Photos of tanks and armored vehicles in the Himalayas show that China and India's next border showdown could be much deadlierhttps://news.yahoo.com/photos-tanks-armored-vehicles-himalayas-124949736.html
India and China have both invested in their armored forces since the 1962 war on their disputed border in the Himalayas.
The armor that both sides fielded during another recent period of heightened tension on that border show that a future war could be more destructive.
Two months ago, the Indian and Chinese militaries pulled back their forces stationed around Pangong Lake, on their disputed border in the western Himalaya mountains.
The pullback, described as a "disengagement" by India's Defense Ministry, was meant to be a first step to ease tensions on the disputed border - swaths of which have been heavily militarized since 20 Indian and at least four Chinese soldiers died in a medieval-style brawl in the nearby Galwan River Valley almost a year ago.
The Indian Army released photos, videos, and aerial images of the pullback, showing Chinese troops dismantling bunkers, removing tents, and evacuating the area.
The most interesting images, though, were the ones that showed the large number of tanks and armored vehicles. Indian media reported that China alone withdrew 200 tanks from the area.
The sheer sizes of the armored forces indicates that both sides were quite serious about their military buildups, and that the next violent incident on the border could escalate into something far more deadly.
In general, large-scale armor deployments in mountainous and high-altitude regions are rare, especially in the Himalayas.
The low air pressure, freezing conditions, and rough terrain make operating and maintaining such vehicles difficult and often lead to losses from wear and tear or mechanical failure.
Tanks and armored vehicles have to be restarted for up to 30 minutes every two or three hours to prevent them from freezing, according to one retired Indian general.
That operational challenge is believed to have been a significant factor in both countries' decisions to pull back their armor from Pangong Tso.
"These operational issues simply cannot be ignored either by Beijing or Delhi for a variety of operational reasons that are common to both forces," a high-ranking Indian Army officer told The Wire.
That is also the reason armor - and aircraft, for that matter - played a very limited role in the month-long war India and China fought in the region in 1962. During that war, India airlifted six AMX-13 light tanks to an area just south of Pangong Tso, but the feat was extremely difficult, and there were no large-scale tank battles.
The 1962 war itself was an embarrassment for India, which had over 8,000 soldiers killed, wounded, captured, or missing and lost the territory Aksai Chin to China. China lost 722 soldiers killed and 1,697 wounded.
Both India and China set about building up their militaries after the 1962 war.
Today, India's tank force is made up primarily of three models. Two of them, the T-72 "Ajeya" and T-90 "Bhishma" main battle tanks (MBTs), are built in India using Russian designs. The third, the Arjun, is of Indian design.
The Russian tanks, designed to operate in the cold, make up most of India's fleet of about 4,000 tanks. The Arjun has had a troubled rollout, and only 124 are in service.