The Army has deployed new landing docks and speed boats for patrolling on the Pangong Tso Lake in Eastern Ladakh matching the Chinese deployments on the lake located close to 14,000 feet.
This is part of an overall capability enhancement and infrastructure development taken up by India since the 2020 standoff in Eastern Ladakh to plug deficiencies and catch up with Chinese build up along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
“The induction has given huge impetus to our patrolling capability and we now have boats which match the adversary,” a defence source said. The landing craft are capable of carrying 35 troops or one jeep and 12 personnel, while the speed boats can reach speeds of 35 knots, the source stated.
Early 2021, the Army had signed two contracts for the landing craft and speed boats which were delivered in the second half of 2021.
At the end of December, under a ₹65 crore contract for 12 specialised patrol craft with Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL). The second contract for 17 troop-carrying, flat-bottom fibre glass landing docks was signed with a private manufacturer also in Goa. The landing craft are capable of carrying 35 troops or one jeep and 12 personnel, while the speed boats can reach speeds of 35 knots, officials said.
The new landing craft have also been deployed at Sir Creek in Gujarat facing Pakistan, sources stated.
Pangong Tso has been an area of constant friction between India and China for a long time. India holds one third of the 135 km-long boomerang shaped lake. The lake, a glacial melt, has mountain spurs of the Chang Chenmo range jetting down referred to as ‘fingers’ and the brackish water lake freezes in winter.
Also read | PM meets Xi, Biden on sidelines of G20 Summit
India has always held till Finger 4 while it claims till Finger 8, which is where the Indian perception of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) lies, as reiterated by India on several occasions. The North bank, which has a much more higher difference in perception of LAC than the South bank, has been the initial site of the clash in May 2020, the beginning of the long winding standoff. Indian Army has a permanent position near Finger 3. The Chinese have a base east of Finger 8.
Both sides also patrol the water on speed boats which also results in faceoffs. Prior to the 2020 standoff, the face offs were usually resolved as per the protocols agreed for maintaining peace and tranquillity on the border.