China has ramped up its defences at the Indian border by deploying robotic weapons platforms armed with machine guns. The automated units are intended to cover blind spots in China’s perimeter as troops struggle to handle the altitude and terrain of the Tibetan region claimed by both countries.
Fox News reports that China has deployed unmanned ground vehicles (UGV) to the region in an effort to bolster its position along the border. According to the report, China’s People's Liberation Army acquired the UGVs in 2014 but has largely neglected their use until now.
Presently, the Chinese military utilizes two different types of UGVs, the Sharp Claw and the Mule-200. The Sharp Claw can be operated remotely in addition to performing autonomous behaviour, according to National Interest. The Mule-200 can perform unmanned deliveries or operate firearms, including mounted guns.
India’s WION News reports that at least 400 of the robotic weapons platforms have been deployed along the border.
The region that is seeing the highest rates of deployment of the robotic weapons platforms is described as arid, remote, and completely inhospitable. It serves as access for few commercial routes across the desert.
“Intelligence reports suggest the Chinese have built at least 10 new airbases along the LAC in Ladakh, Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh. This is very serious considering the 16-month-old border standoff in eastern Ladakh,” an Indian security official told the outlet.
“It’s a matter of extreme concern the way they have been ramping up their military and air force infrastructure close to the LAC and also inside the occupied zones,” the official added. “It’s apparent that the Chinese are bolstering their positions while talks are underway to resolve the border standoff.”
In addition to the mobile sentry guns, the PLA has also deployed the VP-22 Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected Vehicle (MRAP), which provides transportation for troops across difficult terrain. 70 units have been reportedly deployed to Tibet in the western sector bordering India.
Efforts to develop battlefield robots have continued to pace in spite of warnings from human rights organizations like Amnesty International and Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic condemning the development.
Fox News reports that the Chinese technology company Zhong Tian Zhu Kong Technology Holdings developed the Mule-200, which has a range of roughly 50km and can carry up to 200kg of supplies, including weapons and ammunition.
Chinese national defence company, Norinco, produced the Sharp Claw for short-range reconnaissance and limited and engagements. The units are typically operated by a single pilot who can control the weapons platform using a control unit.
In response to the Chinese weapons platforms, India says it is reviewing its military preparedness along the Chinese frontier by deploying additional troops, artillery, and IFVs to counter the Communist build-up.