Army & IAF Flex Muscle in Ladakh, Arunachal Ahead of Modi-Xi Meet

The Indian Army conducted an all arms integrated exercise ‘Changthang Prahar’ in the eastern Ladakh region, bordering China, on Tuesday, 17 September, to showcase and test the army’s ability to fight in extreme terrain and altitude.

This comes less than a month before the second Modi-Xi informal summit and just a few days after a scuffle between Indian and Chinese troops in eastern Ladakh.

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The exercise involved paratroopers being dropped from helicopters, soldiers from the army’s infantry, mechanised infantry and armoured corps, and battle tanks traversing the unforgiving terrain.

It focussed on deploying forces integrated with “high tech platforms” acting as force multipliers to increase the army’s effectiveness and efficiency in high altitude terrain.

A Mi-17 V5 chopper, a Lockheed Martin C-130J “Super Hercules” transport aircraft, Russian origin T-90 tanks and Israeli Heron Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) were deployed in the exercise, which was overseen by Northern Army Commander Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh.

Notably, India also inaugurated a resurfaced runway at an Advanced Landing Ground (a makeshift airfield usually constructed in a field location) on Wednesday in Vijaynagar, in Arunachal Pradesh’s Changlang district, close to the Myanmar border.

The location is otherwise a 157 km trek from the nearest connected town.

This is the eighth ALG made operational by the IAF since 2013 when a Rs 720 crore project was given the green light, reported The Hindu. It was inaugurated by Eastern Air Command chief Air Marshal R D Mathur and the army’s Eastern Command head Lt Gen Anil Chauhan.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping for the second India-China informal summit from 10 to 12 October in India.

Incidentally, the first informal summit, known popularly as the Wuhan summit, was held after the Doklam stand-off between the PLA and Indian troops in 2017.

The Indian Army will also reportedly hold the Him Vijay exercise in Arunanchal Pradesh, close to the Modi-Xi summit.

China has not been informed of this according to The Times of India.

The military exercise, aimed to test and enhance mountain warfare readiness, will reportedly witness about 15,000 troops in three Integrated Battle Groups (IBGs). The Indian Air Force will deploy aircraft for supply purposes.

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