As Indian troops remain dug in at Ladakh in a prolonged standoff with China, allies are pitching in with commitments to deliver urgently needed weapons and ammunition for the Indian armed forces.
France has promised to deliver additional Rafale jets next month, an in-service Israeli air defence system is expected soon, precision artillery rounds will be sent by the US, and Russia will make early deliveries of ammunition and weapons worth $1 billion.
The commitments have been made after top-level bilateral talks and a key meeting in the capital at which it was decided that emergency financial powers will be given to the armed forces to prepare for a prolonged standoff in eastern Ladakh.
The first set of cutting-edge Rafale fighter jets – equipped with perhaps the world’s best long-range air-to-air missiles – is expected to reach India by July 27. As per the initial plan, four fighters were to reach the home base at Ambala next month but sources said that France has now made a commitment to send additional Rafales in the first batch. A total of eight aircraft are nearing certification but it is unclear how many additional fighters could be delivered early
India’s newest strategic partner – the US – has already been helping out with vital intelligence and satellite imagery that give military planners clarity on the border situation. Sources said that the US has invited India to share a list of all requirements with a commitment to be of assistance at the earliest.
In particular, additional Excalibur artillery rounds have been ordered on an emergency basis. The precision attack rounds with a range of over 40 km are used in a variety of artillery guns in the Indian inventory, including the M 777s that are designed for mountain warfare. These rounds are known for their accuracy and damage potential and have been tried and tested by the army.
New weapon systems bought from the United States form an integral part of India’s military posture and its preparations to deal with any provocation by the Chinese forces in eastern Ladakh, where both India and China are in a heightened state of readiness and tensions show no signs of easing, people familiar with developments said on Monday.
From the Indian Air Force’s C-17 heavy-lifters, Apache attack helicopters and C-130J special operations aircraft, to the India’s Navy’s P-8I surveillance aircraft and the Indian Army’s M-777 ultra-light howitzers -- these weapons and systems are playing a crucial role in strengthening the Indian military’s deployments, said one of the persons cited above who asked not to be named.
IAF’s C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft have been used to move soldiers, tanks and infantry combat vehicles to the sector, while C-130J Super Hercules aircraft have undertaken sorties to the advanced landing ground in the strategic Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) sector to support the military’s forward deployments, said the second person on condition of anonymity.
At 16,614 feet, the DBO airstrip in north-eastern Ladakh is the world’s highest runway and is located 8km from the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has mobilised troops, weapons and equipment to areas across the Depsang plains near DBO, with its forward presence aimed at disrupting the army’s patrolling patterns there.