Following the deadly clashes at Galwan Valley in June 2020, the Indian Air Force (IAF) played a pivotal role in strengthening the Indian defence posture along the entire Line of Actual Control (LAC).
It helped the army in airlifting over 68,000 troops, 90 tanks, hundreds of artillery guns, prefabricated shelters, spares and support equipment swiftly, weighing a total of 9,000 tonnes, close to the frontline.
This comes just after Indian and Chinese military commanders are scheduled to have the 19th round of Corps Commanders talks today (14 August).
"We airlifted 68,000 troops, 330 infantry combat vehicles, 90 tanks and several artillery guns to Ladakh. Over 9,000 tonnes of load was airlifted to deploy and maintain troops," an official explained.
Newly-inducted platforms like the CH-47F Chinooks heavy-lift helicopters, C-130 Super Hercules and C-17 Globemaster-III transport aircraft were used extensively in these airlifts and performed admirably.
A large number of M-777 ultra-light howitzers were airlifted by the Chinook helicopters to forward areas in Eastern Ladakh, including in Arunachal Pradesh. Self-propelled howitzers like the K9 Vajra-T were also inducted using the C-17 heavy-lift platform.
According to officials, the Indian Air Force activated frontline fighter jet squadrons of Su-30 MKIs, Dassault Rafales and MiG 29, as well.
MiG 29 jets were kept at standby for take-off within 5-7 minutes at Leh Air base to support army troops deployed on forward posts. Combat air patrols were conducted over the air space in Eastern Ladakh to prevent any intrusions by the Chinese PLA Air Force.
In addition, large number of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) were inducted to keep a vigil on Chinese movements, all along the front.
Jaguar fighters were deployed for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions.
Furthermore, Mi-17s and Chinook helicopters were used to induct surface to air missile systems and their radars in far flung areas to plug critical gaps in the air defence picture of the theatre.
Strike helicopters like the AH-64E Apache and indigenously built light combat helicopters (LCHs) were also deployed at nearby airbases for assisting in any eventualities.
Additionally, prefabricated structures, spare parts, arms and ammunitions were airlifted to forward posts using helicopters.
This massive deployment of multiple divisions and their support arms and equipment in the eastern Ladakh theatre in such a short period of time reportedly surprised the Chinese high command preventing further incursions.
Since then, India has strengthened infrastructure on Indian side of LAC, with construction of multiple new roads, bridges, tunnels, helipads and advanced landing grounds (ALGs).
The capital budget for the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has almost been doubled from the earlier Rs 3,500 crore in 2022-23 to Rs 5,000 crore, this year.
New tunnels like the under-construction, Zojilla and Z-morh tunnels connecting J&K to Ladakh, Shinkula tunnel connecting Himachal Pradesh to Zanskar valley, and a tunnel under Hamboting la pass are under various stages of planning and construction.
All the bridges on the new Darbuk-Shyok Daulat Beg Oldie (DS-DBO) road are being upgraded to the Class-70 specifications, to carry any vehicle weighing more than 70 tonnes.
Helipads and ALGs, in Chushul, Nyoma, Thoise, Hanle and Thakung have also been upgraded.
Apart from the visible infrastructure, underground ammunition depots, petrol, oil and lubricants shelters have also been constructed in various places to stock supplies for the brutal winters.
Editorial Associate at Swarajya. Writes on Indian Military and Defence.
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