Ukraine War: Time For India To Rethink its Military Doctrine Modeled On Russia's?
India's Russian-equipped and trained military is watching with great concern Russia's losses in the Ukraine war. Moscow has lost 20,000 soldiers, nearly 500 main battle tanks and a large warship so far, according to media reports. Ukraine's use of Turkish drones, US-made anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) Javelins and Ukrainian anti-ship Neptune missiles has taken a heavy toll on the Russian Army and Navy. It is notable that India's Cold Start Doctrine against Pakistan is modeled on the Russian formation known as the “operational maneuver group” (OMG).
|Russian Influence On Indian Military Doctrine. Source: Air University, US Air Force|
Russian Influence on Indian Military Doctrine:
It is well known that the Indian Army relies on Russian tanks, artillery, rockets, and ammunition. The Indian Navy uses Russian ships, submarines and missiles and the Russian Su-30 MKI forms the backbone of the Indian Air Force. Like Russia, the Indian military doctrine is based on deploying large platforms (tanks, artillery, ships and fighter-bombers) with massive firepower. Here's an excerpt of an article by Dr. Vipin Narang, an Indian-American analyst, on the subject:
"In terms of doctrine and strategy, although it may be difficult to trace direct influence and lineage between Russia and India, there are several pieces in India’s conventional and nuclear strategy that at least mirror Russia’s behavior. On the conventional side, the core formation in the quick-strike concept known as “Cold Start” or “proactive strategy options” was modeled on the Russian formation known as the “operational maneuver group” (OMG). The idea was to have a formation that could be rapidly assembled from tank and armored divisions that could break through reinforced defenses—NATO for Russia, and Pakistan’s I and II Corps in the plains and desert sectors for India.
"On the nuclear side, India is currently seized with the same dilemma as the Soviet Union was during the Cold War: both NATO and Pakistan threaten battlefield nuclear weapons against conventional thrusts (India, at least, presumably would be retaliating following a Pakistan-backed provocation). While both states refined their conventional concept of operations, there may have also been corresponding adjustments to their nuclear strategies. It was long believed that, in response to NATO threats to use nuclear weapons first on the battlefield, the Soviet Union had strong preemptive counterforce elements in its strategy to try to at least disarm the United States of its strategic nuclear weapons for damage limitation. It is increasingly evident that at least some serious Indian officials are interested in developing the same sort of option: preemptive counterforce against Pakistan’s strategic nuclear forces, both for damage limitation and to reopen India’s conventional superiority. It is no surprise perhaps, then, that India chose to go ahead with acquiring Russia’s S-400 missile and air defense system, despite the threat of Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) sanctions from the United States: the S-400 is key to India’s damage limitation strategy, capable of potentially intercepting residual ballistic and cruise missiles that a counterforce strike might miss".
|Pakistani Military Official in Ukraine. Source: New York Times|
Turkish Bayraktar TB2 has been highly effective in destroying Russian tanks and armor in Ukraine. It is playing a key role in Ukraine's counter offensives against Russia's invasion. It is proving so effective that "Ukrainian forces are singing its praises, literally", according to a CNN report.
Indian Army has nearly 6,000 tanks of Russian origin. These tanks are just as vulnerable to drone and anti-tank missiles as the Russian tanks that perished in Ukraine.
Pakistan has developed Baktar Shikan, a second-generation man-portable anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) system which uses optical aiming, IR tracking, remotely controlled and wire transmitted guidance signals. It can also be mounted on attack helicopters and Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs). Its long range, penetration power and a powerful anti-jamming capability form a potent defense against armored targets.
Pakistan is also reported to have already acquired Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones recently. It was displayed in the Pakistan Day Parade on March 23, 2022, along with other military equipment acquired recently by the Pakistani defense forces.
Ukraine claims that its Neptune anti-ship missiles hit and sank Moskva in Black Sea. It was a large 10,000-ton guided missile cruiser of the Russian Navy that was launching cruise missiles on targets in Eastern and Southern Ukraine. It is the largest warship to have been sunk in action since WWII.
Vast majority of Indian Navy ships, including its aircraft carriers and missile frigates, are designed, built and equipped by Russians.
Pakistan recently showcased its anti-ship missile Harbah at DIMDEX 2022, a defense expo in Qatar. It is a medium range ship launched subsonic cruise missile system capable of targeting sea as well as land targets in “all weather operation” at a maximum range of 280 kilometers, according to a report in NavalNews. The missile is fire and forget type. It relies on inertial navigation technologies with GPS and GLONASS systems. According to its manufacturer GIDS, the missile features the following guidance systems: a DSMAC camera, imaging infrared seeker, and radar seeker.
The war in Ukraine is forcing a defense strategy rethink in countries such as India which rely on Russian equipment and training. Hindustan Times has quoted an unnamed former Indian Army Chief as saying: “War videos available show that the Russian Army has tactical issues in Ukraine war. Tell me, which tank formation goes to war in a single file without air or infantry cover when the opponent is equipped with the best anti-tank guided missile like Javelin or Turkish Bayraktar TB2 missile firing drones? There is question on Russian air supremacy with Ukraine Army armed with shoulder fired Stinger surface to air missiles as well as the night fighting capability of the Russian Air Force.”
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Russian oil makes up a small fraction of Indian oil imports—only around 2% in 2021. Despite its recent purchases, India isn’t among the top 10 importers of Russian energy. As Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar pointed out last month, this is unlikely to change. Most of Indian energy comes from Gulf nations that are friendly to America. As of 2020, its top three oil suppliers were Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, while its top gas suppliers were Qatar and the U.S. With access to reliable energy supplies from the Gulf, Indian refiners don’t need to turn to faraway Russia.
India’s reliance on Russian arms has been declining—down from 69% of Indian arms purchases in 2012-16 to 46% in 2017-21. Western sanctions on Russia could accelerate this decline by undermining Russia’s ability to maintain a sophisticated defense-industrial base. Russia’s battlefield losses may also force its arms producers to focus on replenishing its own stocks over expanding exports. And though Moscow has been a reliable strategic partner to New Delhi in the past, its growing closeness to Beijing makes it less dependable. Mr. Tellis predicts a continued “gentle decline” in Indian arms imports from Russia, at least compared with India’s imports from other nations such as the U.S., Israel and France.
On 16 April, two days after eight Pakistani soldiers were killed in a terrorist attack on a military convoy near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in North Waziristan District, Pakistan military drones targeted TTP hideouts in the Khost and Kunar provinces of Afghanistan. Pakistani officials claimed that the TTP suffered huge losses after its bases near the Afghan border were hit by the strikes.
Pakistan’s attack was in retaliation for the spike in cross-border terrorist attacks that followed an announcement by the TTP on 30 March of a spring offensive during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The TTP still has between 3,000 and 5,000 fighters in Afghanistan according to a recent report by UN monitors.
Contrary to Islamabad’s optimism, Pakistan has witnessed an exponential rise in attacks on the country’s security forces since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August. It appears that Taliban rule has actually emboldened and strengthened the TTP. The withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan last year, which significantly reduced US air strikes in the region, also allowed the TTP to operate with increased impunity.
The Taliban has done little to counter the TTP, besides facilitating talks last October between Pakistan and the banned group, and suggesting that Islamabad declare amnesty for the TTP. The October talks failed after the TTP declared an end to a month-long ceasefire with Pakistan in December.
Although Pakistan has repeatedly pressed the Taliban to crack down on the TTP, it’s likely that the Taliban’s reticence is driven by a fear of pushing the group towards Islamic State Khorasan (IS-K). The IS-K is already involved in terrorist activity in the strife-torn country and its actions threaten to destabilise the Taliban government.
Islamabad has conveyed to Kabul that the Afghan government could use a crackdown on the TTP as a test case to address not only Pakistan’s concerns but also establish Afghanistan’s credentials internationally with regards to dealing with terrorist outfits. Use of Afghan territory by the TTP to launch attacks on Pakistan contradicts the Taliban’s commitment made under the 2020 Doha accord with the United States and the international community that Afghanistan would not become a launchpad for attacks by al-Qaeda or other outfits against a third country.
Disappointed by the Taliban, Islamabad ultimately resorted to the much criticised drone attacks, previously used by US forces against Islamic extremists in the so-called Af-Pak region. Pakistan developed its own military drone and used it successfully for the first time in September 2015 in a counterterrorism operation against Pakistan Taliban in its northwestern tribal area along the Afghanistan border.
Pakistan’s most recent drone attack escalated the Pakistan-Taliban tensions that had been on the rise since last August when the Taliban militarily conquered Kabul. In December, Taliban fighters, in a provocative move, uprooted the metal fence erected by the Pakistan military to check infiltration of TTP militants along the border. The Taliban strongly oppose what they call the “illegal” fence, but are unwilling to take the action necessary to keep the group from using Afghan soil for attacks on Pakistan.
A large number of standalone military reforms have been conceptualised but for inexplicable reasons have not been executed.
Even the worst critics of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s ideology acknowledge that it was committed to national security and a strong military befitting an emerging power. It was expected that the BJP would give utmost priority to national security and transform the armed forces for conflicts of the 21st century. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had absolute clarity on this issue when he addressed the Combined Commanders Conference on 15 December 2015 — “Modernisation and expansion of forces at the same time is a difficult and unnecessary goal. We need forces that are agile, mobile and driven by technology, not just human valour. We need capabilities to win swift wars, for we will not have the luxury of long drawn battles.”
Eight years down the line, the transformation process Modi directed to be implemented, is in disarray. There has been much rhetoric from the political and military hierarchy and the media, based on “reliable sources”, dutifully gave out details of numerous standalone reforms in the offing. However, despite the appointment of the Chief of Defence Staff on 31 December 2019, none of the major reforms except a policy with respect to atmanirbharta or self-reliance in defence equipment, which is yet to bear fruit, have fructified.
The political leadership has neither “owned” the transformation by giving clear strategic directions and laying down the process with timelines, nor shown the drive to supervise the execution. Consequently, a “bottom up approach” from a statusquoist military known for inter-Service squabbles was adopted. Non-appointment of a CDS — who could have at least continued to coordinate this flawed approach — for five months, only proves the point.
Own the transformation and correct the process
Historically, transformation of the military is politically driven. The government must carry out a long-term strategic review to evolve ‘National Security Perspective 2050’. From this must emerge a progressive National Security Strategy reviewed periodically and matched with the forecast of the GDP. This is the responsibility of the government and not the military and has been pending with the National Security Advisor since 2018.
Make a fresh start
Let there be no doubt that, so far, no tangible major reforms have taken place towards transformation of the armed forces. Indeed, a large number of standalone reforms have been conceptualised but for inexplicable reasons have not been executed. The government failed to own the transformation by not formalising a National Security Strategy, issuing formal directions to the armed forces and supervising/coordinating the execution by setting up an empowered committee under the defence minister.
The armed forces too failed to rise to the occasion. They should have seized the opportunity opened by cryptic directions of the Prime Minister given during the Combined Commanders Conferences and systematically reformed from within. More so, when the draft for the Prime Minister’s speech is forwarded to the Prime Minister’s Office by the Chiefs of Staff Committee.
The government and the military must get back to the drawing board and make a fresh start.
Lt Gen H S Panag PVSM, AVSM (R) served in the Indian Army for 40 years. He was GOC in C Northern Command and Central Command. Post retirement, he was Member of Armed Forces Tribunal. Views are personal.
Pakistan’s ‘Harba’ Missile – How Is Indian Navy Preparing To Defend Itself From Moskva-Like Incidents?
May 1, 2022
Alarm bells rang out through India’s defense establishment on April 14, 2022, as the Russian warship Moskva was sunk by Ukrainian Neptune missiles.
In the name of national security, India needed to immediately probe and uncover how one of the world’s mightiest naval forces could lose such a prestigious warship? More so, at the hands of a so-called “underdog” like Ukraine. Furthermore, could India face a similar strategic threat from its own “underdog” neighbor Pakistan?
Soaring High! India’s LCA Tejas To Undergo Critical Testing While Delhi Eyes ‘Debut Deal’ With Malaysia
This was a debacle for Russia, one that India needs to urgently focus on to dissect and learn from. Large portions of India’s arms and weaponry bear the “made-in-Russia” seal.
Russia has been India’s largest supplier of arms and experts in New Delhi would be keenly watching the performance of Russian military hardware in the Ukrainian conflict.
Pak's Harba missile: How India is preparing to prevent Moskva like incident
Published on May 06, 2022 07:26 PM IST
Since sinking of Russian flagship cruiser- Moskva, after being hit by a Ukrainian missile. India has been keeping a close watch on Pakistan navy’s anti-ship missile - Harba. In March 2022, Pakistan showcased its anti-ship cruise missile Harba for the first time in Qatar. It was developed for Pakistan navy to create an indigenous solution for its vessels. Watch this video for more. #Habra #India #Pakistan #Russia #Moskva #Navy #Ukraine
The Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday sent a classified letter to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Defense Department and the CIA pointing out that the agencies broadly underestimated how long the Ukrainian military would be able to fend off Russian forces and overestimated how long Afghan fighters would hold out against the Taliban last summer after the US withdrawal from the country, multiple sources familiar with the matter tell CNN. They questioned the methodology behind the intelligence community's assessments, and the underlying assumptions behind them, the sources said.
CNN has learned that one smaller intelligence agency within the State Department did more accurately assess the Ukrainian military's capability to resist Russia. But while that assessment was shared within the US government, it did not override the wider intelligence community's predictions.
Current and former intelligence officials acknowledge that only looking at military "capabilities" leaves out the quintessentially human factors that could prove decisive. Assessing a population's will to fight is an art, not a science, that defies purely data-driven analysis, the senior State Department official said. But, the official said, it is a key element to determining how successful a military will be in a fight.
"The basic challenge is, you can see what you can count: so you know something about the armaments they have and you can maybe see something about the training they have," said Treverton.
"But the things that matter are all intangible," he said. "You just don't know how good they're going to be and how willing they're going to be to fight. I've never seen us have much by way of a good method for doing that."
"There's strong reason to believe that... Russia will be unable to fulfil its contractual commitments to India with delivery of all of the S-400 system," says Mr Lalwani.
He also believes that the losses Russia has incurred in Ukraine could mean it may not be able to meet India's needs "because it will be desperate to use all the spares to replenish its own forces".
Why is Russia losing so many tanks in Ukraine?
And he says Indian policymakers may be taking note of some of the issues that have faced Russian battlefield equipment and munitions in Ukraine.
Could India manage without Russian arms?
That looks unlikely at the moment.
A US Congressional report in October last year said that the "Indian military cannot operate effectively without Russian-supplied equipment and will continue to rely on Russian weapons systems in the near and middle term".
The report noted that Russia offers its weapons at relatively attractive prices.
Sangeeta Saxena, editor of Delhi-based Aviation and Defence Universe, says the Indian army in particular will continue to keep buying from Russia.
The possession of an aircraft carrier is of significant value for any navy. The idea behind the development of an aircraft carrier is to project power at a long distance in peacetime and achieve air dominance at sea during a war. It restricts the adversary warships outside of a designated area, acts as a coercive tool, protects interests at sea, and exercises influence over an area. All major powers having interests outside of their territories have developed them, especially after World War II when the potential of carriers to strike targets accurately at a long-distance using aircraft was effectively demonstrated. India operates one aircraft carrier; another is under sea trials, and the third one is planned. The possession of these carriers lifts India as a major power in the Indian Ocean Region. However, the possession of carriers may have more utility during peacetime than a full-fledged war due to the growing effectiveness and success of anti-ship capabilities.
Indian Maritime Doctrine and Aircraft Carriers
Indian Maritime Doctrine outlines a large area as an area of interest for the Indian Navy to strengthen its position as a blue water force capable of operating and projecting power beyond its home waters. The doctrine enlists primary, secondary, and “other areas” as areas of interest based on the location of the Indian Diaspora and overseas investments vital for the Indian Navy. It also enlists various enabling concepts to protect interests in these areas like “sea control” and “sea denial.”
The backbone of a blue water navy is the aircraft carrier and the Indian Navy plans to possess three aircraft carriers in total, giving it the flexibility to have two operational carriers all the times. INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier with a displacement of 45,000 tons is the current operational carrier of India. The under-trial carrier is domestically built INS Vikrant and is slated to be commissioned early next year. The construction of follow-on to Vikrant is being debated in India due to the questions on the utility of aircraft carriers in comparison to submarines. It has not been approved by the Indian Government yet. Indian Navy operates two squadrons of MiG 29K carrier-borne multi-role aircraft inducted in 2010. Various operational problems have been observed in the aircraft like engine, airframe, and fly-by-wire system.
Limitations of Indian Aircraft Carriers
While the anti-ship capabilities are becoming common, more advanced, and precise, Indian carriers are not among the most advanced in the world. There are also certain limitations of the Indian carriers to operate and effectively project power against Pakistan. Firstly, Indian carriers have limited displacement and can carry up to 36 mixes of aircraft. The limited displacement also means reduced fuel load and an operational range of aircraft, forcing it to operate near the adversary. Displacement capacity also impacts the weapons load on the aircraft. Secondly, the aircraft on the carriers are allocated defensive and offensive roles. Increasing numbers for one role can have catastrophic implications for the other. Thirdly, take-off and landing on the carrier are totally different from ground-based landing and take-off. Indian carriers use Short Take-off But Assisted Recovery (STOBAR) take-off and landing system, which has a slower take-off rate than the more advanced Catapult Assisted Take-off But Arrested Recovery (CATOBAR) system.
Pakistan’s Counter Options against Aircraft Carriers
Pakistan is beefing up its muscles against the increasing number of Indian warships and capabilities. Part of its efforts is focused on developing anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) capabilities. It is developing various anti-ship capabilities to effectively neutralize the Indian advantage of large numbers of warships and aircraft carriers. There are three layers of defence against Indian aircraft if deployed against Pakistan.
Firstly, Pakistan deploys anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCM) on its submarines. Pakistan currently operates two Agosta-70 submarines that can fire Harpoon anti-ship missiles, three Agosta 90B submarines that can carry Exocet anti-ship missiles. Eight submarines are on order from China which will also have anti-ship capabilities. Secondly, it has also developed or acquired several ASCMs such as Harba ASCM launched from the ship and the air-launched CM-400AKG anti-ship missile with supersonic speed. The coastal/land-based Zarb ASCM provides the third line of defence in the coastal waters of Pakistan against the intruding carrier. The Navy is also reportedly developing a supersonic cruise missile and an anti-ship ballistic missile. The development of anti-ship ballistic missiles will create a long buffer zone against the Indian carrier depending on the missile’s range.
Indian Navy will seriously consider the growing effectiveness of Pakistan’s anti-ship capabilities for the deployment of its carriers. These capabilities will force Indian carriers to operate from a safer distance making it less useful against the country. Even if trying to carry out a blockade of Pakistan or achieve air dominance against Pakistan in the Arabian sea, it risks its survival against Pakistan’s potent anti-ship capabilities.
Russians had numbers on their side, or more precisely a number: the 3:1 rule, the ratio by which attackers must outnumber defenders in order to prevail. It is one of several “force ratios” popular in military strategy. Russia, it seemed, could amass that advantage.
The war in Ukraine has brought renewed interest in force ratios. Other ratios in military doctrine include the numbers needed to defeat unprepared defenders, resist counterinsurgencies or counterattack flanks. Though they sound like rules of thumb for a board game like Risk, the ratios have been taught to generations of both American and Soviet and then Russian tacticians, and provide intuitive support for the idea Ukraine was extremely vulnerable.
“I would imagine that most of them are thinking in those terms, that you need something on the order of a 3:1 advantage to break through,” said John Mearsheimer, a University of Chicago professor whose work focuses on security competition between great powers. “It’s clear in this case that the Russians badly miscalculated.”
Modern versions of the 3:1 rule apply to local sectors of combat. A Rand Corp. study determined a theater-wide 1.5-to-1 advantage would allow attackers to achieve 3:1 ratios in certain sectors.
Overall, Russia’s military has quadruple the personnel and infantry vehicles, triple the artillery and tanks, and nearly 10 times the armored personnel carriers, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the London-based think tank.
With 190,000 Russian troops concentrated to invade in February, and Ukraine’s military spread across the country, (only 30,000 troops, for example, were estimated to be in Ukraine’s east near the Donbas region) it appeared Russia had the numbers to overwhelm Ukraine.
