Chief of Army Staff General Manoj Mukund Naravane on Thursday said that the easy availability of drones had made security challenges more complex, adding that India was preparing to counter the threats, PTI report.

The Army chief said “state and non-state actors” will increasingly use drones in all sorts of combat, the Hindustan Times reported. “We will have to factor it in our future planning,” he added. He said that building drones was like a “DIY [do it yourself] project that could be tackled at home”.

Naravane made the remark while responding to questions about two blasts at an airbase in Jammu on Sunday. The police suspect that drones were used to drop explosive material, but the Indian Air Force has not confirmed this. Two Indian Air Force personnel were injured in the attack.

The Army chief added that troops had been alerted about the evolving threat posed by drones. “We are developing the capability to deal with this threat in both kinetic and non-kinetic realms,” he said, according to the Hindustan Times. “We are focusing on offensive use of drones as well as using counter-drone technology to tackle the threat.”

Naravane said that the Army had a robust “counter-terrorism and counter-infiltration grid” in Jammu and Kashmir, India Today reported. “Our operation to ensure peace and tranquility will continue,” he added. “There will always be elements who will try to sabotage the process of peace and development and we have to cater for that.”

On India-China standoff

Naravane said that the situation along the Line of Actual Control had been normal since Indian and Chinese troops disengaged from Pangong Tso in February, PTI reported.

“Since then both sides have strictly adhered to in the letter and sprit of the disengagement that was agreed upon,” the Army chief added. “We are engaging the Chinese at various levels at the political level, at the diplomatic level and of course at the military level.”

Naravane said that the continuing talks between India and China had helped build trust. “And going ahead, we are sure that we will be able to resolve all the remaining issues,” he added, according to PTI.

Tensions have been brewing between India and China for more than a year now. On June 15 last year, Indian and Chinese troops had clashed in eastern Ladakh. Twenty Indian soldiers were killed in the hand-to-hand combat. While Beijing had acknowledged casualties early, it did not disclose details till February, when it said four of its soldiers had died. This was the deadliest confrontation between the two sides in 45 years.

On February 19 this year, India and China completed the first phase of disengagement process along the Line of Actual Control at the banks of the Pangong Tso in Ladakh. However, friction points remain between both sides in areas like Gogra Heights, Hot Springs and Depsang Plains.