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SOURCE: PTI

Almost all forward posts guarding the frontier with China in Arunachal Pradesh will have at least one large helipad each for swift mobilisation of troops and military equipment using multi-role Chinook helicopters as part of a mega push for enhancing the Army’s combat readiness in the region, senior military officials said on Friday.

Each of the forward posts and Army units are also being linked with optical fibre network and all of them will have separate satellite terminals for bolstering overall surveillance of Chinese activities across the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

In the last two years, the Army units have been equipped with new lethal weapons, remotely piloted aircraft systems, all terrain vehicles and communication and surveillance gadgets, they said. The Army has already deployed large number of indigenously-built remotely piloted aircraft, Switch, in the forward posts to monitor Chinese activities across the LAC.

“We are now giving a big push to the infrastructure development in the forward areas in the eastern sector,” Brigadier TM Sinha, commander of a Mountain Brigade in eastern Arunachal Pradesh, told a group of visiting journalists.

As part of the capability development initiative, the Army has powered its units in Arunachal Pradesh with a sizeable number of US-manufactured all terrain vehicles, 7.62MM Negev Light Machine Guns from Israel and various other lethal weapons, the officials said.

They said the helipads are being built at the forward posts to facilitate landing and take off the Chinook 47 (F) helicopters which were procured from the US under a deal sealed in 2015. The officials said the construction of helipads at forward locations are going on in full swing and the aim is to have such facilities at a distance of every 8 to 10 kms.

The Chinook is a multi-role, vertical-lift platform, which is used for transporting troops, artillery, equipment and fuel and the choppers are being extensively used to bolster India’s military preparedness in the eastern sector. “The construction of the helipads will facilitate operation of Chinooks in forward areas and will ensure quick movement of equipment and troops,” said Brigadier Sinha.

The government has been giving a major push to infrastructure development along the nearly 3,500 km long LAC following the eastern Ladakh faceoff that began in 2020. The Army has deployed a significant number of easily transportable M-777 ultra light howitzers in mountainous regions along the LAC in Arunachal Pradesh.

The M-777 can be transported quickly in Chinook helicopters and the Army now has the flexibility of quickly moving them from one place to another based on operational requirements. The eastern Ladakh border standoff between the Indian and Chinese militaries erupted on May 5, 2020 following a violent clash in the Pangong lake areas and both sides gradually enhanced their deployment by rushing in tens of thousands of soldiers as well as heavy weaponry.

The tension escalated following a deadly clash in Galwan Valley. As a result of a series of military and diplomatic talks, the two sides completed the disengagement process in the Gogra area and the north and south banks of the Pangong lake last year.

On Thursday, both sides announced that they have begun disengagement in Patrolling Point 15 in the Gogra-Hot Springs area. Each side currently has around 50,000 to 60,000 troops along the LAC in the sensitive sector.