Do Indian Aircraft Carriers Pose a Serious Threat to Pakistan's Security?

India has recently inducted INS Vikrant, the South Asian nation's second aircraft carrier. This "indigenous" ship of the Indian Navy is powered by four American-made General Electric LM2500 marine gas turbines built in the US state of Ohio. It is a relatively small aircraft carrier with a displacement of 40,000 tons, top speed of 28 knots, cruise speed of 18 knots and 7,500 nautical miles (8,630 miles) range. INS Vikrant can carry up to 30 fixed-wing and rotary aircraft and 1600 sailors. India plans to equip it with Russian MiG-29K fighter jets and Westland Sea King helicopters, a British license-built version of the American Sikorsky S-61 helicopter of the same name. Does this latest addition to the Indian Navy pose a serious threat to Pakistan's security? Can Pakistan defend against it? 

Indian PM Modi Launched INS Vikrant Aircraft Carrier

In a 2017 paper for the US Naval War College Review, defense analyst Ben Wan Beng Ho discussed how India might use its aircraft carriers against Pakistan and how the latter would respond. Here are some key excerpts from it: 

"(I)t is doubtful that any attack force launched from an Indian carrier would pack a significant punch. “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.”

“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. 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.”

Indian-American defense analyst Ashley Tellis has also raised serious questions about the Indian naval doctrine. He believes that the land-based fighter aircraft with refueling to extend range are a better option.  He also says that  aircraft carriers are highly vulnerable to sinking by stealthy submarines

There are lessons for the Indian military from Ukraine-Russia war. In April this year, Ukraine's 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. 

Pakistan has 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. More recently, Pakistan's ally China has successfully demonstrated its carrier-buster missile. A single round has to be slung underneath the fuselage. And its primary prey is likely to be enemy aircraft carriers. For this reason, it has been widely dubbed a ‘carrier killer’, according to Naval News

In a YouTube video, Indian journalist Shekhar Gupta noted that the Indian Navy hid its aircraft carriers from Pakistan Navy submarines in both 1965 and 1971 wars. He also recalled that Pakistani Navy warships destroyed Indian Naval Base at Dwarka in 1965, and Pakistani sub Hangor sank an Indian warship INS Khukri in 1971 war


Comments

Mo said…
The number of subs Pakistan has now and planned are enough to keep any Indian flotilla far away from Pakistani shores, this makes these carriers more of a vanity item. The Indians can easily make these carriers potent by introducing Rafael M's, the Migs 29K don't have the range to make a strike whilst keeping the carrier out of range of PN's costal defenses. This could easily change, but for now - I will not loose my sleep over it.
Mohidin said…
It is just a shell. Much Depends what it is armoured with to defend itself , worth few hundred billions.
In modern warfare they are considered sitting duck vulnerable to be taken out ,with minimal cost.
M. Khan said…
I don't understand why India needed an aircraft carrier. Do they want the world to know they are one of a handful of nations capable of building one? India will always remain a regional power. Unlike colonial powers like Britain or France of the last century, which controlled colonies far from their lands, India is not a colonial power; one can understand why colonial powers constructed and included aircraft carriers in their fleets. But for India, I do not see any viable reason to have aircraft carriers. Based on what I understand, they have unnecessarily wasted their time, energy, and effort building something they are likely to keep confined to their shores. I'm sure they would never dare venture into Pakistani waters, where they may become prey to our submarines and fighter planes.
Riaz Haq said…
https://www.aljazeera.com/features/2022/9/8/ins-vikrant-why-indias-aircraft-carrier-is-no-match-for-china


While keeping one eye on Pakistan, India’s strategic focus has increasingly been on China and its dramatic military expansion, with the People’s Liberation Army Navy, or PLAN, being the main beneficiary. Numerically, it is now the largest navy in the world, with all its ships now designed and built in Chinese shipyards. New designs are being developed at record speeds as China’s navy increases its power and reach to become a truly global force.

India is working hard to develop its own navy as a counter to China’s expansion as tensions between the two countries have risen, recently in the Doklam plateau on the borders of India, China and Bhutan, but also now that India has become a member of the four-nation maritime organisation, the QUAD, aimed at countering China’s influence.

Indian strategists are increasingly focused on what it will take to defeat China in a future naval conflict. Aircraft carriers will play a part in that conflict, but their designs have to be able to stand up to powerful weapons systems coming online. In short, long delays risk obsolescence.

The Vikrant, whilst a milestone for India’s military indigenisation programme, is an older design that is already almost out of date. It is better compared to China’s own first domestically-made aircraft carrier, the Shandong, commissioned in 2019. Both are modified Soviet-era designs.

At about 45,000 tonnes, the Vikrant is even smaller than the older Shandong and both carriers use the older technology “ski-jump” design to give aircraft taking off a much-needed lift.

The Vikrant and Shandong have both been important ships in terms of allowing local designers to develop their own ideas and start to think independently in terms of naval design and manufacture. However, India has been much slower than China in designing these huge warships.

