NEW DELHI: Indian forces are gearing up for harsh winter deployment along the border with China amid a 19-month long face-off in Ladakh region.

To ensure that all logistic supports are provided in real time, Indian Air Force and Indian Army carried out a joint airlift exercise, 'Op Hercules' on November 15. It aimed to strengthen the logistics supply in the Northern sector and to augment winter stocking in the operational areas.

"The platforms utilised for the airlift were C-17, IL-76 and An-32 aircraft, which took off from one of the forward bases of Western Air Command," the Indian Army said.

The effort was a real-time demonstration of the inherent heavy lift capability of the Indian Air Force, which has played a major role in ensuring the ability to quickly respond to any contingency during the past, the force said.

Indian troops are deployed at a height of around 17,000 feet along borders and they require high-altitude gear.

The force has to be ready to sustain the enhanced troop deployment in the harsh winter at friction points where temperatures will soon start dipping beyond minus 20 degrees Celsius.

"The temperature and wind chill factor will be a challenge through the winter as it will dip to 40-50 degrees Celsius below zero," said a government official.

Last year, India made an urgent purchase of additional high altitude winter clothing from the US keeping in mind the needs of the enhanced troop deployment in peak winter amid the military tussle with China.

The winter kit given to each soldier consists of a three layered clothing that includes special jackets and trousers with a glacier poncho worn to brave out the wind chill factor. A Goggles, face masks, gloves, snow boots with a thick woollen lining, woollen socks and caps fully covering the head and ears also form the part of the essential gear.

A rucksack with a straw attached to a bottle that keeps the water warm and special sleeping bags are also included in this kit.

The items were purchased under LEMOA, the Logistics Exchange Memorandum Agreement (LEMOA) between India and US that facilitates logistical support, supplies and services between the armed forces of the two countries. These include clothing, food, lubricants, spare parts, medical services among other essentials.

Further to ensure operational efficiency of troops deployed in winters, the Indian Army has completed establishment of habitat facilities for all troops deployed at the forward locations. The living accommodation that will protect the troops from the severe cold and wind chill factor includes fast erectable modular shelters.

Apart from the smart camps with integrated facilities which have been built over the years, additional state of the art habitats with integrated arrangements for electricity, water, heating facilities, health and hygiene have been recently created to accommodate the troops.

Heavy snow cuts off the roads to forward locations making transportation impossible snapping supply lines. To ensure everything is in place, the Indian Air Force is also readying its deployment.