When the Guns Fizzed and the Gizmos Fizzled

All the “Daisy Cutters”, Nuclear tipped bombs, and the finest drones on the planet could not stand up to the raw grit of those that opposed occupation. All the kings horses and the all the kings men could not put humpty back together or subdue the fierce fighters of Afghanistan and Pakistan. There are clear signs of operationalization of the peace plan in Kabul. The surge was imply to assuage the hawks in the Republican Party–the real Afghan reassessment was to get American boys out of the treacherous Hindu Kush. Defeat is a clichéd word–there are no winners in war. Victory is exaggerated concept. Absolute defeats have never been able to quell the resistance. Absolute victories have always lead to future wars–be it Sparta, Versailles or Kabul.

As Shakespeare would say “when the hurly burly’s done, and the battle is lost and won“–there is time to make a fresh start.

When a country is not able to impose its will and might–it is some sort of defeat. The Americans today need a face saving exit strategy from Afghanistan. The Taliban, Pakistan and all other countries of the world should assist the US in a phased, expeditious and honorable withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Over the past several years, we have predicted that the US will exit Afghanistan in 2011 right before the US elections. The tell tale signs of the operationalization of this policy is writ in large all over the billboards called newspapers.

There are numerous indications confirming our well calculated predictions: the polite decline to Delhi on their exuberance to begin training the Afghan forces; the offering of Shadow drones to Pakistan; the peace talks with the Afghan Taliban; the mood and the statements of the big boys in preperation of the Afghan Conference on January 28th, 2010; the acceptance of the Pakistani point of view on halting further operations in FATA; the usage of Pakistani mediators in back channel diplomacy to include the Taliban in the current Kabul government; and the offer of further US military and financial aid to Pakistan. The carrots offered to Pakistan are not for free–Milton Friedman was right “that ain’t no such thing as a free lunch”. Pakistan is being offered new toys and more Dollars for her assistance in helping the American extricate themselves out of the Afghan quagmire.

America had a decision to make. Stick with General McChrystal’s policy of more soldiers, more mercenaries and more war–supplemented with more drone bombing and more targeted murders (drones and otherwise). More war has always created more enemies. This has never been more true than in Afghanistan and Pakistan today.

Washington’s other choice was less war, less soldiers and less enemies. President Obama hedged his bets with the first option, and then is pursuing the 2nd option aggressively.

While some may claim that the Great Game is over–and Pakistan won. However, this is not the time for crowing from the rooftops. This is the time to let loose the doves from the allow them to to fly into the sun. There are many steps between the lips and cup. There are many impediments to peace in the Panshir and tranquility in Waziristan. We believe that the right steps are being taken.

A show of strength followed up with massive financial aid and assistance will yield the right results. Once the troops begin leaving, the civilian surge, accompanied with suitcases full of Dollars will persuade the warlords to switch sides (just like the Northern Alliance switched sides in 2001).

There are huge dangers to he peace deal. Bharat (aka India) keenly aware of its sagging influence in Central Asia (specially after the ignominious eviction from Tajikistan) may play the chagrined loser, and stage another Mumbai type of false flag, and try to wage war on Pakistan. This would derail the peace plan. Some of Bharati surrogates in Balochistan and the TTP may be allowed to torpedo peace in the Khyber Pass by assassinating another Pakistani leader, in trying to create ethnic strife in Pakistan. Other international powers may have vested interests in ensuring that the Taliban do not come into power or even share the government in Kabul. Both Israel and Iran are scared of The Talibs.

If President Obama is able to pull this off–it will be a miracle. He has to keep the Indians at bay by selling them toys (double advantage, dollars and Peace); he has to appease the Pakistanis so that they continue their assistance in achieving peace; he has to browbeat Iranian resistance through sanctions and threats; he has to assuage the Chinese that Afghan venture is over with no threat to Beijing; and he has to keep the Russians cool so that they do not think that Central Asia has been taken from them. If he can do this tap dance, the US corporations can make huge profits.

Delhi needs Viagra to prove its manhood. The US can offer the blue pills in many forms–obsolete nuclear plants declared unsafe for America, stripped down F-16s (with lots of spare parts and services), and tons of below quality equipment that the Indians would love to plunk down hard cash for. After all the business of America is doing business. If the US can figure out how to sell billions of Dollars of machines (which will rust in a few years) to Delhi that would be a great achievement. If the US can make a profit out of the Afghan war to recuperate some of its losses, it will be a happy camper. Read more of this post

East meets West – Pakistan‘s Fighter Aircraft

PAF F-16 / BLOCK-D

PAF FC-20 /J-10B

PAF JF-17 THUNDER

defpro.com | Not many modern armed forces unite in their inventory, and particularly among their key assets, technology from two – in political terms – entirely opposite origins. It is more common in the countries of the former Soviet bloc where, since the fall of the iron curtain, Western technology slowly but ever increasingly found its way into countries primarily equipped with Russian weapon systems. In the past two decades the Middle East and southern countries of the Asian continent have become areas in which Western state-of-the-art weapon systems competed next to weapon systems from Russia or other former antagonists to lead these countries’ armed forces into a new age – globalisation in the political and industrial defence world.

These countries – not only geographically in between history’s current major players – slowly revolve the old political and economic structures in a natural process and, with their growing political self-confidence, create a new link between the cumbersome super powers which, mostly from behind the scenes, will shape the next decades.

