Amid the ongoing military standoff with China, India is further strengthening its surveillance capabilities all along the Line of Actual Control from Eastern Ladakh to Sikkim with the deployment of new drone units of unmanned aerial vehicles which can carry out missions for up to 48 hours.
“New drones with advanced surveillance capabilities and longer endurance are being deployed for keeping an eye on the Chinese military activities in Eastern Ladakh sector and Sikkim along with the areas around it,” defence sources told ANI. While one of the squadrons is deployed close to the eastern Ladakh sector, the other would be closer to the chicken’s neck sector in the east, they said. The Indian forces have acquired these drones with satellite communication links and their sensors are far more advanced than their existing inventory, they said. The Indian forces have been keeping a close watch on the Chinese military activities across the LAC from Eastern Ladakh to the Arunachal Pradesh area and have enhanced their capabilities manifold after the unilateral aggression by the Chinese in Eastern Ladakh starting from the Galwan area in 2020.
The new drones have not been equipped with strike capabilities but they have the option of being upgraded to those standards, the sources said. India is also working on the ambitious Project Cheetah under which the security forces want to upgrade their existing fleet of Israeli-origin Heron with better communication facilities and missiles which can target enemy positions from long range. As per plans, the project was to be completed with Israeli weapon manufacturers with Indian firms in the main lead role.
The IAF is the main lead in the project under which the Israeli drones in the Navy and the Army are also planned to be upgraded with strike capabilities and better surveillance and reconnaissance pods. With the upgrade in snooping capabilities, the forces on the ground would also be able to get pinpoint intelligence about hideouts in areas where men have to be involved in operations. The upgrades would also enable the ground stations to operate these aircraft from far-off distances and control them through a satellite communication system.