Amid standoff, India and China have increased the use of drones for surveillance on each other in eastern Ladakh. Indian military has been directed to increase their usage for more intelligence on confrontation areas.
Indian Air Force deployed Israeli-made Heron MK II drones near Ladakh. Israeli Heron ‘Medium Altitude Long Endurance’ drone is used in strategic and tactical missions. It is capable of operations up to 45 hours and up to 35,000 feet, with a range of 1,000 km. Surveillance is done through direct line of sight or satellite communications.
Indian Army has been using quadcopters for a while now. It has limited capability but can give clear coverage of an area. It goes to a certain height and scans the complete area with its day/ night cameras. Mostly used for stealth missions.
PLA reportedly used thermal-imaging drones to track down Indian troops before the June 15 clash in Galwan Valley. Earlier this year, China deployed Mavic-2 Enterprise drones equipped with thermal imaging technology to detect those having fever to tackle Covid-19. China could be using the same drone in the border now.
There is Wing Loong 1 and Wing Loong 2, which is an improved version of the former. Both fall in the ‘medium altitude long endurance’ category. The Wing Loong 2 can carry 12 laser-guided bombs or missiles, can be fitted with different weapons for combat and strike missions. Although Wing Loong is an American copycat Predator B drone, but it had failed to prove its potential in Libyan war where Turkish Bayraktar TB had the upper hand.
The force was raised in the aftermath of the 1962 Chinese aggression and about 35 of its 60 battalions are deployed for border guarding along the LAC and its posts are located between 9,000 feet-18,700 feet in the western, middle and eastern sectors of this front.
Defence minister Rajnath Singh who is on a visit to Russia is expected to ask the Russians to expedite the delivery of the S-400 Triumf anti-missile system in view of heightened tensions along the LAC. China has already acquired the anti-missile system from Moscow, which might have added to India’s concerns.
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