Open source satellite imagery suggests China is developing two new air defense positions that cover sensitive stretches of the disputed border in the Doklam and Sikkim sectors, including an area where Indian and Chinese troops had clashed in May.
This imagery was shared by the open-source intelligence analyst who uses the name @detresfa on Twitter. The image contained what appear to be two sites at which the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is developing surface-to-air missile facilities. Both these sites are near what has been described as “suspected early warning radar sites” opposite Sikkim state.
In a graphic posted on Twitter, @detresfa said the new missile facilities were apparently part of China’s “ongoing upgrades and expansion of air defense assets along its border with India”.
Experts said the location of missile air defence facilities close to radar installations would help the Chinese side to pick out possible targets with greater accuracy.
The two surface-to-air missile sites would “close the existing air defence gap around the earlier clash zones” for the Chinese, Source Said.
The Indian side has been “noted running regular intelligence and reconnaissance missions in this sector” during the current standoff with various platforms such as the Boeing P-8 Poseidon surveillance aircraft, @detresfa added. According to the graphic posted on Twitter, one missile site is located at the tri-junction of the borders of India, Bhutan, and China, while the other is located in Chinese territory opposite Sikkim.
The new missile facilities are located roughly 50 km away from Doka La (Doka pass), close to the Doklam plateau that was the scene of a 73-day military standoff between India and China in 2017, and Naku La (Naku pass), where troops from the two countries had clashed on May 9.
New intelligence suggests that #China could soon have its aircraft carriers permanently based in the #SouthChinaSea, this critical update by @CovertShores comes during the peak militarization of the region. MUST READ !! https://t.co/za99uWcR34— d-atis☠️ (@detresfa_) August 26, 2020
Four Indian and seven Chinese soldiers were injured in this clash, the second such reported incident since the current standoff began in early May. However, there was no immediate reaction from Indian officials to the reported development of missile sites by the Chinese.