The Vikrant is a generation behind the design of China’s latest aircraft carrier the high-tech Fujian, launched in June. The first supercarrier to be built outside the United States, it is far larger than the Vikrant, will be able to hold more aircraft, and most importantly uses an electromagnetic system to slingshot aircraft at takeoff. This allows the Fujian to launch far heavier aircraft, laden with weapons and fuel, at a far faster rate than the Vikrant.

The Vikrant’s ski-jump system forces its jets to launch to take off under their own power, which limits the amount of fuel, missiles and bombs the jets can carry. All this means a shorter range for its jets, the length of the Vikrant’s “punch” being significantly shorter than that of the Fujian. In a conflict between carriers, the Vikrant would be significantly outgunned and vulnerable to destruction.

The Vikrant’s woes do not stop there. The ship’s Russian Aircraft Flight Complex, the electronic suite the Vikrant uses to detect and manage the ship’s aircraft when in the air, has had installation issues and is proving hard to integrate into the mostly-Indian design. Planned visits by Russian technicians could be held up because of US-led sanctions imposed on Russia due to the war in Ukraine, further delaying the carrier’s completion.

The Vikrant’s air wing will be made up of Russian MiG-29Ks that are used on its sister ship the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya. On paper, these MiGs, adapted for carrier use, seem capable. But the jets have proven unreliable and are heavy, making takeoff and landing risky. The Indian navy is now looking for more advanced aircraft, with France’s Rafale M and the US-made F/A-18 Super Hornet being the likely choices.

Riaz Haq said…
As the world lurches through the growing pains of massive geopolitical change, the US’ relationship with India will increasingly take center stage. Washington likes to see itself as providing a geopolitical center of gravity that is inherently attractive to nations like India, especially against regional competitors such as China. As the US is about to discover, however, India and China have a shared ambition about who should dominate the Pacific in the coming century, and it doesn’t include the US. Op Ed by Scott Ritter

https://www.energyintel.com/00000183-21d9-d467-adc7-21fdd54f0000

On Aug. 19, India’s minister of external affairs, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, gave a speech at a university in Thailand where he stated that relations between India and China were going through “an extremely difficult phase” and that an “Asian Century” seemed unlikely unless the two nations found a way to “join hands” and start working together.

For many observers, Jaishankar’s speech was taken as an opportunity for the US to drive a wedge between India and China, exploiting an ongoing border dispute along the Himalayan frontier to push India further into a pro-US orbit together with other Western-leaning regional powers. What these observers overlooked, however, was that the Indian minister was seeking the exact opposite from his speech, signaling that India was, in fact, interested in working with China to develop joint policies that would seek to replace US-led Western hegemony in the Pacific.

Struggle for Leadership

More than six decades ago, then-US Senator John F. Kennedy noted that there was a “struggle between India and China for the economic and political leadership of the East, for the respect of all Asia, for the opportunity to demonstrate whose way of life is the better.” The US, Kennedy argued, needed to focus on providing India the help it needed to win that struggle — even if India wasn’t asking for that help or, indeed, seeking to “win” any geopolitical contest with China.

Today, the relationships between the US, India and China have matured, with all three wrestling with complex, and often contradictory, policies that are simultaneously cooperative and confrontational. Notwithstanding this, the US continues to err on the side of helping India achieve a geopolitical “win” over China. One need only consider the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or “Quad,” conceived in 2007, but dormant until 2017, when it was resurrected under US leadership to bring together the US, Japan, Australia and India in an effort to create a regional counterweight to China’s growing influence.

There was a time when cooler heads cautioned against such an assertive US-led posture on a regional response to an expansive, and expanding, Chinese presence in the Indo-Pacific region. This line of thinking held that strong Indian relationships with Tokyo and Canberra should be allowed to naturally progress, independent of US regional ambitions.

These same “cool heads” argued that the US needed to be realistic in its expectations on relations between India and China, avoiding the pitfalls of Cold War-era “zero-sum game” calculations. The US should appreciate that India needed to implement a foreign policy that best met Indian needs. Moreover, they argued, a US-Indian relationship that was solely focused on China would not age well, given the transitory realities of a changing global geopolitical dynamic.

The Asian Century

The key to deciphering Jaishanker’s strategic intent in his Thailand comments lay in his use of the term “Asian Century.” This echoed the words of former Chinese reformist leader Deng Xiaoping, who, in a meeting with former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1988, declared that “in recent years people have been saying that the next century will be the century of Asia and the Pacific, as if that were sure to be the case. I disagree with this view.” Deng went on to explain that unless China and India focus their respective and collective energies on developing their economies, there could, in fact, be no “Asian Century.”
Riaz Haq said…
The Asian Century

The key to deciphering Jaishanker’s strategic intent in his Thailand comments lay in his use of the term “Asian Century.” This echoed the words of former Chinese reformist leader Deng Xiaoping, who, in a meeting with former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1988, declared that “in recent years people have been saying that the next century will be the century of Asia and the Pacific, as if that were sure to be the case. I disagree with this view.” Deng went on to explain that unless China and India focus their respective and collective energies on developing their economies, there could, in fact, be no “Asian Century.”

