NEW DELHI: Defence minister Rajnath Singh on Friday briefed his American counterpart Mark Esper on the latest developments in the over two-month troop confrontation with China, which has seen India deploy US-origin weapon systems like Apache attack helicopters and M-777 howitzers in eastern Ladakh.
Though there was no official word on the telephonic talk between the two ministers, sources said bilateral defence ties as well as the regional security situation in face of an aggressive China in the entire Indo-Pacific region featured in the discussion.
Singh told Esper, in the telephonic conversation initiated by the latter, that India was working to resolve the military face-off with China through both diplomatic and military talks.
Earlier in the day, Singh also shared views on “regional developments of shared security interests” with his South Korean counterpart Jeong Kyeong-Doo over the telephone.
As reported by TOI earlier, India has deployed US-origin C-17 Globemaster-III and C-130J Super Hercules, Apache attack and Chinook heavy-lift helicopters, and M-777 ultra-light howitzers during the border tensions with China that erupted in early-May.
The IAF now has 22 Apaches, which are dubbed “tanks in the air” because they are armed with Stinger air-to-air missiles, Hellfire Longbow air-to-ground missiles, guns and rockets, under the Rs 13,952 crore deal inked with the US in September 2015.
Similarly, IAF has also received all the 15 heavy-lift Chinook helicopters, which are capable of transporting howitzers and troops to forward and high-altitude areas with China and Pakistan, under another Rs 8,048 crore deal inked with the US in September 2015.
While the first 17 Apaches were inducted last year, the remaining five had been transported to the IAF airbase in Hindon in April this year, but could not be made operational due to the coronavirus epidemic. With the escalation in tensions with China, Boeing officials specially arrived at Hindon to make the last five also fully-operational for deployment last month