IAI_Heron
PC : File Photo

Indian Army’s aviation base has been keeping an eye on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) along the Arunachal Pradesh border via the Israel-manufactured Heron drones that are capable of operating for nearly 45 hours at an altitude of up to 35,000 feet as tensions escalated with China’s People’s Liberation Army. Long-endurance Heron TP drones were bought from Israel earlier last month for surveillance and reconnaissance missions, and as per the reports, the Indian Army planned to upgrade it with combatant missiles for precision strikes under Project Cheetah. The two nations have their troops deployed in forwarding areas for the second consecutive tough winter ahead as the standoff continues into the 18th month.

Talks between Indian and Chinese army commanders to disengage the military forces had earlier diffused as Beijing refused to step away from the friction points at LAC including Depsang, Demchok, besides Hot Springs.  After the 13th Corps Commander level talks related to the standoff in eastern Ladakh concluded, the Indian Army stated that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) had appeared reluctant to disengage and that the “Chinese side was not agreeable” and “could not provide any forward-looking proposals.”

#WATCH | A Heron Mark 1 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle of the Indian Army operating at an aviation squadron in Misamari, Assam. The drones are deployed for surveillance along the China border in the sector. pic.twitter.com/1ESmt7yhX8— ANI (@ANI) October 17, 2021

Tensions have drastically flared at the Indo-China border after a Chinese journalist shared a video of PLA troops escorting blindfolded soldiers of the Indian armed forces. India has also recently claimed that it detained Chinese soldiers during the border stand-off. Although, reports on both sides remain unverified with several subsequent reports refuting the capture of Chinese forces and vice-versa. Observers now say that despite the tough and harsh Himalayan conditions during the winters, the troops on both sides are expected to remain deployed. 

While the Indian Army’s aviation base has deployed Israel-origin Heron drones, the base is also equipped with other key military assets such as a weaponized version of the Advanced Light Helicopter (Dhruv) ‘Rudra’ with forward-looking infrared (FLIR) and Thermal Imaging Sights Interface that can enhance the troops’ ground capabilities. 

In his remark to ANI, Major Karthik Garg explained that the Heron drone is the “most beautiful aircraft as far as surveillance resources are concerned.” He added, Since its inception, it has been the backbone of surveillance. It can climb up to 30,000 feet and continue to relay feed to commanders on the ground. So that, we can manoeuver forces on the ground. It has an endurance of 24- 30 hours at a stretch.”

Furthermore, explaining its operation during the bad weather, Major Garg said, “We have day and night cameras and for bad weather, we have synthetic aperture radar which can give track of entire terrain.”

Lieutenant Colonel explains Missamari Army Aviation Base’s capabilities 

Indian Army’s Lieutenant Colonel Amit Dadhwal explained the military capabilities of the Missamari Army Aviation Base, as he said: “These rotary-wing platforms provide a plethora of capabilities so that you know they can achieve success in all kinds of operations. This aircraft is fully capable of carrying troops and full battle load to any kind of treacherous terrain, or in any kind of weather conditions.” He further informed that the “lean and mean machine is made in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). Both the equipment and the aircraft are fully capable to carry out operations in.”READ | Indian Army Chief Naravane meets Sri Lankan PM Rajapaksa, discusses enhancing defence ties

Lieutenant Colonel Dhadwal also spoke about Dhruv as he stated that the aircraft’s night evacuation capability has been instrumental in saving nearly 50 people during the night casualty operations in the sector. Meanwhile, the latter also elaborated on the capability of the Cheetah, saying that the helicopter has proved itself “for the past 50 years in the Indian Army”. “It has been one of the stable and more reliable aircraft of Indian army,” he said.READ | JCO and Army Jawan gravely injured in anti-terror op in J&K’s Poonch: Indian Army

“Over a period of time, when we give you a general time of operation, we are fully capable of carrying out night casualty evacuations,” Lieutenant Colonel Dhadwal told ANI. He added, “The same aircraft has been further modified and weaponized into a more lethal version called ALH WSI – Advanced Light helicopter weapon system integrated – which is known as the Rudra helicopter. It is fully equipped with various mission systems as well as weapon systems onboard.”