Air Defense: Save The New Stuff For The Chinese


February 20, 2010: India, alarmed at Chinese claims on its northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, will deploy six of the first eight squadrons of its new Akash air defense system there. Akash is Indian designed, developed and manufactured, and is modeled on the older, but successful, Russian SA-6 system. Akash is meant to replace some very old Russian air defense systems India is still using. Each 1,543 pound Akash missile has a 132 pound warhead, a range of 27 kilometers and can kill targets as high as 49,000 feet, or as low as 66 feet. Each squadron has eight launchers (each carrying three missiles).

China has increased its diplomatic and military moves on Arunachal Pradesh in the last year. Arunachal Pradesh has long been claimed as part of Tibet. But when Tibet was an independent nation a century ago, it agreed that Arunachal Pradesh was part of India. This is what angers China, as Britain was running India at the time, and was believed to have pressured Tibet to surrender Arunachal Pradesh. Currently, Arunachal Pradesh  has a population of about a million people, spread among 84,000 square kilometers of mountains and valleys. The Himalayan mountains, the tallest in the world, are the northern border of Arunachal Pradesh, and serve as the border, even if currently disputed, with China. This is a really remote part of the world, and neither China nor India want to go to war over the place. But the two countries did fight a short war, up in these mountains, in 1962. The Indians lost, and are determined not to lose if there is a rematch.

China has built up its military forces on its side of the border, and India only began to play catch-up when China went public with claims on Arunachal Pradesh.

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