even though they do not have a facility there that they need to defend. There is a chance the Chinese are doing this to block paths that the Indian Air Force may take in case of hostilities.

Defence

Lord Ram And The India-China Face-Off

– by Rajmohan Gandhi:
Until recent years, it seemed that any clear edge that India possessed over China was in ideology. Economically, China was much stronger. Militarily, although India’s capabilities along the Himalayas had greatly improved during the post-1962 decades, China seemed to possess a much larger array of resources.

However, as against an evidently totalitarian China, India was democratic. Whereas China was stifled by one-party rule, India was being constantly refreshed by free debate, competition among political parties, and new governments. Nationally and globally, democracy gave India immense advantages. Benefits that accrue when journalists, writers, poets, professors and film-makers are unfettered, when independent civil servants direct investigative agencies, and when judges can punish the powerful.

The actualization of these democratic ideals was limited. In particular, our political democracy was slow to translate into social democracy. Hierarchies and oppressions continued. Even so, the world seemed far more comfortable with a loud, oft-chaotic, democratic India than with a more productive yet uniform China where dissenters could not speak, and where governments could not be voted out.

Not only was the world more at ease with a democratic India, there were indications that the people of China were curious about India’s freedoms. At least to a few in China, India’s modern experiment in democracy seemed to recall an ancient period when ideas travelled from India to China.

In the world, India’s appeal was particularly strong for nations containing diverse populations. Often run by dictators who play on the strength or numbers of a single tribe, sect or ethnic group, such nations were interested in spectacularly varied India. If India could be governed democratically and without one community bossing over the rest, there was hope for other heterogenous lands.

Far more important, however, than Indian democracy’s appeal to the world, or to the people of China, was the strength that a pluralist democracy brought to India. Hierarchies and oppressions notwithstanding, Adivasis, castes “low” and “high”, and Dalits could feel that India was theirs. And all in India – Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, Jews, atheists, whatever – could imagine that India belonged as much to them as to the Hindu majority.

Now, almost precisely when India’s equation with China has reached its most testing point in decades, we witness profoundly disturbing signals that threaten Indian solidarity. By involving himself as Prime Minister with the formal commencement of the construction of a Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, Narendra Modi has declared the Hindu-ness of the Indian state and struck at Indian society’s cohesion.

The question goes beyond the constitutional principles of secularism and pluralism. Mr. Modi seems to dismiss the realities that scream off India’s map. Muslim-majority Kashmir, bordering both China and Pakistan, occupies the north of India. Sikh-majority Punjab sits on India’s western boundary. Christians constitute either a majority or a strong minority in the eastern border states of Mizoram, Nagaland and Meghalaya, in equally crucial Kerala on India’s southern extremity, and in Goa, small in size but known well to the whole world. And Tamil Nadu’s sharp opposition to religious majoritarianism has a long and powerful history.

Taking India as a whole, a policy of humiliating 200 million Muslims, disregarding Sikhs, frightening Christians and unsettling large numbers of Hindus who prize equality is hardly the way to unite a people for any long-drawn contest with China. For all its strategic value, a distant Quad cannot be a substitute for Indian cohesion. If it comes to a battle, no Quad country will fight China on India’s behalf. We should also recognize that a majority of the people of Japan, the U.S. and Australia, and of other nations that prize democracy and pluralism, will be as cautious about a so-called Hindu republic as they are about so-called Islamic republics.

As for what a “Hindu state” of India will do to attract the people of Bangladesh and Afghanistan, countries with a bearing on India’s stand-off with China, asking the question is enough.

It is true that today China encounters more questions from a Covid-afflicted world than it has faced for years. That, however, does not entitle New Delhi to alienate large sections of the Indian people. Nor is it prudent to rely on the possibility of internal discontent in China. Ambition for global ascendancy will probably override any political tussles within China.

Facing a driven and authoritarian China, the people of India will not be served well by religious majoritarianism. Their sense of being equal partners with fellow citizens has taken serious hits in recent years. Instead of restoring that sense, Prime Minister Modi has signalled that because of their religion one set of Indians are indeed “more equal” than the rest. All of us should be troubled.

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(Rajmohan Gandhi is presently teaching at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.)

