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Thursday, 10 September 2009

Pakistan v Hindustan: A Military Fact-Checking Exercise

On the occasion of Defence Day of Pakistan, we’ve decided to do a short comparison of the Air, Land and Naval forces of Pakistan against those of our rival, India. From failed tank designs, laughable missile ‘capability’ to dud nuclear devices, it turns out Pakistan has done well for itself despite arms embargoes and sanctions from countries that have been lining up to offer their equipment to India. Its never wise to underestimate your foe – however this is intended to be a reality check for the hawks accross the border who wondered why India didn’t attack Pakistan in the aftermath of Mumbai. At the same time, we intend to let those Pakistanis know who wonder if we’ll be able to survive a conventional war with India, that ALLAH is our protector.

On paper, India has a much higher number of weapons and equipment, but when the chips are down, its weaknesses are exposed. A case in point was the 2001 mobilisation of troops on the border following the farcically staged attack on the Indian parliament. It went very badly for the Indian army. At the cost of billions of dollars to the poverty-stricken Indian masses, the Army took several months to mobilise, and even when it did, it was in no position whatsoever to launch any kind of attack. The infantry proved to be less than ready, with dozens being killed in ‘friendly-fire’ attacks, and many taking their own lives due to ’stress’. The armoured vehicles were in a gross state of disrepair and the organisation was chaotic. The whole charade turned out to be more of an exercise in vanity and bluster than actual military sense.
The Pakistani response could not have been more different. Multiple Army Corps were mobilised within days and dispatched to the border efficiently and quietly. Equipment was readied and the determined troops stood their ground, ready to defend Pak Sarzameen. Pakistani officers could only look on in surprise at the antics across the border. Eventually, India decamped and withdrew having wasted billions on yet another useless adventure. But they should have known that attempting to intimidate and demoralise the Pakistan Army is an exercise in futility.
Pakistan was well prepared and its soldiers befitted with high morale. A great deal of credit for this goes to Pakistan’s defence production facilities which have done a very impressive job of equipping the large Army. Pakistan’s defence facilities produce almost every kind of weapon and ordinance that a modern army requires, from main battle tanks like the Al Khalid to infantry assault rifles like the venerable G3. Pakistan has no need to import equipment and is self-sufficient in the production of high-tech weaponry to international standards. The measure of the quality of products is proved by the fact that Pakistan in 2006 exported over $300 million dollars worth of high-tech arms to friendly countries, by far outstripping the pathetic arms exports of India. Pakistani defence companies, public and private, have built a solid reputation in the global arms market.
India on the other hand suffers from a defence industry that is laughable in its ability to deliver. The long-anticipated (over forty years to be exact) Arjun tank turned out to be a complete failure, its designers somehow overlooking the elementary fact that it was too wide to be transported by train and therefore useless. In addition, in recent exercises it suffered from numerous malfunctions that lead the Indian army to wash their hands of it and order over a thousand Russian T-90 tanks off the shelf from Russia instead. The Indian Government, always keen to save face, forced the army to buy a few token Arjun tanks (christened ar-junk by critics). The Arjun fiasco is perhaps the most famous example of fantastically expensive Indian defence catastrophes, but by no means is this an isolated occurence. Almost every piece of equipment conceived by the mad scientists of the infamous and ironically named DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) has failed. In fact, the DRDO has produced more flops than Sunny Deol, and that’s saying something.
While the Indian army lurches from one rebellion to another, the Pakistan Army is efficient and highly organised, capable of applying deadly force to the nations enemies. The recent Army actions in Malakand and Swat are clear examples of the Army’s sound capabilities as it completely eliminated the TTP from entrenched positions within a matter of weeks. Such a feat of counter-insurgency is unprecedented. The Sri Lankan military was unable to pacify the Tamils for over 40 years and the Indian army, in spite of its brutal methods, is still regularly humiliated at the hands of the Kashmiri Mujahideen, Naxalites and countless other separatist rebel groups that have sprung up to challenge the so-called ‘biggest democracy in the world’.
