India to upgrade air operations capability in eastern Ladakh
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The Agni-V missile landed in the Bay of Bengal with “a very high degree of accuracy”. India’s Government said in a statement the move was part of a policy “to have credible minimum deterrence that underpins the commitment to no first use”. The Indian nuclear-capable missile is developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation.
It is believed to have a range of around 5,000km (3,100 miles) – meaning it could hit any target in China, including Beijing.
The huge range of the missile potentially allows the Indian military to target all of China from Agni-V bases, in central and southern India, further away from China.
The missile was designed so it is easy to transport by road, through the utilisation of a canister-launch missile system.
India’s development of its missile plan has been triggered by China’s own enormous arsenal.
It has been developing medium and long-range weapons since as far back as the 1990s.
The Asian superpower is the world’s third biggest military spender, but around 60 percent of its defence budget goes towards paying for the country’s 1.3 million soldiers.
In June 2020, some 25 Indian soldiers and a number of Chinese troops were killed in the Galwan Valley in the mountains where India’s Ladakh region is located – the deadliest confrontation between the two nations in nearly 45 years.
Soldiers brutally fought each other with nail-studded clubs and stones at the border on the western Himalayas.
At the time, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the intensifying conflict on national television and insisted: “We never provoke anyone.”
But he warned: “There should be no doubt that India wants peace, but if provoked, India will provide an appropriate response.”
Months later in February, China acknowledged for the first time that four of its troops were killed in a mountain border clash with Indian forces.
The People’s Liberation Army Daily newspaper in China attributed the soldiers’ deaths to fighting in “a clash with trespassing foreign military personnel”, but didn’t refer to India directly.
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This month, tense negotiations between Indian and Chinese military commanders aimed at easing tensions in border areas ended in stalemate.
In June of this year, Prime Minister Modi upped the stakes by deploying 50,000 additional troops in the Himalayan region.
Fears are intensifying over the possibility of a conflict erupting accidentally with such large numbers of soldiers concentrated in a relatively small area.
DS Hooda, a lieutenant general and former Northern Army commander in India, warned: ”Having so many soldiers on either side is risky when border management protocols have broken down.
“Both sides are likely to patrol the disputed border aggressively.
“A small local incident could spiral out of control with unintended consequences.”
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