Army chief General Bikram Singh on Wednesday tracked the progress made in setting up a new mountain strike corps to counter China in the eastern sector. India will spend more than Rs. 62,000 crore over the next seven years to set up the new formation, 17 Corps. Its raising began on January 1.
Singh, who is on an official visit to the Kolkata-based Eastern Command, said the “eastern theatre” would be given “due importance,” including thrust on scaling up infrastructure.
The corps will give India the capability to mount offensive action into the Tibet Autonomous Region. India is years behind the Chinese military with the Communist neighbour currently outnumbering the country’s combat power by a 3:1 ratio.
The new corps — with 85,000 soldiers —is expected to reduce the Chinese military advantage to a ratio of 2.1:1 by end of the 13th Plan Period (2022), as first reported by HT in December 12.
India hopes to narrow the gap to a “desirable ratio” of 1.5:1 over the next 15 years with the induction of new stealth jets, aircraft carriers, nuclear-powered submarines and warships.
Shrugging off past setbacks, it will be for the new government to take steps to fast-track the acquisition of ultra-light howitzers, artillery guns, unmanned aerial vehicles, radars and specialised equipment for the new strike corps.
The army plans to buy 145 M777 guns from the US in a deal worth more than `3,000 crore to sharpen its offensive capabilities in the mountains.
INS Vikramaditya fully operational
Navy chief Admiral Robin Dhowan on Wednesday said INS Vikramaditya was “operationally deployed,” with Mig-29K fighters integrated with the aircraft carrier. India bought the second-hand carrier, delivered five years behind schedule, from Russia for `13,980 crore. The original `5,682-crore deal turned sour with multiple delays and a steep increase in price. The navy will now focus on arming the carrier with air defence systems.