Commensurate with its vain plans for regional domination, India has built a navy along the lines of the USN and Royal Navy. Thus it possesses dozens of surface ships of all kinds, destroyers, frigates and even an aircraft carrier. What the Indian naval brass haven’t realised yet is that the world has moved on without them, and in this age of anti-ship cruise and ballistic missiles, its large surface fleet has been reduced to a series of easy targets. Since the advent of the anti-ship cruise and ballistic missile, building a massive surface fleet is not only incredible expensive, it is incredibly stupid. No surface vessel in existence today is capable of avoiding a land based, air launched or sea launched saturation missile attack – not even the most high-tech American vessels. Put it this way, it would only take a small $50 million missile boat, carrying 4-8 primitive Harpoon style missiles to sink an aircraft carrier worth many billions. And if there is one thing the Pakistan Navy does not lack, it is missiles.
The Soviets knew this, and so they restricted their surface fleet and concentrated on submarine warfare, and the German Kriegsmarine circa WW2 knew this too. They relied on masses of U-boats to control the seas, not expensive surface vessels that would be more of a liability than a benefit. While the Indian Navy has gone down the foolhardy path, the Pakistani Naval brass have been far wiser. Knowing that they cannot match India in numbers, they have concentrated on securing territorial waters and securing sea lanes via high-tech submarines. The acquisition of the Augusta 90-B was a major step in the upgradation of the submarine fleet, and this is soon to be followed by the purchase of several German U-214 boats. This type is the most modern and sophisticated conventional diesel submarine in the world and far outstrips anything in the Indian arsenal. This has been supplemented by the purchase of small Chinese and possible Turkish frigates and large numbers of anti-ship missiles of the air launched and sea-launched variety. Pakistan is also proficient in the building of the only vessel it makes any sense to construct these days – the small missile-launching patrol boat.
The most important factor for a Navy is balance. This is what gives a Navy the ability to respond to any threat – a variety of vessels in small but not overwhelming numbers that can be utilised well. While the Indian Navy is bloated and suffers from a critical shortage of usable, serviceable ships and a submarine fleet in an appalling state of disrepair and neglect, the Pakistan Navy has capitalised on its strengths while minimising its weaknesses. If war were to break out tomorrow, the Indian navy, in spite of its superior numbers, would not dare to approach Pakistani territorial waters for fear of undetectable submarines lurking below and lethal cruise missiles raining overhead. Under those circumstances, being the absolute liability that it is, their vaunted but ultimately useless Indian aircraft carrier would most likely set sail at full steam – back to port.
The Pakistani air force is probably the most beloved of the nations three armed services. It has fought valiantly and heroically in all the wars it has partcipated in and faced down an enemy many times its size and capability. What it lacks in high-tech fighter jets it makes up for in ingenious tactics, meaning that Pakistani air force pilots are renowned the world over for their skill and bravery. Despite the technological gap, it is the emphasis on training and discipline and peak professionalism that gives Pakistani pilots the clear edge over their Indian adversaries.
In every single war, the Pakistan air force has outperformed the Indian air force and thus cemented its place in the nations imagination. It is the only air force in the world to have a 100% strike rate against the Israeli air force – a feat no Arab nation could achieve. As a result, today Pakistani pilots are invited to train the cadets and pilots of other air forces around the world and cadets from dozens of countries come to study at the ‘Top Gun’ style Pakistan Air Force Academy.
The Indians may have superior jets like the Russian Su-30 MKI, but Pakistan is catching up fast. The acquisition of the F-16 Block 50 from the US and the Chinese FC-20 will transform Pakistan Air force into a technological force to be reckoned with. This will be greatly helped by the induction of over 250 JF-17 multi-role jets co-produced with the Chinese. These will form the backbone of the air force for decades to come, replacing existing older aircraft.
While Indian pilots crash their poorly serviced planes by the dozens, Pakistani engineers have worked wonders in preserving and servicing the Air Force through times when parts and spares were difficult to come by due to sanctions. India is spending multiple billions on upgrading its fleet and is due to import hundreds of the latest fighter jets through its MRCA tender, but Pakistan is not standing still either. By 2015, the Pakistani Air Force will be revolutionised. Regardless of Indian belligerence, the induction of modern fighters, AWACS surveillance planes and upgraded air defence systems will make the skies over Pakistan impregnable.
