Latest satellite images show China steadily ramming in at Pangong despite de-escalation talks

Srinagar: Amid the rising tensions between India and China in Ladkah, China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is yet to pull back to its pre-April positions, especially in the Pangong Tso area, despite agreeing on phased de-escalation along the Line of Actual Control.

According to a report by India Today new images prepared by the satellite imagery has given a clear idea of the situation in this area.

The images by the Google Earth covers the almost complete areas between Finger 4 and slightly beyond Finger 8 up to the PLA’s pre-1998 base of Rimuthang, located in east of the Indian Claim Line.

The report added that Chinese army has been doing the incursions into Indian areas from 1998 along to border in order to take control at the place belonging to India.

The report said that there is a large deployment of forces as observed from the latest high-resolution satellite imagery posted by Google Earth.

However, a large swathe of the area from Finger 4 to Finger 8 and beyond that was not covered by Planet Labs images, made available at the earliest, have been covered by these images.

It has been made possible to read the situation in its entirety and an aggregate assessment can be made.

According to the new images detected, a view of main headquarters can be seen clearly. Besides this, three artillery gun positions, an air defence battery, a small hospital, signals and engineering detachments were also detected.

The report added that the imagery shows the tents under camouflage nets in the Spangur Tso area, adding that the total strength in this entire area could be a combined arms brigade not more than 10-20,000.

In Rimuthang base, the satellite imagery gives an opportunity to study the PLA’s Rimuthang base in detail. This was the base constructed by China to the East of Indian Claim Line as per the agreements in vogue then.

The base mainly consists of a company level post and a naval base run by the PLA Ground Force’s (PLAGF) naval unit.

With the new boats, the post has obviously increased in size and equipment over the last two decades. The images show eight boats parked at the pier. There is a ship lift crane for pulling the boats out of water, especially during winters or whenever repairs are required to be carried out, the report said.

The images also show two large repair hangars, one of which is under construction with three bays for boats. The bays in the new hangar also suggest that it could become an assembly yard for knocked down boats.

The report said that this is the first time that these kinds of surprising details were witnessed through satellite imagery.

The main deployment at Finger 8 where a headquarters, its paraphernalia, a multi-barrel rocket launcher (MBRL) battery and a small advanced dressing station for minor surgeries is observed.

The headquarters indicates an operations room; staff tents along with signals and engineers detachments are seen.

Besides this, the imagery also showed a number of earth-moving equipment such as dozers and large cranes. A battery of possibly 300mm PHL-03 MBRL systems, which is a homemade version of BM-30 Smerch, is also observed.

At the site, a small hospital with a mobile surgical unit and 5X9m long tents for the reception, pre-op and post-op treatments are clearly seen. There is an air defence battery possibly of 57mm Type 59 guns also observed in the Finger 8 area.

At Finger 7 Post, the posts constructed by the Chinese army in 2004 have been expanding in strength and equipment steadily.

In 2014, Finger 7 Post added additional radar and a watchtower was added. With this adding, the post now has a pier with five boats.

A small assembly line of prefabricated huts is observed very close to this post. The prefab huts are being assembled possibly preparing for a longer stay along the lake for survival through winters.

At New Naval Base at Finger 5, the imagery showed a new PLAGF naval base prepared with 40 prefab huts and about 10 tents East of Finger 5 along the lake. There is a three-pier contraption observed possibly of foam-filled plastic for quick deployment in such a situation.

The report added that China is finding new opportunities to trial its new equipment in this high altitude and cold climate.

In Pangong Tso area, the Chinese army PLA has been observed trying out new tactics as it was observed that cuts in mountains are being used for deploying tents with good camouflage.

in order to make it deceptive, another peculiar camouflage pattern is observed with vehicles parked in tandem and camouflaged with red covering so that only one vehicle’s driver cabin is seen.


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