Ratios don’t account for Western intelligence and materiel support, for Ukrainian resolve, for low Russian morale, for Russia’s logistical struggles, or for severe Russian tactical errors, like leaving tanks exposed in columns on major roadways, Mr. Biddle said.
These ratios originate from 19th-century European land wars.
In his seminal 1832 text on military strategy, “On War,” the Prussian General Carl von Clausewitz proclaimed: “The defensive form of warfare is intrinsically stronger than the offensive.” By the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, Prussians distilled this to requiring triple the attackers. Prussia decisively triumphed; maybe they were on to something.
World War I, with years of stalemate in the trenches as combatants struggled to break through defenses, lent further credibility to the idea.
English Brigadier-General James Edmonds, writing shortly after World War I, recorded an early version of the rule: “It used to be reckoned in Germany that to turn out of a position an ebenbürtigen foe—that is, a foe equal in all respects, courage, training, morale and equipment—required threefold numbers.”
Still, he said of Ukraine: “It’s obvious in this case, the force ratio, the number of static units, are a very poor predictor of what’s going to happen on the battlefield.”
To Mr. Epstein, force ratios exemplify a quip from the writer H.L. Mencken—and a lesson Russia is learning the hard way:
“There is always a well-known solution to every human problem—neat, plausible and wrong.”
Navy plans to buy 26 MRCBFs, so that INS Vikrant has more strike options
The Indian Naval Ship (INS) Vikrant, the Navy’s first indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC-1), is undergoing lengthy sea trials, after which it will enter operational service late this year.
With the 45 Russian MiG-29K/KUB fighters notorious for their unreliability, the Navy plans to urgently procure 26 multi-role carrier-borne fighters (MRCBF) from an international vendor, so that INS Vikrant has more strike options besides the unreliable MiG-29s. With INS Vikrant likely to be followed by a second indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC-2) named INS Vishal, another 31 MRCBFs will be ...
As the Indian Navy plans to procure an aircraft carrier-borne fighter, US defense giant Boeing is confident of its F/A-18E Super Hornets, sidelining the French Rafale jets challenge.
Later this month, Boeing will display the aircraft’s potential at the Indian Navy’s Shore Based Test Facility (SBTF) at INS Hansa in Goa. The F/A-18E Super Hornet will be put to the test for a few weeks until June. The facility has been chosen as it has a ski jump modeled after the deck of an aircraft carrier.
Alain Garcia, vice-president of India business development, Boeing Defense, Space and Security, and Global Services, said – the aircraft will conduct jobs requested by the Indian Navy and in different configurations. He claimed that Boeing’s fighter jet would exceed the Indian Navy’s expectations.
Earlier in January, France displayed the capabilities of its Rafale maritime fighter jets at the SBTF.
Both Rafale-M and F/A-18 twin-engine fighters compete for India’s need to operate from the 40,000-tonne indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC). The aircraft carrier will be commissioned in August after completing sea trials, which are currently underway.
India’s multi-role carrier-borne fighters (MRCBF) procurement program seeks to acquire 57 naval jets to outfit with India’s first IAC. However, the exact figure is still being sorted out.
Garcia, who had piloted Super Hornet in the US Navy, had said that the Boeing type was ideal for India, stressing that the Block III configuration – which is about to enter US service – plays an essential role in generating a uniform tactical picture.
In an interview with FlightGlobal, he also revealed details about the aircraft’s capabilities that would be evaluated.
“He [Garcia] feels the type will integrate well with other US equipment in service with the Indian navy, such as the Lockheed Martin/Sikorsky MH-60R anti-submarine warfare helicopter and Boeing P-8I Neptune, the Indian variant of the 737-derived P-8A.
Moreover, a Super Hornet acquisition would also allow the Indian Navy to work more closely with the US Navy and Royal Australian Air Force, both of which operate Super Hornets.”
Garcia mentioned the Super Hornet’s advanced electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, wide cockpit displays, and ‘open systems’ architecture, allowing quicker electronics updates.
Is Rafale Marine A Better Option?
Dassault Aviation and Boeing have been aggressively promoting their fighter jet’s capabilities, citing substantial advantages over their rival.
One advantage the Super Hornet has over the Rafale, according to Garcia, is the ability to fold its wings, making it simpler to get into an elevator. Boeing has also designed a mechanism for Indian deck crews to load and unload the Super Hornet onto and off Indian ship elevators.
Super Hornet-Block III
File Image: Boeing-Super Hornets
Furthermore, Garcia has also previously emphasized that the Super Hornet had a twin-seat variant that operated from aircraft carriers, whereas Rafale’s naval version was only available in a single-seat configuration. Twin-seat jets are thought to be better suitable for long-distance missions and activities like electronic warfare and ground attack.
On the other hand, French news outlet La Tribune reported last month that the French government has been considering selling four used Rafale Marine jets to the Indian Navy.
The report revealed, “the sale of four used Rafale Marine to the F3-R standard is likely to give a competitive advantage to France against the Americans in the context of the Indian call for tenders to equip the INS Vikrant.
These four recently modernized devices could indeed be quickly put into service on the Indian aircraft carrier.”
In December, India received its initial delivery of the Russian S-400 air defence system, and it intends to operate the system to defend against Pakistani and Chinese threats by June 2022, Berrier said.
India continued to develop its own hypersonic, ballistic, cruise, and air defence missile capabilities, conducting multiple tests in 2021. India has a growing number of satellites in orbit, and it is expanding its use of space assets, likely pursuing offensive space capabilities, he said.
Berrier told lawmakers that New Delhi is pursuing an extensive military modernisation effort encompassing air, ground, naval, and strategic nuclear forces with an emphasis on domestic defence production.
India is taking steps to establish Integrated Theatre Commands that will improve its joint capability among its three military services.
Since 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given priority to strengthen India's economy by expanding its domestic defence industry, and establishing a negative import list to curtail defence purchases from foreign suppliers.
India's longstanding defence relationship with Russia remains strong, holding their first 2+2' format talks in December a joint foreign and defence ministerial that India previously only held with the United States, Japan, and Australia.
India has maintained a neutral stance on Russia's invasion of Ukraine and continues to call for peace, Berrier told the lawmakers.
Berrier said that Chinese-Indian relations remain strained following the fatal clashes in summer 2020 between their respective forces along the Western sector of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
During 2021, both sides held multiple rounds of high-level diplomatic and military talks that resulted in a mutual pullback of forces from several standoff points. However, both sides maintain close to 50,000 troops along with artillery, tanks, and multiple rocket launchers, and both are building infrastructure along the LAC, he said.
The package under consideration would include foreign military financing of as much as $500 million, according to one person, which would make India one of the largest recipients of such aid behind Israel and Egypt. It’s unclear when the deal would be announced, or what weapons would be included.
The effort is part of a much larger initiative by President Joe Biden’s administration to court India as a long-term security partner, despite its reluctance to criticize Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, according to a senior US official who asked not to be named.
Washington wants to be seen as a reliable partner for India across the board, the official added, and the administration is working with other nations including France to make sure Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has the equipment it needs. While India is already diversifying its military platforms away from Russia, the US wants to help make that happen faster, the official said.
The major challenge remains how to provide India major platforms like fighter jets, naval ships and battle tanks, the official said, adding that the administration is looking for a breakthrough in one of these areas. The financing package being discussed would do little to make those types of systems -- which can cost billions or tens of billions of dollars -- more affordable, but it would be a significant symbolic sign of support.
India’s Foreign Ministry didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Officials at the State Department and US embassy in New Delhi didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
India is the world’s largest buyer of Russian weapons, although it has scaled back that relationship of late. Over the past decade, India has bought more than $4 billion worth of military equipment from the US and more than $25 billion from Russia, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which collects data on arms transfers.
India’s dependence on Russia for weapons against neighbors China and Pakistan is a big reason Modi’s government has avoided criticizing Russian President Vladimir Putin over the war in Ukraine. As the US, Europe, Australia and Japan piled economic sanctions on Russia, India has held off and instead continued imports of discounted Russian oil.
While the US and its allies were initially frustrated with India, they have sought to woo Modi’s government as a key security partner -- including against China in the Indo-Pacific region. Modi is set to join a summit with Biden next week in South Korea. The meeting will include leaders from the Quad, a partnership between the U.S., India, Japan and Australia that has drawn criticism from China. Modi also received an invitation to join the Group of Seven leaders in Germany next month.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin made the point about China when he spoke at a news conference in April with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Indian Defense Minster Rajnath Singh and Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.
“We’re doing all this because the United States supports India as a defense industry leader in the Indo-Pacific and a net provider of security in the region,” Austin said. “And we all understand the challenges that we face there. The People’s Republic of China is seeking to refashion the region and the international system more broadly in ways that serve its interests.”
Why the Aukus, Quad and Five Eyes Pacts Anger China: QuickTake
Links between the US and India have steadily deepened over the past two decades, with the two sides reaching agreements that allow for more interoperability between their military platforms.
Russia's mainstream media outlets offer a view of the Ukraine war that is unlike anything seen from outside of the country. For a start, they don't even call it a war. But our Russia editor reflects on a rare exchange broadcast on state TV.
It was an extraordinary piece of television.
The programme was 60 Minutes, the flagship twice-daily talk show on Russian state TV: studio discussion that promotes the Kremlin line on absolutely everything, including on President Putin's so-called "special military operation" in Ukraine.
The Kremlin still maintains that the Russian offensive is going according to plan.
But on Monday night, studio guest Mikhail Khodarenok, a military analyst and retired colonel, painted a very different picture.
He warned that "the situation [for Russia] will clearly get worse" as Ukraine receives additional military assistance from the West and that "the Ukrainian army can arm a million people".
Referring to Ukrainian soldiers, he noted: "The desire to defend their motherland very much exists. Ultimate victory on the battlefield is determined by the high morale of troops who are spilling blood for the ideas they are ready to fight for.
"The biggest problem with [Russia's] military and political situation," he continued, "is that we are in total political isolation and the whole world is against us, even if we don't want to admit it. We need to resolve this situation.
"The situation cannot be considered normal when against us, there is a coalition of 42 countries and when our resources, military-political and military-technical, are limited."
The other guests in the studio were silent. Even the host, Olga Skabeyeva, normally fierce and vocal in her defence of the Kremlin, appeared oddly subdued.
In many ways, it's a case of "I told you so" from Mr Khodarenok. Writing in Russia's Independent Military Review back in February, before Moscow attacked Ukraine, the defence analyst had criticised "enthusiastic hawks and hasty cuckoos" for claiming that Russia would easily win a war against Ukraine.
His conclusion back then: "An armed conflict with Ukraine is not in Russia's national interests."
Criticism in print is one thing. But on TV - to an audience of millions - that is another level completely. The Kremlin has gone out of its way to control the informational landscape here: shutting down independent Russian news sources and ensuring that television - the principal tool in Russia for shaping public opinion - is on message.
It is rare to hear such realistic analysis of events on Russian TV.
Rare. But not unique. In recent weeks, critical views have appeared on television here. In March, on another popular TV talk show, a Russian filmmaker told the presenter: "The war in Ukraine paints a frightening picture, it has a very oppressive influence on our society."
So what happened on 60 Minutes? Was this a spontaneous, unprompted and unexpected wake-up call on Ukraine that slipped through the net?
Or was it a pre-planned burst of reality in order to prepare the Russian public for negative news on the progress of the "special military operation"?
It's difficult to say. But as they say on the telly, stay tuned to Russian TV for further signals.
MAY 19, 2022 3:52 PM
Wargames that the U.S. Air Force has conducted itself and in conjunction with independent organizations continue to show the immense value offered by swarms of relatively low-cost networked drones with high degrees of autonomy. In particular, simulations have shown them to be decisive factors in the scenarios regarding the defense of the island of Taiwan against a Chinese invasion.
Last week, David Ochmanek, a senior international affairs and defense researcher at the RAND Corporation and a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Development during President Barack Obama's administration, discussed the importance of unmanned platforms in Taiwan Strait crisis-related wargaming that the think tank has done in recent years. Ochmanek offered his insight during an online chat, which you can watch in full below, hosted by the Air & Space Forces Association's Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.
At least some of RAND's work in this regard has been done in cooperation with the Air Force's Warfighting Integration Capability office, or AFWIC. Last year, the service disclosed details about a Taiwan-related wargame that AFWIC had run in 2020, which included the employment of a notional swarm of small drones, along with other unmanned platforms.
"I’m sure most everybody on this line has thought extensively about what conflict with China might look like. We think that, as force planners, we think that an invasion of Taiwan is the most appropriate scenario to use because of China’s repeatedly expressed desire to forcibly reincorporate Taiwan into the mainland if necessary and because of the severe time crunch that would be associated with defeating an invasion of Taiwan," Ochmanek offered as an introduction to RAND's modeling. "U.S. and allied forces may have as few as a week to 10 days to either defeat this invasion or accept the fait accompli. And the Chinese understand that if they’re to succeed in this, they either have to deter the United States from intervening or radically suppress our combat operations in the theater."
Ochmanek explained that the Chinese military has amassed a wide array of capable anti-access and area denial capabilities in the past two decades or so that would be brought to bear either to deter or engage any American forces, and their allies and partners, that might seek to respond to an invasion of Taiwan. This includes a diverse arsenal of ballistic and cruise missiles that could be used to neutralize U.S. bases across the Pacific region, anti-satellite weapons to destroy or degrade various American space-based assets, and dense integrated air defense networks bolstered by capable combat aircraft, among other things.
"With all of this, our forces are going to be confronted with the need to not just gain air superiority, which is always a priority for the commander, but to actually reach into this contested battlespace, ...and find the enemy and engage the enemy’s operational center of gravity – those hundreds of ships carrying the amphibious forces across Strait, the airborne air assault aircraft carrying light infantry across the Strait," he continued. There will be a need to "do that even in the absence of air superiority, which is a very different concept of operations from what our forces have operated with in the post-Cold War era."
Those operational realities present immense challenges for the U.S. military in responding to a potential future Chinese invasion of Taiwan. U.S. military wargames exploring potential cross-strait crisis scenarios in recent years has more often than not, to put mildly, produced less than encouraging results when it comes to the performance of the American side.
Ochmanek says that modeling that RAND has done, including simulations conducted in cooperation with the Air Force, shows that large numbers of unmanned aircraft, especially relatively small and inexpensive designs capable of operating as fully-autonomous swarms using a distributed "mesh" data-sharing network, have shown themselves to be absolutely essential for coming out on top in these wargames.
The former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense outlined one broad, but still detailed scenario for how such a swarm of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) would be employed in the defense of Taiwan:
"We're doing some simulations that capture scenarios in which we’re trying to rapidly sink that invasion fleet in the Strait. We’re also trying to clear the skies of PLA [People's Liberation Army, the Chinese military] fighters, transports, and attack helos, [and] transport helos. So, think of this. Imagine 1,000 unmanned UAVs over Taiwan and over the Taiwan Strait. They are not large aircraft, but they are flying at high subsonic speed. You can imagine making their radar cross section indistinguishable from that of an F-35. And the UAVs are basically out in front. They’re doing the sensing mission. Manned aircraft are kind of hanging back. Imagine now being an SA-21 [S-400 surface to air missile system] operator on the mainland of China or on one of the surface action groups trying to project [power], your scopes are flooded with things that you gotta kill. If you don’t kill those sensors, we’re gonna find you. And if we find you, we’re gonna kill you. So, A, we’re creating defilade if you will, camouflage, for the manned aircraft to hide behind.
B, we’re potentially exhausting the enemy’s magazines of expensive SAMs, and on the right side of the cost-exchange ratio. C, you could put some jammers on a few of these UAVs, as well, to further suppress the effectiveness of the SAMs. And then, the key is, these UAVs create a sensing grid that tells you where the targets are on the surface, where the targets are in the air, so that the F-35s, F-22s can conduct their engagements passively. You never have to turn on your radar. You know what that means for survivability. So, we call these UAVs the pilot’s friend.
Now, I know there’s culturally there may be some sense of competition between manned and unmanned and so forth … from an operational perspective we do not see a downside in terms of the synergy between manned and unmanned in this model."
What Ochmanek laid out are exactly the kinds of significant advantages an autonomous drone swarm has the potential to offer in terms of operational flexibility, as well as cost, over manned aircraft, something that The War Zone regularly highlights. Since the individual drones in an autonomous swarm are designed to collaborate with each other, this means that each individual platform does not automatically have to be configured to perform all of the desired missions that the group is collectively expected to carry out.
If a single unmanned aircraft only has to act as a sensor node, weapons truck, jammer, or datalink relay, among other things, it then also opens up the option to make that platform smaller and cheaper than it would be if it had to be a more exquisite multi-role platform. Of course, as Ochmanek himself points out, a swarm offers important additional benefits in a scenario in which it is teamed directly with manned platforms.
The video below, from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's Collaborative Operations in Denied Environment (CODE) program, depicts many of drone swarm concepts that Ochmanek described.
"For many, many years this country’s been on a vector of increasingly sophisticated, expensive platforms in ever-smaller numbers, and we’ve seen the inventory of combat aircraft in the Air Force decrease because of this ineluctable trend of increasing cost per platform. That had a strong rationale when we had technical and operational superiority over our adversaries and when in fact we were very concerned about attrition," Ochmanek said. "The advent of autonomy means that we have the opportunity now to flood the battlespace essentially with inexpensive platforms that can do the jobs that human beings have in the past done and done them actually more robustly than manned concepts."
Ochmanek highlighted how advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), and separate networked weapon concepts that the Air Force, among others, is working on now, will only add to a future autonomous swarm's capabilities in any context. He indicated that this had been an additional factor in the game-changing employment of swarms in Taiwan Strait conflict simulations.
"The image we have is you send these things out to the battlespace and they are talking so to speak among themselves. When someone ‘sees’ something of interest – oh that looks like a Renhai [People's Liberation Army Type 055 destroyer] – they’ll gang up on it, and you’ll get multiple looks ... from multiple angles," he explained. "They’ll share data. The automatic target recognition function will turn those data into a nominated target. And as weapons come in, the mesh itself will grab that weapon and say ‘your primary target is this. I’m not only going to assign you to that target, I’m going to help you hit 47 feet aft of the bow so you maximize your probability of kill against that particular platform.'"
Ochmanek acknowledged that there are concerns about the maturity of the technology needed to underpin all of this, as well as the need to mitigate various threats, especially from electronic warfare attacks. He said that RAND, at least, is confident that these challenges are surmountable, particularly through the use of a distributed 'mesh' network formed by the swarm itself, with systems that are available today.
"In a recent Air Force wargame, I was briefing this concept to the adjudication team, and I think it's fair to say the adjudicators were a little bit skeptical about all the magic we were invoking for this sensing grid. And one of them asked ‘well who’s going to command and control all these hundreds of UAVs?'" Ochmanek recounted. "I said, ‘the same guy who commands and controls the 10,000 Uber drivers on the island of Manhattan.’ It’s not Mildred sitting at a switchboard saying ‘Joe, you go to the corner of 42nd and Broadway,’ no it’s the AI. It’s not that hard given the state of current computing to imagine a system where the targeting grid is quote commanding and control itself."
At the same time, "we all know that the EMS [electromagnetic spectrum] environment in any conflict with China, or Russia for that matter, is going to be very demanding," he added. "We also know that if you want to have literally hundreds up to thousands of UAVs operating in the battlespace it’s not going to be practical to have them all be remotely piloted, particularly when your space-based comms are under intensive attack, both lethal and nonlethal."
"We looked at eight different classes of radios in different frequency bands, we looked at different jamming threats in terms of their proximity and intensity, and so forth in the Strait, and we concluded that in the 5G band and the high 5G band, even very intensive comm jamming can’t prevent the UAVs in the mesh from communicating, from linking with one another," Ochmanek continued. "And we’re talking about a density in which there’s never more than 10 kilometers [just over 6 miles] between UAVs in that mesh. So that 10-kilometer link distance was our threshold value and we’re quite confident that, even with fair low power off-the-shelf radios, you can sustain that level of connectivity even in the presence of highly powerful jammers."
