Fresh satellite images show that China has expanded its heliport located 21.3 km north east from the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Pangong Tso area
Latest images show that China has revamped another old helibase, located in Pishan County, Hotan in Xinjiang, 176 kilometres north of Galwan
New Delhi: At a time when escalated border tensions near Ladakh have led to build-up by defence forces of India and China, fresh satellite images show that China has expanded its heliport located 21.3 km north east from the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Pangong Tso area. The images show that no new heliport has been constructed.
Latest satellite images accessed by TOI also show that China has revamped another old helibase and new infrastructure has been added. The helibase is located in Pishan County, Hotan in Xinjiang, 176 kilometres north of Galwan. The new images were taken on June 22 this year and compared with those taken in 2017.
Defence experts, however, said that India with two helipads closer to LAC has more advantage. The two Indian helipads built in 2017 are right next to Finger 4 where an ITBP camp is positioned. The twin helipads stand next to each other, three km west of foxhole point at the base of Finger 4.
Former 15 Corps commander Lt Gen Satish Dua (retd) told TOI that Indian Army would have an advantage over the People’s Liberation Army since its helipads were more strategically located.
“To fly a combat chopper in narrow valleys like these is not easy, but they will have to be used for reconnaissance, logistics supplies and casualty evacuation on the frontline which gives advantage to India as our helipads are closer to LAC,” said former 15 Corps commander Lt Gen Satish Dua (retd) while speaking on the use of helipads in such areas.
Another expert on condition of anonymity pointed out that even in Galwan — where the June 15 clash took place — India can make use of a 1.5 kilometre-wide stretch of land near Shyok river that allows for comfortable landing for large helicopters such as AH-64E Apache and Ch-47 F Chinooks.
“The People’s Liberation Army Air Force had flown Mi-17 choppers over Galwan between June 8 and June 20 from Hotan to a small helistrip in Hot Springs. But this small helistrip was 70 km away from the clash site. On the other hand, India has a helistrip right next to Shyok, 5 km from the site of that clash,” he added.
With inputs from TOI