The latest move comes amid uncomfortable border tensions between India and China. This year has seen clashes over the Line of Actual Control, or LAC – the mountainous boundary between the two countries.

Many soldiers were killed in June this year after a deadly hand-to-hand conflict.

Now, as winter approaches and temperatures are set to plummet, Indian officials have said arrangements are in place to keep equipment working.

It is thought temperatures in the Eastern Ladakh area can drop to as low as minus 35 degrees in the night, given the area is over 14,500 feet high.

Major General Arvind Kapoor told India Today: “The maintenance of the tanks, infantry combat vehicles and heavy guns is a challenge in this terrain.

“Adequate training with a provision of special winter clothing will ensure troops’ morale remains high and they are ready to function at short notice.”

Soldiers are understood to be equipped for a harsh winter, with insulated clothing and supplies of fuel and spare parts.

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Other areas, such as the Depsang Plains are flatter and generally easier terrain for tanks to work in.

The plains have been a source of tensions between the two sides for years, such as in 2013 when a three-week standoff took place there after the Chinese side set up camp there. However, forces withdrew after weeks of meetings.

Tanks are just one part of the Indian military build-up. Small arms are also a factor.

Troops have been issued with SIG 716 assault rifles to replace older models.

New Delhi ordered over 70,000 of the rifles this year from the US as part of a rapid procurement programme.

Reports of India’s military activity in the region come after weeks of diplomatic talks between the two sides.

India’s foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi agreed in September “the current situation in the border area is not in the interests of both sides”.

The two officials met in Moscow, and again at the end of September to agree to “sincerely implement” a five-step plan of action to ease tensions.

The two officials added “border troops of both sides should continue their dialogue, quickly disengage, maintain proper distance and ease tensions.”

They also agreed both India and China would follow existing agreements between the two sides regarding the boundary between them.

Early last month, both sides accused one another of firing guns near the LAC.

If true, that would be a breach of protocol and the first time a weapon had been fired in the area in nearly 50 years.



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