India vs Pakistan and Threat of War

Before visiting Pakistan, Robert Gates warned from New Delhi that, should 2007 Mumbai like incident occur again, India would attack Pakistan, meaning thereby that the past Mumbai killings have been solely attributed to Pakistan and if such an incident occurred again, responsibility would be that of Pakistan, and in retaliation, India would be perfectly justified to attack Pakistan. In this situation USA would not be in a position to restrain India. Rather it may support this venture.

The message is fraught with ominous consequences and therefore demands a clear assessment of our ability to respond, if such a threat develops. This assessment therefore, is based on existing ground realities, which determine the military power balance between Pakistan and India. No doubt, the Indian armed forces are numerically superior to Pakistan, but they suffer from some inherent weaknesses and, it will take them a long time to overcome these.

Indian armed forces are in the midst of a transition, – replacement of the obsolete Russian weapons system with high-tech American-Israeli-European weapons. India started this changeover in 2005 after signing the Strategic Partnership Agreement with USA and hopes to complete it by the year 2015. Already it has spent about a hundred billion dollars on the new acquisitions. Their entire military system at present therefore, is weak, because they have the old and absolute weapons and about thirty percent of the recently acquired new systems. They suffer from a predicament, similar to what we suffered in early seventies, because, USA bad abandoned Pakistan in 1965 and we had not been able to induct new weapons and equipment from other sources. India exploited this weakness and dismembered Pakistan. Thus, India suffering from such weaknesses, now, is not in a position to wage a full f1edged war against Pakistan.

India faces another serious problem, in that, despite their best efforts of the last forty years, they have failed to manufacture their own tanks, guns, cruise missiles, fighter aircrafts, battleships and submarines. This in essence, constitutes a major weakness of the Indian armed forces, because, the present day war cannot be won with weapons borrowed or purchased from others. And, contrary to the weaknesses of India and cognising the implications of self-reliance, Pakistan has achieved up to ninety percent of indigenisation of weapons and equipment. We have our own tanks, guns, cruise missiles, fighter aircrafts, battleships and submarines as well as we have a stock-pile of war reserves, of over forty days, as compared to just eleven days of war reserves in 1965 and seven days in 1971. Whereas India’s war reserves as of today are limited to 15 days only. Thus, Pakistan in this respect also enjoys a clear edge over India.

Pakistan has achieved up to ninety percent of indigenisation of weapons and equipment.

The third dimensional capability of Pakistan is, in the way of higher military education and superior military and operational strategy, which is the hallmark of our military leadership, and was demonstrated some twenty years back in 1989, during Ex-Zarb-e-Momin. The Offensive Defence concept was practised and over the period, has been actualised as the fundamental doctrine of war. Offensive Defence means that our forces having fixed the enemy, will carry the war into their territory. Compare it with the Cold Start doctrine of India, of fighting a war on two fronts, which is more of a fiction than a realistic military doctrine.

Mr Robert Gates, as well as the Indian military planners, while taking into cognisance the existing military balance between Pakistan and India, must also consider the new phenomenon of the Asymmetric War, which, during the last thirty years, has established the supremacy of Men and Missiles, over the most modern and technologically superior armed forces of the world, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Kashmir. The Asymmetric War, in essence is the name of the Islamic Resistance, with its hardcore resting along the Durand Line. It is our strength. Thus, conventional as well as irregular armed forces, together provide the emerging shape of the Fourth Generation of modern warfare, as Joseph S Nye, the former Assistant Secretary of Defence USA and a professor of Harvard University, defines: “The hybrid wars, conventional and irregular forces combatants and civilians become thoroughly intertwined” to win wars and help establish the new order. In case, war is forced on Pakistan, it would be a long and decisive war, where new geo-political realities would emerge, establishing new frontiers of peace in the region.

