Indian armed forces get 2 super-high-altitude firing ranges in Arunachal Pradesh, 50km by air from LAC

Two super-high-altitude firing ranges were made available to the Indian armed forces for the practice of various kinds of weapons and surveillance equipment in the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, within an aerial distance of 50km from the highly sensitive Line of Actual Control, sources said.

Indian Army jawans at a function held in Mago village, Arunachal Pradesh, in June 2023. Photo courtesy: Instagram/pemakhandu_bpj

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 Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu.

While the first of the integrated surveillance and firepower training exercises named ‘Buland Bharat’ was already conducted at Mandala in May, a major firing exercise was yet to be conducted at the Kamrala firing range, said security sources to the Press Trust of India (PTI).

Arunachal Pradesh shares a 1,129km LAC with the Tibet Autonomous Region. A top security officer deployed in the region said that both the firing ranges in Arunachal Pradesh were made available to the armed forces at the personal initiative of CM Khandu.

When contacted by PTI, Khandu said, “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.”

Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu (centre) with Indian Army personnel at the Chuna border post in Tawang. Photo courtesy: Instagram/pemakhandu_bpj

Yangste, where China’s People’s Liberation Army (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 encroached upon Yangste, they clashed with the Indian Army, resulting in injuries to soldiers on both sides.

The sources said that these two firing ranges would now be highly advantageous for the armed forces, as troops deployed in high-altitude strategic locations in Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh could test their firepower here and get acclimatised.

Bollywood actor Vicky Kaushal, who played an Indian Army officer in the film Uri, with army personnel in Tawang, at 14,000 ft, on a visit in July 2019. Photo courtesy: Instagram/vickykaushal09

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.

This was done in close co-ordination 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 155mm Bofors howitzers, 105mm field guns, and 120mm 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.