he Narendra Modi government is all set to clear the acquisition of two PHALCON airborne warning and control systems (AWACS) next week.The matter is before the Cabinet Committee on Security. The last time, the CCS had sent the proposal to National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval and sought some clarification.
The proposal was cleared earlier by the Defence Acquisition Council and was then sent to the CCS.
This decision is important as Pakistan was able to deploy its SAAB AWACS 24/7 in the north and south sectors during the Balakot air strike. India was able to cover the two theatres only for 12 hours each day due to this. It is also important in the context of the standoff with China.
The Phalcon AWACS will boost the capabilities of the armed forces. This is an air borne radar with a command control system through which the air defence sector can be controlled. India already has an elaborate ground radar system. However these radars find it difficult to penetrate through regions that have a lot of trees. These gaps will be closed by the AWACS.
Moreover the AWACS will also help India keep a close watch on the neighbours. It will keep an eye on all air fields across the borders. Further it will keep a close watch on air-borne aircraft. Once an aircraft is spotted, it will give it an ID and help track its movements. When the same thing is done through the radar, it takes a lot of time.
The AWACS will help India monitor the movement of aircraft and troop build up both during war and hostile situations. It will be able to look at least 200 miles into enemy territory and give advance warnings on the potential enemy threat.
AWACS are a force multiplier, which can pick up movement of an aircraft that are on the ground and also air-borne. The Forces would have immediate information on any kind of aircraft movement across the border. This would in turn given the Air Force and Army more response time.
In another major development, a big push is being given to complete a route to Ladakh that will link Darcha in Himachal Pradesh to Nimu through Padum in Kargil’s Zanskar Valley.
This is needed urgently given Pakistan’s and China’s interest in the Siachen Glacier and Daulat Beg Oldie.
Officials said that the 290 kilometre road will be crucial for the movement of troops and heavy weaponry into the frontier bases of the Ladakh region. This will provide a crucial link to the Kargil region.
This will be the third road link to Ladakh after the other two roads- Manali-Leh road and Srinagar-Leh highway. This road project by the Defence Ministry is being pushed hard by by the highways minister, Nitin Gadkari, following the provocation by China along the line of Actual Control in Eastern Ladakh.
The work on the re-opening of an alternative road to Ladakh from Himachal Pradesh has been expedited due to its strategic importance. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2022.
The Border Roads Organisation is also working on another crucial road connecting Ladakh with Depsang plains. The road will provide access the Sub-Sector North (SSN) in Ladakh.
The trigger for the standoff in eastern Ladakh was China’s stiff opposition to India laying a key road in the Finger area around the Pangong Tso Lake besides construction of another road connecting the Darbuk-Shayok-Daulat Beg Oldie road.