Nuclear weapons are not the weapons of war because these have never been used as such. United States used it against the Japanese in 1945, which already had lost the war, nor had the capability to retaliate. American purpose was primarily diplomatic, i.e. to declare to the world that, America was entering the centre stage of world politics, to establish its global primacy and pre-eminence. There are other instances also, where nuclear powers, possessing hundreds and thousands of atomic weapons could not use them, to save themselves from very difficult and embarrassing situations. The Americans lost the war in Vietnam; the Soviets lost their empire in Afghanistan; the Israelis could not cover the shame of defeat at the hands of Hezbollah in 2005; the Americans having suffered defeat in Iraq, now are facing a worse defeat in Afghanistan, yet they find no recourse to use their nuclear capability. Their NATO partners are equally embarrassed, yet they cannot think of using their nuclear weapons to cover the shame of impending defeat. Similarly, India and Pakistan can fight only conventional wars and win or loose, but they dare not use nuclear weapons against each other, because it would destroy everything, leaving nothing but ashes, one could hope to capture and rebuild. And therefore, our people must not carry the wrong notion that Pakistan is powerful because it has nuclear capability. On the contrary, it is the conventional military capability, which provides security and lends resilience to the nation, as of now, and provides space to the po1itical government, to establish good governance.

Nuclear weapons are also great equalizer, between nuclear capable adversaries. “Between India and Pakistan, perfect deterrence exists” – declared George Fernandis, the former Defence Minister of India, after Pakistan demonstrated its capability in May 1998. And that precisely is the function of the weapons of mass destruction. Pakistan’s policy of Minimum Credible Nuclear Deterrence, supported by the Policy of Restraint, together serves the purpose of a stable nuclear deterrence. Nuclear capability also doesn’t compensate for the conventional military capability, and working on this principle the conventional military capability of Pakistan has been so developed as to make it a real symbol of national power, to defeat all aggression from within and outside.

Such are the ground realities, which determine the capabilities of our armed forces which cannot be wiped off by contrived constructs of our adversaries, nor Pakistan can be scared of going to the brink, if a war was forced on it. J F Dulles has rightly said: “If you are scared to go to the brink you are lost.” Gen. Mirza Aslam Beg (Retd)

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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.

Magnificent roll out of JF-17

THE skies of Pakistan witnessed one of the most fascinating and thrilling events in the history of the country as the first indigenously co-produced (with China) multi-role fighter aircraft rolled out at Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, Kamra on Monday. The successful production and flight of the modern and sophisticated aircraft, which is comparable to most of the state-of-the-art fighters in possession of other countries has aptly been described as PAF’s gift to the nation and a symbol of Pak-China friendship.

This is indeed a milestone in the defence production arena for a variety of reasons. The development comes at a time when the nation is confronted with internal and external challenges of unprecedented magnitude and the captivated flight of the JF-17, manufactured locally with the Chinese collaboration, has lifted the otherwise sagging morale of the people. Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani has rightly pointed out that it was not a meagre achievement by any standards, as it launches Pakistan into an elite club of nations that posses the capability of manufacturing fighter aircraft. Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman has summed up the achievement by describing it as triumph of the will of the nation. It is a step towards achieving our cherished dream of strengthening the national security through indigenisation and building the country’s aviation related industries. This leap forward in much-needed self-reliance in defence would provide Pakistan Air Force, to some extent, deterrent capability and the experience gained through its development would open up new avenues of boosting the country’s air defence. The project for indigenous co-production of the high-tech JF-17 thunder aircraft has been there for years and the successive chiefs of the PAF made their contributions to it but the credit goes to the incumbent Chief Rao Qamar Suleman who accorded it the required priority to ensure its fast-track completion. The nation also salutes PAF engineers and technicians who worked hard to make its production possible despite many odds. On this occasion, the nation also expresses its gratitude to the time-tested friend of the country — China — of which strategic support helped realize this dream. We are confident that it would join hands in other areas of the defence production as well as both of them face similar long-term threats to their respective security.—Pakobserver

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