Friday, March 24, 2023
HomeDefenceSatellite images reveal China is building surface-to-air missile site at Mansarovar Lake

Satellite images reveal China is building surface-to-air missile site at Mansarovar Lake

New roads have been built and suspected red tents put up at the site, which stands near the India-Nepal-China tri-junction in the Himalayas.

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New Delhi: The Chinese military is reportedly constructing a surface-to-air missile site as well as other infrastructure on the banks of the Mansarovar Lake in the India-Nepal-China tri-junction area near the Lipulekh pass, new satellite images have indicated.

An image shared by an anonymous satellite imagery analyst, who goes by the Twitter handle @detresfa_, is understood to be showing a village where new roads have been built and suspected red tents have been put up for accommodation.

The image also shows a surface-to-air missile (SAM) site on the banks of the Mansarovar, which is considered holy in Hinduism. Media reports say China has mobilised a battalion strength of People’s Liberation Army soldiers near the Lipulekh pass in Uttarakhand.

A report by news agency ANI in June had said the Indian armed forces have deployed their advanced very quick-reaction SAM defence systems in eastern Ladakh.

The tri-junction area has been mired in controversy since India inaugurated a new road in May, called the ‘Kailash-Mansarovar Yatra Route’, which almost goes up to Lipulekh Pass at the India-China border, 17,000 feet above the sea level. An angry Nepal responded by issuing a new political map showing the areas of Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura — which are the subject of an India-Nepal border dispute — as part of its own territory.

Also read: IAF deploys LCA Tejas along Pakistan border amid tensions with China

Closing gap for perceived aerial threats

Speaking to ThePrint, the analyst behind @destresfa said the surface-to-air missile site is an important discovery, as it indicates China is closing the gap for any perceived aerial threats in the region.

“Geospatial data collected over the last few months points to the construction of a SAM site, along with the possibility of troop accommodation in the nearby area,” the analyst said, adding that this development is around 100 km from the international border.

The analyst said other areas where SAM sites or upgrades have been noted include Rutog County (near Pangong Tso), Ngari Gunsa airport, Xigaze airport, Lhasa Gonggar airport and Nyingchi airport, all located in Tibet.

Defence sources said, usually, SAMs are used for the protection of vital areas or points. China’s move to set up these defences against an aerial adversary is unclear now, the sources said.

Reports suggest the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) holds one of the world’s largest inventories of advanced long-range SAM systems incorporated into SA-20 battalions imported from Russia and indigenously-produced CSA-9 (HQ-9) battalions.

ThePrint had earlier reported about Indian satellite images as well as those procured from friendly countries showing a large concentration of troops in the Tibet Autonomous Region, and the use of possible tunnels to amass equipment.

Satellite images have also shown that barring some forward locations in Galwan Valley, Hot Springs and Pangong Tso areas, the Chinese presence in Ladakh has only grown since May this year, with more equipment and defensive structures such as trenches and berms being deployed at existing encampments.

Experts had told ThePrint that the satellite images could reveal an actual build-up or even posturing.

The stand-off

India and China have been locked in a stand-off at the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh, prompting both sides to increase troop build-up along the entire LAC.

Despite multiple levels of diplomatic and military talks between the two sides, the situation has reached a stalemate, with the Indian military looking at a long haul lasting through the winters.

India and China are holding another round of talks Thursday under the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on border affairs to resolve the impasse.

Also read: ‘Multiple’ India-China clashes occurred along LAC in May and June, some lasted all night


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  1. China seems to have switched the priorities to India-China Border Disputes after months of feeling our pulses through the prism of our jingoistic Medias. China now appears to have turned from “Focus Taiwan” to “Focus India”. The only hurdles? US Election…China seems to be waiting for the US Presidential Election and its change of leadership. If the war rhetoric by then are not tone down and emotional charges not moderated, I have the gut feeling, China will keep the Taiwan issue at abeyance for the time being at the hands of pro-China Taiwanese leaders to do the checks against DPP, and focus all its might to India. This is really probable, but only time will tell.

  2. Let starting banning chinese products starting from cheap junk toys. when I was growing up it was hard to find them. Now they are everywhere. Are we that incompetent to not able to make even check junk products. People need to reject chinese products, software and services where ever we can afford on war footing. Open your eyes guys. At the same time stop expanding trade deficit. We should stop digging knowing that it stinks.

  3. While India dithers, China is becoming impregnable to strategic pressure with SAMs induction at Manasarovar: China has probably factored India’s dithering pusillanimous Neta Babu cracy into its war calculations.

  4. While India dithers, China is becoming impregnable to strategic pressure with SAMs induction at Manasarovar:

    China probably has factored India’s dithering pusillanimous Neta Babu cracy into its war calculations.


  6. China has not played its card fully yet. It is very clear that they are planning something extremely sinister. In the coming months the whole plan will be revealed.
    It is also clear that India in under prepared from technological point of view. This has made China more aggressive. Successive Governments in the last 20 years must be blamed for Indians weakness. Poor planning both in Military and civilian side has lead to this sorry state of affairs.

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