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To keep tabs on People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in real-time and strengthen measures to detect intrusions, India is upgrading its surveillance capabilities along the northern borders with China.

India intends to do this through an array of drones, sensors, reconnaissance and electronic warfare equipment.

The Indian defence agency took up the plan to revamp the entire surveillance and intelligence-gathering mechanism along the Line of Control in view of the military confrontations in eastern Ladakh and continued PLA infrastructure build-up in other areas as well.

“The LAC cannot be continuously manned like the 778-km line of control (LoC) with Pakistan. Therefore, the urgent need to crank up the existing surveillance capabilities for gap-free coverage and real-time information along the LAC,” said a defence ministry source.

The acquisition and induction plans range from mini-drones for high-altitude areas and ultra-long-range surveillance cameras to MALE (medium-altitude long-endurance) and HALE (high-altitude long-endurance) remotely-piloted aircraft systems, the MoD sources added.

There is also a project underway to lease three to four satellite communication-enabled Heron UAVs from Israel through an inter-governmental agreement for the Army.

Plans are also afoot to acquire additional Harop kamikaze attack drones for the Indian Air Force.

The DRDO, in turn, has almost finished developing a border observation and surveillance system (BOSS), with a well-integrated system of multiple sensors, for manned as well as unmanned areas of the LAC, they said.

The Army also inked a 140 crore deal with an Indian firm last month for advanced versions of “Switch” drones, which will be used by infantry soldiers and special forces deployed in high-altitude areas like Ladakh.

“Induction of such drones for surveillance at the tactical level will give a clear operational picture to battalion commanders and troops on the ground,” MoD sources said.

They also said that the prospect of “a hot summer” again this year is possible with the manner in which China has continued to create new military infrastructure and reinforce PLA positions from eastern Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh borders.

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