Two super high altitude firing ranges were made available to the armed forces for the practice of various kinds of weapons and surveillance equipment in Arunachal Pradesh within an aerial distance of 50 kilometres from the highly sensitive Line of Actual Control, sources said.
The initiative to hand over the land of the Mandala and Kamrala firing ranges, located at an altitude of above 10,000 feet, to the armed forces was taken by Chief Minister Pema Khandu.
While the first of the integrated surveillance and firepower training exercises named 'Buland Bharat' has already been conducted at Mandala in May, a major firing exercise is yet to be conducted at the Kamrala firing range, security sources told PTI.
Both the super high altitude firing ranges are located within 50 km aerial distance of the LAC.
Arunachal Pradesh shares a 1,129-km-long LAC with China's Tibet Autonomous Region.
A top security officer deployed in the region said both the firing ranges in Arunachal Pradesh were made available to the armed forces at the personal initiative of Chief Minister Khandu.
When contacted, Khandu told PTI: "National interests come first. We have decided to hand over the land for the two firing ranges taking into account the need of the armed forces." Yangste, where PLA troops intruded on December 9 last year, comes under the chief minister's own assembly constituency Mukto in Tawang district.
After the PLA troops had entered Yangste, they clashed with the Indian Army, resulting in injuries to soldiers on both sides.
The sources said the two firing ranges will be highly advantageous for the armed forces as troops deployed in high-altitude strategic locations in Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh can test their firepower and get acclimatised.
During the 'Buland Bharat' exercise, the armed forces carried out an integrated surveillance and firepower training exercise to test "simulated war conditions in high altitude areas".
The exercise involved the synergised application of surveillance and firepower capabilities of the infantry and artillery radars and weapon systems. Firing from the air was also practised.
It was done in close coordination with the special forces, aviation and Central Armed Police Forces deployed in the Kameng and Tawang sectors in Arunachal Pradesh, the sources said.
At Mandala, the Army used 155 mm Bofors howitzers, 105 mm field guns and 120 mm mortars among other heavy weapon systems.
Dhanush and Sharang guns, Pinaka and Smerch multi-launch rocket systems, new M-777 ultra-light howitzers and the winterised K-9 Vajra self-propelled tracked guns were also used during the exercise, the sources said.
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