War is inevitable in South Asia. Pakistan has no choice but to fight. Bharati (aka Indian) intransigence and insistence on war mongering will inevitably lead to war which surely will escalate to a nuclear exchange. Bharati insistence on punitive sanctions on Pakistan and a host of boycotts is not reverberating with Washington or London. While both capitals are empathetic to towards Delhi, both capitals are unwilling and unable to take action against Islamabad. Bharat’s military strategy banks on archaic and pre-1998 philosophy does not take into account the new realities in South Asia.
Pakistan Army is equally strong in armor, capable of giving a fitting response to any Indian military adventure. Main Battle tanks Al-Khalid and Al-Zarrar are the backbone of Pakistan’s armor Corp’s. Both are Pakistan made. Pakistan’s tank armory comprises :five hundred Al-Khalid MBT’s; 320 Al-Zarrar type 85 II MBT’s, 500 Al-Zarrar MBT’s; 450 79II AP (Chinese type 81 upgrade, and 570 T-80 UD MBT of Ukranian make. In addition Pakistan has 880 Type 59, which were procured from China in 1970.This makes a total of three thousand six hundred and twenty tanks. All Pakistani MBT’s except T-59’s have 125 mm smooth barrel guns. Indian armor offensives in Kashmir, Punjab, and Sindh would be effectively challenged by Pakistani armor and mechanized formations, depending on PAF’s ability to keep the skies over the battle areas clear of Indian Air Force. Pakistan Observer. Air Marshal Ayaz A Khan (R)
Bharat has superiority in numbers in aircraft and men. However, there are huge issues with the aircraft. Bharat’s Flying Coffins make up the bulk of the air force and these are unreliable. In a pre-1998 conflict Bharat would utilize planes to bomb targets. The IAF would then wait for the PAF and then engage it on Pakistani soil and in Bharati air. The would send waves of air craft to disable the PAF. The strategy would be to gain superiority in the air and then take out any army that is advancing towards Bharat to engage the advancing Bharati army.
Air power is likely to play a key, if not a decisive role in any future major or minor India-Pakistan armed conflict. The aim of Indian pre-emptive strikes will be maximum destruction by surprise air attacks, combined with shock commando action. A possibe scenario is; intensive bombing of the target to be followed by attacks by armed helicopters and ground assault by heliborne Commandoes. An overview of Indian Air Force and Pakistan Air Force will help comprehension of IAF’s offensive capabilities, and defensive capabilities of Pakistan Air Force. Indian Air Force has 3000 aircraft including training, transport, helicopters and 800-1000 combat air craft, which operate from sixty air bases, including Farkhor airbase in Tajikistan.. Six hundred IAF’s strike and air defense fighters are expected to be operational. Pakistan Air Force has 630 aircraft, which include 530 combat aircraft, with 400 operational at any time. In 1996 India signed an agreement with Russia for the purchase of 90 Su 30 Mk-1 multi-role fighter-bombers. In 2004 a multi-billion licence was signed for building additional 140. 240 Su30-Mk-1’s were ordered, 120 are already in service. With a maximum speed of Mach 2.3 and range of 8000 Km with refueling and ability to carry tons of conventional munitions and nuclear weapons, it is a lethal and menacing weapon system for the strike and interception role. Other IAF’s advanced strike and combat aircraft are: 51 Mirage-2000 (of Kargil fame), 60 Mig-29’s (for air defense), 250 old Mig-21’s (110 have been refurbished with Israeli help), 47 Jaguars and 70 Mig-27’s for ground attack. 220 LCA Teja’s under manufacture at HAL Bangalore will start entering service in 2010… IAF’s fighter pilots are well trained and have out shone American pilots during joint exercises. Pakistan Observer. Air Marshal Ayaz A Khan (R)
This conventional wisdom has been made obsolete by three factor:
1) Pakistan has a very large of potent arsenal of short, medium, long range and cruise missiles.
2) Pakistan has more than 150,000 reserve soldiers that are trained to go deep into Bharati territory and cause mayhem and chaos in Bharat.
3) Pakistan has a very large inventory of Nuclear Bombs which will surprise many experts.