The former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense further pointed out that doing initial data processing right "at the edge" of wherever the drone swarm is operating will help reduce the amount of information that needs to be transmitted to any additional node. That, in turn, reduces the total amount of bandwidth necessary – "we’re thinking one-tenth of a megabyte per second is more than sufficient" – for the network to operate effectively, further improving its resiliency.
It's not clear exactly how much the Air Force's own internal modeling of cross-Strait conflict might reflect the work at RAND that Ochmanek described during the recent online chat. However, as already noted, RAND has worked closely with AFWIC on wargaming out these scenarios.
The autonomous drone swarm in AFWIC's 2020 Taiwan crisis wargame, which was linked together using a distributed mesh network, was cited as a key contributor to the defeat of Chinese forces in that particular scenario. "Although they were mostly used as a sensing grid, some were outfitted with weapons capable of — for instance — hitting small ships moving from the Chinese mainland across the strait," according to a report on this simulation from Defense News last year.
“An unmanned vehicle that is taking off from Taiwan and doesn’t need to fly that far can actually be pretty small. And because it’s pretty small, and you’ve got one or two sensors on it, plus a communications node, then those are not expensive.,” Lt. Gen. Clint Hinote, the Air Force's Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategy, Integration, and Requirements, told Defense News in a related interview. "You could buy hundreds of them."
At the same time, the victory over the Chinese side in that Air Force simulation two years ago was described in subsequent reporting as "pyrrhic," pointing to still-heavy losses in personnel and materiel. During the Mitchell Institute discussion, Ochmanek specifically highlighted how the U.S. military is aware of the significant existing and emerging threats to established air bases and other facilities in any future high-end conflict, especially one against China in the Pacific, potentially over Taiwan, but has not yet mitigated those risks.
"We have not solved the problem of the missile threat to airbases. Our active defenses are expensive. They’re not impermeable. They can be overwhelmed by modest sized salvos," he said. "And yet we need to operate from inside the threat ring in order to generate the kind of combat power that is called for by these intensive operations."
Extensive Chinese strikes against U.S. facilities across the Pacific in the opening phases of a conflict over Taiwan is a common occurrence in wargaming this scenario. Just recently, NBC News' "Meet the Press" sponsored a series of independent Taiwan Strait wargame that was run by Washington, D.C.-based Center for a New American Security (CNAS) think tank, the outcomes of which were summarized during the show's May 15 broadcast. The 'red' team, representing the regime on mainland China, was able to seize at least some Taiwanese territory in each playthrough, despite suffering significant casualties and equipment losses. It's unclear whether a U.S. military drone swarm was factored into the CNAS-led wargaming or not.
Chinese strikes on U.S. bases, including those in Japan, as part of a Taiwan invasion operation were a key factor in these simulations. Members of the 'blue' team – representing the United States, Taiwan, and their allies and partners – were surprised by this aggressiveness and suggested that this was an unrealistic portrayal, with Chinese officials more likely to work up to an intervention after first making various feints and otherwise attempting to throw the international community off-balance.
However, Lt. Gen. Hinote subsequently told Air Force Magazine that this scenario "'rhymes' with many of the things we see in our more detailed wargaming" at "the strategic and operational levels." He added that the airspace "is likely to be contested over Taiwan in a way we have not seen in a long time."
During the Mitchell Institute talk, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Ochmanek said that swarms of unmanned aircraft, especially if they are runway independent, could be part of the solution to the problem of defending against or otherwise remaining resilient in the face of Chinese strikes in a defense of Taiwan scenario. He specifically cited Kratos' XQ-58A Valkyrie unmanned aircraft, which is launched and recovered without the use of a runway, and that the Air Force is using as a testbed for various advanced warfighting experiments now, as one example. Kratos has previously presented a concept for a containerized launch system for the XQ-58A, which would further enable it to be rapidly and flexibly deployed, even to remote or austere locations.
All told, there is ever-growing evidence to support the immense and potentially game-changing value of autonomous drone swarms in any potential Taiwan Strait crisis, among other potential conflict scenarios. The U.S. government is now reportedly pushing the Taiwanese military to expand its fleets of unmanned aircraft, among other weapon systems purchases that American authorities believe would do the most to bolster the island's ability to at least resist a Chinese invasion.
This all comes as the U.S. Intelligence Community continues to assess that the Chinese military is aiming to be in a position by 2027 where it would feel confident in its ability to succeed in any future operation to retake Taiwan by force. Of course, U.S. military officials have also said that this does not mean that the People's Liberation Army would automatically launch such an intervention after that point.
It is worth noting that the Chinese military has been heavily investing itself in various advanced unmanned capabilities, including technology to enable networked swarms, and has arguably made more progress in fielding platforms than its American counterparts, as least as far as we know. A future conflict in and around the Taiwan Strait could very well see the People's Liberation Army employ its own drone swarms, launched from areas on the mainland or even ships at sea.
Regardless, concerns are growing that the long-standing potential for a conflict over Taiwan could turn into a reality. It remains to be seen whether the U.S. Air Force, or any other branches of the U.S. military, will take the necessary steps to be able to deploy an autonomous drone swarm if it becomes necessary to defend the island, which looks like it could be a decisive factor in the outcome of such a crisis.
Turkish state-owned company ASFAT ceremonially launched the third PN MILGEM corvette for Pakistan Navy (PN), PNS BADR (281), at Pakistan's Karachi Shipyard & Engineering Works (KS&EW) on 20 May 2022.
PN MILGEM Program consists of 4 ships, 2 ships will be built in Istanbul Shipyard Command and 2 ships will be built in KSEW. The program started on 11 March 2019. 4 ships are planned to be delivered in August 2023, February 2024, August 2024, and February 2025, respectively.
The exact configuration of the Pakistan Milgem-class ships has not been made public yet. During the Aman Naval Exercise held in February 2019, Admiral Abbasi said that Pakistan ships will be fitted with a 16-Cell VLS behind the main gun. It is expected that the Babur-class corvettes will be armed with MBDA’s Albatros NG air defence system and Harbah Anti-ship and land attack missiles.
The propulsion system for all the MILGEM ships consist of one LM2500 gas turbine in a combined diesel and gas turbine configuration with two diesel engines; total propulsion power is 31,600 kilowatts.
Turkey’s Ada-class are multipurpose corvettes able to conduct a wide a range of missions, including reconnaissance, surveillance, anti-submarine warfare, surface-to-surface and surface-to-air warfare.
Displacement: 2,926 tonnes
Length: 108.2 m
Beam: 14.8 m
Draft: 4.05 m
Max speed: 31 knots
Range: 3500 nautical miles
Endurance: 15 days at sea
The Central European Institute of Asian Studies (CEIAS) is an independent think tank based in Bratislava (Slovakia), and with branches in Olomouc (Czech Republic), and Vienna (Austria).
Russia turned out to be the most positively perceived country by the Chinese respondents (see Figure 1). Asked to rate their feelings toward 25 countries on a scale of 0-100, 79.8% of respondents said they viewed Russia in a positive light while only 12% held negative views. It seems clear, then, that Chinese positive attitudes towards Russia were not disturbed by the Russia-Ukraine war. Quite the opposite, as Figure 2 shows, almost 80% of respondents reported that their views of Russia had improved over the last three years.8 This finding is broadly consistent with past survey results between 2008 and 2015, which found only around 50% of Chinese respondents held positive views of Russia.
The other very positively perceived countries among Chinese respondents were Pakistan (73%), Singapore (66%), North Korea (62%), and Germany (61%). In turn, other very negatively perceived countries included India (56%), Japan (54%), Vietnam (48%), South Korea (47%) and Ukraine (46%). 15 Few if any previously published polls have asked Chinese respondents their views of Ukraine, but prior to Russia’s invasion, Ukrainian opinion appears to have been far more positive towards China than the reverse
The US was the most negatively viewed country in China with slightly more than 60% of respondents perceiving it negatively and 31% holding positive attitudes. India was the second-most poorly evaluated country, with nearly 58% negative views, followed by Japan with 55%. Figure 3 also suggests that perceptions of the US have significantly deteriorated recently: almost 60% of the Chinese respondents stated their perception of the US had worsened over the past three years. Interestingly, in the case of Japan, about the same proportion of respondents (36% in both cases) reported that their views had improved and worsened over the same time period
Russia also appeared to be one of the most recommended countries for pursuing higher education among the Chinese, behind only China itself (83%), Singapore (56%), and the United Kingdom (55%). More than 52% of respondents recommended university study in Russia (see Figure 11), while India and South Korea were the least recommended countries for university studies, with 63% and 42% of respondents not recommending them respectively
Factors increasing both countries’ confrontational risks include the war in Ukraine, rivalries with China and Russia, climate change and pandemics
Why look at India and Pakistan when much of the world is focused on Ukraine? Because of the possibility of the war in Ukraine escalating to the point where the Russians choose to use a nuclear weapon: This would most likely be for tactical gain and psychological effect to force the Ukrainian Government to sue for “peace”.
Yet, if such were to happen, it would be the first time since World War II that nuclear weapons have been used in a conflict since they were successfully banned 75 years ago. It would change the boundaries of confrontation, conceivably forever, as other countries might be encouraged to consider using their nuclear power, and, among the (still) restricted group that has it, India and Pakistan are among those most inclined to do so.
Nuclear weapons analysts estimate that there are currently nine nuclear states — China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, and these numbers are likely to grow.
Possible newcomers include Iran, and Saudi Arabia, the former seen as purposefully seeking nuclear weapon capability, the latter pursuing nuclear development ostensibly for civilian purposes, but notably with the assistance of Pakistani experts, the same country that supported the North Korean weapons program.
The Saudis have not sworn off nuclear weapons and are the largest funders of Pakistan, which became a nuclear state primarily because the Netherlands allowed a nuclear physicist working at the Urenco labs in the Netherlands, Dr. Abdul Quadeer Khan, to take the blueprints of the Dutch nuclear enrichment and centrifuge technology and develop the Pakistani program.
Three countries “voluntarily” gave up their nuclear capability, namely South Africa, Libya, and Ukraine.
With respect to these latter two, their histories probably would be very different today if they had not done so. They serve as warnings for other countries that might think about giving up such capacity.
Overall, few regions of the world– maybe South America– are currently “nuclear arms-free” if you will
A Russian breach of the ban will have implications for all other nuclear-capable or “wannabe” countries, especially those facing confrontation with neighbors—which are nearly all countries.
Examples of neighbor disputes are numerous and include the Arctic, China and Japan, Colombia and Venezuela, and the Western Sahara pitting Morocco and Mauritania, to name just a few.
South Asia is very much such a region with India and Pakistan both nuclear-armed, and with the three largest nuclear powers, China, Russia, and the United States having clients, and chosen sides. Then there is the neighboring failed island state of Sri Lanka, in default and with a history of civil war that had drawn its neighbors into its disputes in the past.
Add to the geopolitical tensions, this comes at a time the region is experiencing unbelievable heat waves, affecting their economies and daily lives.
Everywhere, but surely here, the costs and availability of food, fertilizer, fuel, and access to concessional financing, along with an ongoing Covid pandemic, have created very difficult challenges for any government.
Into this mix are the political and religious differences between India and Pakistan (and China), and religious divide and territorial disputes over Kashmir, which have brought them in the past to armed conflict and lingering mistrust.
India and Pakistan never-ending disputes, plus China and Russia in the mix
India and Pakistan have been at odds since independence in 1947 from Great Britain and have fought four wars over the Kashmir region.
Factors increasing both countries’ confrontational risks include the war in Ukraine, rivalries with China and Russia, climate change and pandemics
Two other factors adding to nuclear risks: climate change and pandemics
India and Pakistan are located in a part of the world that is particularly exposed to the threats of climate change and given huge populations and poor health systems are vulnerable to the spread of infectious diseases.
Here is what you can expect in terms of impacts on both countries.
South Asia Feels the Heat: On most climate maps, this is the hottest region on the planet. Scorching temperatures were already reached in March 2022 at degrees not usually happening until June.
This current heat wave in India and Pakistan is not a lone event; on the contrary, with the acceleration of global warming, it is estimated to be 30 times more likely than compared to preindustrial times. And it has led to a deep reduction in agricultural output, as wheat crops withered, and mango crops were lost, exacerbating food insecurity, and threatening Indians and Pakistanis with limited income.
Those at or near the poverty levels have limited alternatives to cooling themselves, with millions of villages without any access to basic electricity, and for those living in urban slums, many are too poor to afford it even if it were available.
Roop Singh, a climate risk adviser with the International Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Center, makes the point that with more middle-income households having air conditioning, this means widespread power outages in part because the need for more cooling strains the electrical grids, and in part because of a coal shortage in India. “This is particularly impactful for people who might have access to a fan or to a cooler but might not be able to run it because they can’t afford a generator,” she said.
Medical and climate scientists have determined there is a “hard limit” when human tolerance is breached, the ‘wet-bulb’ temperature beyond which the human body is no longer viable. The wet-bulb temperature reflects not only heat but also how much water (humidity) is in the air.
“If the wet-bulb temperature reading is higher than our body temperature, that means that we cannot cool ourselves to a temperature tolerable for humans by evaporating sweat and that basically means you can’t survive,” said Tapio Schneider, a California Institute of Technology climate scientist and professor.
A recent Science Advances study found that some places have already experienced conditions too hot and humid for human survival, including Pakistan where there has been a wet-bulb temperature of 95 degrees Fahrenheit. “That kind of temperature would make it impossible to sweat enough to avoid overheating, organ failure and eventual death.”
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, should global emissions continue as they are, places in India and Pakistan will approach these limits in this century.
Even before reaching “hard limits” at “adaptation levels”, the impact of unbelievably high heat levels is increasingly threatening living conditions throughout South Asia.
Recalling the lessons in Gunnar Myrdal’s historical work “Asian Drama”, when large numbers of people and communities are incapable of dealing with daily life and it becomes intolerable and without hope, the inevitable consequence is that social peace disintegrates.
Factors increasing both countries’ confrontational risks include the war in Ukraine, rivalries with China and Russia, climate change and pandemics
Recalling the lessons in Gunnar Myrdal’s historical work “Asian Drama”, when large numbers of people and communities are incapable of dealing with daily life and it becomes intolerable and without hope, the inevitable consequence is that social peace disintegrates.
This translates into civil disorder and widespread popular anger directed at their leaders. And often when leaders are not able or unwilling to provide meaningful assistance, they evoke external threats (real or imagined) and blame outsiders as a way to both distract and unite their subjects.
When disastrous living conditions occur in both urban and rural areas, political leaders in weak governments look to external escapism politics, a scenario with a high realism index in today’s South-Asian sub-continent. And with an obvious fallout on Pakistan’s and India’s nuclear policies.
The COVID Factor: The current pandemic has affected virtually every aspect of human activity, including international efforts in nuclear arms control and disarmament, and the work of the 1968 Treaty on the Non- Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (Non-Proliferation Treaty, NPT).
In South Asia, there was no official ongoing India–Pakistan, China–India, or China–Pakistan nuclear dialogue prior to Covid. The pandemic effectively stopped all in-person, non-official contacts which might have led to such engagement.
The pandemic and its accompanying worldwide panic shed light on why it is a mistake for governments to expend huge sums on building nuclear arsenals and war-fighting capabilities at the expense of basic economic and social needs.
The prospect of new variants of Covid-19, such as Omicron, and/or another potential readily transmissible virus underscores the fact that these can be very costly and destabilizing events, epidemics, and pandemics that undermine stability and even nations’ survival.
Covid infections in India– at least during the first two years– went massively unreported both in terms of morbidity and mortality. In Pakistan, both numbers were and have been considerably lower than its neighbor, but massive underreporting is likely there as well.
According to recent data, these figures in both countries have declined. As of April 2022 reported cases in Pakistan were down while in India, by the end of May 2022, an average of 2,574 cases per day were reported, with deaths having decreased by 11 percent.
The reported drop in COVID-19 infection rates at present has meant less attention in the public space in both countries—at least for the moment.
Again, there is no assurance that new variants and a wave of infections will not happen, which could cumulatively add to inter-country political tensions, especially if there are accusations that new infections came from across the border.
It all adds up to a worrying picture
Overwhelming heat currently affecting South Asia means that tens of millions are living with very harmful dehydration, exhaustion, food insecurity, and the possibility of added infectious disease from the ongoing Covid pandemic.
Such conditions potentially pose a level of political unrest which very well may influence the political class of these two nuclear countries.
With fanatic groups on both sides of their borders looking for ways to undermine stability, it will not take much for either India or Pakistan leaders to feel pressed to react, then counter-react, each step bringing them to the brink of choosing nuclear.
Let us hope such a tipping point is never reached, that both cooler weather and heads prevail.
While the U.S. military is globally dispersed, China can concentrate its forces on winning a future conflict in its own neighborhood. It now has the capability. China has the world’s largest navy and Asia’s biggest air force and an imposing arsenal of missiles designed to deter the United States from projecting military power into the Western Pacific in a crisis. China’s third and most advanced aircraft carrier is nearing completion, and other new hardware is being developed or is already in service.
To turn things around, the United States must prioritize the threat from China, reinforce its military strength in Asia and provide Australia, Japan and India more sophisticated military and technological capabilities to bolster a strategy of collective defense.
Washington should support Australian and Japanese aims to build long-range missiles on home soil by sharing intellectual property, provide more U.S. weaponry to India and beef up foreign military financing in the region, starting with a dedicated fund to boost Taiwan’s deterrence capabilities.
A Chinese fighter jet veered in front of an Australian military surveillance aircraft over international waters in the South China Sea last month and released metallic debris that was sucked into the Australian plane’s engines.
No one was reported hurt in the encounter, which Australia’s defense minister called “very dangerous,” but it added to a string of recent incidents that demonstrate China’s growing willingness to test the United States and its partners in Asia militarily.
China has systematically tracked U.S. warships in the region, its air force has staged intensifying incursions into Taiwanese and Japanese airspace, and its coast guard routinely harasses Philippine, Malaysian and Indonesian vessels. In recent weeks, Chinese fighter pilots have repeatedly buzzed Canadian military aircraft on a U.N.-sanctioned operation — sometimes raising their middle fingers at the Canadians.
As China’s armed forces grow in strength, sophistication and confidence, U.S.-led military deterrence in the Indo-Pacific is losing its bite.
Take the United States’ military presence in the region. It has about 55,000 military personnel in Japan and 28,000 in South Korea. Several thousand more are deployed across Australia, the Philippines, Thailand and Guam. This posture has barely changed since the 1950s. But plans to reinvigorate the U.S. presence have been stymied by inadequate budgets, competing priorities and a lack of consensus in Washington on how to deal with China.
The Pentagon has increased investments in cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence, and cyber- and space-based systems to prepare for a possible high-tech conflict with China in the 2030s. But the balance of power is likely to shift decidedly in China’s favor by the time they are deployed unless the United States brings new resources to the table soon.
President Biden this year submitted the largest defense budget ever in dollar terms, but much of the increase will be swallowed up by skyrocketing inflation. Mr. Biden, like former President Donald Trump, is thus falling short of a target of 3 percent to 5 percent real annual budget growth, a bipartisan goal set even before the Ukraine war and often cited as the minimum the Pentagon needs in today’s era of great-power competition.
Kenneth Juster made the statement on a Times Now show when asked why the United States had not made any statement about Beijing’s aggression.
India and China have been locked in a border standoff since troops of both countries clashed in eastern Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control in June 2020. Twenty Indian soldiers were killed in the hand-to-hand combat. While China had acknowledged casualties early, it did not disclose details till February 2021, when it said four of its soldiers had died.
After several rounds of talks, India and China had last year disengaged from Pangong Tso Lake in February and from Gogra, eastern Ladakh, in August.
Juster, who was the envoy to India between 2017 and 2021, had said in January 2021 that Washington closely coordinated with Delhi amid its standoff with Beijing, but left it to India to provide details of the cooperation.
Former United States Ambassador to India Kenneth Juster has said that Delhi did not want Washington to mention China’s border aggression in its statements.
“The restraint in mentioning China in any US-India communication or any Quad communication comes from India which is very concerned about not poking China in the eye,” Juster said on a Times Now show.
The statement came in response to news anchor and Times Now Editor-in-Chief Rahul Shivshankar’s queries on whether the US had made any statements about Beijing’s aggression.
