Skip to comments.INDIA vs PAKISTAN: AN ANALYSIS OF WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF THEY WENT TO WAR (AND WHO WOULD WIN).
Posted on 05/22/2002 12:59:39 PM PDT by spetznaz
India has launched a pre-emptive strike on Pakistan in an attempt to eliminate it's nuclear weapons capability and as a military threat in the near future.
ANALYSIS -- Air Battle
Initial strike carried out by Indian Sukhoi 33s/30s, Harriers, MiG-27's, MiG-23's, MiG-21's and Jaguar's on forward Pakistani command posts, airfields, weapon storage facilities (namely nuclear weapons and IRBM) and communication relay stations escorted by MiG 29's, MiG-23's, Mirage 2000 and MiG 21-93's. While the Indian Naval Harriers and attack craft attack the port of Karachi in an attempt to close it to keep reinforcements from sympathetic Islamic countries coming in via sea.
In such a situation the Pakistani Air Force would have a major problem securing their airspace mainly due to the fact that their aircraft lack any real BVR (beyond visual range) capability or look-down shoot-down capability with only their F-16's having a look-down shoot-down capability but limited to only AIM-9 Sidewinders (Note:- although Pakistan is thought to have up to 500 AIM-7 Sparrows the only F-16A's capable of firing them are the F-16A Block 15 ADF used by the USAF). While their Mirage III's , V's , F-7's (MiG-21) and F-6's (MiG-19) have no look-down shoot-down capability and no BVR capability (Note:- some F-7's and Mirage III/V are to be upgraded, this will include new radar's and other avionics). While this gap may be filled in the near future through the FC-1 fighter while this would the PAF a look-down shoot-down capability that it presently lacks it would not be superior to the MiG-29, Mirage 2000 or the LCA. Thus at present this means that if Indian attack aircraft come in at low level Pakistani aircraft would have difficulty in detecting IAF aircraft and have no capability of engaging them at long range. While the Indian escort aircraft having a BVR capability with weapons including AA-10 Alamo's , AA-12 Adders and Super 530D AAM's would have the capability to engage PAF aircraft at medium/long range allowing IAF attack aircraft to operate under an umbrella of air cover, thus giving the IAF effective air superiority over much of the battle field. ( There have also been reports that the IAF have treated their front line aircraft such as the Jaguar, MiG-29, MiG-27 and Mirage 2000 with a stealth material said to reduce the RCS of aircraft by up to 70% and increases weight by up to 50kg, Aircraft & Aerospace Asia-Pacific, Feb. 1996 pg.20). Without a BVR capability Pakistan has to rely on a SAM system based primarily on short range SAM's like the Crotale and man portable SAM's like the Stinger and indigenous Anza, here to Pakistan lacks the modern SAM system that most armies now have. While the IAF will sustain losses to SAM's without a medium range, low-medium altitude SAM Pakistan will suffer serious losses to Indian deep strike missions.
Another weakness of the PAF is their apparent lack of dedicated attack aircraft with the Q-5 Fantan being their only dedicated strike aircraft , with the F-6's (MiG-19's) and Mirage III / V having to double as point defence fighters or interceptors. Secondly none of these aircraft have the capability to deliver PGM's only 'dumb' bomb's. The best strike aircraft possessed by the PAF is the F-16 but it is unlikely that Pakistan would use it's only advanced fighter in a strike role (Note: some reports suggest that Pakistan may have acquired PGM's from Denel). This limits the ability of the PAF to strike deep into India or hit targets with any great precision. This has been recognized by the Pakistani Government which attempted to fill the hole with attempted procurements of both the Su-27 and the Mirage 2000. Both procurement programs were abandoned after the respective companies pulled out after pressure by India as both companies are lobbying for a multi billion dollar training aircraft contract for the IAF and due to spiralling costs. Most recently the PAF has become involved in the FC-1 program , an aircraft which would be powered by the RD-93 , be equipped with an advanced look down - shoot down radar and have a g-limit of + 8g's (possibly 9+ for the PAF). In comparison the IAF recently acquired a PGM capability with the acquisition of the Rafael Litening laser designation pod for it's Jaguar's and Mirage 2000. While it is investigating the possibility of upgrading it's MiG-27 attack aircraft.
