The Indian armed forces are set to deploy their latest US acquisitions including M-777 ultra-light howitzers, Chinook heavy-lift helicopters, C-17, C-130J Super Hercules in the war games to be conducted in Arunachal Pradesh near the Chinese border.
According to Indian army officials, more than 5,000 troops of the Indian Army’s only Mountain Strike Corps will carry the war game along with the Air Force in October.
The exercise will be the first of its kind along the China border by the newly-raised 17 Mountain Strike Corps which has been preparing for it under the Eastern Command for the last five to six months now.
Recently India inducted heavy-lift choppers, Chinook will also be utilised during the war games. The report has come in the context of unsettled relations between India and China over New Delhi’s revocation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
“As part of the war games, Mountain Strike Corps will be deployed at a high altitude location to defend their ‘territory’ while a brigade-sized force of the 17 Mountain Strike Corps would be airlifted by the Indian Air Force to ‘launch an offensive’ against them,” top Army sources told ANI.
The Indian Air Force will airlift the troops using its latest transport aircraft including the C-17, C-130J Super Hercules and the AN-32 to airlift the army troops from Baghdogra and deploy them close to the ‘war zone’ in Arunachal Pradesh, they said.
To make the 17 Mountain Strike Corps more effective during wartime in the mountainous region against China, the fighting formations under it are being converted into Integrated Battle Groups (IBGs) as part of Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat’s restructuring process.
The IBGs will use division-sized forces with bulked-up brigades. Apart from signalling a shift in how India fights future conflicts, the change is also an acknowledgement and a step towards making the forces a leaner, meaner fighting force within budgetary constraints.
The IBGs incorporating elements of airpower, armour, artillery, mechanised and traditional infantry engineering and ordnance units are self-sustained fighting components that can be activated instantly.
These composite waging units involving about 20,000 battle-hardened soldiers deployed on “hot-spots along the border with a specific order of battle” can move as a cohesive section at a short notice projecting power, tying enemy forces down and frightening opponents at unlikely places.