During the TV show, defence analyst Derek Grossman claimed that Moscow was not a “friend” of India, saying that Russian President Vladimir Putin met his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at the Beijing Olympics. Grossman told the news anchor that Putin and Xi had then said that their friendship had “no limits”.
He claimed that India’s strategy to leverage Russia against China did not have any effects. “In fact, Russia-China relations have gotten only stronger.”
To this, Shivshankar said that before passing any judgement on India and Russia’s relationship, he must ask if US President Joe Biden had condemned China’s aggression at the borders along the Line of Actual Control or mentioned Beijing in a joint statement with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Grossman said: “To my understanding, the US has asked India if it wanted us to do something on the LAC but India said no – that it was something that India can handle on its own.”
Juster then backed Grossman’s contention.
ANIT MUKHERJEE JUNE 21, 2022
Over the last few months, the Indian defense establishment has taken stock, anticipating delays, sorting through complex financial arrangements (mainly by exploring the rupee-ruble trade), and securing spares and maintenance support. The Russo-Ukrainian war and the Indian military’s struggle to ensure that its Russian platforms remain operational has added an urgency to indigenization efforts. The speed and extent of Western sanctions, especially financial and technological, have spurred greater interest in attaining “technological autonomy.”
As a result, one of the biggest effects of the war is to reinforce support for the government’s Aatmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India) initiative. Under this campaign, unveiled in 2020, the Modi government seeks to encourage domestic manufacturing and reduce dependency on foreign goods. In the defense realm, the government has taken several steps to facilitate this process. First, it is encouraging the private sector to play a larger role, under the assumption that such competition will lead to capability accretion, innovation, and technological absorption. Second, it is taking steps to better organize the moribund state-owned defense industry. Most prominently, it has reorganized ordnance factories and is pushing for more public-private partnerships. Third, the government has placed 310 defense items, ranging from lightweight tanks and torpedoes to artillery guns and other complex systems, on the “positive indigenization list,” meaning that they will no longer be imported. Fourth, the government has eased and encouraged exports of different kinds of weapon systems, leading India’s defense exports to grow almost six-fold over the last five years.
India’s desire to reduce its reliance on Russian platforms is also an opportunity for western powers to overcome some of the longstanding challenges to closer cooperation with New Delhi. Previously, Western powers, especially the United States, have been reluctant to share technology. As Aditi Malhotra observed in an excellent brief on the effects of the war in Ukraine, “the West is unlikely to provide India with the advanced defense technologies that Russia readily offers.” Indeed, despite all the brouhaha over the U.S.-Indian relationship, “the two countries do not have a single project that they can claim symbolizes the depth of their defense relationship.” The fault is partly structural, as the U.S. defense industry has very few (if any) preexisting models for co-producing weapon platforms.
To effectively partner with India in creating its next generation of weapons platforms, Western partners will have to convince New Delhi that these partnerships will be reliable and lasting. Fortunately, the Russo-Ukrainian war is leading to an acknowledgement by some in the West that deepening defense and technology ties with India is critical to their vision of a future world order. Yet whether policymakers in India and the West can realize a common vision remains to be seen. While some Western powers, like France, have gone further than others, engaging with India will still require a leap of faith.
ANIT MUKHERJEE JUNE 21, 2022
To effectively partner with India in creating its next generation of weapons platforms, Western partners will have to convince New Delhi that these partnerships will be reliable and lasting. Fortunately, the Russo-Ukrainian war is leading to an acknowledgement by some in the West that deepening defense and technology ties with India is critical to their vision of a future world order. Yet whether policymakers in India and the West can realize a common vision remains to be seen. While some Western powers, like France, have gone further than others, engaging with India will still require a leap of faith.
Lessons Not Learned
Like most militaries, India’s has no dedicated institution either at the joint headquarters or in the services with a mandate to study operational lessons from “other people’s wars.” For that reason, there is no office dedicated to and appropriately staffed for analyzing such wars. Despite this, the government gave explicit orders to the Indian military “to study the Russian offensive into Ukraine and draw tactical lessons.” But it is unclear who has been tasked to do so and whether they will have access to adequate data to draw appropriate lessons. This is exacerbated by the ongoing and unexplained lack of a chief of defense. As a result, the joint staff does not carry as much institutional weight as it should, making it difficult to undertake objective analysis of the war free from service-specific prisms. To be sure, the service headquarters and lower formations must be carrying out individual studies at various levels, but they have limited situational awareness, institutional independence, and ability to influence policy. Indeed, it would not be surprising if stories later emerge about how each of the services drew their own institutionally preferred “lessons” from this war.
Nonetheless, Indian military analysts have been busy. They have largely discussed what is widely known about this war — the relevance of force in international relations, the return of conventional wars, the importance of logistics and theater commands for conducting operations, the dangers of relying on a conscript army, and the salience of drones. In addition, others have written on the importance of Starlink systems and of dominating the electromagnetic spectrum. Missing, however, is a detailed discussion of what this means for the Indian military’s current institutional structures or operating environment. To find that one would have to read the idiosyncratic Lt. Gen. H. S. Panag — never one to pull punches — who in a must-read article argues that the Indian military is “tailored for the wars of a bygone era,” and does not “have the technological military capability to defeat Pakistan or avoid a military embarrassment by China.” He then goes on to caution against the potential short-term drawbacks of relying on indigenization in a country with low domestic manufacturing capabilities.
In spite of these warnings, there is no evidence that the Indian military has undertaken any substantive changes to incorporate emerging technologies in warfare. This should be the primary focus for senior military officers as they think through the broader lessons of the war in Ukraine. Based on publicly available sources, there is also little indication that the war will lead to any significant changes in India’s military structures, doctrines, or training. On the contrary, to reduce its inflated manpower costs the Indian military has introduced a controversial, widely criticized “tour of duty” recruitment scheme — amounting to a quasi-conscript military. This has led to widespread public protests and is an all-consuming issue for senior defense officials. For them, as a result, the war in Ukraine must seem like a distant afterthought.
ANIT MUKHERJEE JUNE 21, 2022
Militaries all over the world are closely observing the war in Ukraine, but some have proven prone to hubris — concluding that they have little to learn because they are different. It is tempting for foreign observers to attribute the failures of the Russian military to its lack of professionalism rather than the increased difficulty of waging modern war. In the short term, the Indian military is focused on managing the immediate disruption caused by the current conflict. In the medium to long term, it is focusing on indigenization, including exploring opportunities to partner with Western countries. Professionally, however, there are few indications that the military is embarking on defense reforms that draw on the lessons of the war. Unfortunately, that might require a bigger crisis somewhere closer to home.
The Indian Ocean is a vital trading hub, and 80 per cent of China’s oil imports come through the Malacca Strait, the ocean’s busiest “choke point”.
Lin Minwang, a professor of South Asian studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, said the exercise would help China to expand its engagement in the Indian Ocean and counter US efforts to advance its Indo-Pacific strategy, which emphasises India’s “continued rise” and leadership in the region.
“The strengthening of maritime security between India and the United States has led to China’s greater engagement in the Indian Ocean.”
China must strengthen naval cooperation with countries in the region, including Pakistan, Iran, and Middle Eastern countries, Lin said.
The maritime exercise – the second in the ‘Sea Guardians’ series – will allow Pakistan to test Chinese-made warships
The drills coincide with US-led Rimpac, which has excluded China since 2018
China and Pakistan have launched a joint naval exercise in Shanghai, with an eye on countering the US Indo-Pacific strategy and responding to security threats in the Indian Ocean.
The four-day “Sea Guardians – 2” maritime exercise, jointly held by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy and Pakistan Navy, started at the Wusong military port, state news agency Xinhua reported.
The exercise aims to advance the strategic partnership between China and Pakistan and improve their joint response to maritime security threats, according to Xinhua.
This is the second time China and Pakistan have held a “Sea Guardians” joint maritime exercise. The first was held in January 2020 in the northern Arabian Sea.
To counter India, it is important for Pakistan to improve its navy by acquiring advanced equipment from Beijing and enhancing its capabilities through these drills, according to Lin.
The drills coincide with the Rim of the Pacific Exercise (Rimpac), a US-led multinational naval exercise joined by 25 other nations. The exercise began in Hawaii in late June and will last until August.
China took part in Rimpac in 2014 and 2016, but was not invited in 2018 or subsequent years as US-China relations worsened under the administration of former US president Donald Trump.
The Pakistan Navy sent the PNS Taimur – the second of four powerful Type 054A/P frigates built by China – to take part in the exercise. The ship was delivered to the Pakistan Navy in Shanghai on June 23. The first of the frigates, the PNS Tughril, joined the Pakistan Navy fleet in January.
The Chinese vessels and aircraft taking part in the exercise are mainly from the PLA Eastern Theatre Command. They include the guided-missile frigates Xiangtan and Shuozhou, supply ship Qiandaohu, a submarine, an early warning aircraft, two fighter jets and one helicopter.
Not much credit is given to this system due to its silent role and lack of publicity; however, there is no doubt that this system has enabled Turkey’s strategic and military planners to boost the efficiency and lethality of its UACVs. This is not to underestimate the unique capabilities of Ankara’s drones, but rather to underscore the value and role of the KORAL.
The KORAL is a land-based transportable EWS with an effective range of 150–200 km. The system offers advanced options and supports Suppression of Enemy Air Defences (SEAD) operations. It consists of two subsystems: the first provides electronic support operations for conducting ISR, while the other is dedicated to attack operations to degrade, neutralise or destroy enemy combat capabilities. This kind of operation usually involves the use of electromagnetic energy against communication systems and radar systems.
The KORAL was part of a Land-Based Stand-off Jammer System project adopted by the Defence Industry Executive Committee around two decades ago. It came as a response to increasing threats and to meet the growing needs of the Turkish air force command. The system was contracted in 2009, and within seven years, the KORAL EWS entered the Turkey Armed Forces’ (TSK) inventory. In this sense, the EWS filled a gap and offered new opportunities for the TSK.
Since 2016, the KORAL has been battle-tested in different environments, including critical theatres in Syria, Libya and Azerbaijan, demonstrating impressive capabilities and executing complex roles in the first-ever wars won by unmanned systems. Ankara incorporated the KORAL in a new unconventional drone doctrine that prescribes the use of drones as an air force in a conventional battle. The doctrine requires a high level of cooperation, coordination and integration between the deployed EWS (KORAL in this case), the UAVs (Aerospace Anka-S and Bayraktar TB2) and the smart micro-munitions (MAM-L and MAM-C).
This innovative military doctrine has generated a lot of discussion. Many defence ministers, military experts and security analysts worldwide have called on their countries and armies to observe what Turkey has done in this field and to draw appropriate lessons, in order to be prepared for the new age of automated wars. During the Royal Air Force’s online Air and Space Power Conference 2020, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace urged the force to go in this direction, hinting that ‘Even if half the claims [about Turkey’s drones and EWSs] are true, the implications are game-changing’.
During Operation Spring Shield against the Syrian regime and pro-Iranian militias, the KORAL set the stage for Ankara’s drones by securing aerial dominance for the TSK. As a result, Turkey’s drones were able to wipe out a large portion of Bashar al-Assad’s army in Idlib using pinpoint technology. During the battle, the Assad regime lost 151 tanks, eight helicopters, three drones, three fighter jets (including two Russian-made Sukhoi Su-24s), around 100 armoured military vehicles, eight aerial defence systems, 86 cannons and howitzers, multiple ammunition trucks and one headquarters, among other military equipment and facilities. Additionally, the KORAL humiliated Russia’s technology, including the air defence systems (ADSs) designed specifically to counter such drone threats.
Video captures by Turkey’s Ministry of Defence proved that Ankara was able to identify, locate, monitor, follow and target several Russian-made ADSs, including the Pantsir, without fear of being hit. One video which went viral on social media showed that the Turkish drones targeted and destroyed the Pantsir, even though its radar was active and combat-ready. Considering the close-up nature of the video and the large size of the TB2, it is highly likely that the KORAL managed to blind the Russian radar. During the operations, the TSK successfully destroyed eight Pantsir ADS units.
In Libya, Ankara’s intervention in favour of the UN-recognised government and against Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) – which has been supported by a host of countries including the UAE, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, France and Russia – turned the tide of the war. Turkey’s deployment of the KORAL alongside its TB2s dramatically changed the equation on the ground.
The KORAL disrupted the LNA’s Chinese-made Wing Loong drones supplied by the UAE, and established local aerial superiority for Turkey’s UACVs by rendering the LNA’s ADSs useless (including S-125, SA-6 and Pantsir S-1 systems). Furthermore, it enabled the lethal and precise targeting of Haftar’s military bases, supply lines, military equipment, fortified positions and ground targets. Clash Report claimed that Turkey destroyed at least 15 Pantsir systems in Libya. Once again, in at least one case, a video recording showed a Pantsir’s radar active and hopelessly looking for a threat to engage with, before being hit and destroyed by Ankara’s state-of-the-art drone, the TB2.
During the 44-day war between Azerbaijan and Armenia last year, the KORAL demonstrated its critical capacity on a broader scale. The Turkish-made EWS prepared the ground for a swift and decisive Azeri victory. The KORAL reportedly reduced the formidable Russian-made Armenian formations of ground-based ADSs to junk, enabling the Azeri forces to wipe them out, and thus leaving the Armenian Army at the mercy of Azeri TB2s acquired from Turkey.
Armenia lost around 256 tanks, 50 BMP vehicles, 40 OSA SAM systems, over 400 trucks, hundreds of artillery pieces, and other military equipment during the war. In an act of psychological and information warfare, Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Defence released video recordings showing Armenian ADSs of all types (SA 8 Osa, SA 13 Strela 10, SA 15 Buk and even Russian-made S-300) being hit and destroyed by its forces. According to Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev, the Azeri military destroyed at least six S-300 missile systems using mainly Turkish and some Harop loitering munitions or Kamikaze drones.
To gain leverage over Azerbaijan, Yerevan acquired Russia’s Iskander ballistic missile and Repellent EWS in 2016 and 2017. Yet, Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan discovered that these systems – worth tens of millions of dollars each – did not actually work, despite Moscow promoting them as advanced, complex and superior systems. Azerbaijan managed to disable and/or destroy many of these systems along with Armenia’s ADSs. In one documented case, an Armenian ADS is seen executing a series of unsuccessful attempts to launch missiles against an aerial target due to the powerful suppression targeting of the KORAL.
In November 2020, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan praised the KORAL. Confirming the EWS’s critical role in Ankara’s latest battles, he revealed that his country is working on a new, more advanced version of the KORAL. Under the leadership of the Presidency of Defence Industries, ASELSAN has been working on a new generation of KORAL with advanced capabilities, the Kara SOJ-2. More recently, the TSK added the new highly capable SANCAK EWS to its inventory.
These new developments mean that Ankara is now open to exporting the KORAL. Several news platforms claimed that Ankara signed a $50.7 million contract to sell the KORAL EWS to Morocco’s Royal Armed Forces. Last August, a report indicated that the Royal Army of Oman was mulling the possibility of buying the Turkish-made EWS. At the end of that month, Iraq’s Defence Minister Jouma Saadoun reportedly expressed his country’s willingness to purchase Turkish-made military equipment, including TB2 UACVs, 12 T-129 ATAK helicopters and six KORAL EWSs.
Considering Ankara’s rising ambition to become a leader in robotic warfare systems and its relentless effort to add more unmanned offensive and defensive systems to the TSK’s inventory in the coming years, it will definitely focus on boosting its electronic warfare capabilities in the future.
The Pakistan Air Force showcased its latest defence procurements in a video released on the occasion of Pakistan's 75th Independence Day.
- Akinci UCAV 🇹🇷
- Bayraktar TB2 UCAV 🇹🇷
- TPS-77 MMR
However, the programme was not without its difficulties, with component and equipment delivery and supply chain issues delaying the commissioning by around five years. The programme also suffered from cost overruns, coming in at $3bn more than the initial allocated budget.
INS Vikrant (specifications)
Embarked aircraft 30 fixed- and rotary-wing
According to Kandlikar, the Indian Navy is expected to field three aircraft carriers in its fleet by the next decade. With Vikramiditya in service and Vikrant now commissioned, India is beginning to plan the build of the future INS Vishal, which is expected to be larger still than existing carriers and feature updated technologies, such as an electromagnetic air-lift systems, also known as EMALS, as being installed on the US Navy’s Ford-class super carriers.
“With the experience gained in the construction of IAC-1, supported by the indigenous ecosystem it is expected that the Indian Navy will soon get a green light from the Indian Ministry of Defence to start designing the third aircraft carrier,” Kandlikar said.
Air wing composition
In terms of embarked aircraft, Kandlikar said the Indian Navy was looking to deploy a new carrier air wing comprising of either F/A-18 Super Hornets or Rafale-M fighters. The Indian Air Force currently operates the conventional Rafale 4.5 generation fighter, which is manufactured by France’s Dassault Aviation, offering a commonality option for the Indian Navy.
Capability-wise, the two aircraft are similar, although the Rafale is the newer aircraft and is being heavily pushed for export. The Super Hornet, meanwhile, is entering the twilight of its naval career. Although it still broadly matches the Rafale in terms of engine thrust it, is slightly slower at Mach 1.6 compared to Mach 1.8, but with a higher payload capacity at 66,000lb (29,937kg) to the Rafale’s 54,000lb.
However, in the near-to-mid-term, India will utilise its fleet of 45 MiG-29K/KUB fighters, acquired from Russia following the signing of separate deals in 2004 and 2010. India is also developing a navalised variant of its LCA/HAL Tejas fighter, although it is not known when the platform will be integrated into the country’s carrier fleet.
The rotary component, vital for search-and-rescue and airborne early warning and surveillance roles, will be fulfilled by the Russian-supplied Kamov 31 helicopter.
by Shekhar Gupta
1. Indian aircraft carrier is powered by American General Electric turbines
2. Russian MIG 29s require a lot of maintenance. These will be replaced with French Rafales or US F-18s in future.
3. Chinese aircraft carriers are totally indigenous (including engines, weapons, and aircraft) are much bigger
4. China has developed "aircraft carrier buster missiles" to deal with hostile nations' Navies.
5. Indian Navy hid its aircraft carriers from Pakistani submarines during 1965 and 1971 wars.
6. Indian-American analyst Ashley Tellis questions the utility of Indian aircraft carriers in the absence of India's geopolitical aims and its Naval Doctrine.
Ashley Tellis on submarines vs aircraft carriers
The Unusual Carrier Killer Capability Of The Chinese Navy’s Strategic Bomber - Naval News
China’s recent test of a hypersonic ‘Orbital Bombardment System’ has been characterized as a ‘Sputnik moment’. The world is only just waking up to Chinese advances in strategic weapons technologies. Among a raft of new weapons, which increasingly do not have direct equivalents in the West, are anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBMs). One of these, an air-launched version, appears to include a hypersonic maneuvering missile.
NS Vikrant is the largest indigenous warship built by India and expected to "bolster India's position in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and its quest for a blue water navy". How will it boost India's naval power, especially against rival China?
For starters, the induction of India's first indigenous aircraft carrier means the navy now has two aircraft carriers, including INS Vikramaditya in service boosting the country's maritime defence. Compared to the Indian Navy, China's People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has three aircraft carriers. India now has two aircraft carriers—INS Vikrant and INS Vikramaditya. China has three—Fujian, Shandong and Liaoning.
India has now joined the "select group of nations" which have the capability to indigenously design and build an aircraft carrier, say experts.
"There are only 14 countries in the world which have at least one aircraft carrier and only six countries in the world have the capacity and the capability to build an aircraft carrier. India is one of these six," Lt Col JS Sodhi. a Defence and Strategic Affairs analyst told CNBC-TV18.com.
INS Vikrant's importance for India
INS Vikrant "would bolster India's position in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and its quest for a blue water Navy", the government had said in July this year in a press release.
A blue water Navy "operates deep into the oceans", Sodhi added.
This comes at a time when the ties between the two nations are under stress owing to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army's (PLA) movements around India's borders as well as Chinese PLAN's movement in and around the Indian Ocean.
With INS Vikrant's entry, India can deploy an aircraft carrier each on the eastern and western seaboard and expand its maritime presence.
