Army deploys ultra-light M-777 howitzers along LAC; here is why
Following the Galwan Valley clash in June 2020, which resulted in a significant escalation of tensions between the Indian and Chinese armies, India has been increasing its overall military might in all strategically important areas along the nearly 3,500-kilometer-long LAC.
According to military officials, the Indian Army has deployed many easily transportable M-777 ultra-light howitzers in mountainous regions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Arunachal Pradesh.
The Army's reinforcement of firepower in Arunachal Pradesh comes after howitzers were deployed in several sensitive areas in the Ladakh sector amid the ongoing border standoff with China.
After the Galwan Valley clash in June 2020, which triggered a major escalation in tensions between the Indian and Chinese armies, India has been increasing its overall military might in all strategically key areas along the nearly 3,500-kilometer-long LAC.
Army officials stated that deploying M-777 howitzers and additional air assets such as unmanned aerial vehicles, military aircraft, and surveillance equipment has improved India's military preparedness in the Arunachal Pradesh sector.
The Army faced difficulties transporting heavy artillery guns in mountainous regions, but the deployment of ultra-light howitzers solved the problem.
While talking to PTI, the senior official said, "Chinook helicopters can transport the ultralight M-777 quickly. Based on operational needs, we can quickly move them from one location to another." "We are now much better prepared to deal with any eventuality," he added.
The Army deployed M-777 howitzers in Bum-La last year, but the howitzers are now being used in Arunachal Pradesh's RALP area, which includes several key mountainous regions.
The Army first received the M-777 artillery guns, which have a maximum range of 30 kilometres and are manufactured by BAE Systems. The purchase came after a 30-year wait for new artillery guns following the Bofors scandal.
India ordered 145 M-777 guns from the US under a USD 750 million deal in 2016. The addition of upgraded L70 air defence guns to the existing Bofors guns in Arunachal Pradesh's forward locations increased the Army's combat prowess.
The L-70 guns were developed in the 1950s by the Swedish defence firm Bofors AB, and India began receiving over 1,000 of them in the 1960s. Bharat Electronics Limited, a state-owned company, upgraded the guns (BEL).
The Army has taken several steps to improve its operational capabilities in the eastern sector bordering China.
According to officials, the Army has been focusing equally on improving operational capability in the northern and eastern sectors.
Following a violent clash in the Pangong lake areas, the Indian and Chinese militaries erupted in an eastern Ladakh border standoff on May 5, 2020, and both sides gradually increased their deployment by rushing in tens of thousands of soldiers as well as heavy weaponry. Following a deadly clash in Galwan Valley, tensions rose.
Last year, the two sides completed the disengagement process in the Gogra area and on Pangong Lake's north and south banks due to a series of military and diplomatic talks.
The last round of military talks in July ended in a stalemate because there was no progress in ending the standoff in the region's remaining friction points.
Each side currently has 50,000 to 60,000 troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the sensitive sector.
(With inputs from PTI)