Even as China's 'wolf warrior' diplomats yesterday urged India to "immediately" correct its mistakes and disengage at the Line of Actual Control (LAC), reports have emerged on the Chinese garrison on Pangong Lake being further strengthened with new assault boats.
The world's highest saltwater lake has already witnessed some intense action over the past few months as the People's Liberation Army (PLA) continues to play dangerous war games in a highly volatile situation high in the Himalayas. The Type-928D assault boats were, as reported by Naval News, first deployed to the lake in October 2019. But, based on satellite imagery analysis, they began appearing at the western end, nearer the de facto border around June this year. While it is being said that there are at least six assault boats present on the lake right now, the Indian intelligence agencies believe that the number could be easily around a dozen.
"Quite similar to the Swedish CB-90, the Type-928D is 13.8m (45 feet) long and has a beam of 3.9m (13 feet). Its three 295 hp motors give it a top speed of 38.9 knots. In the assault role it can carry up to 11 troops. They are primarily armed with a 12.7mm heavy machine gun mounted in a remote weapons station (RWS) above the cabin offering a wide arc of fire.
Crew served machine guns can be mounted on the aft deck," the report said. These frontier patrol boats have been manufactured by Changzhou Special Fibre Reinforced Plastic (FRP) Shipyard Company Limited in Changzhou, Jiangsu, China. The company has been assigned by General Headquarters of Equipment of Chinese People's Liberation Army to make patrol boats. The Chinese state-run media, constantly raising the war cry, has been working overtime to portray how the PLA is a far superior force and has been developing new equipment to use in all types of terrain.
"At Pangong Lake, which at an altitude of 4,250 meters, is divided between Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region and India, the PLA has put a new patrol boat into use, made of non-metallic materials. The craft has a top speed of 40 kilometers per hour and can resist ice collisions," the Beijing Evening News had reported a few months ago. It also mentioned a type of heavy scout vehicle, called the "wild ox," capable of accommodating 17 full-armed soldiers, being deployed to a border defense regiment in the border area in Southwest China's Yunnan Province.
Cold-proof blankets, tents, snow camouflage suits and hot water bottles that can keep water hot for 24 hours have also been issued to soldiers at various fronts by the Chinese PLA. The Indian Army, and the government, having learnt from its past experiences, is matching every move being made by the Chinese this time around. General Manoj Mukund Naravane, the chief of the Indian Army, is constantly reviewing the operational preparedness along the LAC as the winter sets in a few weeks from now.
While the Indian Navy has already sent steel boats to patrol Pangong Tso and match the vessels of the Chinese Army, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh informed Rajya Sabha members yesterday about special warm clothes, special tent for living and adequate arrangement of weapons and ammunition have been made for the soldiers to cope with the extreme weather conditions at the LAC.
"The spirits of our soldiers are high. They are capable of serving at forbidding altitudes with scarce oxygen and in extremely cold temperatures, something that they have effortlessly done over the last many years on Siachen, and Kargil. Our armed forces have also made appropriate counter deployments in these areas to ensure that India's borders are fully protected," the Minister apprised the House. The Indian government, which has so far outplayed the Xi regime in its own game of Chinese Checkers, is in no mood to let the guard down, just like the soldiers at the border who won't allow the Chinese to gain a foothold in the region this winter.