China flexing muscles, govt clears Brahmos for Arunachal

Pressing ahead with the second phase of military expansion along the China front, the government has given the go-ahead to deployment of Brahmos cruise missiles in Arunachal Pradesh. This will be India's first offensive tactical missile deployment against China, sources said.

The three Brahmos missile regiments raised so far have been deployed in the western sector to counter the Pakistan threat. This will be the fourth regiment.

With a range of 290 km, these cruise missiles are being deployed to improve India's military reach into the Tibet Autonomous Region and counter China's elaborate missile deployment along the Sino-Indian border.

This, sources said, dovetails with India's second expansion plan but is being fast-tracked because of urgency shown by the armed forces.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has also cleared the five-year expansion plan for which he had given the green signal earlier. The plan involves fresh accretion of 89,000 troops, with 400 officers.

This is estimated to cost over Rs 65,000 crore, making it one of India's biggest one-time military expansion effort. The proposal is now with the Finance Ministry, and will be put up before the Cabinet Committee on Security.

Linked to this, the CCS has decided to focus on security of Indian islands with the larger view of securing maritime routes criss-crossing the Indian Ocean.

Two Army brigades are also being lined up for the Andamans while a battalion-strength presence is being considered for Lakshadweep alongside the Navy. Air Force assets are also being increased in these island territories, the sources said.

The second Army expansion on the China border will include setting up a corps headquarter in Panagarh, West Bengal, along with two more divisions. An independent armoured brigade along with an artillery division will be part of the set-up.

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