Pakistan’s missiles are the envy of the world. Possessing both liquid-fuelled and the more useful solid-fuelled missiles, Pakistan has the entire region within range and most importantly, all of India. With short-range battlefield types all the way to the 3,500km Shaheen II, all of Pakistan’s missiles are field tested and operational and capable of ‘pinpoint’ accuracy. This is in marked contrast to the Indian missile programme that has known only a succession of humiliating and expensive failures. Recent reports from India indicated that of all of its claimed missile types, only the short-range Prithvi missile is operational and ready for war. The rest suffer from malfunctions and defects that have yet to be corrected. This embarrassing revelation is particularly painful to Indians if the Indian missile program was contrasted with its Pakistani equivalent.
Pakistan wins on all counts. Not only is it ahead, but it is widening the gap by developing longer range missiles that go into ICBM (inter-continental) range along with more advanced and powerful nuclear warheads. But the most exciting development by far in the ballistic missile field are the reliable reports that Pakistan is developing next generation missiles in the form of MIRV (multiple independent re-entry vehicles). As the name suggests, this allows multiple independent warheads to be deployed from the same missile, effectively disabling any possible anti-ballistic missile threats. It allows the devastation of the missile to be massively multiplied without significant increases in missile numbers. This technology is expected to be deployed on the Shaheen III and later types.
In addition to the ballistic missile arsenal, Pakistan is also way ahead when it comes to cruise missiles. When the now 700km range Babur was tested in 2005, the world was stunned and Indian commentators were left catatonic. Especially considering the fact that the Babur was produced in-country with no outside assistance save for a stray US Tomahawk missile or two. The Indians have no equivalent missile, and instead rely on the Brahmos import from Russia. The Brahmos is supersonic, but what it makes up for in speed it loses in agility and accuracy. While the Brahmos makes for good bollywood style PR, the Babur, and now the air launched Ra’ad are far more suitable for wartime, being cheaper, more flexible and more accurate. Longer range versions are being developed, particularly anti-ship varieties that will hunt down and sink ‘white elephants’ in the Indian ocean – the Indian surface fleet.
Recent reports that the Indian nuclear of 1998 were ‘fizzles’ only confirms what the world already knows – India is far behind Pakistan when it comes to nuclear weapons technology and weaponisation. This has been confirmed not only by Western analysts but also by the Indians themselves. Started in 1972, the Pakistani nuclear programme has resulted today in an arsenal of over 200 nuclear warheads of both the highly-enriched Uranium and Plutonium varieties with the capacity to produce around 50 more each year.
Pakistan’s first nuclear tests were in May 1998, when six warheads were tested. It is reported that the yields from these tests were 12kt, 30 to 35kt and four low-yield (below 1 kt) tests. From these tests Pakistan can be estimated to have developed operational warheads of 20 to 25kt and 150kt in the shape of low weight compact designs and may have 300–500kt large-size warheads. Plutonium warheads are more operationally deployable with only 2–4 kg of plutonium needed for the same device that would need 20–25 kg of U-235. The low-yield weapons are probably in nuclear bombs carried on fighter-bombers such as the Dassault Mirage III and fitted to Pakistan’s short-range ballistic and cruise missiles, while the higher-yield warheads are probably fitted to the Shaheen and Ghauri series of ballistic missiles.
The sixth Pakistani nuclear test (May 30, 1998) at Kharan was a successful test of a sophisticated, compact, but powerful bomb designed to be carried by missiles. And that was over 10 years ago. The advancements in miniaturisation technology since then have been astounding. The plutonium based nuclear weapons are now reportedly being spiked with tritium. Only a few grams of tritium can result in an increase of the explosive yield by 300% to 400%. Pakistan has also built hard and deeply buried storage and launch facilities to retain a second strike capability in a nuclear war, as well as road-mobile missiles, air defences around strategic sites, and concealment measures.

India is no match for Pakistan when it comes to courage, professionalism and most importantly a ‘mission’ – to make Pakistan a force that will bring Jusice and Peace to humanity, for all times to come. The future belongs to this great nation and it’s emenies will soon become irrelevant.
Pakistan Payendabaad!

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