The UAV is about 20 km from Indian border inside Doklam.
New Delhi: The Indian military’s Heron Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) went missing about two weeks ago and over an area, about 20 km from the Indian border inside Doklam, the site of the 73-day-long standoff between the Indian and Chinese armies, this newspaper has learnt.
Confirming that the incident site is indeed inside Doklam, a Chinese state-owned media report also confirmed the same on Saturday saying, “The intrusion took place at the same location where a standoff broke off not too long ago between the Chinese and Indian militaries. In a time and at a location so sensitive, both sides should have avoided acting in ways that the other might perceive as provocative to prevent new frictions arising. But India clearly did not behave itself”.
Even as it warned India of ‘far worse consequences’ if found that the drone had indeed entered Chinese airspace with ‘hostile intentions’, the scathing report added: “It (India) needs to apologize to China and promise no such incident will ever happen again”.
Sources have told this newspaper that the Indian military’s Israeli-made drone had been missing for about two weeks before the Chinese official protest was lodged on Thursday even as Indian authorities activated internal systems to deal with the eventuality and mounted quiet efforts to retrieve the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle which is believed to be in ‘decent shape’.
It is felt that the effort to hush up the matter and not owning responsibility for the missing UAV for about two weeks has backfired with China going on the offensive and demanding an explanation for what it terms as an ‘intrusion’.
Indian Army’s spokesperson Colonel Aman Anand had said on Thursday that the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle which was on a regular training mission inside the Indian territory lost contact with the ground control due to some technical problem and crossed over the LAC in the Sikkim Sector.
While the sources refused to rule out the impossibility of valuable data being extricated from the Heron
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle although it records and streams data real-time, some technical knowledge could ‘definitely’ be gleaned from the crashed vehicle.
The drone incident assumes significance in the backdrop of the 73-day-long standoff at Doklam plateau, a swath of rugged terrain at about 10,500 feet near the tri-junction separating India’s Sikkim,
China, and Bhutan, that ended on August 28. The latest hardening postures take off before the forthcoming meeting of Russia-India-China (RIC) foreign minister level trilateral meet in Delhi from Monday.