The IAF's superiority in aircraft with 135 modern combat aircraft (with 125 MiG 21 to be upgraded to the 21-93 standard, a projected 200 LCA to be delivered by 2010 and 40 Su-30MKI's with the option to manufacture 100) to the PAF's 38 (with a possible 150 FC-1's to be delivered within the next 10-15 years provided the program continues) would result in the IAF gaining almost complete air superiority over much of the battle field while limiting the ability of the PAF to strike deep into India.
It is also probable that Saudi Arabia may loan Pakistan an AWACS aircraft as Russia has previously done with the Tu-126 Moss. It is also probable that if Saudi Arabia were to send Pakistan an AWACS that they would also send along at least one squadron of F-15 interceptors as escort for the AWACS as well as to defend the AWACS in operations. While an AWACS if would be a massive improvement in Pakistan's air defence capability, it is unlikely that Saudi Arabia would send more than 1 and without an airborne refuelling system and because of post flight maintenance the AWACS would probably be limited to 1 flight per day (with 12 hours on patrol). It is also possible that the United Arab Emirates would provide help in the form of Mirage 2000's. Another potential vulnerability of the Pakistani air force is its dependence on ground controlled intercept's, any attacks on control towers, command and control centres and the use of communications jamming could cause significant problems to airborne units which would find themselves isolated and due to the lack of effective radars unable to engage the enemy. This type of tactic would be particularly effective at night as it would allow Indian fighters to engage Pakistani units at long range at relatively low risk.
The PAF would be expected to lose about 40-50% of it's aircraft while the IAF would be expected to sustain losses of around 20% - 30% consisting of mainly MiG-21's and other ground attack aircraft which would be forced to get into close combat with the PAF aircraft as well as loses due to Pakistani SAM's such as the Crotale and the large number of hand held SAM's. The overall lack of modern aircraft seriously damage's the capability of the PAF in defending Pakistani airspace despite the high quality of it's pilots.
ANALYSIS -- Sea battle
In naval matters India has a large advantage over the Pakistani Navy namely to it's aircraft carrier VIRAAT equipped with Harriers and Sea Kings along with a large number of surface vessels including six destroyers the latest of which are the Delhi Class DDG's which are among the worlds finest destroyers with 2 more planed, large numbers of frigates, corvettes including the Godavari Class (6) , Khukri Class (8) , Improved Krivak III Class (3 are on order and 3 are planed) and the Tarantul-I Class (11 of which are in service ; 5 are planed) and 17 submarines including nine Soviet Kilo class and four German SSK 209 Class, Type 1500. With a program to produce SLCM armed nuclear submarines and one aircraft carrier, along with this talks with Russia over the sale of Admiral Gorshkov continue, the current deal would see Admiral Gorshkov being equipped with a 14.5deg ski jump and MiG-29K's and possibly a navalised LCA, this would put the Indian Navy effectively into fifth place behind the US, UK, France and Russia.
In comparison the Pakistani Navy is based around 6 Type 21 Amazon class frigates bought from the RN after being forced to return 8 US frigates (Brooke class) due to sanctions. The Amazon class are veterans of the Falklands War where two were lost due to air attacks, displaying a major venerability to air attack. Their main armament comes in the form of four M.38 Exocet SSM (refitted with Harpoons) and LY 60N SAM's which have a range of 13km. With no aircraft carrier the fleet is left naked to air attack from INS Harriers , Sea Kings and IAF Jaguars all of which are equipped with Sea Eagle ASM's which have a range of 110 km. The Jaguars have also had their radar's upgraded to the Elta EL/M - 2032 which has been offered as an upgrade by Israel.
With the recent acquisition of the Ka-31AEW for operations of the carrier VIRAAT severally reduces the ability of the PAF Mirages configured to carry Exocet's to avoid detection in their strikes on the INS carrier group, as the Ka-31AEW's would give the INS Sea Harriers sufficient time to intercept or harass any attackers. As experience form the Falklands War has shown the Sea Harrier is more than a match for the Mirage III/V , where no Sea Harriers were lost to Mirages in ACM in return for the destruction of approximately 20 Mirages and Skyhawks. The range of the Exocet of 50km (or 70km for the latest versions) when launched at altitude means that attackers will have to approach to aprox. 45km from the carrier group an undertaking that would be hazardous under the best of circumstances.
