East is new west as Army upgrades arms along border with China

Bofors gets an upgrade, high-precision Ultra Light Howitzer guns get deployed, and super-sensitive tracking systems make an entry

5 missing youth, Arunachal Pradesh, China, border, LAC, Line of Actual Control
While China has been increasing its capabilities on the disputed border, India has been matching the security breaches with enhanced ammunition.

India, for long occupied with keeping incursions at bay at the western sector of the border, the Line of Control (LOC), is now upping the ante on the eastern frontier, at the Line of Actual Control (LoAC). While China has been increasing its capabilities on the disputed border, India has been matching the security breaches by enhancing ground and air power.

Indo-China tensions have heightened after a border skirmish in June 2020 in the strategically important Galwan valley in Ladakh. Delhi and Beijing have poured money and manpower into the high-altitude Himalayan region, and casualties have been aplenty.

Ammunition upgrades

The Army has upgraded its Bofors guns, said multiple media reports. It is also getting some Ultra Light Howitzer M777 artillery guns, an Indian Express report said. This is apart from the recent raising of an air brigade by the Army, close to the border.


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India has been beefing up its artillery over the past few years due to increased security concerns on the border with Pakistan and China. It has purchased about 145 M777 guns, the first lot being inducted in 2018, said the report. Till date, about half the order has been fulfilled and deployed across sectors on the LAC.

Bofors vs Howitzer

The Ultra Light Howitzer enjoys an edge over Bofors, the staple of the Indian forces since the late 1980s. It is lighter than Bofors, and can therefore be transported more easily to high altitudes and rough terrains. Further, Chinook helicopters can transport them to valleys with ease, helping them be deployed closer to the LAC, said the IE report.

Not only are the Howitzers more accurate than the Bofors, but can also be fired from a greater distance. The rarefied atmosphere at high altitudes increases their range beyond the normal 40 km, the report added.

Not that the Bofors guns are going away. The Army continues to use them, upgrading them with automated systems, said IE. The upgrades enhance their precision and firing speed.

The L70 Swedish air defence guns of the 1960s have also been upgraded, said the report. PSU Bharat Electricals Ltd has made them capable of tracking aerial threats automatically — the treats include aircraft, helicopters and even small drones.  About ₹575 crore has been spent to upgrade 200 such guns, the report added.

Technical system

According to an Economic Times report, India is also set to upgrade the Long Range Reconnaissance and Observation System (Lorros). An expert panel recently approved a revised technical system in this regard, it said. The system will be implemented by the Border Security Force, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police and other armed forces along the LAC.

Lorros provides 24-hour long-range surveillance, and can spot human targets over 20 km away. Further, it can recognise moving and stationary vehicles at 40 km and 15 km, respectively, said ET.

India is capable of landing heavy-lift aircraft in forward landing bases with men and material. Transport from thereon is either by road or on lighter choppers to forward operating areas and advanced deployment locations.