Military Balance in South Asia
By Air Marshall (Retd) Ayaz Khan of Pakistan Air Force
Unfortunately India and Pakistan had adversarial relations since sixty years. After the Mumbai carnage Pakistan is under threat of pre-emptive strikes. The Fourth Indo-Pakistan war could be triggered by another terrorist attack anywhere in India. This is a dangerous scenario.
India and Pakistan have fought three wars, and war drums for the fourth war are getting louder. It is in order therefore to comprehend Indian military capabilities, and Pakistan’s ability to defend itself.
Defense capability is an interplay of economic and military potential. Indian economy is booming and its GDP growth is in double digits. The global recession has impacted Indian economy, but its defense capability remains intact. Military power and capabilities are sustained by economic and industrial potential. Geography, demography, population, oil resources and reserves, industrial capability including defense production, dollar reserves, self-reliance, education, quality of manpower and leadership have a bearing on military power. Seven lakh Indian troops are tied down in Jammu and Kashmir. India has over one hundred billion dollar reserves. The West, Israel and Russia are India’s weapon suppliers.
Pakistan is an emerging democracy, which will take time to stabilize. Pakistan’s economy is in a poor state, and the industrial and agricultural sectors are badly affected by power outages. The seventeen billion dollar reserves left by Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz have depleted to four billion and the PPP government has asked the IMF for a bailout. Pakistan has a robust defense industrial infrastructure, which has made the country self-sufficient in small and heavy arms. Pakistan is geographically linear, with north to south communications-roads and railways close to the international border, and at striking distance of the Indian Army. Pakistan’s lack of depth makes it vulnerable to thrusts by Indian armor and Rapid Action Divisions on narrow corridors.
The above Indian attributes are of advantage for a prolonged war, but for short battles, and pre-emptive strikes, and response, ready military capabilities, i.e. preparedness, deployment of forces, POL and weapon reserves, quality of fighting personnel, morale and motivation, and bold civil and military leadership are important requisites.
The 2.5 million Indian Army comprises 1,300,000 personnel in active service, 1,200,000 reserve troops, and 200,000 territorial force. The mission of the Indian military is: (1) "Safeguard national sovereignty, territorial integrity and unity of India, (2) Assist government agencies to cope with proxy wars, and internal threats and aid to civil power. The structure and strength of Indian armed forces do provide such a capability.The Indian Army and the Indian Air Force are structured into six commands, viz. Northern, Western, South Western, Central, Eastern and Southern Command. Eighty percent of troops and armor are under the Northern, Western and South Western Commands, i.e. in Jammu and Kashmir, and along Pakistan’s border. Indian Strike Corps are exercised for attacks in corridors from Southern Punjab, and Rajasthan and Thar deserts. The Indian Army has eighteen Corps with 34 Divisions including four Rapid Action Divisions, which would spearhead ground offensives.
The 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 sizable 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.
The Pakistan Army has an active force of 620,000 well-trained personnel, with 528000 reservists, and 150000 para-military troops. Pakistan armed forces are the 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 an 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.
The 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. The 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. The 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 Defense 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 warheads. Nuclear and conventional weapon capable Babur Cruise missile is the new addition to Pakistan’s strategic weapon inventory. The number of ballistic missiles and warheads are almost the same as those of India. So there is a parity in nuclear weapons, which is a deterrent.
The 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 Arjuns are in operational service. Arjun’s engine overheating problem has not been solved. Arjun has a 120 mm gun, but is unfit for desert operations.
The 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 armor Corps. 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 MBTs except T-59s 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. India’s modern air defense system has Israeli Arrow anti-missile missiles, and 90,000 surface to air missiles -SAMs.
India has one hundred nuclear armed ballistic missiles (Agni-1 and Agni II), and Brahmos the new supersonic cruise missile. The Indian Army is well trained, equipped and highly professional, and so is the Pakistan 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 the maximum destruction by surprise air attacks, combined with shock commando action. A possible scenario is intensive bombing of the target to be followed by attacks by armed helicopters and ground assault by heliborne commandos.
An overview of Indian Air Force and Pakistan Air Force will help comprehension of IAF’s offensive capabilities, and the defensive capabilities of Pakistan Air Force. Indian Air Force has 3000 aircraft including training, transport, helicopters and 800-1000 combat aircraft, which operate from sixty air bases, including the 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 license 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 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 the 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 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 on the Indian Navy. The 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.
It is hoped that better sense would prevail and India would desists from attacking Pakistan. If it does, the consequences will be horrible for both the countries.
Source: Pakistan Link
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