China raises firepower & mobility near Pangong Tso
NEW DELHI: China has boosted its capability to mobilise troops and surveillance in the Pangong Tso lake area in north bank, which was the starting point of the protracted stand-off in Eastern Ladakh in May last year.“China has commissioned high speed patrolling boats in its West Sea Fleet which includes the 928C and 928D high speed patrol boats,” said sources. The 928C boats have a maximum speed 60km/hr with carrying cap of 60 persons. The 928D has better armour and firepower cap, added sources.
The Chinese have deployed 928B type boats till now and have been using them to mobilise troops. The Water Squadron of Xinjian Military Division deployed at Pangong Tso opposite Eastern Ladakh is informally being referred to as West Sea Fleet under Western Theatre Command of China, which is entrusted with the responsibility of the entire 3,488 km Line of Actual Control. The Squadron has 200 persons and 20-plus boats, said the sources.
India has also begun deploying modern boats with steel hulls, which will not get damaged if rammed by the Chinese boats. India has ordered 12 boats for surveillance and 17 to mobilise troops using the lake to save time of reaction in case of troop requirement. The northern bank of Pangong Tso is divided into eight hilltops named as Fingers One to Eight, with spurs of the ranges descending towards the lake.
Pangong Tso lake is a 134 kilometrs long brackish water lake at the height of around 14,000 feet which has been in focus due to the stand-off since May, 2020. Although the troops of India and China disengaged from the north and south banks of Pangong Tso in February, overall troop levels has not come down, with around 50-60,000 troops on each side.