"We will have two aircraft carriers. Because of that, India, having an eastern and western coast and vast oceans on both sides, will be able to utilise one carrier on each seaboard... we'll be able to cover the primary areas of maritime interest," Captain Kamlesh Agnihotri (Retd.), a senior fellow at the National Maritime Foundation (NMF) told CNBC-TV18.com.
The need for an aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier has great operational range, carrying fighter aircraft which are important in any battle to project power and control the sea.
NMF's Agnihotri said, "projecting powers and sea control is the primary purpose of aircraft carriers," while adding, "the aircraft carrier are floating airfields."
"The aircraft carrier adds to the maritime power of the country. It is the most potent weapon of a navy because it has the capacity to operate at a very large distance. It also acts as an air base at the time of conflict," Sodhi said.
India Vs China maritime power
While INS Vikrant adds to the Indian Navy's firepower, Chinese navy or PLAN is ahead in the number of warships and overall seapower. According to the World Directory of Modern Military Warships (2022), China ranks second on the Global Naval Powers Ranking 2022 after the United States — the true global blue water navy, while India ranks seventh.
"Comparing India's carrier INS Vikrant to Fujian is not correct," said Agnihotri. This is because, while INS Vikrant has a ski-jump kind of take-off mechanism, the Chinese Fujian has a catapult type of take-off mechanism.
"With catapult, you are able to launch heavier aircraft carrying more payloads, and more fuels for longer range," he said. It is better to compare Vikrant with Shandong, the second aircraft carrier China owns.
Besides, aircraft carriers, India has INS Arihant, an indigenously built
nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN).
"Comparing India's carrier INS Vikrant to Fujian is not correct," said Agnihotri. This is because, while INS Vikrant has a ski-jump kind of take-off mechanism, the Chinese Fujian has a catapult type of take-off mechanism.
"With catapult, you are able to launch heavier aircraft carrying more payloads, and more fuels for longer range," he said. It is better to compare Vikrant with Shandong, the second aircraft carrier China owns.
Besides, aircraft carriers, India has INS Arihant, an indigenously built
nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN).
Can India counter Chinese navy incursions?
NMF's Agnihotri said, "our strong carrier-based force will be able to counter the challenges." Sodhi, however, said that "India is fast emerging as great naval power but China has an edge."
"We have picked up speed in the defence manufacturing indigenously. We are also slowly matching up," Sodhi added.
Earlier, news agency ANI quoted Southern Naval Command (SNC) Chief Vice admiral MA Hampiholi as saying that the Indian Navy needs three aircraft carriers to deter Chinese presence in Indian Ocean Region.
To directly threaten Pakistan, the small-deck carriers will have to maneuver closer to “anti-access / area denial” weapons which could sink them.
by Robert Beckhusen
Most likely, India would attempt to enforce a blockade of Pakistan and use its carriers to strike land-based targets. But Pakistan has several means to attack Indian carriers — with near-undetectable submarines and anti-ship missiles — which must also operate relatively far from India itself in the western and northern Arabian Sea. China does not have a similar disadvantage, as the PLAN would likely keep its carriers close and within the “first island chain” including Taiwan, closer to shore where supporting aircraft and ground-based missile launchers can help out.
Thus, Indian carriers would be relatively vulnerable and only one of them will have aircraft capable of launching with standard ordnance and fuel. And that is after Vishal sets sail in the next decade.
To directly threaten Pakistan, the small-deck carriers will have to maneuver nearer to shore — and thereby closer to “anti-access / area denial” weapons which could sink them. And even with a third carrier, the threat of land-based Pakistani aircraft will force the Indian Navy to dedicate a large proportion of its own air wings to defense — perhaps half of its available fighters, according to 2017 paper by Ben Wan Beng Ho for the Naval War College Review.
“Therefore, it is doubtful that any attack force launched from an Indian carrier would pack a significant punch,” Ho writes. “With aircraft available for strike duties barely numbering into the double digits, the Indian carrier simply cannot deliver a substantial ‘pulse’ of combat power against its adversary.”
Essentially, this makes Indian carriers’ self-defeating, with the flattops existing primarily to defend themselves from attack rather than taking the fight to their enemy. Carriers are also expensive symbols of national prestige, and it is unlikely the Indian Navy will want to risk losing one, two or all three. Under the circumstances, India’s investment in carriers makes more sense symbolically, and primarily as a way of keeping shipyards busy and shipyard workers employed.
However, this is not to entirely rule out a carrier-centric naval strategy. Ho notes that Indian carriers could be useful when operating far out at sea and in the western Arabian Sea, effectively as escort ships for commercial shipping and to harass Pakistani trade. Nevertheless, this strategy comes with a similar set of problems.
“In any attempt to impose sea control in the northern Arabian Sea and to interdict Pakistani seaborne commerce by enforcing a blockade of major Pakistani maritime nodes, Indian carrier forces would have to devote a portion of their already meager airpower to attacking Pakistani vessels, thereby exacerbating the conundrum alluded to earlier,” Ho added. “What is more, Pakistani ships are likely to operate relatively close to their nation’s coast, to be protected by Islamabad’s considerable access-denial barrier.”
Another possibility is India massing its carriers in the later stages of a war after the Army and Air Force pummel and degrade the Pakistani military.
But this raises the question as to whether India strictly needs carriers at all if it cannot use them during the decisive periods of a conflict — as opposed to, say, less-expensive warships, and more of them, equipped with long-range missiles.
Russia acknowledged that it had lost nearly all of the northern region of Kharkiv after a blitzkrieg thrust by Ukrainian fighters.
Stunned by a lightning advance by Ukrainian forces that cost it over 1,000 square miles of land and a key military hub, Russia on Sunday acknowledged that it had lost nearly all of the northern region of Kharkiv after a blitzkrieg thrust that cast doubt on a premise — widely held in Moscow and parts of the West — that Ukraine could never defeat Russia.
Russia’s pell-mell retreat from a wide section of Ukrainian territory it seized in the early summer rattled Kremlin cheerleaders and amplified voices in the West demanding that more weapons be sent to Ukraine so that it could win.
Victory for Ukraine is still far from certain, particularly with a second Ukrainian offensive in the south making far less rapid progress. Russian forces are dug into strong defensive positions near the Black Sea port city of Kherson, forcing Ukrainian troops to pay heavily for every foot of territory they retake.
But the speed of Ukraine’s advances over the weekend in the northeast — an area used by Russia as a stronghold — has muted the gung-ho bluster of Kremlin cheerleaders. It has also undermined arguments in places like Germany that providing more and better arms to Ukraine would only lead to a long and bloody stalemate against a Russian military destined to win.
Late Sunday, in a strike that Ukrainian officials condemned as a fit of pique over its losses, Moscow attacked infrastructure facilities in Kharkiv, leaving many civilians without power and water. President Volodymyr Zelensky said there was a “total blackout” in the regions of Kharkiv and Donetsk.
“No military facilities,” he wrote on Twitter. “The goal is to deprive people of light and heat.”
Speaking at a news conference with his German counterpart, Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, said, “And so I reiterate: The more weapons we receive, the faster we will win, and the faster this war will end.”
For months now, administration officials have said there is no hope of a diplomatic solution to the war unless Mr. Zelensky’s forces win back enough territory to have the upper hand in any negotiated cease-fire or armistice. But the fear is that if Mr. Putin believes he is losing the war, he may deploy unconventional weapons.
As Ukraine has received its first batch of truck-mounted Harpoon Anti-Ship Missiles (AShM) from the US, its top defense acquisition official said Russia’s Vasily Bekh support vessel was sunk on June 17 by a version of the missile fired from a flatbed truck.
This comes in the backdrop of Ukraine receiving the first batch of vehicle-mounted Harpoon missiles, which US officials said their Ukrainian counterparts consider essential for their coastal defense.
Secretary of Defense, Llyod Austin, announced the road-mobile Harpoons on June 15 as a part of a $650 million Ukraine Security Assistance fund.
US & Allies Team Up To Arm Ukraine
The Harpoon weighs under 700 kilograms and flies at subsonic speeds with a 225-kilogram fragmentation warhead at ranges of 90 to 220 kilometers (536 miles). It has a diameter of 34.4 centimeters and is about 12 feet long.
Following the sinking of the Vasily Bekh, Russia itself claimed to have destroyed Harpoons on July 18 and July 24. In the former, it claimed to have struck an “industrial enterprise” in Odesa that stored the missile. The second strike declared the sinking of a Ukrainian warship and Harpoon missiles in the Odesa port.
In a background briefing call with journalists in June after the package’s announcement, unnamed Department of Defense (DoD) and Pentagon officials surprisingly claimed that the missiles did not come from the US but its allies.
“For Harpoon systems specifically, working with allies and partners, we will provide truck-mounted launch capability and then supported by donations from other allies and partners,” the official added. Thus, combined efforts (from friendly nations) will support these two capabilities (launcher and rockets), with the launchers coming from the US and the missiles coming from NATO allies.
The consternation about not depleting their inventory in support of Ukraine worries the US military leadership. This is because the Pentagon officials said they are “pushing” such systems “to the front quickly” only after “taking into account other considerations such as their (own) readiness.”
Ukraine has long asked for long-range artillery, like more M-777 lightweight towed artillery (which Russia has claimed to have destroyed in large numbers).
Installing Harpoons From A Ship To A Truck
Speaking at the press conference, Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Bill LaPlante, recalled the ad-hoc mid-June arrangement that involved taking the Harpoons off a ship and putting them on flatbed trucks.
“We got them off the ship, put the Harpoons, the modules on the flatbed truck, and then a different flatbed truck for the power source, connected a cable between it, figured out was exportable,” LaPlante was quoted as saying by Defense One. On June 17, Russia’s Vasily Bekh support ship was sunk. A week later, Pentagon said the ship was sunk using a Harpoon.
While LaPlante did not disclose the country the missiles were taken from, it is likely to have been Denmark, as Ukraine had said on June 9 about having deployed Harpoons from the Scandinavian country. “So, this is a capability that provides them significantly stronger deterrence,” the official was quoted in the transcript of the call released by the DoD.
The official also said the Ukrainians have ranked coastal defense “at the top of their list of urgent needs.”
He also responded to a query by a journalist on what appeared to be a minimal number of only two such systems. “(That’s) because of what’s readily available that industry has that can be supplied in the near-term process to, again, make and have an effect on the near-term on the battlefield,” the official said.
US has procured the Harpoon launchers through a Request for Information (RFI) tendering process. This will “marry up with allies and partners with missile capabilities.”
The Indian prime minister told Putin on the sidelines of a regional security bloc summit in Uzbekistan: "I know that today's era is not an era of war, and I have spoken to you on the phone about this." He said democracy, diplomacy and dialogue kept the world together.
But Putin said Kyiv had rejected negotiations and was set on achieving its own objectives "on the battlefield".
"I know your position on the conflict in Ukraine, your concerns that you constantly express," he told Modi on the sidelines of a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.
"We will do everything to stop this as soon as possible. Only, unfortunately, the opposing side, the leadership of Ukraine, announced its rejection of the negotiation process and stated that it wants to achieve its goals by military means."
Russia controls around a fifth of Ukraine after sending its armed forces into its neighbour's territory from several directions in February.
It says that what it calls a "special military operation" was necessary to prevent Ukraine being used as a platform for Western aggression, and to defend Russian-speakers.
Kyiv and its Western allies dismiss these arguments as baseless pretexts for an imperial-style war of acquisition, and have urged Russia to withdraw unconditionally.
Putin had made similar comments to Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Thursday, saying he understood Beijing's concerns about the conflict.
Russia is trying to forge closer ties with both China and India as Moscow faces isolation and onerous sanctions from the West over its invasion of Ukraine.
Both countries have stepped up their purchases of Russian energy - trading at a discount on world markets as Western countries buy less - and talked about building closer economic ties.
(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Kevin Liffey)
“As a practical matter, countries that have had to rely on Russian equipment are going to find it very difficult to get even basic supplies from Russia’s defense industrial base,” said the NSC's Cara Abercrombie.
The remarks come weeks after the Biden administration notified Congress it would make $2.2 billion in new Foreign Military Financing grants available for Ukraine and former Warsaw Pact countries whose Soviet-made gear has been part of international aid to Ukraine.
“In NATO, that could be to transition our eastern flank partners to NATO-standard, western equipment. But certainly as we look to other countries in the Pacific, this is an opportunity as well, not just for the United States, but for western industry as well,” Abercrombie said.
The Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer, Bill LaPlante, said more “interchangeability by interoperability” among allies presents an opportunity, not just economically, but geostrategically. Linking industrial bases, or “friendshoring,” would mitigate supply chain shocks and be essential to the common defense of the U.S. and its allies, he said.
“As we have seen in Ukraine, the weapons and equipment provided by the U.S. and its allies are the best in the world,” LaPlante said in pre-recorded remarks at the ComDef conference. “Continuing to more closely integrate these capabilities with increasingly common standards for munitions, software and other components will provide even greater advantages moving forward.”
Though western sanctions have targeted Russia’s defense industry, Russia was in 2021 the second-largest arms exporter after the United States, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Its chief clients are India, China and Egypt.
The head of Russia’s weapons export branch said earlier this year that Moscow’s arms export revenue in 2022 is likely to total about $10.8 billion, roughly 26% lower than reported for 2021.
This week, LaPlante is in Brussels convening a meeting of weapons buyers from more than 50 countries to better coordinate defense industrial efforts as they replenish weapons sent to Ukraine from their own stockpiles. The meeting is taking place under the auspices of the 50-nation Ukraine Defense Contact Group.
Dovetailing with Pentagon-led efforts to boost western and allied defense capabilities, the White House will continue the work of a Department of Defense “tiger team” seeking to streamline the U.S. process of selling arms around the globe, Abercrombie said.
“Within the National Security Council, I am looking at basically a baton pass,” Abercrombie said. “As DoD wraps up its initial analysis, we’ll be doing an interagency process to look at the collective [effort and] how can we make U.S. foreign military sales work better for our partners, or at least be a little faster.”
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in August established the task force to address the U.S. foreign military sales process, which spans the Pentagon and State Department. Abercrombie said the streamlining is meant to make the process more nimble without cutting corners.
Asked about trade restrictions by the European Union that could hinder U.S. defense exports, Abercrombie said the administration is seeking to reduce those barriers. Supply chain challenges make clear it’s “time to be looking for opportunities to work together to reduce the barriers,” she said.
The U.S.-led meeting of armaments directors in Brussels also highlights some of the headwinds for allied efforts to arm up. The gathering is aimed at addressing supply chain chokepoints for gun barrels, ball bearings and steel casings ― as well as how to sustain equipment for Ukraine on a long-term basis.
“Ultimately, more closely integrating with our allies and friends around the world will make us all more secure and resilient,” LaPlante said.
PUBLISHED WED, SEP 28 20228:26 PM EDT
Lee Ying Shan
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have publicly rebuked Russian President Vladimir Putin over the war in Ukraine, but the longstanding friendship between the two countries isn’t going away, analysts said.
“India is in a unique position where it needs Russia in the short term to manage China,” said Harsh V. Pant, vice president of studies and foreign policy at Observer Research Foundation, a Delhi-based think tank.
“The bulk of India’s conventional weapons are sourced from Russia,” said Sameer Lalwani, a senior expert at the U.S. Institute of Peace. ”[This] means that it relies heavily on Russia for force sustainment including spares, maintenance, and upgrades for years.
Ties will ‘endure for decades’
India’s longstanding friendship with Russia isn’t going away — and that’s thanks to its military dependence, according to Lalwani.
“Even while India seeks greater indigenization of its defense capabilities, absent a stunning and financially exorbitant overhaul of its force structure, it will continue to depend on Russian arms, munitions, and subcomponents for decades,” said Lalwani.
He added that India’s exports of cruise missiles to Southeast Asian states cannot function without Russian propulsion systems.
“Even if the India-Russia military relationship is on the downswing, it will still endure for decades.”
A global revolution in warfare is dramatically tipping the scales of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, putting in the hands of front-line troops the kind of lethality that until recently required aircraft, ships or lumbering tracked vehicles. It also has the capacity to change battlefields far from Eastern Europe.
The centerpiece of the new battle order is the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or Himars. Provided by the U.S. and operated by Ukrainian soldiers since June, they are augmenting lightweight and precise weaponry that includes drones, Javelin antitank rockets and Stinger antiaircraft missiles, enabled by GPS guidance and advanced microelectronics.
Able to pick off Russian military bases, ammunition depots and infrastructure far behind front lines, Ukraine’s 16 Himars helped its troops this summer halt a bloody Russian advance. Since last month, Ukrainians have seized back swaths of territory in their country’s east and ground down Russian troops in the south. Washington recently pledged to deliver another 18 Himars.
Within Kyiv’s arsenal, Himars offer a unique combination of range, precision and mobility that allows them to do the job traditionally handled by dozens of launchers firing thousands of shells.
By shrinking launchers and nearly guaranteeing hits on targets, Himars and the other equipment are upending century-old assumptions about how wars must be fought—and particularly about military supplies. Himars’s vastly improved accuracy also collapses the massive logistical trail that modern infantry has demanded.
“Himars is one part of a precision revolution that turns heavily equipped armies into something light and mobile,” said Robert Scales, a retired U.S. Army major general who was among the first to envision Himars in the 1970s.
Last month The Wall Street Journal gained rare access to a front-line Himars unit.
One evening at dusk the men in this unit were making dinner when orders for their fifth mission of the day arrived: to target Russian barracks and a river barge ferrying munitions and tanks 40 miles away.
Six men piled into their two Himars: a driver, targeter and commander in each, accompanied by the battery commander and a security detail in an armored personnel carrier. The commander plugged coordinate data into a tablet computer to determine the safest location for firing.
Within minutes, the two Himars rumbled out from cover under an apricot grove toward the launch spot in a nearby sunflower field. Thirty seconds after arriving, they fired seven missiles in quick succession. Before the projectiles hit their targets, the trucks were returning to base camp.
Ten minutes later came another pair of targets: Soviet-era rocket launchers some 44 miles away. Off rolled the Himars again and fired another barrage of missiles.
Soon after, the soldiers were back at camp and finishing their dinner. Some pulled up videos on Telegram showing the fruit of their labor: burning Russian barracks.
Adding to Pakistan’s rocket artillery inventory, the Fatah-1 joins the A-100, Nasr, and Yarmouk-series. Like the Fatah-1, Pakistan manufactures the A-100, Nasr, and Yarmouk domestically.
But in contrast to its other rockets, Pakistan is positioning the Fatah-1 as an offensively oriented weapon. The ISPR says the Fatah-1 gives Pakistan the ability to precisely engage targets “deep in enemy territory.”
Background on the Fatah-1
The Fatah-1 seems to be one of two MLRS the Pakistan Ministry of Defence Production (MoDP) referenced in its annual yearbook in 2015-2016.  These were a base MLRS and an “extended-range” MLRS.
In 2019, the ISPR revealed the A-100 (which has a range of over 100 km) as an “indigenous” rocket. If the A-100 is the base MLRS, the 140-km Fatah-1 could be the “extended-range” MLRS design.
There is no confirmed connection between the A-100 and Fatah-1. However, Pakistan apparently localized the A-100, so it would make sense for it to develop the Fatah-1 as a subvariant. If the Fatah-1 is a variant of the A-100, then it could share the same caliber (300 mm) and warhead weight (reportedly 235 kg).
However, this apparent link is only speculation. The Fatah-1 could also be distinct design and, as a result, be a larger rocket design. For reference, the Chinese Weishi or WS-series of rockets have spun out into a diverse line-up of missiles of varying calibres, ranges, and applications.
The ISPR’s mention of “precision target engagement” indicates that Pakistan configured the Fatah-1 with a guidance system. It could be a GPS/INS (or BeiDou/INS)-based suite. This enables Pakistan to feed Fatah-1 missiles with location data of predetermined targets.
Thus, Pakistan could use the Fatah-1 as a long-range strike weapon, and potentially deploy it combination with precision-guided bombs (PGB), land-attack cruise missiles (LACM), and glide-munitions.