Defence

Hilal Ahmad Rather and Jawed Ashraf made it possible to get Raffles soon

NEW DELHI: When India’s first batch of five Rafale fighter aircraft took off from France’s Bordeaux-Merignac facility for India on Monday, it would have come as a “personal triumph” to Air Commodore Hilal Ahmad Rather.Presently India’s Air Attache in France, the native of Anantnag in Kashmirhas played a key role in ensuring delivery of Rafale jets to the country. Rather, son of a retired DSP, spent all of last year weaponizing the combataircraft to suit Indian conditions. He is credited with helping the project management team add 13 fresh capabilities to the Indian version of the jet.With the jets due to land in India on Wednesday, the 52-year-old — who also supervised refuelling training of a team of 152 IAF technicians and 27 fighter pilots with French tanks — is being hailed as a hero back home. Junaid Ahmad, Rather’s neighbour, said he was an inspiration to Kashmiri youth. “He has made us proud,” he said. User Vijay Zutshi wrote on Facebook, “I really feel proud to know about Commodore Hilal, a man from our mohalla (colony) and town Bakshiabad, Anantnag. I wish him all the success.” Another user Anmol Pandita wrote, “God bless you in all walks of life. I’m also from Bakshiabad and remember you as DSP sahib’s son.”
As tributes poured in on social media, those close to Rather said he has had an impeccable service record. A fighter combat
leader and a qualified flying instructor, Rather commanded Mirage-2000 Squadron and a front line Air Force base in Gwalior. His accident-free flying of jets like MIG 21, Mirage and Kiran was a useful experience that helped him while coordinating with
the French project management team in Bordeaux over 35 advanced functions of the Rafale jet.
An alumnus of Sainik School (J &K), Rather earned a Sword of Honour — the highest award to a cadet — during his training at
the National Defence Academy. An edition of an IAF gazette from a few years ago describes Rather as “the officer who
consistently adopts a very systematic, fair-and-humane approach, which has improved the working culture, work environment
and morale in the unit”.
A family member told TOI, “Hilal’s father was with the police in J&K when he got commissioned into the IAF in 1988. The family
often faced threats and while others got married in their sprawling bungalow in Anantnag, Rather had to rent out a two-room
flat in Nagrota in Jammu two days before his marriage in 1993 for safety reasons.”
Along with Rather, Indian ambassador to France Jawed Ashraf was also crucial in ensuring delivery of Rafale jets to India. The
combat jets are reaching India four years after an agreement between the two countries was signed in 2016.

Defence

India’s Rafale Vs China’s J-20: Which is the Better Fighter Plane?

The first batch of five Rafale jets took off from France on Monday and will be arriving in India on Wednesday, when the much-awaited fighter jets will officially be inducted and join the Indian Air Force fleet at the Ambala air base in Haryana.

The Rafale aircraft will cover a distance of nearly 7000 kms from France to India with air-to-air refuelling and a single stop en route in UAE. The Indian Air Force pilots and supporting personnel have been provided full training on aircraft and weapon systems by Dassault.

The Indian embassy in France said the event marked a “new milestone” in strong and growing India-France defence cooperation. The embassy also released a short video titled “Beauty and the Beast”, showcasing Rafale jets ready for take off.

Indian ambassador Jawed Ashraf was there to see off the Rafale aircraft. He also met the Indian pilots and congratulated them on becoming the first ones to fly the world’s most advanced and potent fighter aircraft and wished them success.

“These five Rafale jets are extremely swift, versatile and very deadly aircraft, they’re both beauty and beast. I would like to thank Dassault for delivering aircraft on time and French Government and French Air Force for all the support,” said ambassador Ashraf.

India ordered 36 Rafale jets from France in a deal worth Rs 59,000 crore in September 2016 as an emergency purchase to arrest the worrying slide in the IAF’s combat capabilities.

Acting on a special request by the IAF, France has accelerated the deliveries of Rafale fighters to India — five jets are coming instead of four that were originally planned to be delivered in the first batch.

France handed over to India its first Rafale fighter during a ceremony attended by defence minister Rajnath Singh and his French counterpart, Florence Parly, in Merignac on October 8 last year.

