India to buy, deploy portable air defense missiles along disputed border with China

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India will buy portable air defense missiles to deploy along the borders with China as militarization in the region gathers speed and hostilities between the two countries enter a third year.

The Defense Acquisition Council –headed by Defense Minister Rajnath Singh – cleared the purchase of the very short-range missiles that can be carried by troops, according to a statement issued late on Tuesday.

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“In view of the recent developments along the Northern borders there is a need to focus on effective Air Defense weapon systems which are man portable and can be deployed quickly in rugged terrain,” the ministry said.

Meant for neutralizing low altitude aerial threats at close range, the missile is designed and developed by Indian research organization DRDO and is similar to US-made FIM-92 Stinger surface-to-surface missiles. Such defense missile systems have proved to be effective in recent conflicts and the Pentagon is providing at least 1,600 Stinger missile systems to Ukraine to fend off Russian air attacks.

Tensions along the Asian nations’ disputed border have simmered since the June 2020 clash – the worst in more than 40 years – left at least 20 Indian and at least four Chinese soldiers dead. That fighting was centered around the Himalayan region of Ladakh, along their 3,488-kilometer (2,170-mile) border known as the Line of Actual Control.

Last month, troops clashed in the northeast Indian border state of Arunachal Pradesh. Military commanders of the South-Asian nations have held 17-rounds to talks to attempt to defuse the border crisis, but progress has been glacial.

The Defense Ministry also cleared the purchase of locally made anti-tank missiles for helicopters and Brahmos anti-ship missiles for its warships. The total cost of the military hardware would cost 42.76 billion rupees ($523 million), but the ministry didn’t disclose the estimated price of each of the three items.

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