How Pakistan May Deploy the Fatah-1
Past footage of Pakistan’s artillery deployments show that it is using the SLC-2 counter-battery radar with the A-100E (which it was using before announcing a locally built variant). However, the range potential of the Fatah-1 exceeds the reported detection range of the SLC-2…
A new version of the Pinaka rocket system has been successfully flight-tested by the DRDO and the Indian Army at the Pokhran firing ranges, the Defence ministry said on April 9, echoed by The Hindu: as many as 24 Pinaka Mk-I (Enhanced) Rocket Systems (EPRS) were fired for different ranges during the last fortnight and the weapons met the required accuracy and consistency, it said.
Pinaka is a multiple rocket launcher (MLRS) produced and developed by Armament Research and Development Establishment, Pune, supported by High Energy Materials Research Laboratory, another Pune-based laboratory of the DRDO for the Indian Army. The system has a maximum range of 40 km for Mark-I and 60 km for Mark-I enhanced version. It can fire a salvo of 12 HE rockets in 44 seconds. The system is mounted on a Tatra truck. Pinaka saw service during the Kargil War. After establishing the performance efficacy of the enhanced range version of Pinaka, the technology was transferred to Munitions India Limited (MIL) and Economic Explosives Limited, Nagpur.
The EPRS is the upgraded version of the Pinaka variant that has been in service with the Indian Army for the last decade, The hindu precises. The ministry said the rocket system has been upgraded with advanced technologies enhancing the range to meet the emerging requirements: "Pinaka Mk-I (Enhanced) Rocket System (EPRS) and Pinaka Area Denial Munition (ADM) rocket systems have been successfully flight-tested by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Indian Army at Pokhran firing ranges," the ministry said in a statement. "With these trials, the initial phase of technology absorption of EPRS by the industry has successfully been completed and the industry partners are ready for user trials/series production of the rocket system," it added.
" Different variants of munitions and fuses which can be used in the Pinaka rocket system were also successfully test evaluated in the Pokhran field firing range," the Defence ministry said.
“To be able to win the fires fight; to be able to take dispersed forces and have them converge together to engage the enemy; to be able to see farther, more persistently, longer than our adversaries; to be able to protect ourselves; to be able to share data and communicate, not just with each other but with the other services and our allies; and then to sustain that whole joint force, we’re going to need systems, capabilities,” (US Army Secretary Christine) Wormuth said. “That is really where you get into a lot of the programs that we always talk about in our six modernization portfolios.”
The war games took into account efforts currently under development — including those on weapons systems, concepts and the new multidomain operations doctrine — in order to determine “the next set of concepts” and the requirements that will drive them, Wormuth explained.
“I can’t think of an area that we’re not doing anything in right now,” she said. “We’ve got work underway looking at networks, at AI, at autonomy, at … biotechnology. Those are the things that I think we want to have the labs focused on, so I don’t think there’s a wholly uncovered area at this time.”
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The People’s Liberation Army is emerging as a true competitor but Beijing worries about the ability of its troops
A Chinese soldier held a flag during joint military exercises in Kyrgyzstan in 2016.
China’s military is emerging as a true competitor to the U.S. under Xi Jinping.
The People’s Liberation Army now has hypersonic missiles that evade most defenses, a technology the U.S. is still developing. Its attack drones can swarm to paralyze communications networks. China’s naval ships outnumber America’s, and it launched its third aircraft carrier this summer, the first to be designed and built in the country. Its defense budget is second only to the U.S.’s. China’s military has more serving members, at around 2 million, compared with just under 1.4 million in the U.S.
The question for Mr. Xi, which he has raised in public, is whether those forces are ready for battle.
China hasn’t fought a war since a brief border clash with Vietnam in 1979. Unlike American forces, who have fought for most of the past two decades in Iraq and Afghanistan, China’s service members have virtually no combat experience—which some Chinese leaders have referred to as a “peace disease.” Finding a solution short of actual war has been a priority for Mr. Xi, especially as he seeks to prepare the country for a potential showdown with the U.S.
“We must comprehensively strengthen military training and preparation, and improve the army’s ability to win,” Mr. Xi said on Sunday at the opening of the Communist Party’s twice-a-decade congress.
The issue has become more pressing for Beijing as tensions build with Taiwan, which China sees as part of its territory. On Sunday, Mr. Xi reiterated that Beijing wouldn’t renounce the use of force in China’s effort to take control of the island.
“The complete unification of the motherland must be realized, and it will be realized,” he said, drawing loud applause.
An effort to make China’s different military branches work more closely together—so-called “jointness,” which is considered crucial to modern warfare—remains untested.
“At present, there are not many commanders in the PLA who are truly proficient in joint combat,” one serving officer at the Zhengzhou Joint Logistics Support Center wrote earlier this year in a commentary in the PLA Daily, the military’s newspaper. “If this situation does not change, once there is a war, it will be very dangerous.”
Outside analysts say the PLA appears to be making progress in bringing forces together for more complex joint exercises, helped by interaction with other militaries, especially Russia’s. Since Mr. Xi took power, China has increased drills with Russia to as many as 10 a year from one or two previously.
October 24, 2022
Pakistan Air Force’s (PAF’s) Public Relations Department recently released a video featuring various aircraft and weapon systems within the PAF’s fleet, including the Turkish-made Akinci combat drone.
The video by the PAF was released on October 19, when Pakistan’s President Dr. Arif Alvi visited the Air Headquarters, Islamabad as a chief guest to attend the inaugural ceremony of the two-day flagship international seminar titled ‘Global Strategic Threat and Response’ (GSTAR) arranged by Centre for Aerospace & Security Studies (CASS).
The video lasts for three minutes and twenty-one seconds. After two minutes and twenty-one seconds, a PAF Squadron Leader, reportedly wearing an Akinci patch, can inspect the Akinci drone armed with light glide bombs.
The New Delhi government fears its expansionist neighbor but is deeply wary about getting in the middle of a brawl with Beijing.
By Hal Brands
So how might India react if China attacked Taiwan? Although India can’t project much military power east of the Malacca Strait, it could still, in theory, do a lot. US officials quietly hope that India might grant access to its Andaman and Nicobar Islands, in the eastern Bay of Bengal, to facilitate a blockade of China’s oil supplies. The Indian Navy could help keep Chinese ships out of the Indian Ocean; perhaps the Indian Army could distract China by turning up the heat in the Himalayas.
New Delhi has a real stake in the survival of a free Taiwan. China has a punishing strategic geography, in that it faces security challenges on land and at sea. If taking Taiwan gave China preeminence in maritime Asia, though, Beijing could then pivot to settle affairs with India on land.
Expect a “turn toward the South” once China’s Taiwan problem is resolved, one Indian defense official told me. And in general, a world in which China is emboldened — and the US and its democratic allies are badly bloodied — by a Taiwan conflict would be very nasty for India.
But none of this ensures that India will cast its lot, militarily or diplomatically, with a pro-Taiwan coalition. Appeals to common democratic values or norms of nonaggression won’t persuade India to aid Taiwan any more than they have induced it to help Ukraine.
Armchair strategists might dream of opening a second front in the Himalayas, but India might be paralyzed by fear that openly aiding the US anywhere would simply give China a pretext to batter overmatched, unprepared Indian forces on their shared frontier.
The Modi government has been happy to have America’s help in dealing with India’s China problem but is far more reluctant to return the favor by courting trouble in the Western Pacific.
What India would do in a Taiwan conflict is really anyone’s guess. The most nuanced assessment I heard came from a longtime Indian diplomat. A decade ago, he said, India would definitely have sat on the sidelines. Today, support for Taiwan and the democratic coalition is conceivable, but not likely. After another five years of tension with China and cooperation with the Quad, though, who knows?
Optimists in Washington might take this assessment as evidence that India is moving in the right direction. Pessimists might point out that there is still a long way to go, and not much time to get there.
November 17, 2022
The tail section of a MiG-21 of the Indian Air Force is on display at IDEAS-22 that was shot down on February 27, 2019, during Operation Swift Retort, by a Pakistani F-16. New Delhi and Islamabad made different statements about the event’s occurrence at the time.
Meanwhile, the J-17C’s informative photos, one of which also shows the cockpit, are being presented at the event. A video module of the aircraft is also showcased at PAF Pavilion during IDEAS 2022.
Pakistan’s JF-17C, also known as Block 3, is the latest version of the J-17 aircraft. The Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC) of China and the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) collaborated to develop the medium-sized multi-role JF-17 ‘Thunder’ fighter aircraft for the Pakistan Air Force.
The service has received more than 100 Thunder jets since 2007.
The JF-17 C model is thought to have taken to the skies for the first time in December 2019. The PL-10E, which China describes as its most advanced air-to-air missile, was also spotted being carried by the JF-17 Block 3 in 2021.
The JF-17C has notable upgraded capabilities, such as Missile Approach Warning Systems (MAWS), Wide Angle Smart HUD, more Chin Hardpoints, and an integrated EW suite.
Another photograph that has gained popularity on the internet is thought to be the finest image of a PAF JF-17C – dubbed Block 3 – so far.
The DEPO organizes IDEAS every two years. Since its beginning in 2000, IDEAS has established itself as a worldwide staging ground for defense manufacturers, business owners, R&D professionals, finance experts, and top-level officials.
However, in terms of space, reservations, exhibitors, and delegates from domestic and international countries, this year’s event has reportedly eclipsed all records.
The defense expo was inaugurated by Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari at the city’s expo center in Karachi. IDEAS 2022 officially started on November 15 and will last through November 18.
In his remarks at the occasion, FM Bhutto-Zardari discussed the current coalition government’s difficulties while noting that it succeeded despite the economic downturn. About 300 exhibitors are showing off their latest products from 32 nations.
This exhibition is attended by about 500 national and international delegates, including high-level delegations from friendly nations.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif tweeted that the nation’s defense industry is meeting the demands of the technological era, and he emphasized that IDEAS had grown into a significant platform in the global defense market.
He stated that this year’s event’s ‘Arms for Peace’ theme represented Pakistan’s commitment to peace and stability. Sharif added that IDEAS had developed into a platform that showcased Pakistan’s expanding impact in the global defense market.
“Good to see that our defense sector is catering to demands of the tech era,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Air Force is presenting its aerospace, avionics, cyberspace, and other related technologies at its pavilion. The National Aerospace Science and Technology Park (NASTP) is the PAF pavilion’s biggest attraction.
It is a Pakistan Air Force project to promote industry-academia linkage to provide an ecosystem of critical elements required to nurture design, research, development, and innovation in the aviation, space, and cyber sectors.
Speaking at the event, the Air Chief stated that the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) is dedicated to creating advanced technologies in the nation to deliver the most cutting-edge, efficient, and impenetrable aerial defense.
A bit of a tour d'horizon of India-Israel Aerospece Industries cooperation in the Indian Express the other day. "The reporter was in Israel at the invitation of the Embassy of Israel in New Delhi." A few highlights. /1
From UAVs to refuellers: How Israel is helping India keep an eye on LAC
These days, Avi Bleser, vice-president of marketing for India at Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), says he is working closely with the Indian Army and Indian Air Force to tailor solutions for their defence needs.
IAI is working closely with India on "the induction of Heron MK II, a state-of-the-art UAV that can fly at a height of 35,000 feet, cover a radius of 1000 km, see through dense clouds, work in bad weather & fly for 45 hours. It’s learnt that MK IIs are being deployed in Leh." /2
"Last year, the Indian Army had also taken on lease Heron TPs, a Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) for all-weather missions, from IAI. Heron TP drones are one of the two drones made in Israel that can be armed, if needed." /3
"The IAI and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) have signed a joint venture whereby IAI will not only offer UAVs to India, but also help HAL in manufacturing them in India." /4
"Earlier this year, HAL signed [an MoU] with IAI to convert civil passenger aircraft into a multi-mission tanker transport for air refuelling with cargo & transport capabilities. The MoU also covers conversion of passenger planes into freighter aircraft." /end
Pakistan Air Force is reportedly incorporating its newly acquired drones, including Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 unmanned aircraft, within the nation’s air defense network.
According to Janes, the Southern Air Command of the PAF is integrating these newly acquired unmanned aerial vehicles into its air defense network. On September 28, Pakistan first showed off its Bayraktar TB2, a medium altitude long endurance (MALE), during an Air Force drill.
In March of this year, it was initially reported that Pakistan had acquired the Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drone to conduct assault and ISR operations. The number of drones delivered to Islamabad has not been made public by either side.
In late May, satellite images revealed the presence of one Bayraktar TB2 at PAF’s Murid Airbase. The exercise on September 28 was the first official documented usage of Pakistan’s Bayraktar TB2s.
According to a statement released by the PAF on September 28, the purpose of an operational air defense exercise was to promote “synergy” in counter-air operations. The PAF released a video of the drill, which featured two TB2s and at least three Leonardo Airborne and Space Systems Falco UAVs.
The PAF Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Zaheer Ahmed Baber Sidhu, also reportedly visited an undisclosed operational airbase to evaluate how newly acquired UAS were incorporated into the PAF’s operational framework.
Pakistan is also believed to be acquiring the Akinci drone, “Raider,” in Turkish. The Akinci is a high-altitude, long-endurance UAV built as a successor to Turkey’s military’s primary tactical UAV, the TB2 Bayraktar.
Haluk Bayraktar, CEO of Baykar Technology, recently declared that his company would not sell drones to Pakistan’s fiercest adversary, India. He contended that providing weapons to both sides violates their company’s value that forbids “war profiteering.”
These advanced drones, which have demonstrated their effectiveness in Ukraine against the Russian forces, will provide Pakistan with a competitive advantage in the region.
The Turkish TB2 Drone
The Bayraktar TB2 is an unmanned combat aerial vehicle with a medium altitude and long endurance that can be remotely controlled.
Bayraktar’s astonishing performance over one of the world’s most powerful armies – Russia, has captured the world’s imagination. As a result, the demand for this drone has increased dramatically in the global market.
Earlier, Haluk Bayraktar revealed that his company had a three-year backlog of orders and could make roughly 20 Bayraktar TB2s per month. In addition, the Turkish firm has agreements to supply advanced Akinci drones to four nations, including Azerbaijan.
The monocoque design of the Bayraktar TB2 has an inverse v-tail structure. While the connection segments are precisely CNC-machined aluminum components, the fuselage comprises carbon fiber, Kevlar, and hybrid composite materials.
The engine is situated midway between the tail booms, and bladder tanks hold the fuel. The UAV is 6.5 meters long, has a wing span of 12 meters, and can carry 650 kilograms during takeoff.
The UAV is equipped with a triple redundant avionics system. An onboard avionics suite includes devices such as a microprocessor, engine control, servo motor power control, engine signal processing, I/O, and GPS receivers.
The sensor turret on Bayraktar has a laser designator, a night vision system, and an electro-optical camera. The drone’s laser designator can be pointed at a target once the operators have decided where to launch up to four Rocketsan MAM-C micro munitions.
The small, laser-guided glide bombs include thermobaric, high-explosive blast fragmentation, and armor-penetrating warheads. Although MAM-Cs are small, weighing only 48 pounds each, the operators can deploy them precisely where they want them, enhancing their efficacy.
The Bayraktar TB2 UAV is controlled by a ground control station placed on a NATO-spec ACE-III mobile shelter unit. The module incorporates consoles for the payload operator, the pilot, and the image exploitation.
The ground control station is provisioned with rack cabinets, an NBC filtration system, power supply units, wireless systems, an air conditioning unit, and internal communication systems.
The powertrain has a 100hp internal combustion engine driving a two-bladed variable pitch propeller. The tactical UAV can reach more than 150 kilometers and a maximum altitude of 27,030 feet.
In response to a question about increased defence cooperation between the two nations, Mr. Niazi noted: "Both militaries are continuously exchanging knowledge and expertise. Construction and upgradation projects such as 17,000 tonne Fleet Tanker, PN-MILGEM and Agosta 90B submarines, Super Mushak trainers, UAV drones, and so on are evidence of this strong friendship and military cooperation." Under the bilateral project, Turkey was tasked to build four corvette warships for the Pakistan Navy — two in Istanbul and two in Karachi.
The first corvette warship for the Pakistan Navy known as PNS Babar was launched in Istanbul in August 2021 while the foundation stone for the second ship PNS Badr was laid in Karachi in May 2022, another report on the inauguration ceremony by the Dawn newspaper said.
Mr. Sharif during the inauguration informed that the fourth warship would be delivered in February 2025.
The new warships have a length of 99 metres, a displacement capacity of 2,400 tonnes, and a speed of 29 nautical miles.
The spokesperson for President Tayyip Erdogan recently announced that the process of the United States authorizing the sale of F-16 fighter jets to NATO member Turkey is progressing and could be completed in upcoming months.
However, Turkey seems to have taken upon itself the responsibility to upgrade its F-16 fleet with domestically built radars.
The president of Defense Industries, Ismail Demir, unveiled the new Aselsan AESA radar on November 10 and stated that the Turkish Air Force’s (TuAF) Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon combat aircraft, the Akinci unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), as well as the upcoming Turkish Fighter Experimental (TF-X)/National Combat Aircraft, will be retrofitted with the system.
“It is a radar project equivalent to the most advanced radars in the world at the moment,” Demir said at the event. While the F-16s have been in the Turkish fleet for decades, the delivery of Akinci UAV twin-engined UAV is just getting started. The TF-X/MMU is Turkey’s next-generation combat aircraft currently under development.
In March this year, a local Turkish portal informed that the F-16 active electronically scanned array [AESA] radar prototype developed by Aseslan was expected to be delivered by the end of this year. The report could not be corroborated at the time.
According to some sources, the development and integration of the AESA radar on the F-16 are one of the many upgrades in the modernization program undertaken by Turkey.
The single-seat C and twin-seat D variants of the F-16 are the cornerstones of the TuAF’s front-line combat aviation force. The domestic industry has conducted much of the upgrades on these fighters.
The need to upgrade the F-16 fighters becomes all the more important due to the growing might of the Hellenic Air Force with its acquisition of advanced fighter jets. Turkey remains locked in tensions with its Aegean Sea rival Greece, with the possibility of a spillover never being ruled out.
The RBE2 radar allows high levels of situational awareness with early detection and tracking of multiple targets, thus denying an aerial advantage to the enemy.
Speaking on a CNN Türk show, military editor and analyst Özay Şendir admitted that Greece is gaining a significant advantage with its new fighters.
Besides operating the advanced 4+ gen Rafales, Greece could also acquire the F-35 fifth-generation stealth fighter jets. It is only evident that Ankara is looking to add more teeth to its existing fighter fleet.
In June this year, the US Air Force and Northrop Grumman announced the conclusion of a significant modernization project that installed powerful new AN/APG-83 active electronically scanned array radars on 72 Air National Guard Block 30 F-16C Viper fighter jets.
At the time, it was informed these AESA radars, known as Scalable Agile Beam Radars or SABRs, were being ordered for hundreds more Air Force F-16s and other Vipers around the globe.
Announcing the breakthrough, Northrop Grumman’s Mark Rossi said, “It’s the closest thing an F-16 can get to F-35 performance within the limitations of the jet.”
Any AESA would be a significant improvement for Air Force F-16C/Ds and other Vipers around the world.
In general, AESA radars provide substantial advantages regarding target acquisition speed, the range at which threats and potential threats can be detected, and the precision and fidelity of the ensuing tracks, especially for smaller objects. They are significantly more reliable, resulting in more “up time” and better jamming resistance.
AESA radars are produced indigenously only by a handful of countries, and now, Turkey has joined the elite club. With the US sale still uncertain, Turkey seems alive to its challenges and is consistently taking upgrades to face the ensuing Greek threat.
The TB2 has now carried out more than eight hundred strikes, in conflicts from North Africa to the Caucasus. The bombs it carries can adjust their trajectories in midair, and are so accurate that they can be delivered into an infantry trench. Military analysts had previously assumed that slow, low-flying drones would be of little use in conventional combat, but the TB2 can take out the anti-aircraft systems that are designed to destroy it. “This enabled a fairly significant operational revolution in how wars are being fought right now,” Rich Outzen, a former State Department specialist on Turkey, told me. “This probably happens once every thirty or forty years.”
Much of the drones’ battlefield experience has come against Russian equipment. Russia and Turkey have a complicated relationship: Russia is a key trading partner for Turkey, Turkey is a popular holiday destination for Russian tourists, and Russia is overseeing the construction of Turkey’s first nuclear power plant, which, when completed, will supply a tenth of the country’s electricity. In 2017, Turkey angered its allies in natowhen it bought a Russian missile system, triggering U.S. sanctions. Still, both Turkey and Russia are seeking to restore their standings as world powers, and even before the war in Ukraine they were often in conflict.