The delivery of all 36 aircraft will be completed by the end of 2021, said the Indian mission in France.

India’s Rafale Vs China’s J-20: Which is the Better Fighter Plane?

The French Dassault Rafale is about to be inducted into the Indian Air Force. It will be the IAF’s most advanced fighter aircraft. Across the LAC, it has to take on China’s Chengdu J-20. Here is a head-to-head comparision.The French Dassault Rafale is about to be inducted into the Indian Air Force. It will be the IAF’s most advanced fighter aircraft. Across the LAC, it has to take on China’s Chengdu J-20. Here is a head-to-head comparision.

The Indian Air Force will induct its first batch of Dassault Rafale fighter planes on 29 July, at the Ambala air force station. Following their induction into the 17th squadron, the Rafale will be one of the IAF’s most advanced aircraft in its fighter fleet.

In the context of the recent troop and fighter plane deployment along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), here is a comparison of the Rafale with its equivalent in the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF).

PLAAF operates a range of fighter planes, including Sukhoi SU-27, SU-30MKK and SU-35S, Chengdu J-7 and Chengdu J-10. But since Rafale is one of the most technologically advanced aircraft of the IAF, it is only fair to compare it with the Chengdu J-20, China’s most advanced fighter aircraft.

The Dassault Rafale is a French twin-engine, canard delta wing, multi-role fighter aircraft and considered to be in the 4.5 generation category. The J-20 is a single-seat, twin-jet, all-weather, stealth, 5th generation fighter aircraft developed by China’s Chengdu Aerospace Corporation.

Here is a look at the specifications of the two fighter planes.

Radar systems are used to detect enemy aircraft or any other targets. China has not provided any official information on the radar used in the J-20. However, according to reports, this fighter plane uses an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA). The same radar system is used by the Rafale as well. AESA is considered one of the most advanced radar technologies in the world.

Defense Minister Rajnath Singh put some flowers as a ritual gesture on a Rafale jet fighter during an handover cermony at the Dassault Aviation plant in Merignac, near Bordeaux, southwestern France, on 8 October.
Defense Minister Rajnath Singh put some flowers as a ritual gesture on a Rafale jet fighter during an handover cermony at the Dassault Aviation plant in Merignac, near Bordeaux, southwestern France, on 8 October.(Photo: PTI)
Does that mean that they have equal capabilities? Not really. How the radar system is optimised using different avionics and technologies makes all the difference.

One of the key technological features on the Rafale is its electronic warfare suite – SPECTRA.
SPECTRA protects the aircraft against airborne and ground threats. Various methods of detection, jamming, decoying and a highly re-programmable system capable of analysing threats better, makes it extremely difficult to detect and shoot down a Rafale.

Reportedly, the Rafale’s radar and SPECTRA system make up around 30 percent of the plane’s cost.
On the other hand, the J-20’s AESA radar comes with a chin-mounted infrared/electro-optic search and track sensor. The Chinese also claim that a passive electro-optical detection system in the J-20 gives its pilot 360-degree coverage of the battlefield. We’re told that the plane is also capable of accessing real-time data from Chinese military satellites.

The Rafale’s stores management system is Mil-Std-1760 compliant, which provides for easy integration of customer-selected weapons.

With its 10-tonne empty weight, the RAFALE is fitted with 14 hard points (13 on the RAFALE M). Five of them are capable of drop tanks and heavy ordnance. Total external load capacity is more than nine tonnes (20,000 lbs.). Hence, RAFALE can lift the equivalent of its own empty weight in payloads.

“Buddy-buddy” refuelling missions can be carried out in portions of the airspace out of reach of dedicated and vulnerable tanker aircraft.

With its outstanding load-carrying capability and its advanced mission system, the RAFALE can carry out both air-to-ground strikes, as well as air-to-air attacks and interceptions during the same sortie.

It is capable of performing several actions at the same time, such as firing air-to-air missiles during a very low altitude penetration phase: a clear demonstration of the true “OMNIROLE” capability and outstanding survivability of the RAFALE.