The Conventional wisdom dictates that Pakistan will respond with planes. This may not be what will actually happen. Pakistan may simply respond to Bharati attacks with missile attacks on Bharati bases of Udhampur (near Jammu) Leh, Srinagar, Udhampur, Jammu, and Pathankot (total 96 aircraft). Oher targets for Pakistan Hataf 3 and Hataf 4 missiles are the Bharti bases in the Punjab at Amritsar, Adampur 17, Halvara, Chandigarh, Ambala, Bathinda, Sirsa and Suratgarh (Total 332 Aircraft).
Indian Army has eighteen Corps with 34 Divisions including four Rapid Action Divisions, which would spear head ground offensives. Pakistan Army has ten Corps and twenty five divisions. Indian Army has eighteen Infantry, ten Mountain, three Armored, and two Artillery Divisions. Besides it has five Infantry, one parachute, thirteen Air Defense, and four Engineering Brigades, designated as independent formations. In addition there are two Air Defense Groups, and fourteen Army Aviation Helicopter units. This is a sizeable force, capable of launching major offensives from several fronts. The decentralized command structure will be an advantage, as compared to Pakistan’s centralized Army command organization. Pakistan Army has an active force of 620,000 well trained personnel, with 528000 reservists, and 150000 para-military troops. Pakistan armed forces are seventh largest in the world. Pakistan Army’s doctrine of “Offensive Defense”, evolved by General Mirza Aslam Beg was put to test in 1989 in Exercise Zarb-e Momin. The doctrine is to launch a sizeable offensive into enemy territory, rather than wait for enemy strikes or attacks. In case of Indian land offensive Pakistan Army and Air Force will respond with land and air offensives to gain and hold enemy territory. Before embarking on further offensive, gains shall be consolidated. In 1990 the Central Corps of Reserves was created to fight in the desert sectors , where enemy land offensives are expected. These dual capable formations trained for offensive and holding actions are fully mechanized. Pakistan Observer. Air Marshal Ayaz A Khan (R)
The Shaheens may also land on Rajasthan and Maharshtra. where the Bharti Its fighting units are based at Bikaner, Jaisalmer, Agra, Jodhpur, Uttarlai, Jamnagar and Pune (total 263 aircraft). The Shaheen can also reach Bharat’s two Squadrons of Mirage 2000H at Gwalior which could be a threat to Pakistan (36 aircraft). Within minutes of the strikes against Pakistan 753 of Bhaarti combat aircraft, almost the entire IAF would be in jeopardy.
Pakistan Air Force has 200 rebuilt Mirage- 3’s ( for night air defense) and Mirage-5’s for the strike role. They can carry nuclear weapons. They have been upgraded with new weapon systems, radars, and avionics. Additionally the PAF has 42 F-16’s, 150 F-7’s including 55 latest F-7 PG’s. Manufacture of 150 JF 17 Thunder fighters (jointly designed) is underway at Pakistan Aeronautical Complex Kamra. The JF -17 Thunder is a 4th generation fly by wire multi-role fighter aircraft. Eight are already in PAF service. An order has been placed with China for the purchase of 36 JF-10, a Mach 2.3 -5th generation multi-role fighter, comparable in performance to the Su-30 Mk-1 with the Indian Air Force. PAF is on Red Alert, and is maintaining full vigil to intercept and destroy IAF intruders. During the recent air space violation, the IAF intruders were in the sights of PAF’s F-16’s, but were allowed to escape unscathed to avoid a major diplomatic crisis. PAF pilots and technicians are well trained, high professionals, who will be able to prove their mettle in the future battle with India. A comparison of Indian Navy and Pakistan Navy reveals that Pakistan Navy could inflict substantial damage to the Indian Navy. Indian Navy has 16 submarines; Pakistan Navy has ten, some are brand new. Indian Navy has 27 war ships, Pakistan Navy has ten. Indian Aircraft Carrier Veerat, will be a menace, and must be sunk by submarine or air attacks, if it attempts to block Pakistan’s sea lanes or ports. Air Marshal Ayaz A Khan (R). Pakistan Observer
Pakistan can also take out the Bharti tanks and infantry of the following Bharti corps:
- XI Corps at Jullunder,
- 7th Infantry Division (Ferozepur)
- 9th Infantry Division (Chandimandir)
- 15th Infantry Division (Amritsar)
- 23rd Armoured Brigade
- 55th Mechanised Brigade
- two Strike Corps being two Corps and X Corps at Ambala and Bhatinda, respectively.