In the Libyan civil war, Turkey and Russia backed opposing factions, and the TB2 faced off against Russia’s Pantsir-S1, an anti-aircraft system that shoots missiles at planes and can be mounted on a vehicle. At least nine Pantsirs were destroyed; so were at least twelve drones.
Another theatre opened in the Caucasus in 2020, when Azerbaijan attacked the ethnic-Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. Last month, I met Robert Avetisyan, the Armenian representative to the United States from Nagorno-Karabakh, at a café in Glendale, California. Avetisyan told me, “During the first several days, Azerbaijan was not successful, in anything, until the Turkish generals took the joysticks.” Armenia has a security alliance with Russia, which provides most of its military equipment, some dating to the Soviet era. For six weeks, TB2 drones bombarded that equipment relentlessly; one independent analysis tallied more than five hundred targets destroyed, including tanks, artillery, and missile-defense systems. “We lost the air war,” Avetisyan said. TB2s also targeted Armenian troops, and footage of these strikes was shared by the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense. A six-minute compilation of the videos, posted to YouTube midway through the war, shows dozens of variations on the same scene: Armenian soldiers, cowering in trenches or huddled around transport trucks, alerted to their impending death by the hiss of an incoming bomb before a blast sends their bodies hurtling through the air.
A drone strike attributed to Ukraine rocked an airfield inside Russia on Tuesday, demonstrating once again Ukraine’s ability to reach into Russian territory one day after its forces struck two other air bases hundreds of miles inside Russia.
The attacks have revealed major vulnerabilities in Russia’s air defenses and sent a signal to Moscow that its strategic assets far from the active combat zone are not off limits to the emboldened Ukrainian military.
Officials in the Russian city of Kursk, just north of Ukraine, said the Tuesday drone attack set an oil storage tank ablaze at an airfield.
The two airfields struck by drones on Monday — the Engels-2 base in the Saratov region and the Dyagilevo base in Ryazan, a few hours’ drive from Moscow — are home to jet bombers that can carry conventional missiles used to target Ukrainian infrastructure but can also carry nuclear weapons and normally serve as an important component of Russia’s strategic nuclear deterrent.
Ukraine did not officially claim responsibility for the attacks and has been deliberately cryptic about its role in several explosions at strategically important Russian military sites in recent months.
But a senior Ukrainian official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive operation, told The Washington Post on Tuesday that all three attacks were carried out by Ukrainian drones.
“These were Ukrainian drones — very successful, very effective,” the official said of the strikes. The official added that the Russians have “sowed the seeds of anger, and they’ll reap the whirlwind.”
The Russian Defense Ministry blamed the Monday attacks on Kyiv but said the damage done was minimal.
Defence analysts say that the two lessons from the Ukraine War are that, one, the big wars are back and terrorism has taken a backseat, and, two, the superiority of Western weapons is apparent from how Russian advances have been stalled by West-backed Ukraine.
When Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, it was supposed to be a short war to be ended in a few days with the capture of Ukrainian capital Kyiv. Now even after 11 months, the war is on and military strategists across the world are trying to draw lessons from it as the Ukraine War has transformed modern warfare.
Indian defense analysts say India has to learn a lot from the Russia-Ukraine conflict, ranging from whether to use nuclear weapons on the battlefield and when to use them and whether to be in an alliance or not. They agree that terrorism no longer is an issue in the great power game and it has become a side issue while the war assumed prime position.
Defense analyst Pravin Sawhney says the first lesson from the Russia-Ukraine war is that big wars are back.
“Contrary to the claims of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the era of the war is over, the reality is opposite of what Modi said — the big wars are back,” Sawhney tells Outlook.
Meeting on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit (SCO Summit) in Uzbekistan’s Samarkand, Modi had told Putin, “I know that today’s era is not an era of war, and I have spoken to you on the phone about this.”
Modi said democracy, diplomacy, and dialogue have kept the world together. Sawhney, whose latest book is The Last War: How AI Will Shape India’s Final Showdown With China, has been for long arguing that the Indian military is preparing for the wrong war. He says terrorism has taken a backseat in the great power game struggle and it is a side issue for the United States. The USA fought terrorism for 20 years but now it is not a major issue for them but the war is, says Sawhney.
He tells Outlook, “The war now will not be limited to battle space. It will be fought in the war zone and the whole nation could be a battle zone. We have seen cyberattacks, and we have seen Russians attack power stations and various other facilities. That is why I am saying wars will be fought all over the nation and communication will be a key issue as warring nations will try to keep their communication lines intact while disrupting the other.”
Sawhney says that Russia was the first to disrupt communication facilities in Ukraine. But later the arrival of Starlink satellite internet terminals made by Elon Musk’s SpaceX solved Ukraine’s communication problems. Starlink has been a vital source of communication for Ukraine’s military, allowing it to fight and stay connected even as cellular phone and internet networks have been destroyed in its war with Russia.
“If Starlink would have not provided communication, Ukraine would have been blinded in the war. This happens when the fight is between two equal powers. Here it is between Russia and NATO, so when the fight is between two major powers, it will be protracted war,” Sawhney argues.
“Recently Indian Army Chief said long protracted wars are back. But we must understand that they are back between the two major powers not between the two countries having huge disparity,” argues Sawhney citing example of China and India. He says every country has major red lines and these red lines have to be identified. “NATO expansion was a red line for Russia and this red line was known to all.”
Similarly, Sawhney urges that there needs to be an understanding of what Sun Weidong, who was the Chinese Ambassador to India till recently and is the Vice Foreign Minister of China, stated in his last press conference in New Delhi. Sun Weidong made Chinese red lines known in that press conference and it is the One-China policy, says Sawhney.
Fifty-six-year old Sun, who recently returned to Beijing after a stint of over three years in New Delhi, in his rare briefing in New Delhi had said that the India-China relationship was based on the “One China” principle and called on India to “reiterate” it. Earlier, the Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi had called on all parties not to change the status quo over Taiwan, which appeared to be aimed at China for crossing the median line in recent military exercises.
“It is very clear that it is the US that has altered the status quo and undermined peace and stability. China’s measures are justified and legitimate,” Sun had said, referring to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.
“The outgoing Chinese Ambassador to India Sun Weidong made it clear that the foundation of India-China relations is on One China Policy. Since the Modi government came to power in India, it is not clear about One China Policy,” Sawhney adds.
He says another lesson for the Ukraine War is the extensive use of new technology like drones during the wars between major powers.
He adds, “It is applicable between Russia and NATO or between India and Pakistan but not between China and India as China has advanced cyber warfare capability.”
A month after the Russia-Ukraine War, Indian Army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane in March had said the main lesson from the conflict was that India has to be ready to fight future wars with indigenous weapon systems.
“The biggest lesson is that we have to be ready to fight future wars with indigenous weapons and the steps towards Aatmanirbhar Bharat in defense should be taken more urgently. The wars of the future should be fought with our own weapon systems,” the then Army chief General Naravane said.
As the war in Ukraine has turned into a bloody stalemate with neither side possessing a decisive military advantage to achieve geopolitical objectives, many defense experts like Abhijit Iyer-Mitra say one has to see how Western weapons achieve their objective more quickly than Russian weapons and also how technology and willing to take risks has remodelled the war.
Mitra cites examples of the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia and achieving its objectives in 78 days and the NATO invasion of Iraq making Bagdad cave in early to point out the superiority of the western weapons.
He adds, “These wars and Ukraine War show initial victory with Western weapons happens very rapidly. The counter-insurgency is altogether a different matter that happened after the initial victories.”
Mitra argues that the Russia-Ukraine conflict has also shown “how obsolete Russian weapons are and how non-existent Russian intelligence has become.”
“An important lesson of the Russia-Ukraine conflict is one should have complete hold on the interpretation of imagery to target the adversary and if you are using Eastern weapons prepare for long-drawn war. The eastern weapons are effective but they require a lot of time. It is brutal and you have to be willing to accept deaths in thousands,” he adds.
Mitra says information warfare is another aspect that cannot be overlooked as at present the Ukraine-Russia conflict’s narrative has been completely captured by the Western media in general and the narratives have the ability to influence the morale of the troops and the nations fighting the war.
“In past wars between India and China or between Pakistan and India, infrastructure has not been targeted. They have been always military-to-military fights. But things started to change when Russia started targeting Ukrainian energy infrastructure. You need to be willing to take out energy and all kinds of infrastructure to assist your troops.
“You have to seriously start thinking when you are going to use nuclear weapons on a battlefield. You have to also weigh the cost of being outside an alliance while using nuclear weapons. Because of what Poland, Latvia, and Estonia can do, Ukraine cannot do. Being in an alliance gives you a certain kind of deterrence which you don’t get outside an alliance even if you have nuclear weapons. These are lessons the Russia-Ukraine conflict teaches us,” Mitra says.
However, Mitra was dismissive of Aatmanirbhar Bharat in the defense industry, though he says the main lesson India should learn from the Ukraine conflict is to be Aatmanirbhar — self-reliant.
He adds, “We have been hearing this argument Aatmanirbhar for the past 25 years. Nobody knows it as no one understands it. This was possible twenty years ago but not now when the gap is narrowing. Besides, there are a lot of western weapons you cannot indigenise.”
KYIV — Two Ukrainian military officers peer at a laptop computer operated by a Ukrainian technician using software provided by the American technology company Palantir. On the screen are detailed digital maps of the battlefield at Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, overlaid with other targeting intelligence — most of it obtained from commercial satellites.
As we lean closer, we see can jagged trenches on the Bakhmut front, where Russian and Ukrainian forces are separated by a few hundred yards in one of the bloodiest battles of the war. A click of the computer mouse displays thermal images of Russian and Ukrainian artillery fire; another click shows a Russian tank marked with a “Z,” seen through a picket fence, an image uploaded by a Ukrainian spy on the ground.
If this were a working combat operations center, rather than a demonstration for a visiting journalist, the Ukrainian officers could use a targeting program to select a missile, artillery piece or armed drone to attack the Russian positions displayed on the screen. Then drones could confirm the strike, and a damage assessment would be fed back into the system.
This is the “wizard war” in the Ukraine conflict — a secret digital campaign that has never been reported before in detail — and it’s a big reason David is beating Goliath here. The Ukrainians are fusing their courageous fighting spirit with the most advanced intelligence and battle-management software ever seen in combat.
“Tenacity, will and harnessing the latest technology give the Ukrainians a decisive advantage,” Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told me last week. “We are witnessing the ways wars will be fought, and won, for years to come.”
I think Milley is right about the transformational effect of technology on the Ukraine battlefield. And for me, here’s the bottom line: With these systems aiding brave Ukrainian troops, the Russians probably cannot win this war.
“The power of advanced algorithmic warfare systems is now so great that it equates to having tactical nuclear weapons against an adversary with only conventional ones,” explains Alex Karp, chief executive of Palantir, in an email message. “The general public tends to underestimate this. Our adversaries no longer do.”
“For us, it’s a matter of survival,” argues “Stepan,” the senior Ukrainian officer in the Kyiv demonstration, who before the war designed software for a retail company. Now, he tells me bluntly, “Our goal is to maximize target acquisitions.” To protect his identity, he stripped his unit insignia and other markings from his camouflage uniform before he demonstrated the technology. (The names he and his colleague used were not their real ones; I agreed to their request to protect their security.)
“Lesya,” the other officer, was also a computer specialist in peacetime. As she looks at the imagery of the Russian invaders, on a day when their drones are savaging civilian targets in Odessa on Ukraine’s southern coast, she mutters a wish for revenge — and a hope that Ukraine will emerge from the war as a tech power. Although the Ukrainians now depend on technology help from America, she says, “by the end of the war, we will be selling software to Palantir.”
A new deterrent
Kyiv was cold and snowy when I arrived just over a week ago. The power was out in some places. But the capital was relatively calm. There was a traffic jam entering the city on Friday. On Saturday night, restaurants were so packed it was impossible to get a reservation at one upscale spot.
As Ukraine moves toward the new year, the spirit of resistance and resilience is visible everywhere. Roadblocks have mostly disappeared. Children play near captured Russian tanks in St. Michael’s Square. Couples take walks in the park above the Dnieper River.
I visited here at year’s end to explore what I believe is the overriding lesson of this fight — and indeed, of the past several decades of war: A motivated partner like Ukraine can win if provided with the West’s unique technology. The Afghanistan army cracked in a day because it lacked the motivation to fight. But Ukraine — and, before it, the Syrian Kurdish fighters who crushed the Islamic State with U.S. help — has succeeded because it has both the weapons and the will.
I met with a senior team from Palantir that was visiting its Kyiv office. With the approval of Karp, the CEO, they agreed to show me some of the company’s technology close to the firing line. The result is a detailed look at what may prove to be a revolution in warfare — in which a software platform allows U.S. allies to use the ubiquitous, unstoppable sensors that surround every potential battlefield to create a truly lethal “kill chain.”
Palantir, which began its corporate life working with the CIA on counterterrorism tools, has many critics. That’s partly because its biggest funder, from the start, has been co-founder Peter Thiel, a successful tech investor who has also been a strong supporter of Donald Trump and other MAGA Republicans. Karp, by contrast, has supported many Democratic candidates and causes.
The critics have argued that Palantir’s powerful software has been misused by government agencies to violate privacy or serve questionable ends. For example, The Post wrote in 2019 that Palantir’s software was used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to help track undocumented immigrants, which led to protests from some of the company’s employees. Tech community activists have asked whether Palantir is too close to the U.S. government and can “see too much” with its tools.
Karp responded to criticism of the company in an email to me last week: “Silicon Valley screaming at us for over a decade did not make the world any less dangerous. We built software products that made America and its allies stronger — and we are proud of that.”
And Ukraine has shifted the political landscape in Silicon Valley. For Karp and many other technology CEOs, this is “the good war” that has led many companies to use their tools aggressively. This public-private partnership is one of the keys to Ukraine’s success. But it obscures many important questions: How dependent should countries be on entrepreneurs whose policy views could change? We can applaud the use of these tools in “good” wars, but what about bad ones? And what about private tools being turned against the governments that helped create them?
We’ll be struggling with these questions about technology and warfare for the rest of this century. But after spending weeks investigating the new tools developed by Palantir and other companies, the immediate takeaway for me is about deterrence — and not just in Ukraine. Given this revolution in technology, adversaries face a much tougher challenge in attacking, say, Taiwan than they might imagine. The message for China in this emerging digital battle space is: Think twice.
Vast data battlefield
The “kill chain” that I saw demonstrated in Kyiv is replicated on a vast scale by Ukraine’s NATO partners from a command post outside the country. The system is built around the same software platform developed by Palantir that I saw in Kyiv, which can allow the United States and its allies to share information from diverse sources — ranging from commercial satellite imagery to the West’s most secret intelligence tools.
This is algorithmic warfare, as Karp says. Using a digital model of the battlefield, commanders can penetrate the notorious “fog of war.” By applying artificial intelligence to analyze sensor data, NATO advisers outside Ukraine can quickly answer the essential questions of combat: Where are allied forces? Where is the enemy? Which weapons will be most effective against enemy positions? They can then deliver precise enemy location information to Ukrainian commanders in the field. And after action, they can assess whether their intelligence was accurate and update the system.
Data powers this new engine of war — and the system is constantly updating. With each kinetic strike, the battle damage assessments are fed back into the digital network to strengthen the predictive models. It’s not an automated battlefield, and it still has layers and stovepipes. The system I saw in Kyiv uses a limited array of sensors and AI tools, some developed by Ukraine, partly because of classification limits. The bigger, outside system can process highly classified data securely, with cyber protections and restricted access, then feed enemy location data to Ukraine for action.
To envision how this works in practice, think about Ukraine’s recent success recapturing Kherson, on the Black Sea coast. The Ukrainians had precise intelligence about where the Russian were moving and the ability to strike with accurate long-range fire. This was possible because they had intelligence about the enemy’s location, processed by NATO from outside the country and then sent to commanders on the ground. Armed with that information, the Ukrainians could take the offensive — moving, communicating and adjusting quickly to Russian defensive maneuvers and counterattacks.
And when Ukrainian forces hit Russian command nodes or supply depots, it’s a near certainty that they have received enemy location data this way. Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s minister of digital transformation, told me that this electronic kill chain was “especially useful during the liberation of Kherson, Izium, Kharkiv and Kyiv regions.”
What makes this system truly revolutionary is that it aggregates data from commercial vendors. Using a Palantir tool called MetaConstellation, Ukraine and its allies can see what commercial data is currently available about a given battle space. The available data includes a surprisingly wide array, from traditional optical pictures to synthetic aperture radar that can see through clouds, to thermal images that can detect artillery or missile fire.
To check out the range of available data, just visit the internet. Companies selling optical and synthetic aperture radar imagery include Maxar, Airbus, ICEYE and Capella. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration sells simple thermal imaging meant to detect fires but that can also register artillery explosions.
In our Kherson example, Palantir assesses that roughly 40 commercial satellites will pass over the area in a 24-hour period. Palantir normally uses fewer than a dozen commercial satellite vendors, but it can expand that range to draw imagery from a total of 306 commercial satellites that can focus to 3.3 meters. Soldiers in battle can use handheld tablets to request more coverage if they need it. According to a British official, Western military and intelligence services work closely with Ukrainians on the ground to facilitate this sharing of information.
A final essential link in this system is the mesh of broadband connectivity provided from overhead by Starlink’s array of roughly 2,500 satellites in low-earth orbit. The system, owned by Elon Musk’s SpaceX company, allows Ukrainian soldiers who want to upload intelligence or download targeting information to do so quickly.
In this wizard war, Ukraine has the upper hand. The Russians have tried to create their own electronic battlefield tools, too, but with little success. They have sought to use commercial satellite data, for example, and streaming videos from inexpensive Chinese drones. But they have had difficulty coordinating and sharing this data among units. And they lack the ability to connect with the Starlink array.
“The Russian army is not flexible,” Lesya, the Ukrainian officer, told me. She noted proudly that every Ukrainian battalion travels with its own software developer. Ukraine’s core advantage isn’t just the army’s will to fight, but also its technical prowess.
Fedorov, Ukraine’s digital minister, listed some of the military tech systems that Ukraine has created on its own, in a response to my written questions. These include a secure chat system, called “eVorog,” that has allowed civilians to provide 453,000 reports since the war started; a 200-strong “Army of Drones” purchased from commercial vendors for use in air reconnaissance; and a battlefield mapping system called Delta that “contains the actual data in real time, so the military can plan their actions accordingly.”
The “X factor” in this war, if you will, is this Ukrainian high-tech edge and the ability of its forces to adapt rapidly. “This is the most technologically advanced war in human history,” argues Fedorov. “It’s quite different from everything that has been seen before.”
And that’s the central fact of the extraordinary drama the world has been watching since Russia invaded so recklessly last February. This is a triumph of man and machine, together.
Next: How “algorithmic warfare” evolved over the past decade — and some very human worries.
By David Ignatius
NORTHEASTERN ENGLAND — To see the human face of the “algorithm war” being fought in Ukraine, visit a company of raw recruits during their five rushed weeks at a training camp here in Britain before they’re sent to the front in Ukraine.
They will soon have a battery of high-tech systems to aid them, but they must face the squalor of the trenches and the roar of unrelenting artillery fire alone. The digital battlefield has not supplanted the real one.
At the British camp, instructors have dug 300 yards of trenches across a frigid hillside. The trenches are 4 feet deep, girded with sandbags and planks, and slick with mud and water at the bottom. The Ukrainian recruits, who’ve never been in battle before, have to spend 48 hours in these hellholes. Sometimes, there’s simulated artillery fire overhead and rotting animal flesh nearby to prepare the trainees for the smell of death.
The recruits practice attacking the trenches and defending them. But mostly they learn to stay alive and as warm as they can, protecting their wet, freezing feet from rot and disease. “Nobody likes the trenches,” says Oleh, the Ukrainian officer who oversees the training with his British colleagues. (I’m not using his full name to respect concerns about his security.) “We tell them it will be easier in battle. If it’s hard now, that’s the goal.”
The paradox of the Ukraine conflict is that it combines the World War I nightmare of trench warfare with the most modern weapons of the 21st century.