Pakistan is one of these interesting examples, however, with a very unique character. Just as its neighbour and long-lasting political antagonist, India, it develops an increasingly emancipated character in its choice of new weapon systems as well as in its desire to further develop its domestic R&D as well as production capabilities. India currently is in the process of extensive trials for its future fighter aircraft programme (MMRCA) in which aircraft from the US compete against European as well as Russian solutions of the latest generations (see http://www.defpro.com/daily/details/380/). The final choice in this particular race will be a forward-looking one for the face of the Indian Air Force.

On the other side of the Thar Desert, the Pakistani Air Force (PAF) brings together an interesting mix of aircraft from all over the world and, in particular, from the US and China. Due to its historical development, the first aircraft to be used by the Pakistani Air Force were US- and UK-built aircraft. However, in 1965 Pakistan received its first fighter aircraft of Chinese origin: the Shenyang J-6. Since, fighter aircraft of the US as well as from France (the PAF still strongly relies on its French Dassault Mirage IIIs and Mirage Vs) have been operating next to Chinese fighter aircraft. A clear political development can be deduced from the history of fighter aircraft of the PAF: from the post-colonial influences to a regional power at the mercy of the political gravities to a growing national identity and self-determination.

Today, Pakistan is expecting to take delivery of its first of 18 ordered Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Block 52+ very soon (older versions of the F-16 have already been operating in Pakistan since 1982), bringing the total number of Pakistani F-16s to 54 when the last aircraft will be delivered as scheduled in December 2010. Furthermore, as various press sources have reported mid-November 2009, Pakistan has signed an agreement with China for the procurement of 36 Chengdu FC-20 (J-10 export version) to be delivered by 2015. Finally, Pakistan is also in the process of introducing a growing number of FC-1/JF-17 fighter aircraft, jointly developed by China’s Chengdu and the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) Kamra. With the first two small batch production aircraft having been delivered in 2007, Pakistan has since received a good dozen of these aircraft and, as reports Flight International, is expecting to introduce at least 150 domestically produced fighters into service (the number has increased to an estimated 200-250 aircraft).

This development would not only provide Pakistan with a significant number of state-of-the-art air combat assets but also brings together technology from the Far East and the West in an interesting unity. Many eyes of these two political and industrial camps will be glued to the PAF to gather information on this process and the other’s craftsmanship.

F-16 … FC-20 … JF-17


PAF Saab 2000 Erieye AEW&C aircraft.

As outlined above the PAF has been combining Western and Chinese aircraft since the 1960s, including bombers and trainer aircraft and is, furthermore, expecting to receive four Chinese Shaanxi Y-8W airborne early warning & control (AEW&C) aircraft equipped with AESA radar by 2011 that will be operating next to Pakistan’s brand-new Saab 2000 Erieye AEW&C aircraft. But let’s take a look at the three state-of-the-art fighter aircraft that will be racing Pakistan’s skies in the near future.

Pakistan’s newest member of the F-16 family, a two seat F-16D Block 52, has been unveiled on October 2009 at Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth, Texas, facility. The ceremony was attended by the PAF Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Rao Quamar Suleman. The current order, dubbed “Peace Drive I”, is for 12 F-16Cs and six F-16Ds, powered by the Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229 engine, with an option for another 18 aircraft.


“The Pakistani and U.S. leadership has worked very hard to develop a strategic partnership between the two countries in order to achieve our common strategic interests,” said Rao Qamar. “If this relationship is to succeed, it has to be built on a solid foundation of trust between the two allies. This F-16 is not just an aircraft, but a capability for Pakistan. It is a symbol of trust and the relationship between Pakistan and the U.S.”


As the PAF explains on its homepage, “the PAF had originally planned its force structure to include than a hundred F-16s by the end of the century, but these plans could not be implemented because of the US embargo [of the 1990s due to Pakistan’s testing of a nuclear bomb]. The service is, thus, currently in the process of evaluating other high-tech fighter aircraft for procurement.”

The outcome of this process is quite clear: a stronger co-operation with China which obviously offers Pakistan not only to possibility to acquire new combat aircraft but also of jointly improving its domestic industrial capabilities. The Chengdu FC-20s to enter service in 2015 will replace the aging fleet of combat aircraft such as the Chinese F-7s (a version of the MiG-21 which has been recently upgraded) as well as the extensive fleet of Mirage IIIs and Vs. As the PAF explains, “Chinese systems such as the F-7s provide the staying power to absorb losses and to take punishment in the face of a much bigger adversary. Planned upgrades to equip these less capable fighters with modern radars, better missiles and ECM equipment will help enhance the PAF’s combat capability.”


The FC-20 is not among these less capable fighters. It is the export version, modified to Pakistan’s requirements, of one of China’s most capable multi-role fighter aircraft with a delta-wing and canard design. It was introduced into the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) in 2005 and in April 2006 the Pakistani cabinet approved the procurement of 36 of these aircraft which can be compared to the aircraft generation of the F-16, the Gripen or the Rafale.

Although a greater challenge for the Pakistani Air Force than the mere purchase of new assets, the development and introduction of the JF-17 (Pakistani designation for “Joint Fighter”) has continuously and obviously successfully proceeded. The first aircraft of this type took to the skies in 2003. The first small batch of pre-production aircraft was delivered to Pakistan for operational evaluation purposes in March 2007. The first Pakistani-manufactured JF-17 was rolled out and handed over to the PAF on 23 November 2009. On the occasion of the hand-over ceremony Rao Qamar said that 40 JF-17 would be produced by PAC Kamra within next three years and would be inducted in PAF replacing the existing aircraft. Furthermore, he confirmed that the first JF 17 Squadron would be established shortly. The JF-17 is a lightweight and low-cost multi-role fighter aircraft with a high manoeuvrability and beyond visual range (BVR) capability. It has advanced aerodynamics configuration and high thrust.

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