India-China Ladakh Standoff – Role and Capability of Helicopters

The Indian and Chinese armies continue to be locked in a bitter standoff in multiple locations in Eastern Ladakh. What is of significance is that this standoff and clashes are taking place in one of the most inhospitable terrains with punishing climatic conditions at altitudes ranging from 14000 to 18000 feet, adversely affecting both men and machines. A prolonged standoff lasting at least through this summer and most likely is going into the winters. It is evident by the fact that the Chinese are continuing to deploy more troops and armament (artillery and combat vehicles) and build infrastructure in the entire Ladakh region along the LAC. Besides, there has been an increase in air activity over the region with fighter aircraft and helicopters – the scale of helicopter activity by the Chinese in the area since early May is unprecedented.

Harsh terrain and climatic conditions in this area impose substantial constraints on both the PLA and Indian Army in its operations. While the summer season is comparatively better except for the extremely high wind speeds, the winter adds to the adverse conditions with temperatures in the region of minus 30 to minus 40-degree centigrade, further degrading the capability of men and material and thus requiring specialised equipment and clothing to keep the force operational – Siachen is an apt example of the same. The constraints of altitude, terrain and climate are most severe in the Ladakh/Aksai Chin region than any other area along the LAC.

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