“It’s hard to understand the brutality of contact in that front line. It’s Passchendaele in Donetsk,” explains Brigadier Justin Stenhouse, referring to one of the bloodiest battles of World War I. He oversees training for the British Ministry of Defense in Whitehall and arranged my visit to the training camp.
Silicon Valley Pentagon
The Ukraine war has fused the flesh-and-blood bravery of these Ukrainian troops on the ground with the stunning high-tech arsenal that I described in Part 1 of this report. The result is a revolution in warfare. This transformation, rarely discussed in the media, has been evolving for more than a decade. It shows the lethal ability of the United States and its allies to project power — and it also raises some vexing questions about how this power will be used.
One of the leading actors in this underreported revolution has been Palantir, which developed its software platform after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to help the CIA integrate data that was often in different compartments and difficult to share. News reports have frequently said that Palantir software helped track al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, but the company won’t confirm that.
The Pentagon’s use of these ultramodern tools was encouraged by a very old-fashioned commander, Gen. Mark A. Milley, the gruff and often profane chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. When he was Army chief of staff in 2018, the service began working with Palantir and other tech companies to integrate data through a program called Army Vantage. Milley was frustrated by an antiquated data system that made it hard to gather details about what units were ready for battle. The Army, like so many government institutions, had too many separate repositories for information.
Palantir technicians showed me an unclassified version of the Army database they helped create to address that problem. You can see in an instant what units are ready, what skills and experience the soldiers in these units have, and what weapons and ammunition are available. Logistics problems like this once took weeks to solve; now there are answers in seconds.
“The U.S. military is focused on readiness today and readiness in the future,” Milley told me in an email last week. “In defense of our country, we’re pulling together a wide variety of technologies to remain number one, the most effective fighting force in the world.”
By David Ignatius
The Army began testing ideas about algorithmic warfare with individual units around that time as well. The first choice was the elite 82nd Airborne, commanded in 2020 by Maj. Gen. Christopher Donahue; it was part of the XVIII Airborne Corps, then headed by Lt. Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla. These two worked with Palantir and other companies to understand how the Army could use data more effectively.
Simultaneously, the Pentagon was exploring the use of artificial intelligence to analyze sensor data and identify targets. This effort was known as Project Maven, and it initially spawned a huge controversy when it was launched in 2017. The idea was to write algorithms that could recognize, say, a Russian T-72 tank in drone surveillance images in the same way that facial recognition scans can discern a human face.
The military’s AI partnership with Silicon Valley got off to a bad start. In 2018, engineers at Google, initially the leading contractor for Maven, protested so angrily about writing targeting algorithms that the company had to withdraw from the program.
Maven has evolved. It’s now supervised by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and it generates AI models on a fast, one-month cycle. A tech executive explained to me that companies now compete to develop the most accurate models for detecting weapons — tuning their algorithms to see that hypothetical T-72 under a snowy grove of fir trees, let’s say, rather than a swampy field of brush — and each month the government selects a new digital array.
For a Pentagon that usually buys weapons that have a 30-year life span, this monthly rollover of targeting software is a revolution in itself.
When Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, the U.S. Army had these tools in hand — and commanders with experience using them. Donahue had moved up to become head of the XVIII Airborne Corps, which transferred its forward headquarters to Wiesbaden, Germany, just after the Russian invasion. The 82nd Airborne moved to forward quarters near Rzeszow, Poland, near the Ukraine border.
Kurilla, meanwhile, became head of Central Command and began using that key theater as a test bed for new technologies. In October, Kurilla appointed Schuyler Moore, a former director of science and technology for the Defense Innovation Board, as Centcom’s first “chief technology officer.”
For the Army and other services, the impetus for this technology push isn’t just the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but the looming challenge from China — America’s only real peer competitor in technology.
A tool for good and ill
In the age of algorithm warfare, when thinking machines will be so powerful, human judgment will become all the more important. Free societies have created potent technologies that, in the hands of good governments, can enable just outcomes, and not only in war. Ukrainian officials tell me they want to use Palantir software not just to repel the Russian invasion but also to repair Ukraine’s battered electrical grid, identify hidden corruption and manage the vast tasks of reconstruction.
Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s minister for digital transformation and vice prime minister, explained in written answers to my questions how he plans to use technology not just to beat Russia but also to become a high-tech superpower in the future.
By David Ignatius
Fedorov said Ukraine is “massively” using software platforms “to deal with power shortages and in order to ensure telecom connection.” To repair electricity cutoffs and damaged energy infrastructure, the country uses Starlink terminals, Tesla Powerwall systems, and advanced generators and lithium batteries. It backs up all its important data on cloud servers.
“For sure, I’m convinced that technologies will also allow us to build a bright and safe future,” Fedorov said. “Only the newest technologies could give us such an advantage to run and create the country we deserve as fast as possible.”
But these technologies can also create 21st-century dystopias, in the wrong hands. The targeting algorithms that allow Ukraine to spot and destroy invading Russians aren’t all that different from the facial-recognition algorithms that help China repress its citizens. We’re lucky, in a sense, that these technologies are mostly developed in the West by private companies rather than state-owned ones.
But what if an entrepreneur decides to wage a private war? What if authoritarian movements gain control of democratic societies and use technology to advance control rather than freedom? What if AI advances eventually allow the algorithms themselves to take control, making decisions for reasons they can’t explain, at speeds that humans can’t match? Democratic societies need to be constantly vigilant about this technology.
The importance of the human factor is clear with Silicon Valley entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk, who illustrates the strength — and potential weakness — of America’s new way of war. If Musk decides he isn’t being paid enough for his services, or if he thinks it’s time for Ukraine to compromise, he can simply cut the line to his satellites, as he briefly threatened this fall.
By David Ignatius
Looking at the Ukraine war, we can see that our freewheeling entrepreneurial culture gives the West a big advantage over state-run autocracies such as China and Russia — so long as companies and CEOs share the same democratic values as Western governments. That’s why we need a broader public debate about the power of the technologies that are being put to noble use in Ukraine but could easily be turned to ignoble purposes in the wrong hands.
Ukraine, which has suffered so much in this war, wants to be a techno-superpower when the conflict finally ends. Fedorov, who’s overseeing Kyiv’s digital transformation, explains it this way: “Let’s plan to turn Ukraine into the world’s ‘mil-tech valley,’ to develop the most innovative security solutions, so the world will become a safer and more digital place.”
But first, the Ukrainians freezing in the filthy trenches will need to prevail.
Lt. Col. Harris, the commander of the camp in northeastern England, says he’s humbled amid the recruits there. Through five combat tours in Afghanistan and one in Iraq, though, he knows he has never faced anything as horrifying as many of them will see in a month or two.
On the firing range, 10 Ukrainian recruits squeeze off shots from their AK-47s. They’re on the second day of live-fire exercises, with eight more to come. They’re accountants, cooks and college students; some unsteady with their weapons, others newly bold. As they take aim at targets 50 feet away, a British sergeant commanding the range barks at them through an interpreter: “You need to kill the enemy before he kills you.”
And it’s as simple as that. This is a war of survival for Ukraine. But it should comfort the recruits that whatever their misery in coming months, they will have a level of technological support beyond anything the world has seen.
Russia and Ukraine are seeking to replenish their stocks by any means, including deals shrouded in secrecy.
This is an unexpected consequence of the so-called high-intensity war that Russia and Ukraine have been engaged in since February 24, when Vladimir Putin launched his "special military operation." Both sides are engaged in attrition warfare, which Europe has not seen since World War II, and are now short on some equipment. According to the Western military and intelligence services, they are no longer hesitating to call upon countries such as North Korea, Iran and Pakistan to replenish their armories.
According to information declassified by Washington and revealed on Tuesday, September 6 by the New York Times, Russia is buying millions of artillery shells and rockets from North Korea to supply its troops in Ukraine. While no evidence or details were given regarding the materials supplied, Pyongyang is capable of manufacturing 152mm shells, one of the calibers used by Russian forces, as well as projectiles for TOS-1 multiple rocket launchers, which have been reported on the Ukrainian front.
In mid-July, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan also said that Washington had information that Tehran "is preparing to provide Russia with up to several hundred [drones] on an expedited timeline." "Russian transport aircraft loaded the [drones] at an airfield in Iran and subsequently flew from Iran to Russia over several days in August," confirmed Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Pat Ryder on August 30.
According to military experts, the devices sent by Tehran could be ground attack drones, in particular the Shahed-129, a machine that can fly for up to 24 hours at a time and is considered to be a competitor to the American Predator. They could also include the Mohajer-6, a smaller drone capable of carrying up to four munitions. According to the US Department of Defense, these drones have probably not yet been sent to the front lines and could have "numerous failures," which the Russians would try to resolve. In fact, no images have yet surfaced showing these devices in action over Ukrainian soil.
The Russian-occupied Ukrainian city of Makiivka has suffered a major attack that resulted in multiple casualties, according to reports.
The Moscow-installed administration of Ukraine's Donetsk region said that at least 25 rockets were fired by Ukrainian forces at the region overnight on New Year's Eve, according to a Reuters report.
Russia's state news agency TASS, said the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation has confirmed that 63 servicemen died as a result of the attack.
However, Ukrainian media estimates have put Russia's losses in the hundreds.
Ukrainska Pravda, a Ukrainian online newspaper, said the strike killed 400 soldiers with an additional 300 wounded.
The report cited Department of Strategic Communications of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (StratCom) for the figure.
Newsweek has not been able to independently confirm the number of Russian casualties.
Ukrainian-American journalist Viktor Kovalenko shared a screenshot from a video that has gone viral that allegedly shows the aftermath of the attack on Makivvka.
Kovalenko wrote: "Ukraine Armed Forces claim that in the new year's night, 400 newly arrived Rus. mobilized men from Saratov were killed and 300 wounded as a result of a HIMARS strike on Makiivka trade school #19 in the Donbas region of Ukraine where they headquartered and watched Putin's NY greeting."
The viral video, which was posted on Telegram by user Horevica, began circulating on Twitter on January 1. It has since been viewed more than 210,000 times.
Posted by Twitter user Tendar, the caption read: "The Russian base in Makiivka is but dust.
"HIMARS have delivered absolute carnage. An expected response for the Russian Shahed terror attacks on New Years Eve and the newest reminder that no matter where Russians position themselves, they are not safe."
Former Russian military commander Igor Girkin took to Telegram to say that more than 200 Russians had been killed in the strike and many more may be buried in rubble.
Dmitri of the War Translated project, an independent project concerned with translating various materials about the war, tweeted Girkin's Telegram posts.
He captioned the images: "Girkin on Makiivka incident—hundreds of victims, many still under the rubble. The building where they were housed also contained an ammunition cache and vehicle storage, which is why the strike was so deadly.
In recent days, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry has been keen to highlight an increase in Russian casualties.
On Sunday, the department said that the previous day's toll of Russian soldiers killed was 760, which is significantly more than the typical daily average of less than 600.
On Saturday the Defense Ministry said that 710 Russians had been killed, bringing the two-day total for Russian dead to 1470.
Since the start of the war, Russia has lost an estimated 106,720 soldiers, according to Ukraine.
Since February 2022, when Russia launched its invasion, Ukraine's Defense Ministry has been releasing figures regarding Russian losses.
These have regularly been higher than the official figures the Kremlin has provided.
India’s army chief said Thursday the war in Ukraine has impacted the supply of spare parts for India’s military.
Gen. Manoj Pande made his comments to reporters while discussing the border situation with China, which he described as stable but unpredictable. The two countries remain in a nearly two-and-a-half-year standoff in the eastern Ladakh area. He added that the countries were continuing to talk both at the diplomatic and military levels, and that India’s military maintains a high level of preparedness.
“The sustenance of these weapons systems — equipment in terms of spares, in term of ammunition — is one issue that we have addressed,” Pande said, without providing more details.
“We have adequate forces. We have adequate reserves in each of our sectors to be able to effectively deal with any situation or contingency,” he added.
Experts say up to 60% of Indian defense equipment comes from Russia, and New Delhi finds itself in a bind amid the standoff with China over a territorial dispute. Twenty Indian troops and four Chinese soldiers died in a clash in 2020.
The Times of India newspaper reported Thursday that India is having problems transporting back one of its diesel-run submarines after a major refit in Russia, which was hit with sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine.
India says China occupies 38,000 square kilometers (14,672 square miles) of its territory in the Aksai Chin plateau, which India considers part of Ladakh, where the current faceoff is happening.
India says any unilateral change in the border status quo by Beijing is unacceptable.
The Line of Actual Control separates Chinese- and Indian-held territories from Ladakh in the west to India’s eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims in its entirety. India and China fought a deadly war over the border in 1962.
“A company of Leopard tanks for Ukraine will be transferred as part of building an international coalition,” Polish President Andrzej Duda said in a Jan 11 social media post. “Such a decision [has] already [been taken] in Poland."
The supply of the main battle tanks arrives as Ukraine looks to mount a spring counteroffensive to reclaim territories lost to Russia and ahead of a new Ramstein Ukraine contact group meeting on Jan. 20 where Western leaders could agree on additional Leopards being transferred, potentially alongside US Stryker armored protection vehicles.
“The Leopard 2 supply will give Ukraine access to a suite of vehicles they haven’t had access to since the war with Russia started and by all accounts will be very effective against Russian armor,” said Ed Arnold Research Fellow for European Security at the UK-based Royal United Services Institute.
The Leopard 2 A4 variant is equipped with a 120 mm smoothbore cannon, fire control computer and offers a range of 450km, according to manufacturer KMW. Warsaw signed off on a A4 upgrade effort in December 2015.
Arnold added that the operational impact of the Leopard tanks will depend on how many are delivered.
“It’s a very logical step to focus on the Leopard because there are far more of them in use across Europe compared to [other main battle tanks like the British Army’s] Challenger 2,” a reference to reports this week linking the UK to a potential new agreement to send those vehicles to Kyiv.
“The Government has committed to match or exceed last year’s funding for military aid to Ukraine in 2023, and we will continue to build on recent donations with training and further gifting of equipment,” said a UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) spokesperson in a statement, declining to comment on Challenger 2 specifically.
At a capability level the Leopard 2 will offer Ukraine greater firepower, greater mobility and better protection from enemy fires supported by more modern countermeasures that Ukraine has been predominately relying on with the Soviet-era T-72 tanks, according to Arnold.
That considered, underfunding by the Bundeswehr and different standards among export customers mean that many Leopards lack the protection, weapon, and electronics upgrades of the latest version, the A7+.
Fielding the Leopard through a common logistics supply chain appears to be feasible because of how many European operators use the tanks, but a number of drawbacks include their size as they are considered relatively easy to spot from distance, require more fuel, and need a crew of four, one more than the T-72. Perhaps most problematic of all, at 55-plus metric tons, they are too heavy to safely cross many Ukrainian bridges.
In 2015, Ukrainian transportation authorities banned vehicles over 44 metric tons (49 US tons) citing potential damage to bridges and highways, an issue that could prove troublesome in terms of leading to excessive training for Ukrainian tank crews, commanders, staff planning, supply units, and maintenance on the Leopard 2, once deliveries have been made.
Friendly Navies' warships that participated in #AMAN2023 🌊
1: Luyang III class, Nanning 🇨🇳
2: Akizuki class, Suzutsuki 🇯🇵
3: Arleigh Burke IIA class, Truxtun 🇺🇲
4: FREMM class, Bergamini 🇮🇹
5: Sigma class, Martadinata 🇮🇩
6: Lekiu class, Lekiu 🇲🇾
7: Samudhra class, Samudura🇱🇰
List of Pakistan Navy Warships that participated in #AMAN2023 exercise:
1: PNS Taimur 262
2: PNS Tughril 261
3: PNS Yarmook 271
4: PNS Tabuk 272
5: PNS Zulfiqar 251
6: PNS Tariq 181
7: PNS Saif 253
8: PNS Himmat 1027
Global Defense Insight
USS Truxtun (DDG 103) Guided Missile Destroyer
USS Truxtun represented US Navy at the AMAN-2023 multinational maritime exercise
Global Defense Insight
Japanese Naval Ship JS SUZUTSUKI participated in a multinational exercise (AMAN23) conducted by
in the North Arabian Sea to improve our tactical capabilities and deepened relationships and mutual understanding of the participating navies.
Italian Navy's Ship Carlo Bergamini (F 590) passing in front of the PNS Moawin during International Fleet Review 2023
See new Tweets
Global Defense Insight
Indonesian frigate KRI Raden Eddy Martadinata (331)
#AMAN2023 #PakistanNavy #TogetherForPeace
A simulated special operation conducted by SSGN during #AMAN2023.
Sea Kings play pivotal role in PN and will be serving for years to come. 🇵🇰
"The IAF... informed the parliamentary panel that the Russia-Ukraine war affected its supplies so much that it slashed its projected capital expenditure... for the financial year ending March 31, 2024, by nearly a 3rd compared to the previous fiscal year."
NEW DELHI, March 23 (Reuters) - Russia is unable to deliver vital defence supplies it had committed to India's military because of the war in Ukraine, the Indian Air Force (IAF) says.
New Delhi has been worried that Moscow's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 could affect military supplies from India's largest source of defence equipment. The IAF statement is the first official confirmation of such shortfalls.
The IAF statement was made to a parliamentiary committee, which published it on its website on Tuesday. An IAF representative told the panel Russia had planned a "major delivery" this year that will not take place.
A spokesperson for the Russian Embassy in New Delhi said: "We don’t have information which may confirm the stated."
There was no immediate response from Rosoboronexport, which is the Russian government's weapons export arm.
The report does not mention specifics of the delivery.
The biggest ongoing delivery is the S-400 Triumf air defence system units India bought in 2018 for $5.4 billion. Three of these systems have been delivered and two more are awaited.
IAF also depends on Russia for spares for its Su-30MKI and MiG-29 fighter jets, the mainstay of the service branch.
Russia, and the Soviet Union before it, has been India’s main source of arms and defence equipment for decades.
Russia accounted for $8.5 billion of the $18.3 billion India has spent on arms imports since 2017, according to the latest data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
Over the past two decades, New Delhi has sought to reduce its dependence on Moscow and looked westward towards France, the United States and Israel.
It is also pushing Indian companies to produce more at home in collaboration with global players.
The IAF also informed the parliamentary panel that the Russia-Ukraine war affected its supplies so much that it slashed its projected capital expenditure on modernisation for the financial year ending March 31, 2024, by nearly a third compared to the previous fiscal year.
The air force had projected a capital expenditure of 853 billion rupees ($10.38 billion) for fiscal 2022-23 and cut it to 588 billion rupees ($7.15 billion) in the national budget presented in February.
On May 10, 2022, China's Hudong Zhonghua Shipyard delivered the final two Type 054A/P frigates to the Pakistan Navy with a ceremony held in Shangai, China.
The contract for four multi-role frigates (Type 054-A/P) for Pakistan Navy was signed between Pakistan and China in 2018. The first and second ships PNS TUGHRIL and PNS TAIMUR joined the PN fleet in 2022. The development of these state-of-the-art naval units for the Pakistan Navy is hinged upon modern stealth design with the capability to simultaneously engage in multiple naval operations to counter maritime threats. The 4000 tons frigates are technologically advanced and highly capable platforms having enormous surface-to-surface, land attack, surface-to-air and underwater firepower coupled with extensive surveillance potential. These ships will provide deterrence and mean for averting threats in our region while contributing towards the protection of Sea Lines of Communications (SLOCS).
The Type 054A is a multi-role frigate and is recognized as the backbone of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) fleet of surface combatants with 30 vessels in commission. They have a length of 134 meters, a beam of 16 meters for a displacement of 4,000 tons. They have a crew complement of 165 sailors and are fitted with:
a H/PJ-26 76mm main gun
2×4 CM302 anti-ship missiles
32x VLS cells for HQ-16 surface-to-air missiles
2x Type 730 30mm CIWS
2x Triple Torpedo launchers
In PLAN service, those frigates feature a Type 382 radar which shares a close resemblance with the Russian MR-710 Fregat radar. Unlike the Pakistan Navy variant – whose first ship-in-class is fitted with an SR2410C radar – the Type 054A in Chinese Navy service does not feature a long-range/metric wave radar.