IAF airlifted 68k troops, equipment to Ladakh after Galwan skirmish | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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IAF airlifted 68k troops, equipment to Ladakh after Galwan skirmish

ByRahul Singh
Aug 14, 2023 12:13 PM IST

The Indian Air Force has airlifted troops and military equipment to eastern Ladakh to counter China following the Galwan Valley clash.

NEW DELHI: The Indian Air Force airlifted tens of thousands of troops and a large amount of military equipment, including infantry combat vehicles, tanks, artillery guns, surface-to-air guided weapons and radars, to forward areas in eastern Ladakh to strengthen the country’s military posture to counter the Chinese after the Galwan Valley skirmish in June 2020, people aware of the matter said on Sunday.

FILE PHOTO: India's Border Security Force (BSF) soldiers stand guard at a checkpoint along a highway leading to Ladakh, at Gagangeer in Kashmir's Ganderbal district June 17, 2020. REUTERS/Danish Ismail/File Photo (REUTERS)
FILE PHOTO: India's Border Security Force (BSF) soldiers stand guard at a checkpoint along a highway leading to Ladakh, at Gagangeer in Kashmir's Ganderbal district June 17, 2020. REUTERS/Danish Ismail/File Photo (REUTERS)

India and China have been locked in a military standoff along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh since April-May 2020, and bilateral ties plummeted to a six-decade low after the Galwan Valley clash killed 20 Indian soldiers. The two sides are likely to hold the 19th round of military talks on Monday to ease tensions along the LAC.

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According to India’s assessment, PLA’s casualties were twice as many as the Indian Army’s though Beijing officially claimed that only four Chinese soldiers were killed.

“The IAF airlifted 68,000 troops, 330 infantry combat vehicles, 90 tanks and several artillery guns to forward locations in eastern Ladakh. Things could have escalated after the Galwan episode. It was important to strengthen the deterrent military posture by maintaining credible forces and sustaining them,” said one of the officials cited above, who asked not to be named.

The Western Air Command, which is the IAF’s largest operational command, executed these tasks.

The air force’s airlift effort translated into the transportation of 9,000 tonnes of load to forward areas during the last three years, he said.

Strengthening the air defence network with the deployment of surface-to-air guided weapons and radars to forward locations was also a top focus area, said another official, who also asked not to be named. “The airlift of surface-to-air guided weapons capable of striking targets at short range and up to 100 km, and radars was 1.5 times more than the normal tasking,” he said. Helicopters were used extensively for the deployment of radars to monitor Chinese activity across the LAC, he added.

Sharpening its offensive posture, the IAF deployed its Rafales, Sukhoi-30s and MiG-29s for combat air patrols and kept them on ‘operational readiness platform’ duties to get fighter jets airborne in 5 to 7 minutes to respond to any developing situation, the people cited above said. The air force also projected its capability to carry out day-and-night, all-weather combat missions in the Ladakh sector, with front-line fighter jets, attack helicopters and multi-mission choppers getting airborne for demanding night-time missions from forward airbases.

Remotely piloted aircraft systems have also been used extensively during the last three years for electronic surveillance and intelligence gathering, said the first official.

The Indian forces are prepared for any eventuality in the Ladakh sector even as talks are on to defuse border tensions.

The Indian Army and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) are likely to hold the 19th round of military talks on the border tensions on Monday. The latest round of Corps Commander-level talks will take place almost four months after the last military dialogue was held on April 23.

Despite four rounds of disengagement from Galwan Valley, Pangong Tso, Gogra (PP-17A) and Hot Springs (PP-15), the Indian and Chinese armies still have tens of thousands of troops each and advanced weaponry deployed in the Ladakh theatre.

The Indian and Chinese armies have held multiple rounds of talks on the border issue, but problems at Depsang in Daulet Beg Oldi sector and Charding Nullah Junction (CNJ) in Demchok sector are still on the negotiating table.

The 19th round of military talks will take place in the run-up to Prime Minister Narendra Modi attending the BRICS Summit in South Africa’s Johannesburg on August 22-24. The possibility of a meeting between Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the summit has not been ruled out, people aware of the matter said. Also, the Chinese leader is expected to be in New Delhi for the G20 summit in September. New Delhi has consistently said India-China relations cannot be normalised without restoring peace and tranquillity on the border.

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