With the situation prevailing in Ladakh, this is not the opportune moment for political brinkmanship or speculative assessment about whether India is militarily prepared to face Chinese expansionist designs. The reality is that if push comes to shove, the Indian armed forces will have no choice but to fight with their existing capabilities. Minor augmentation is possible through rushed delivery of already contracted-for material and ammunition and assorted ordnance purchases off-the-shelf, but beyond this there is no magic bullet.
Some analysts believe that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has a decisive edge over the Indian Army due largely to its superior numerical strength, infrastructure in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) abutting the Line of Actual Control (LAC), weaponry and recently accomplished joint service operations. Even so, it does not necessarily give China a definitive edge, as the potential conflict is unlikely to remain confined to ground forces.
Looked at in the wider context of mountain warfare, arduous and complex at the best of times, the odds are in no way stacked in China’s favour. Firstly, on ground, India has moved additional troops, howitzers, main battle tanks, infantry combat vehicles, varied missile batteries and air defence systems to the LAC in Ladakh. This deployment is backed by BrahMos medium-range supersonic cruise missile, the quickest and the world’s most lethal in its class. Other than land, the Indo-Russian BrahMos is also capable of being launched from combat aircraft and frontline warships.