As India, China border row continues to escalate, the Chinese PLA has for the first time confirmed the deployment of advanced long-range precision-strike rockets close to its Himalayan border with India, according to reports.
The move could set the alarm bells ringing in New Delhi as the two countries are holding talks to disengage their troops from the frictions points in eastern Ladakh.
The first disengagement took place in February when the Indian Army and Chinese PLA withdrew their troops from the Pangong Tso area easing the 10-month-long border standoff to some extent.
South China Morning Post reported the People Liberation Army (PLA) has confirmed the deployment of advanced long-range rocket launchers on the LAC, its de facto border with India.
This comes after the 11th round of Corps Commander Talks between India and China on disengagement on the remaining friction points made no headway.
The EurAsian Times recently reported that the PLA has deployed its long/medium-range air defense systems- HQ 9 and the HQ-22 along the Indian borders.
PLA Daily on Monday informed about a system that entered service in 2019 and comes with extreme precision strike capability but does not mention the name, the type or firing range of the weapon.
The artillery brigade which is situated 17,000 feet above sea level in Xinjiang has suddenly escalated its drills in the area during full-wing combat-ready training using this rocket system.
Since last year when the standoff between China and India began in the Pangong Tso in Ladakh, China had started the deployment of advanced weapons like the Type PHL-03 multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS), which have a firing range of 70 to 130km, and PCL-181 vehicle-mounted howitzers to secure its border near the Indian Territory, high-altitude desert in the northwest, the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in the southwest.
“The new weapon system should be a long-range rocket launcher that can carry multiple 300mm [12-inch] or even bigger rockets with more than 100km of firing range,” SCMP quoted military commentator Song Zhongpingas saying.
The PCL-191 which is a modular rocket system is able to carry eight 370mm rockets, each with a range of 350km (220 miles), or two 750mm Fire Dragon 480 tactical ballistic missiles.
Each rocket is capable of flying up to 500km, according to the Chinese Military Magazine Modern Ships. Although the number of these rockets built by China is unknown, it was reported to become “the military’s main battle rocket system”.
With China’s expansionist policy based on heavy militarization and use of advanced weaponry, it is putting much emphasis on its border troops to not just secure its borders and eyeing on capturing disputed areas near the border but also send an indirect warning to India.
While New Delhi is treading cautiously in this matter to avoid further friction, it is wary of Beijing’s moves and is taking the required measures to counter them.