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Ladakh standoff: PLA beefs up on LAC with more missiles, rockets, howitzers

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

New Delhi: India and China have so far completed nine rounds of military talks on disengagement in East Ladakh, however, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is showing no signs of de-escalation all along the 3488 km Line of Actual Control (LAC) with new deployment of artillery guns, self-propelled howitzers and surface to missile units in Tibet.

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As per national security planners, the PLA is beefing up the armoury and relocating both troops and heavy equipment in all the three sectors with fresh constructions of revetments (sloped protection against ordinance) in finger area of Pangong Tso. Meanwhile, there is evidence with the South Block to indicate fresh deployment of 35 heavy military vehicles and four 155 mm PLZ 83 self-propelled howitzers in sheds around Shiquanhe PLA camp, which is 82 kilometres from the LAC across Chumar in East Ladakh.

Additional deployment of vehicles, heavy equipment and new construction work has been observed last month near Rudok surveillance facility, 90 km from the LAC, with four new large sheds and partition quarters for troops. Both Rudok and Shiquanhe are in occupied Aksai Chin area.

However, Indian army commanders, accepted a marginal increase in fresh revetments and relocation of deployments between finger four and finger seven on north banks of Pangong Tso.

On May 5, last year, it was the Chinese PLA aggression on finger 4 mountainous spur on the north banks of Pangong Tso that had led to horizontal escalation of military tensions along the LAC.

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While reports of induction of 20 military vehicles and equipment observed around Piue radar site, 16 km from the LAC, are making rounds, the PLA has also been strengthening positions around Spanggur Tso with induction of more firepower and troops since late December 2020. “ The PLA is strengthening all along the 1597 km LAC in Ladakh with a view for long term deployments. The fortifications around Spanggur Tso are designed to support Moldo Garrison in Chushul area with Indian Army dominating heights in Kailash Ranges,” said an official.

Furthermore, the PLA has also moved a surface to air missile (SAM) unit near PLA camp in Lhasa, 228 km from Indian border, with some 30 vehicles moving the military equipment under camouflage in second of January 2021. Fearing an IAF attack in Tibet, the PLA has deployed SAM units and anti-aircraft guns around all major towns along the LAC.

A new military shelter with 4-5 barracks has also been observed across Lipulekh pass in middle-sector, with the PHL-03 multi-barrel rocket launchers at Rubinkha PLA camp, just 23 km from India-China-Bhutan tri-junction, has also concerned India as PLA is continuing to push in the strategic area. To note, the PHL-03 MBRLs is a Chinese copy of Russian Smerch rocket system.

Meanwhile, the Indian Army with the help of Borders Road Organization has increased connectivity in all sectors, the Western Theatre Command of PLA continues to increase tension on the LAC.

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