Defence

India sending high-powered boats to match heavier Chinese vessels while patrolling Ladakh lake

Lt Gen YK Joshi, GOC Ladakh 14 Corps, along with then Northern Army commander Lt Gen Ranbir Singh on a boat patrol in Ladakh’s Panggong lake
Indian Navy is sending a dozen high-powered, bigger capacity and top of the line surveillance equipped steel boats to Ladakh so that the Indian Army can patrol Pangong Tso and match the heavier Type 928 B vessels of the Chinese Army lake fleet. The Pangong Tso lake is at the centre of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) aggression in East Ladakh with the Chinese bullying India into ceding territory on both the banks and deliberately pushing the Modi government into retaliatory mode.

While the third senior military commander level talks stretched late into Tuesday night at Chushul, the word out is that they were held in cordial atmosphere with both the Leh Corps Commander and his Xinjiang Military district counterpart discussing the specifics of de-escalation and dis-engagement along the 3488 km Line of Actual Control (LAC).

The decision to send steel hulled boats to Pangong Tso was taken by the tri-services this week with the Navy asked to transport the vessels through C-17 heavy lift transporters to Leh on a priority basis. Apart from signalling Indian intent to stand up strong to any Chinese provocation, the heavier vessels will not be pushed around in the water by PLA boat fleet. Even though there are some logistical issues in transporting the huge boats by plane, solutions are being worked out by both Indian Navy and Army.

The Indian Navy is forwardly deployed on its eastern and western seaboards with its naval fleets monitoring the movement of ships from Andamans Sea to Persian Gulf to prevent any untoward activity.

While ostensibly China is talking peace and disengagement in the East Ladakh, it is quite evident to Indian national security planners that the PLA is actually consolidating on the four stand-off points along the 1597 KM LAC in the western sector. The amassing of troops in the Galwan sector, the building of road at Gogra point, the upgradations of communications at Hot Springs and the massive infra push at the Pangong Tso all shows that the PLA has no intentions to restore status quo ante. Instead, the PLA is hell-bent on provoking Indian Army by trying to nibble more territory and force an escalation on the border.

The Modi government has given Indian military a free hand to deal with the situation on the border as China has decided to turn the difference on the LAC into permanent dispute. The Indian troops and air force are all standing up to the PLA but will not initiate escalation on their own but only responds to the Chinese aggression. Just like 2001 Operation Parakram, Indian Forces are prepared to wait till such time status quo ante is restored in East Ladakh.

Even as the world, particularly the US and Russia, are waking up to new Chinese aggression, the Middle kingdom has always been a civilizational concept with Beijing rulers in the past two centuries. In this concept the only refined society is China with the rest of world being barbarians or tributary states. By contesting sovereignty of Senkaku islands with Japan, contesting Taiwan security with US, contesting South China Sea with ASEAN and forcing India into a military stand-off in Ladakh, China is cocking a snook at the globe.

Defence

Chinese army refuses to leave Pangdong lake

New Delhi: The Commander-level talks between India and China in Moldo on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) on Monday have been fruitful as both the sides decided to disengage the forces locked in a bitter standoff for the last six weeks in eastern Ladakh.

Amid escalating tension following the killing of 20 Indian soldiers in a clash at Galwan Valley on June 15 night, nearly 11-hour-long talks were held in a “cordial, positive and constructive atmosphere” to decide the modalities for disengagement from all areas in eastern Ladakh. Similar talks were earlier held on June 6, but China backtracked from its stand.

Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Narwane’s second visit to Leh since the faceoff started between the troops of India and China since May 5 holds a great significance. He met injured soldiers of the Galvan Valley prior to meeting Army Commanders in Ladakh and the local MP.

Sources told media that the Army Chief was briefed about the Commander-level talks as the attention has now shifted to Pangong Lake, where Chinese soldiers are currently stationed with all their military paraphernalia for about one and a half months. They are about 8 kilometers inside the LAC.

Amid positive indications of Commander level talks, India’s Ministry of External Affairs said that both the nations have agreed to reduce tension and create peace through dialogue. Talks are being held at both military and diplomatic levels, but the question is how to trust China.

