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IAF strengthening air defence radars along LAC with China

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NEW DELHI (PTI): The Indian Air Force (IAF) is strengthening its air defence in Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China by putting in place a series of special mountain and light-weight radars.

Western Air Command (WAC) chief Air Marshal N A K Browne told reporters here that different types of radars would be put in place along the 667-km LAC with China, the air defence of which is WAC's responsibility.

"The Air Force is keenly examining the option of special type of radars, which we call the mountain radars and we are also looking at Low Level Light Weight Radars (LLLWR). So there is a definite plan," Browne said to a question on the future air defence systems along the LAC on Friday.

The IAF's move comes close on the heels of reports of recent incursions by Chinese military helicopters into Indian airspace.

Browne said the IAF would put in place these radars in the next four to five years to make the air defence system along the LAC robust.

"When I talk of operational infrastructure to be improved in the northern sector, the mountainous terrain is very tricky. Because you have huge peaks and normal conventional systems are very difficult to maintain there," he said.

Browne said the IAF had already given contracts for 19 of LLLWRs and that the WAC itself had some of these. "More are in the pipeline. They are coming starting from next year itself," he added.

Browne said the IAF also had the option of an indigenously developed LLLWR. At present, the IAF has placed along the LAC two Rohini radars developed by DRDO and manufactured by BEL.

"One more Rohini radar is to be inducted next year and placed along the LAC," he said.

"These, I think, will take care of detection of any threats that come from across the LAC," he added.

Browne parried queries on the IAF's response to Chinese helicopters violating Indian airspace in Ladakh, but he said India needed to keep talking to all its neighbours and at the same time maintain highest levels of military preparedness.

"We do need to talk to everybody...every one of our neighbours and at the same time keep our gun powers dry. We should maintain our preparedness at the highest levels," he said.

The WAC chief also admitted that the IAF was fully aware of what was going on along the LAC, but reiterated that there were issues such as differing perceptions of the LAC on both sides.

On the recent remarks of IAF chief Air Chief Marshal P V Naik that India's Air Force fleet was just one-third of China's, he said the IAF was extremely well-balanced on all fronts such as numbers, technology, modern platforms and equipment.

"It is not just a question of numbers, there are other issues such as technology and capability too," he said, dismissing the Chinese fleet strength as a threat.

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