What has happened?
- People’s Liberation Army (PLA) said it has deployed the latest range of advanced rocket launchers with an artillery brigade in the western theatre command, which looks after the borders with India.
- A front-page article published in PLA Daily, Chinese army’s official newspaper, Monday said that the brigade is located 5,200m above sea level in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR).
- It is the first time that the PLA has confirmed the deployment of long-range rocket systems to the border with India.
- Last July, reports from Indian media outlets said China had deployed advanced weapons systems to border areas in the high-altitude desert in its northwest, and the Qinghai- Tibet Plateau in its southwest
About the deployment
- The report did not give the type or firing range of the weapon, but said it was a system with a long-range rocket with precision strike capability, and had entered service in 2019.
- Last July, reports from media outlets said China had deployed the Type PHL-03 multiple launch rocket system (MLRS), which has a firing range of 70 to 130km, and PCL-181 vehicle-mounted howitzers.
- But experts said the PHL-03 and PCL-181 were not new advanced weapons, with their ranges being too short to pose a threat.
- The new weapon system should be a long-range rocket launcher that can carry multiple 300mm [12-inch] or even bigger rockets with more than 100km of firing range.
So what type of weapon it could be?
- The long-range MLRS mentioned by PLA Daily was likely to be the most advanced PHL-16, or the Type PCL-191 which debuted in the National Day Parade in 2019.
- The move by the PLA is probably aimed at reinforcing China’s border defence and acting as a deterrent to India.
- The PLA Daily report comes at a time when China changed its stand on further disengagement during the 11th Corps Commander level talks.
- After the surprise breakthrough in February that saw both sides pulling troops and equipment back from the brink in Pangong Tso,
- China now wants the two armies to de-escalate or withdraw additional troops brought in as back-up to those in the front.
- India, however, is insisting on disengagement from the remaining friction areas along the disputed Himalayan frontier first.
Q) The area of which State is NOT greater than the area of 7 NE States combined? (Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura and Meghalaya)
- Madhya Pradesh
- Uttar Pradesh