Army deploys more T-20 tanks in Ladakh, near China border

news
21 July 2016

The Indian Army has deployed additional tanks in the mountainous border areas of Ladakh, in Jammu and Kashmir, along its borders with China as a precaution against China's aggressive military postures.

In an unusual move, New Delhi has deployed more than 100 of the Russia-made T-72 tanks on the barren heights of Ladakh in its disputed border with China, a strategy seen as beefing up India's presence in an area that overlooks the Tibet Autonomous Region.

China has been constantly upgrading its military infrastructure especially on its border with India.

The Indian Army, however, said the move is part of the winter drill to validate the capability of the T-20 tanks at such heights and is not an inimical move against China.

''What we have done is that we have procured special additives and lubricants for high altitude terrain such as winter grade diesel and additives for the lubrication system, which prevents it from freezing in the tank,'' reports quoting Colonel Vijay Dalal, Commanding Officer of a tank, as saying.

While the tanks and crew have acclimatised, they have not been able to test their fire power in the heights here due to lack of firing ranges. There is a need to verify their firing capacity at higher altitudes and the Ladakh region, which is lined with plains in between the mountain ranges, offers a chance to test the T-20 tanks.
 
India has already deployed tanks in Sikkim. Operating and maintaining tanks at such low oxygen conditions has significant challenges. There is severe degradation in the performance of these tanks as the cold temperatures and high altitude affect several parts and sub-components of the tanks.

For training, however, the Army now sends its crew to the training centre at Ahmednagar, which is in the plains and has much different conditions.

This is the first time that India deployed the T-72 tanks in the Himalayan region after the 1962 Indo-China war, reports The Diplomat.
 
The latest deployment also comes amidst increased Chinese incursions, the latest by the PLA being on 8 March this year when Chinese troops entered almost six km near the Pangong lake area of Ladakh region. The move, however, was thwarted by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).

''The ITBP men showed banners and told the Chinese troops to go back. After a two-hour long verbal duel, the Chinese men went back. Such incidents keep on happening because of difference of perception on the LAC,'' the Hindustan Times quoted a senior security official as saying.

The Chinese PLA had made similar incursions into Indian territory in April 2015 and twice in 2014, July and December.

(See: 'Indian defence moves could hit investment from China' )





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