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PLA enhancing ISTAR capabilities of border defence troops in Tibet

Chinese state-owned media revealed on 5 March that the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA’s) Tibet Military Command is enhancing the intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR) capabilities of its border defence troops amid heightened tensions between Beijing and New Delhi over a border dispute in the Himalayas.

Video footage released by the China Central Television 7 (CCTV 7) channel shows PLA Ground Force (PLAGF) units using what appear to be two recently delivered sensor systems at the Xiao border post, which is located near the Indian border at an altitude of 4,400 m above sea level.

The CCTV report did not go into explicit detail about the border facility, which is under the command of the Shannan Military Sub-District, but the video shows that the complex houses a number of barracks, watchtowers, and additional sensors.

Janes analysis of satellite imagery of the area indicates that the facility, which has been expanded in recent years, is located in Tibet’s Cona County, Shannan Province, adjacent to the Indian border by the strategic Bum La Pass, which was fought over during the 1962 Sino-Indian War.

The first system, referred to by CCTV as ‘big eye’ and capable of 360° rotations, is a static electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) solution mounted onto a rack.

The second system comprises a manportable EO/IR camera that can be mounted onto a tripod. It is equipped with an optical viewfinder and a laser rangefinder, and has an effective range of 5–8 km, according to CCTV. The system also includes a ruggedised C2 interface, enabling the sensor to also be operated by soldiers on the ground rather than just from the control tower.

The media outlet noted that both systems are capable of round-the-clock remote operations, adding that they can be networked across the area of operations.


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