Indian army is bringing in M777 ultra-light howitzers in Arunachal border to fight China and to airlift them a Chinook helicopter base is being planned at Dinjan, near Tinsukia in Assam.
Besides that, an attack helicopter squadron of, Apache is also coming to Jorhat airbase as Indian Army is giving the Eastern sector a major fillip, a senior defence source said.
This has been decided at the highest level of the Military to strengthen the Indo-China border, a highly placed defence source of the Eastern Command said.
This is expected to be a game changer as Indian army is always on defensive position in the Indo-China border as the Chinese side is a plateau, giving them a logistical advantage.
The 155 mm/39-caliber howitzers, which can be sling-loaded to helicopters and swiftly deployed to high-altitude areas, are likely to be inducted by the year-en.. India ordered 145 howitzers from the United States for $750 million in November 2016.
“The M777s will be a game-changer in the eastern sector. The highly portable guns can be swiftly deployed and redeployed for missions using the Boeing CH-47F (I) Chinook helicopters. The howitzers will be part of light artillery regiments,” the source said.
In the mean time Dinjan army camp is getting ready for the Chinook helicopter base. This double turbo helicopter has been the mainstay of the US Marines since the Vietnam War.
The CH-47F (I) Chinook and the M777 howitzer are a deadly combination as the load-carrying capacity of the Chinook and the capabilities that the M777 brings will certainly be a game-changer for the forces deployed along the eastern borders.
The Chinook helicopter can deploy the Howitzer in any designated place in a very quick time in case of emergency. India ordered 15 Chinook helicopters from the US for $1.18 billion in September 2015. Six of them have already been delivered.
The tactical mobility will enable quick insertion of the howitzers in areas close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China, which can move weapons, equipment and troops at a swifter pace because of better infrastructure, he said.
“It’s certainly a much-needed capability upgrade. Moving heavier guns around is not easy. Even soldiers take two days to reach the forward posts from Tezu (headquarters of the 82Mountain Brigade). Tezu is located 250km south of Kibithu, which is along the LAC and accounts for the army’s eastern-most deployments.
The howitzers have a range of 24-30km.
The army’s artillery arsenal in eastern Arunachal Pradesh includes the Bofors guns and the 105mm field gun. Transporting these guns is quite tricky due to terrain and the infrastructure that is still a work in progress. It requires a lot of horse power and willpower,”
The IAF plans to deploy US-made Apache AH-64E attack helicopters in the eastern sector in two years after a base there is fully ready to support the choppers, two senior IAF officers said on the condition of anonymity.
The helicopters are part of a $1.1-billion deal India inked with the US in September 2015 for 22 Apaches to modernize its assault capabilities to counter ground-based armoured targets and aerial threats.
The 22 Apaches will be split between Pathankot and Jorhat, where support infrastructure is being created. The IAF has already inducted eight Apaches into its fleet at the Pathankot airbase.