- The 2 Corps has 1st Armoured Division, 14th RAPID Division, 22nd Infantry Division and 14th Independent Armoured Brigade while X Corps has the 18th and 24th RAPID Divisions, 16th Infantry Division and 6th Independent Armoured Brigade.
The Pakistani machine is built on missile defense..
Pakistan Army has ten Corps including the newly formed Strategic Corps. The Army has twenty six divisions (eight less than India). Two more divisions were raised as Corps reserves for V and XXXI Corps. Pakistan Army has two armored divisions, and ten independent armored brigades. Presently one hundred thousand troops are stationed on the Pak Afghan border to fight terror. Special Service Group-SSG comprises two airborne Brigades i.e. six battalions. Pakistan Army has 360 helicopters, over two thousand heavy guns, and 3000 APC’s. Its main anti-tank weapons are Tow, Tow Mk II, Bakter Shiken and FGM 148 ATGM. The Army Air Defence Command has S.A- 7 Grail, General Dynamics FIM-92 Stinger, GD FIM Red Eye, and ANZA Mk-I, Mk-II, Mk-III and HQ 2 B surface ti air missiles. Radar controlled Oerlikon is the standard Ack Ack weapon system. The ballistic missile inventory of the Army is substantial. It comprises Ghauri III and Shaheen III IRB’S; medium range Ghauri I and II and Shaheen II, and short range Hatf I- B, Abdali, Ghaznavi, Shaheen I and M -11 missiles. All the ballistic missiles can carry nuclear war heads. Nuclear and conventional weapon capable Babur Cruise missile is the new addition to Pakistan’s strategic weapon inventory. Number of ballistic missiles and war heads are almost the same as India has. So there is a parity in nuclear weapons, which is a deterrent. Pakistan Observer.Air Marshal Ayaz A Khan (R)
Pakistani missiles can also reach:
- A new naval base that has been built between Mumbai and Cochin at Binaga Bay
- An advance base at Dwarka.
- and the Navy’s Missile Boat HQ is at Colaba.
Indian armor is of Russian origin. Out of 2295 Indian Army’s Main Battle tanks, 2235 are of Russian origin. The main battle tanks are; 310 T-90-S Bishsma’s (300 are on order), 1925 T-72M Ajeya’s.. The T-90 and the T-72 have 125 mm smooth barrel guns. T-72 though old is the backbone of Indian Armor Corp’s. 268 Ajeya’s have been upgraded with Israeli Elbit thermal imaging systems. 1000 T-72 MBT’s are awaiting up-gradation. There have been several instances of T-72’s gun barrel bursting. 124 Indian made Arjun (heavy 56 ton) MBT are on order. Sixty Arjun’s are in operational service. Arjun’s engine overheating problem has not been solved. Arjun has a 120 mm gun, but is unfit or desert operations. Pakistan Observer. Air Marshal Ayaz A Khan (R)
Bharati brinkmanship banks on the fact that Pakistan will not use Nuclear weapons and destroy 250 Bharati cities ending life for South Asia. This calculation may be misplaced. Pakistan under attack will use Nuclear weapons.
One must look at the India’s possible deployment vis-à-vis Pakistan, based mostly on the Indians’ Order of Battle (ORBAT) during the 2002 crisis. The Indian Army has five Commands. The Northern Command at Udhampur near Jammu looks after Kashmir, the Western Command, at Chandimandir, looks after Punjab and Rajasthan with the borderline at Bikaner, the Southern Command at Poona looks after Gujarat and Maharashtra, the Central Command at Lucknow has a Strike Corps, including the 31st Armoured Division meant for the western border and the Eastern Command at Calcutta looks after Counter-Insurgency in Assam and the NEFA border with China. The Pakistani Armed Forces essentially face India’s Northern, Western and Southern Commands. India has troops earmarked against Pakistan as Army Reserve in both the Central and Eastern Commands.
