Army in Arunachal Pradesh gets modern equipment

There is focus on surveillance and reconnaissance: official

Published - September 10, 2022 03:00 am IST - TEZU (Arunachal Pradesh)

The SIG 716 features an improved gas system, lightweight handguard, and an overall weight reduction of more than two pounds and weighs 3.9 kg. Photo: YouTube/SIG SAUER

The SIG 716 features an improved gas system, lightweight handguard, and an overall weight reduction of more than two pounds and weighs 3.9 kg. Photo: YouTube/SIG SAUER

Latest Sig Sauer rifles, Negev Light Machine Guns (LMG), Carl Gustaf-Mk3 84 mm rocket launchers, digital spotter scopes, fuel cell chargers for patrols, all-terrain vehicles and satellite terminals are some of the new inductions for the infantry soldiers in the Rest of Arunachal Pradesh (RALP), beyond the Tawang sector, in Arunachal Pradesh. This along with helipads at forward posts, M777 Ultra-Light Howitzers backed by Chinook heavy lift helicopters are part of the overall capability enhancement in the region..

“There is big focus on capability development. In the infantry battalions lot of new inductions are happening. Apart from this, there is focus on surveillance and reconnaissance,” said Brig. T.M. Sinha who is commanding a Brigade in RALP. Next is infrastructure development, both in hinterland and border areas, he added.

Another major push is on helipads being constructed at forward areas along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in RALP, officials on the ground said. These are coming up with specifications that they can take the biggest helicopters, the CH-47F(I) Chinook heavy-lift helicopters which gives significant advantage, one officer noted.

These developments come in the backdrop of massive Chinese upgradation across the LAC, which also has significant advantage with respect to India in RALP. Acknowledging this, a senior officer posted in the area said the pace of Chinese modernisation was very fast and India was also pushing and catching up.

2019 deal

The Army has procured 72,400 SIG 716 assault rifles from Sig Saur of the U.S. under a deal signed in February 2019 and they have since been inducted with frontline infantry soldiers deployed in operational areas. The SIG-716 weighing 3.82 kgs, has an effective range of 600m and employs the heavier calibre 7.62 mm ammunition.

Army contracted 16,497 Negev Light Machine Guns (LMG) from Israel in March 2020 under fast-track procurement and they have since been inducted on the Line of Control (LoC). They started coming in in RALP early this year, according to officials on the ground.

On the fuel cell-based chargers, one officer who did not wish to be identified said they were very useful. “We can take it for long range patrols and are less weight, less maintenance and more durable.” Long range patrols on foot in the tough terrain vary from two weeks to a month.

Indigenous UAVs

Another significant aspect is induction of indigenous unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that has given big boost to the forward troops and we can see across the LAC in depth day and night, the officer cited above said.

In terms of mobility, all-terrain vehicles procured from the U.S. have been deployed in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh. Material lifting cranes are now available in all units which were earlier with the Engineering teams and has significantly eased handling of heavy loads, the officer added talking of the across the board upgradation underway in infantry battalions.

In terms of fire power, a major addition is the induction of M777 ULH which have a range of over 30 km and weighing just 4.2 tonnes allows them to be transported by Chinook and Mi-26 heavy-lift helicopters. Apart from lethality, it has flexibility in employment as it can be moved by air, another officer said.

Two regiments of the M777 have been deployed in the RALP and they have already been deployed in the Tawang area.

Apart from capability development, the other focus is on infrastructure development. In forward areas for connectivity from the major roads to the forward posts, the Army’s engineering task forces are being employed.

Communication network

With significant enhancement and also induction of technology, the communication network is in the process of being upgraded as part of an overall project being taken up across the country.

All forward posts are being linked up with optical fibre cable lines so that big data communications are taken care of and satellite terminals are also coming up, another official in the loop explained. As part of this, new radio sets are also being inducted, including some Software Defined Radios. “The focus is to build redundancy in the communications,” the officer added.

The Tawang sector has already seen significant upgradation of defences as well addition of offensive fire power in recent year by India to match the Chinese build-up. China claims Arunachal Pradesh as south Tibet.

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