Bum La (Arunachal Pradesh): India has deployed the newly upgraded L-70 air defence guns into the Eastern Sector, while also inducting several units of the 155 mm Bofors and the M-777 lightweight howitzers, as part of its strategy to ramp up its defensive and offensive capabilities against China.
India has also set up a series of Integrated Defended Locations (IDLAs) along the LAC, which sees a multi-tiered defensive system in which the infantry, artillery, aviation, air defence, mechanised and armoured columns of the Army work as one unit backed by the Indian Air Force assets.
Besides this, the focus has also been on offensive capabilities with the Army focusing on faster movement of equipment and troops from one location to another by air, high altitude heliborne operations and also deploying new versions of various kinds of missiles.
Numerous new fortified underground bunkers have been created and the basic firearm of the infantry soldier has also got an upgrade. All the infantry troops posted in the forward areas along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) have been fully equipped with Sig Sauer 716 rifles.
While the large share of new inductions, including the light machine guns, have largely been directed towards the Ladakh sector, where the Indian and Chinese troops are in face off, the Eastern Command has seen its share of new deployments, making the LAC here one of the most heavily guarded.
In the Eastern Sector, which has seen the raising of a new aviation brigade besides transferring all surveillance drones from the artillery to the aviation wing of the army, India has focused on both defensive and offensive capabilities.
As reported by ThePrint, the focus of the Eastern Command is to have more technology to counter Chinese aggression rather than more boots on the ground.
India enhances fire power
The Army has just inducted the newly upgraded L-70 air defence guns with full day and night vision capabilities and automatic target acquisition mode.
While the guns were first bought in the 1960s, 200 of them underwent an upgrade following a 2017 contract with state-run Bharat Electronics Limited.
The first of these guns, which have the capability to take down all flying targets within a range of 3.5 kms, were inducted only a few months back and now remain camouflaged in the mountainous terrain of the Arunachal.
“These upgraded guns have better range and accuracy,” Captain Sariya Abbasi of the Army’s Air Defence said, briefing a group of journalists at a forward location in Arunachal Pradesh, under the Bum La sector, which is at a height of over 15,000 feet.
A senior Army officer added that the main threat in this particular area was from air and the upgraded guns, integrated with fire catcher radar and new electro-optical systems, beef up the air defence.
Besides these, the Army had also inducted the Bofors guns into the Eastern Command last year, following the breakout of tensions between India and China in Eastern Ladakh.
The Bofors, along with the M-777, have been deployed at heights of over 12,000 feet.
“These guns have enhanced our fire power capability,” said Brig Sanjeev Kumar.
While the M-777 have a normal range of 32 km, these guns — which can be lifted and deployed anywhere with the Chinook transport fleet of the IAF — have been able to achieve a range of over 40 kms at the LAC, because of rarified air.
The M-777s can reach where the Bofors can’t and hence is a huge capability jump in the mountains, said Army sources, adding that the tracked K-9 Vajra guns system — along with the Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) — when inducted in future, will take fire power to the next level.
Layered defence system in place
The Eastern Command has been focusing on Integrated Defended Locations (IDLAs) along the LAC, a strategy which is now being replicated in the Ladakh sector as well.
Under this strategy, which was formulated a few years back but has seen constant updates, the focus is to disarm the enemy offensive through a mix of layered underground bunkers, minefields and other equipment.
ThePrint witnessed a demonstration of such a strategy at a location called the Assam Hills, very close to the LAC, and at 14,700 feet height.
What was showcased was a counter to an armoured and mechanised column attack by the enemy.
On display were various strategies, drills, and other tactics to ensure that the enemy is not able to breach this particular location as they had in the 1962 War.
Another senior Army officer explained that while this is a defensive set up, there are also offensive plans in place on how to move from one valley to another and insert troops and equipment.
The forces are training their defensive and offensive strategy on a regular basis.
(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)