The Northern Command consists of three Corps: XV Corps at Srinagar comprising the 19th Infantry Division (at Baramula) and the 28th (Gurais). XIV Corps at Leh comprising 3rd Infantry Division (Leh) and 8th Mountain Division (Nimer). XVI Corps at Nagrota (Jammu) is a Corps plus with five Infantry Divisions, the 10th (Akhnur), the 25th (Rajauri), the 26th (Jammu), the 29th (Pathankot) and the 39th (Yol). It also has three Independent Armoured Brigades, the 2nd, the 3rd and the 16th. There is an Artillery Brigade with each Corps. The 39th Infantry Division and the three Armoured Brigades are engaged in Counter-Insurgency duties and form the Command Reserve. The other Divisions are all deployed at the Line of Control (LoC).
The Western Command consists of three Corps, XI Corps at Jullunder, deploying 7th Infantry Division (Ferozepur), 9th Infantry Division (Chandimandir) and 15th Infantry Division (Amritsar), 23rd Armoured Brigade and 55th Mechanised Brigade, the two Strike Corps being two Corps and X Corps at Ambala and Bhatinda, respectively. The 2 Corps has 1st Armoured Division, 14th RAPID Division, 22nd Infantry Division and 14th Independent Armoured Brigade while X Corps has the 18th and 24th RAPID Divisions, 16th Infantry Division and 6th Independent Armoured Brigade.
The Southern Command consists of the XII Corps (Jodhpur) with 11th and 12th Infantry Divisions deployed at Ahmedabad and Jodhpur and the XXI Strike Corps (Bhopal) with 33rd Armoured, 36th RAPID and 54th Infantry Division. There are three Direct Reporting Units, 30th Artillery Division, which usually moves to Western Command. The 50th Independent Parachute Brigade and 333rd Missile Groups (India’s nuclear artillery unit having Prithvi missiles) are meant to be deployed from the Southern Command Area to Punjab and Rajasthan. During the 2002 crisis some formations moved from the Eastern Command to areas facing Pakistan, 57 Mountain Division, 2nd Mountain Division and 27 Mountain Division.
The Indian Aerospace Forces (IAF) consists of five operational commands, Western Air Command (New Delhi) controlling air operations from Kashmir to North of Rajasthan, Southwestern Air Command located at Gandhinagar controlling air operations from Rajasthan to Maharashtra, Central Air Command at Allahabad, Eastern Air Command at Shillong and Southern Air Command at Trivandrum. Pakistan is primarily concerned with Western Air Command and Southwestern Command, with 8air deployments from the other Commands.
Western Air Command has an Air Operation Group at Udhampur (near Jammu) dedicated to occupied Jammu & Kashmir. Its fighting units are based at Leh, Srinagar, Udhampur, Jammu, and Pathankot (total 96 aircraft). In Punjab its bases are at Amritsar, Adampur 17, Halvara, Chandigarh, Ambala, Bathinda, Sirsa and Suratgarh (Total 332 Aircraft).
Southwestern Air Command was previously under operational control of Western Command, it now controls air operations in Rajasthan and Maharshtra. Its fighting units are based at Bikaner, Jaisalmer, Agra, Jodhpur, Uttarlai, Jamnagar and Pune (total 263 aircraft). To back these Central Air Command has two Squadrons of Mirage 2000H at Gwalior which can be switched to the other Commands facing Pakistan (36 aircraft). Total deployment against Pakistan in 2002 was in excess of 753 combat aircraft, almost the whole of the IAF.