While Washington may not have heard the subtle implications of Jainshankar’s words, Beijing appears to have done so. Almost immediately after the text of the Indian minister’s comments was made public, the spokesperson for China’s foreign minister declared that both India and China “have the wisdom and capability to help each other succeed rather than undercutting each other.” The takeaway from this exchange is that while both China and India view their ongoing territorial disputes as problematic, they are able and willing to keep their eye on the bigger picture — the ascendancy of the so-called “Asian Century”.

The fact is that India and China have been working toward this goal for some time now. Both are critical participants in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which envisions the growth and empowerment of a trans-Eurasian economic zone that can compete with the economies of the US and Europe on a global scale. Likewise, India and China are actively cooperating within the framework of the Brics economic forum, which is emerging as a direct competitor to the Western-dominated G7.

While it is possible for India to navigate a policy path balancing the US and China in the short term, eventually it will need to go all in on China if its aspirations for an “Asian Century” are ever to be met. This narrative is overlooked by those in the US pursuing zero-sum policies with India when it comes to China.

Given the destiny inherent in the collective embrace of an “Asian Century” by India and China, the US could well find itself on the outside looking in when it comes to those wielding influence in the Pacific going forward. One thing is for certain — the “American Pacific Century” which encompasses the period between the Spanish-American War and the post-Cold War era, where US military, political, and economic power reigned supreme, has run its course. Whether or not India and China will be able to supplant it with an “Asian Century” is yet to be seen. But one thing is for certain — the strategic intent is certainly there.

Scott Ritter is a former US Marine Corps intelligence officer whose service over a 20-plus-year career included tours of duty in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control agreements, serving on the staff of US Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf during the Gulf War and later as a chief weapons inspector with the UN in Iraq from 1991-98. The views expressed in this article are those of the author.


Riaz Haq said…
Ukraine Routs Russian Forces in Northeast, Forcing a Retreat
Russia acknowledged that it had lost nearly all of the northern region of Kharkiv after a blitzkrieg thrust by Ukrainian fighters.


https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/11/world/europe/ukraine-kharkiv-russian-retreat.html?smid=nytcore-ios-share&referringSource=articleShare

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.
Riaz Haq said…
Harpoon Horror! US ‘Confirms’ Russian Vessel That Was Sunk By Ukraine In June Was Fired From Flatbed Truck

https://eurasiantimes.com/harpoon-horror-us-confirms-russian-vessel-that-was-sunk-by-ukraine/


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.”

Riaz Haq said…
Providing impetus to “Aatmanirbharta” (self-reliance) in defence production, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) signed a contract on Thursday with the Indo-Russian joint venture (JV) – BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited (BAPL) – for buying the latest version of the BrahMos missile for its newest warships.

https://www.ajaishukla.com/2022/09/navy-buys-enhanced-range-brahmos.html

So far, BrahMos missiles have had a range of 295 kilometres, in order to adhere to the parameters of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), which restricts missile sales involving a non-MTCR country to a maximum range of 300 km.



However, with India’s admission into the MTCR, a new generation of BrahMos missiles, with ranges of 400 km and more, can legitimately be built by the Indo-Russian JV.



The surface-to-surface BrahMos missiles were bought for “an overall approximate cost of ₹1700 crore under the Buy-Indian category,” stated the MoD on Thursday.



These new BrahMos missiles will be “dual-role capable”, announced the navy, which means that its warships can fire them at targets on land, as well as at enemy warships.



“It is notable that BAPL [is] making a crucial contribution to augment the new generation surface-to-surface missiles (SSMs) with enhanced range and dual role capability for land as well as anti-ship attacks,” stated the MoD after signing the contract.



“These missiles are going to significantly enhance the operational capability of Indian Navy (IN) fleet assets,” it said.



BrahMos Aerospace JV was established through an Indo-Russian Inter-Government Agreement (IGA) in February 1998 for designing, developing, producing and marketing the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile.



The JV’s share capital of $250 million was contributed by India and Russia in the ratio of 50.5 per cent and 49.5 per cent respectively. The share capital was enhanced by $50 million to pay for developing the aircraft version of the missile, which is fired from the Sukhoi-30MKI fighter.



Additionally, the Defence R&D Organisation also contributed Rs 370 crores towards the infrastructure, technologies and production facilities for building the missile system.

Riaz Haq said…
India’s military relationship with Russia isn’t going away — it’ll ‘endure for decades,’ analyst says
PUBLISHED WED, SEP 28 20228:26 PM EDT
Lee Ying Shan
@LEEYINGSHAN

https://www.cnbc.com/2022/09/29/indias-military-ties-with-russia-will-endure-for-decades-analyst.html

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.”

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