Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday handed over to the Army a wide range of indigenous military equipment including unmanned aerial systems and quick reaction fighting vehicles to crank up its combat capabilities in eastern Ladakh in the backdrop of the prolonged border face-off with China.
The other key equipment that the Army received included surveillance hardware, patrolling boats, 'Future Infantry Soldier as a System', a new anti-personnel mine 'Nipun', infantry protected mobility vehicles, rugged and automatic communication system, upgraded sights system for tanks and advanced thermal imagers.
The handing over of the new equipment was part of the government's efforts to enhance the combat readiness of the armed forces in view of the military standoff with Chinese troops in several friction points for over two years.
The new boats --Landing Craft Assault(LCA)--equipped with advanced surveillance gadgets and other equipment are being deployed to keep a strict vigil over the Pangong Tso lake in eastern Ladakh.
The 134-km-long lake at an altitude of 13,900-feet is considered strategically significant. China controls around two-thirds of the lake. Last year, the Army had ordered 12 LCA boats to strengthen its existing fleets of vessels.
"The LCA is much more versatile and has overcome the limitations of launch, speed and capacity. It has enhanced the capability to operate across the water obstacles in eastern Ladakh," the defence ministry said.
It said the infantry protected mobility vehicles and assault boats will enable the troops deployed along the borders to respond to any "challenge in a befitting manner".
The ministry said these vehicles will provide mobility and more protection to a large number of infantry soldiers posted at the Northern borders, adding quick reaction fighting vehicles will enhance mobility of the troops in eastern Ladakh.
"It facilitates quick deployment of troops and will enable much faster reaction...It will facilitate in creating moral ascendency in our Northern borders," the ministry said about the advantages of these vehicles.
In his remarks, Rajnath Singh exuded confidence that the equipment and systems will enhance the operational preparedness of the Indian Army and increase their efficiency. "It is a shining example of the country's growing self-reliance prowess, in partnership with the private sector and other institutions."
Singh said the infrastructural needs of the Armed Forces are increasing with constantly-changing times and urged them to strive for excellence. The ministry said the 'Future Infantry Soldier as a System'(F-INSAS) is aimed at equipping the soldiers with three primary sub systems.
The first system is the AK-203 assault rifle with day and night holographic and reflex sights. The sights are mounted on the weapon and also on the helmet to enable a 360-degree visibility and accuracy in operational conditions. In addition to the primary weapon system, the soldiers will also be equipped with multi-mode hand grenades along with multi-purpose knives.
The ministry said the new anti-personnel mine named 'Nipun' will enhance the protection provided to the troops on the borders as it is more potent and effective than the existing ones. It said the Mini Remotely Piloted Aerial System (RPAS) will remove the operational limitations faced by the IAF aircraft and the heron Unmanned Aerial Vehicles(UAV) at tactical level.
The RPAS empowers the Army by removing the restricted capability for surveillance, detection and reconnaissance at the level of infantry battalions and mechanised units, it added.
Singh also handed over to the Army the hand-held thermal imager system, downlinking equipment, upgraded radio relay system, and a solar photovoltaic energy project. The thermal imager is for surveillance and detection and it provides visibility in both day and night.
The 'Commander Thermal Imaging Sight for T-90 tank' gives enhanced visibility and range to the commanders of armoured columns. The downlink equipment helps the helicopters in carrying out constant reconnaissance and surveillance of the borders and operational areas.
The 'semi ruggedised automatic exchange system Mk-II' will provide line communications to the operationally deployed units, the ministry said. The upgraded radio relay will help the troops deployed in forward areas to improve their communication system.
The solar photovoltaic energy project is expected to meet overall energy requirements in areas like Siachen Glacier.
(With PTI Inputs)