As part of a multi-pronged plan, road infrastructure, specially at the sensitive Tawang sector, is also being enhanced significantly with a network of bridges and tunnels that will take away dependence on air assets to support troops in all weather conditions.
Giving an inside view on new capabilities, senior Army officers said that not only are all available surveillance assets being used but younger officers have been tasked to create bespoke systems uniquely suited to the requirements for the Tibet border.
Last year, Tawang sector saw increase in area dominance patrols and visits by senior PLA officers across the border, a trend observed in Uttarakhand and Sikkim too. As reported, this has resulted in alarm on some occasions, like the Barahoti incident in Uttarakhand in late August when transgressing PLA troops damaged infrastructure.
Central to the response to such provocations are establishments like the division surveillance centre at Rupa which receive real-time images and inputs of PLA movements along LAC. The inputs – from UAVs, helicopter-based sensors, ground radars and satellite feed – are collated and analysed to formulate a response strategy.
The picture that emerges at the control centre is revealing – from the number of transgressing troops to the vehicles they operate and infrastructure being created across the border. This, officials say, leads to a shortened response time that can curb transgressions.
“Without any increase in deployment, we are using technology to increase our awareness of the situation. Our focus is the fusion of sensors, our ground and air based sensors are being fused and it’s a constant effort to improve capabilities,” says Maj Gen Zubin Minwalla, the 5 Mountain Division commander based in Rupa, Arunachal Pradesh, that looks after the defences of Tawang.
Unique systems are also being developed in house by the Army to assist in this stepped-up surveillance. One project that is currently being validated through trials by forward troops is an AI-enabled software that distinguishes signatures being picked up by battlefield surveillance radars.
The software categorises signals to reflect if the movement of soldiers, vehicles or animals have been picked up and sends real time updates to the command centre to formulate a response. Another system being developed in a portable surveillance system that can be deployed across the border which automatically counts the number of transgressing soldiers and their mode of transport, relaying it to senior commanders to take counter action.