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Big guns boom in Arunachal Pradesh as Indian Army holds drill amid LAC row

NG Missile Vessels

Apr 9, 2023
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NEW DELHI: Big artillery guns have boomed in Arunachal Pradesh in a high-voltage combat exercise conducted by the Indian Army in the eastern theatre, in yet another drill to hone war-fighting capabilities and synergised contingency operations amid heightened tensions with China.

The high-altitude integrated surveillance and firepower training exercise called “Buland Bharat” in the crucial Tawang and West Kameng districts of Arunachal Pradesh saw the Army use 155mm Bofors howitzers, 105mm field guns and 120mm mortars, among other heavy weapon systems, sources told TOI on Wednesday.

The military confrontation with China in eastern Ladakh has led to a wide array of artillery weapons being deployed along the entire 3,488-km long Line of Actual Control (LAC).

These include the 105mm field guns and Bofors, Dhanush and 'upgunned' Sharang guns, Pinaka and Smerch multi-launch rocket systems, new M-777 ultra-light howitzers and “winterised” K-9 Vajra self-propelled tracked guns.

With China also upping the ante along the Sikkim-Arunachal Pradesh frontier, which resulted in the clash between the rival troops at Yangtse in the Tawang sector on December 9, the Indian Army and IAF have been undertaking a series of exercises to test battle-readiness in the eastern sector, as reported by TOI earlier.

The Buland Bharat exercise involved the “synergised application” of surveillance and firepower capabilities of the artillery and the infantry in close coordination with the Special Forces, aviation elements and Central Armed Police Forces, sources said.

“The exercise validated plans for using high-volume firepower, with synchronised firing by artillery guns and fire support components of the infantry with radars, to destroy designated targets,” a source said.

The troops and equipment were “tested in simulated war conditions” during the exercise after a month-long training in the high-altitude areas and extreme weather conditions, he added.

Just last month, the Indian Army and IAF had also conducted drills for “multi-mode rapid insertion” of Special Forces as well as specially-designated and equipped units into the eastern theatre by strategic airlifters like C-17 Globemaster-IIIs as well as Chinook and Mi-17 helicopters.

India has progressively strengthened offensive as well as defensive capabilities in the region, with a special focus on the strategically-vulnerable Siliguri Corridor. The steps include BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles, for instance, with “steep-dive, trajectory manoeuvre and top-attack capabilities” for mountain warfare in Arunachal.

Apart from Rafale and Sukhoi-30MKI fighters at Hasimara, Chabua and Tezpur, the IAF has also deployed the new Russian-origin S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile system, which can detect and intercept hostile fighters, strategic bombers and missiles at a range of 400-km, in the region.

The Indian Army, in turn, operationalized its first `Abhra’ medium range surface-to-air missile regiment in the 33 Corps, which is tasked with the defence of the LAC in Sikkim and the Siliguri Corridor, in February

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Arunachal with its misty valleys, cloud cover and woods offers better changes for towed units to hide and fire for extended periods before ducking into caves on reverse slopes...

In medium guns, the barrel is longer and thus the vehicle on which it would be mounted is also bigger. Field guns are lighter and the vehicle carrying it would thus be smaller in size, facilitating increased mobility on difficult terrains

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