India is going in for a major upgrade of surveillance capabilities along the northern borders with China through an array of drones, sensors, reconnaissance and electronic warfare equipment to keep tabs on the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in real-time and strengthen measures to detect intrusions.
The military confrontation in eastern Ladakh since May last year, along with the continuing PLA infrastructure build-up in other areas as well, has jolted the defence establishment into planning the revamp of the entire surveillance and intelligence-gathering mechanism along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
“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, said the MoD sources.
There is also a project simultaneously underway to lease three to four satellite communication-enabled Heron UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) from Israel through an inter-governmental agreement for the Army, apart from the acquisition of additional Harop kamikaze attack drones for the IAF.