Indian Army is now adamant that the Chinese troops will have shift behind the LAC in the same position where it was before May 2. After the Galwan Valley, the bone of contention between India and China is now Pangong Lake. India has raised its objections to China’s occupation from Finger 8 to Finger 4 in the Pangong Lake. On May 5, the scuffle between Indian and Chinese soldiers first started at Pangong Lake.

The nearly 3500-kilometer long border between India and China passes through plains and mountains, but in the Pangong Lake, LAC passes through water. The lake is situated 13900 feet high covering a length of about 134 kilometers. Of this, about 66 percent is occupied by China as the lake originates from Tibet.

Since Pangong Lake passes through mountains, lower parts of these mountains are called fingers because of their finger-like shape. Finger 4 is occupied by India which also has a post between Finger 3 and 4. Indian Army patrols from west to east till Finger 8 considering its claims till this region.

China, however, extends its claim till Finger 2 and to monitor that it has made a military post on Finger 8. The latest row started when China objected to the Indian Army’s patrolling till Finger 8, and later occupied ​​8 km area between Finger 8 and Finger 4, besides building bunkers.

China wants to occupy areas near Galwan and Pangong Lake which have otherwise been part of India or have been subject to dispute between India and China. This appears to be the reason why China does not want to settle the border dispute with India. As it will not be able to trespass into Indian territories. Knowing this, India also wants to curb Chinese action near Pangong Lake.

Zee News earlier told you that the mastermind of China’s misadventure on the LAC is General Zhao Zhongqi, who is the Commander of the Western Theater Command, which is deployed against India. The way the Chinese Army made incursions at several places along the LAC is reportedly the handiwork of General Zhongqi.

The 73-day-long Doklam dispute of 2017, when Indian soldiers stood like a rock in front of Chinese and finally China had to retreat. The mastermind of the Doklam was General Zhongqi, who once again made incursions in the Eastern Ladakh and created an embarrassing situation for China.

Zhao Zhongqi is said to be the blue-eyed boy of President Xi Jinping. General Zhongqi reportedly wants to become vice chairman of China’s powerful Central Military Commission (CMC), which is headed by President Xi.

The CMC takes important decisions related to the Chinese military. The PLA’s misadventure in the Galwan Valley under General Zhongqi’s command appears to have President Xi Jinping’s consent.
But the situation at Pangong Lake still continues to be the big bone of contention as the dialogue was held amid a massive build at the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

Sources said discussions are likely to continue and a plan for de-escalation will be drawn out.

Other than Pangong Lake, where the Chinese troops are occupying the Finger 4 area of the lake that has been traditionally under Indian control, situation in Galwan Valley, where troops continue to hold guard from both sides, was also discussed.

Not only have the Chinese come and camped in big numbers on the northern bank of the lake, but also enhanced their fortifications, observation posts and troop deployment between Finger 4 and Finger 8 that was considered a grey zone even though India has claimed territory till Finger 8.

The lake is divided into 8 fingers. In military parlance, the mountainous spurs jutting out into the lake are referred to as fingers.

Like in the earlier meeting on June 6 between the top commanders, India has been asking for status quo to be restored to what it was before the May buildup.

Meanwhile, Indian Army chief Gen MM Naravane will be visiting Ladakh on Tuesday in the backdrop of a continued troop buildup at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) after the violent clash of June 15 in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed while the Chinese also suffered casualties.

The visit is planned to assess the operational preparedness and get a first-hand account of the ground situation from the commanders there.

The army chief’s visit comes a day after the marathon meeting of Corps Commanders of Indian and Chinese armies on Monday that went on for 11 hours.

The army chief on his two-day visit is also expected to visit Srinagar amid heightened anti-terror operations.

The military brass including top army commanders from across the country are meeting in Delhi to make an assessment of preparedness both on the Pakistan and China borders.

Defence

Indian, Chinese militaries agree to disengage from friction points in eastern Ladakh

Indian, Chinese militaries agree to disengage from friction points in eastern Ladakh, PTI quotes sources. The talks were held in a ‘cordial, positive and constructive atmosphere’ and it was decided that modalities for disengagement from all areas in eastern Ladakh would be taken forward by both the sides

In a positive move, Indian and Chinese armies have arrived at a consensus to “disengage” from all friction points in eastern Ladakh at a marathon meeting of top military commanders of the two sides on Monday, official sources said.

