India Rushing to Deploy Logistics Drones as Intel Suggests China Continuing Reinforcement
Last week, India and China were unable to make headway in a fresh round of negotiations, with the two sides underlining that more talks were needed to resolve the remaining issues along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
The Indian Army on Monday launched an emergency process to purchase specialized drones that can deliver logistics to forward posts along the loosely demarcated Line of Actual Control that separates India and China.
The tender was issued under a "Fast-Track Procedure" to get 163 drones that can operate at high altitudes and another 200 drones that can operate at medium altitudes.
As per the army document, these logistics drones must possess the capability of carrying a payload of 15 kg when launched at high altitudes, and 20 kg when launched at lower altitudes.
The all-up weight of the drones should "not be more than 100 Kg (+10%) but suitable to withstand high altitude strong wind currents/ gusts."
Sources said the armed forces will use these special drones to drop food supplies, light ammunition, and small arms, among others.
The day-night drones equipped with monochromatic night thermal sensors will have a range of 10 km.
The emergency procurement process was launched days after intelligence reports suggested massive reinforcements of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) of China near Eastern Ladakh - where Indian and Chinese soldiers engaged in deadly clashes in the summer of 2020.
Sources in New Delhi said the PLA had erected hundreds of new tents that can withstand the adverse weather of the Himalayas over the past few weeks in the Shandong, Manza, and Aksu areas opposite Eastern Ladakh.
According to Indian sources, around 1,600 tents and sheds were seen in Shiquanhe, which is close to Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh, in September. The Chinese Army has also deployed heavy vehicles in Dahongliutan, which is east of the Siachen Glacier and Chiakang areas. The PLA has also allegedly stationed more than 60 new military vehicles on Highway G-219, which crosses through disputed Aksai Chin. China is said to have constructed a heli-base in the Domar area, located less than 150 km from the Line of Actual Control.
Beijing has not confirmed these claims.
Officials in New Delhi said the new tents appeared a few kilometers away from the traditional PLA camps, suggesting that the Chinese Army would use them as transit camps for troops.
Last Friday, the 25th round of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on border affairs ended without success on further disengagement.
"The two sides agreed to continue discussions through diplomatic and military channels to resolve the remaining issues along the LAC at the earliest so as to create conditions for restoration of normalcy in bilateral relations," the Indian Foreign Ministry said.
Last month, the two countries completed the disengagement process in Gogra-Hot Springs following more than a year of diplomatic and military-level negotiations.
However, a complete de-escalation is still pending in the Eastern Ladakh sector, where around 60,000 troops have been deployed on each side of the border with other military assets since June 2020.
India shares a 3,488 km border with China ranging from Arunachal Pradesh in the east to Ladakh in the west.
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