India’s Navy has three Naval Commands. Western Naval Command at Mumbai provides naval defence of the Arabian Sea. A new naval base has come up between Mumbai and Cochin at Binaga Bay, with an advance base at Dwarka. The Navy’s Missile Boat HQ is at Colaba. Eastern Naval Command, is based at Vizagaptam with a submarine base, it provides naval defence of the Bay of Bengal. The Southern Naval Command at Kochi is mainly a training base. Both the Western and Eastern Naval Commands will be involved in operations against Pakistan. Their surface fleet consists of one aircraft-carrier, 7 guided-missile destroyers, 7 guided-missile frigates, 3 frigates, 4 corvettes, 10 large patrol craft, 5 fast patrol boats, 3 fast-attack missile boats and 18 minesweepers. They have 1 nuclear-powered submarine and 13 diesel-powered submarines in service (1 Foxtrot Class, 9 Sindhughosh Class and 3 Shashikumar Class). India’s Naval Air Arm with HQs at Goa consists of a squadron of Jaguars and Sea Harriers each, other than 6 Sea-Kings and 20 Cheetak helicopters. The Jaguar squadron (at Poona) is operated by the IAF.
The Indian Navy, which focuses on anti-ship capabilities with an emphasis on attack submarines, has the capacity to support a multi-service heliborne-cum-para-cum amphibious operation, provided it has adequate air cover. This amphibious capability is built around 304th Army Independent Brigade at Vizagapatam. Their Marine Commando Force (Marcos for short) is based at Mumbai, Cochin and Vizagapatam. The Indian Navy has a heavy lift capacity with 2 new 5,600-ton Magar Class Landing Vessels with 4 Landing Craft Vehicles and Personnel (LCVP). Four Polnochny-class vessels have helicopter platforms. They also have 7 locally built 500-ton Landing Craft Utility (LCU). They also have 11 Cosmos midget submarines of Italian origin that can ride the back of Foxtrot-class submarines.
The Indians can deploy four Strike Corps against Pakistan, one each against the Southern part of Azad Kashmir, Central Punjab, Southern Punjab and one against Sindh. They have the necessary balance to focus their attack in a combination of two or even three corps but time and space dictate they cannot move more than one strike corps on any axis and they have to cater for our counter-offensive. Since no ground offensive is possible in the desert without heavy air cover, their air deployment in 2002 suggested that the focus of their strike corps could well be in the south (Western and Southern Commands). One should expect a combined heliborne, para and/or amphibious operation. Both the Indian Strike Corps, 2 Corps from Western Command at Jaisalmer and 21 Corps at Barmer from Southern Command could be reinforced with additional Divisions from Eastern Command (moving through Jodhpur) and have integral Helicopter Attack Squadrons, Engineer, Artillery and Air Defence Brigades. The deployment of the Army’s Direct Reporting Unit, 30th Artillery Division will give the fulcrum of the lines of attack. Jodhpur in 2002 had a concentration of heavy lift MI-8/M-17 helicopters, supplemented by AN-32s at Agra, Gwalior and Chandigarh. Agra is the peace station for another Direct Reporting Unit, the 50th Independent Parachute Brigade.
With all 3 Armoured Divisions and all 4 RAPID Divisions and at least 2 out of 5 Independent Armoured Brigades concentrated in Rajasthan, the resource allocation makes their offensive targets obvious, along the Jaisalmer-Rahimyar Khan axis or along the Barmer-Mirpurkhas axis, most probably both. They could also possibly attempt helicopter troop transportation/amphibious LST and launch XXI Strike Corps for a link-up. They practiced this in 2002. The area between Badin and Sujawal east of the Indus thus becomes vulnerable. Given Pakistan’s counter-riposte potential this could end up being “a bridge too far.” The Indian Navy cannot blockade Karachi Port with the same impunity they did in 1971, our Exocet-armed Mirages and enhanced submarine fleet will keep them well off-shore, even outside our 200 miles territorial limit. Our Navy would love to get the Indian aircraft-carrier within combat aircraft range.
In 2002 Indians moved Directly Reporting Unit 333rd Missile Group consisting of 3 Prithvi Batteries with 4 launchers each to the border areas. Their two Strike Corps in the Rajasthan Desert (2 and XXI) provide a better target for a possible Pakistan tactical nuclear strike. If at anytime our conventional forces lose ground threatening our North-South communications, we will use the weapons at our disposal.
Pakistan has no desire for war but it may be forced on us. We will certainly have grievous casualties and horrific damage in a conventional war even without a nuclear exchange. Unfortunately, we have no option but to fight.
The writer is a defence and political analyst. Email: email@example.com. India’s possible war deployment, Thursday, January 15, 2009 Ikram Sehgal