The talks were held in a “cordial, positive and constructive atmosphere” and it was decided that modalities for disengagement from all areas in eastern Ladakh would be taken forward by both the sides, they said.

The Indian delegation at the nearly 11-hour talks was led by Lt Gen Harinder Singh, the commander of the 14 Corps, while the Chinese side was headed by Commander of the Tibet Military District Maj Gen Liu Lin.

The talks were held in the midst of escalating tension between the two countries following the killing of 20 Indian Army personnel by China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in a violent clash in Galwan Valley on June 15.

India termed the incident as a “premeditated and planned action” by the Chinese troops.

“There was a mutual consensus to disengage. Modalities for disengagement from all friction areas in eastern Ladakh were discussed and will be taken forward by both the sides,” said a source.

In the meeting, the Indian delegation strongly raised the “premeditated” assault by Chinese troops on Indian soldiers in the Galwan Valley and demanded immediate withdrawal of Chinese troops from all areas in eastern Ladakh where the two militaries are on a standoff, people familiar with the development said.

The Indian side also suggested bringing down the number of troops by both sides in their rear bases along the Line of Actual Control, the 3,500 km de-facto border, they said.

The first round of the Lt Gen-level talks were held on June 6 during which both sides finalised an agreement to disengage gradually from all standoff points beginning with Galwan Valley.

However, the situation in the region deteriorated following the Galwan Valley clashes as the two sides significantly bolstered their deployments in most areas.

On Sunday, the government gave the armed forces “full freedom” to give a “befitting” response to any Chinese misadventure along the LAC.

The Army has already sent thousands of additional troops to forward locations along the border in the last one week. The IAF has also moved a sizeable number of its frontline Sukhoi 30 MKI, Jaguar, Mirage 2000 aircraft and Apache attack helicopters to several key air bases, including Leh and Srinagar, following the clashes.

The talks on Monday were held at the Moldo meeting point on Chinese side of Chushul sector in eastern Ladakh and it is learnt that the China’s PLA asked for the meeting. The Lt General-level meeting of June 6 was also sought by the Chinese side.

After the Galwan Valley clash, the two sides held at least three rounds of talks to explore ways to bring down tension.

The two armies were engaged in a standoff in Galwan and several other areas of eastern Ladakh since May 5 when their troops clashed on the banks of the Pangong Tso.

The situation in eastern Ladakh deteriorated after around 250 Chinese and Indian soldiers were engaged in a violent face-off on May 5 and 6. The incident in Pangong Tso was followed by a similar incident in north Sikkim on May 9.

Prior to the clashes, both sides had been asserting that pending the final resolution of the boundary issue, it was necessary to maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas. PTI

Defence

IAF airlifts dozens of tanks to Ladakh to beef up firepower

As military build-up on both sides of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh continues, a constant stream of IAF heavy lift aircraft have airlifted dozens of additional tanks and armoured personnel carriers to the Himalayan heights for beefing up Indian firepower.

Amidst carrying out combat air patrols over Ladakh and maintaining operational readiness platforms at various airbases to scramble fighters, the IAF is using its American C-17s and Russian IL-76s freighters for carrying out multiple sorties out of Chandigarh and other places over the past weeks for the purpose.

Some elements of armoured formations based in the Western Sector, which include the newer T-90s, have been earmarked for the Ladakh frontier.

Prior to the current face-off with China, which witnessed extremely violent moments, India had three armoured regiments stationed in Ladakh, amounting to the equivalent of an armoured brigade.

The manner of concentration and employment of an armoured formation in high-altitude areas is a lot different than that in the plains, the tradition domain of mechanised forces.

“This is for the first time since 1962 that tanks and mechanised elements have been urgently airlifted to Ladakh to meet operational requirements and beef up offensive and defensive capabilities when both sides are locked in close confrontation,” an officer said.

“Tanks already stationed there were also airlifted over a period of time, but that was done under different conditions,” he added.

During the 1962 Sino-Indian war, the IAF had used the AN-12 transport aircraft to ferry six AMX light tanks of 30 Lancers, to Chushul, just south of the Pangong Tso lake, another flashpoint in the ongoing stand-off.

