WITH THE Line of Actual Control (LAC) remaining tense across all sectors, India raised a new aviation brigade in the eastern sector this year. The brigade is mandated with the task of increasing surveillance along the LAC in the eastern sector.
The new brigade was raised in March at Missamari in Assam, close to Tezpur, and has capabilities such as Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH), Cheetah helicopters and Heron drones, said sources.
The deployment of Army’s aviation wing also includes weaponised ALH not far from the LAC in Assam. While the function of the new brigade is largely for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) activities of the Army, it has the capability to support the Army for other objectives as well on the LAC.
A source said the aviation brigade with three squadrons is operating from the Missamari Army Aviation Base.
Lt Col Amit Dadhwal said the Army Aviation Corps has evolved from simple fixed wing aircraft with basic avionics to state-of-the-art equipment today, including the ALH Weaponised System Integrated and Light Combat Helicopters.
“These Rotary Wing platforms provide us and our leaders and commanders a plethora of capabilities so that we can achieve success in all kinds of operations,” he said.
The helicopters, he said, carry troops in full battle loads in any kind of treacherous terrain and weather conditions, and are used for casualty evacuations, induction and de-induction.
The induction of the new brigade has taken place even as talks to resolve the standoff in eastern Ladakh have hit a new roadblock, with 50,000 troops from each side likely to spend another winter in the harsh climes.
The talks to resolve the more than 17-month standoff hit another deadlock as China refused to vacate Patrolling Point (PP) 15 at Hot Springs during the 13th round of Corps Commander level talks earlier this month. A day after the meeting, both sides issued strong statements, a departure from the past, blaming each other for the situation.
On the eve of the talks, Army Chief General M M Naravane had mentioned that China’s increased infrastructure development along the LAC meant that it is there to stay, and it is a matter for concern, even as India will match the deployment.