In the 1990s, the IAF began airlifting T-72 tanks and BMP-1/2 mechanised infantry combat vehicles in the IL-76 aircraft to Leh. The doctrine of deploying tanks in Ladakh saw a reversal subsequently, but was revived again with the forming up of three armoured units picking up in 2014

The Army’s perspective plans call for an armoured brigade each in the northern and eastern sectors along with three additional mechanised infantry battalions outfitted for high-altitude operations, but financial constraints have cast a deep shadow over the process.

China, on the other hand, is reported to have an armoured division and two motorised infantry divisions in Lanzhou Military Region opposite Ladakh and two armoured brigades and four motorised infantry divisions in Chengdu Military Region opposite Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. A division has three brigades.

Though mountainous and extremely rugged, there are some relatively flat areas in the Ladakh sector like Chushal and Demchok where tanks and armoured personnel carriers can be employed for defence as well as offence.

Besides adding to firepower, tanks also act as a deterrent. While the general altitude where tanks would be operating in Ladakh is 12,000-14,000 feet, the Army has carried out successful trials of driving up tanks to altitudes above 18,000 feet.

The employment of tanks in such a terrain and altitude also has some constraints. Rarefied air affects engine performance and freezing temperatures affect fuel and lubricants. Tank crew also requires special cold weather clothing.

Defence

Harvard study says India holds conventional edge over China

Harvard study says India holds conventional edge over China. Check DetailsA recent study at US’ esteemed Harvard University has said that India has a conventional advantage over China to avoid any 1962 level setback in case the situation escalates between the two countries.
Harvard study says India holds conventional edge against China.
Indian Army and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have been eyeball to eyeball in the last one month in the Galwan Valley region of Ladakh. This growing tension resulted in a confrontation on Monday (June 15) which led to casualties on both sides. While the exact number of casualties in the PLA are unknown, at least 20 casualties were inflicted on the Indian Army. This has been the biggest military confrontation between the two South Asian giants since 1975, when the last bullet was fired at the Indo-Sino border.

A recent study at US’ esteemed Harvard University has said that India has a conventional advantage over China to avoid any 1962 level setback in case the situation escalates between the two countries.

A research paper published by the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School earlier this year analyzed comparative data of the Indian and Chinese strategic capabilities.

The study notes that India’s conventional advantage remains ‘under-appreciated’ in Indian discourse.

The study took into account the nuclear capabilities of both countries, ground military forces of both countries and the two air forces which could be used at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) if things go south.

“We assess that India has key under-appreciated conventional advantages that reduce its vulnerability to Chinese threats and attacks. India appears to have cause for greater confidence in its military position against China than is typically acknowledged in Indian debates, providing the country an opportunity for leadership in international efforts toward nuclear transparency and restraint,” the report read.

The report further dwells into the conventional capabilities of the PLA and says that the apparent numerical near-equivalence with the Indian Army in the ground forces is ‘misleading’. ” Even in a war with India, a significant proportion of these forces will be unavailable, reserved either for Russian taskings or for countering insurrection in Xinjiang and Tibet. The majority of forces are located further from the Indian border, posing a striking contrast with the majority of forward-deployed Indian forces with a single China defense mission,” said the Harvard report.

PLA Air Force suffers from numerical disparity
“The PLA Air Force (PLAAF) also suffers from a numerical disparity to the IAF in the border region. Unlike the tripartite organizational division of Chinese ground forces facing India, the Western Theater Command has assumed control of all regional strike aircraft. A proportion of these are reserved for Russia-centric missions. By comparison, as noted earlier, the Indian Eastern Air Command can field around 101 fighters against China alone,” the report reads while comparing the two Air Forces.

On a strict comparison of available 4th generation fighters, authoritative assessments hold that China’s J-10 fighter is technically comparable to India’s Mirage-2000, and that the Indian Su-30MKI is superior to all theater Chinese fighters, including the additional J-11 and Su-27 models.27 China hosts a total of around 101 4th-generation fighters in the theater, of which a proportion must be retained for Russian defense, while India has around 122 of its comparable models, solely directed at China.