The sharpest teeth of the PN is it's submarine arm which consists of 4 Daphne and 2 Augosta which are equipped with Harpoon SSM's, with 3 Agosta 90B class to be delivered by 2006. Although the number at sea at any one time would be limited to approximately 2 due to the fact that a minimum of 3 sub's are needed to maintain one at sea continuously ( one at sea, one undergoing repairs/servicing and a dock side trainer). Secondly the submarines are quite rapidly reaching the end of their service lives having been replaced by almost all services due to the rapid advances in sonar technology and the proliferation of the Kilo class which has gained the nickname "Black Hole" by NATO due to its low noise signature. While the PN submarine arm would be a major thorn in the side of the INS the lack of surface support limits their ability to strike the INS. The INS submarine arm by comparison would receive large amounts of support both from surface vessels and from air assets ( i.e. Tu-142M Bear, Il-38 and Dornier 228 ).
Most naval experts agree that while the INS will take loses to the PN will be beaten due to in-effective air cover for their surface combatants and limited SAM capability as well as the fact that it would be out-numbered 3-1. The result would be a closing of the port of Karachi and inability of Pakistani allies to resupply Pakistan via the sea. Rather than engage the Indian fleet the Pakistan Navy should concentrate on attempting to hold open its sea lanes, as any attack on the Indian fleet would probably result in failure.
ANALYSIS -- Ground campaign
With the ground campaign it neither country has a clear advantage that would allow it a sweeping victory (Gulf War style) but rather it would result in a bloody campaign that would last several weeks possibly months. Unless a successful Blitzkrieg style of campaign can be accomplished by one of the sides. While India has a 2-1 advantage in personal (1.1 million to 500,000) The Pakistani Army has shown to be quite effective when operating in defence and any Indian attack can expect to meet severe Pakistani opposition.
As always in a ground campaign the side which can gain air superiority and can maintain an advantage in armoured vehicles has a distinct advantage. With the Indian Air Force having the ability to gain air superiority over the battle field and the Army having 2000 T-72 M1 , 1800 Vickers MBT's and 700 T-55's, with the Arjuin MBT to go into production in the near future. Compared to the Pakistani Army's 2000 MBT's consisting of T-55, T-59, T-69, T-85II, T80 (Ukrainian), M-47 and M-48's ( Note: the Al Khalid MBT is currently undergoing testing and is expected to enter production soon). This gives an advantage of 4500 MBT to the 2000 Pakistani MBT. But consideration has to be given to the fact that not all the MBT's , soldiers or aircraft can be pressed to front line use as India would have to maintain a significant presence on it's border with China as an India at war with Pakistan would represent a tempting target to China. Although the acquisition of nuclear weapons should provide a credible deterrent to China. One advantage that India could use is it's massive transport helicopter arm with over 300 in service and 200 ALH's planned, this could allow India to place large numbers of troops behind enemy line's quickly gaining a significant advantage, on the other hand Pakistan does not have anywhere near this capability.
Short of outstanding tactics from one of the sides the ground campaign would result in a bloody and protracted war with neither side gaining any serious advantages. Although the lack of Pakistani reserves would begin to tell as well as the ability of the IAF to strike major targets in Pakistan this would result in the gaining of some ground by the Indian Army but the existence of the state of Pakistan would never be threatened nor would there be the possibility of the Pakistani Army gaining much Indian territory. The greatest danger is that in the struggle to gain ground one of the sides may resort to the use of nuclear weapons.
While Pakistan would seem to have the better missiles they are based on Chinese designs or are Chinese in origin leaving a question mark over their accuracy and reliability. As recent launches have shown Chinese satellite launch vehicles are generally unreliable at best, while their ICBM's and IRBM's would be more reliable there is still a question mark over them, although they still provide a very credible nuclear threat to India but lack the accuracy to present any real conventional threat. On the other hand the Indian Prithvi SRBM which is capable of caring a 1 tone warhead over 250km has been reported to have attained an CEP of 10m in some tests through the use of a warhead similar to that of the RA-DAG warhead used by the Pershing II (Asia-Pacific Defence Reporter, April/May 1994, pg 20). While the Agni missile system said to have a range of 2500km is said to be just months away from production should the need arise, along with recent advances in Indian rocketry that have made the possibility of an Indian ICBM a reality. The recent acquisition of the S-300 SAM with a range in excess of 200km and a secondary ABM capability also provides India with basic ABM capability. Also the recent tests by India of sub kiloton nuclear weapons which are primarily used as battle field weapons suggests that Indian strategist's may have envisioned their use in battle.
In the final analysis the PAF and the Pakistani Naval Service would have had much of their offensive capabilities destroyed, while the Pakistani Army although better off would have lost most of it's top divisions , something that would have also occurred with the Indian Army. While the INS and IAF would be in a significantly better position than their Pakistani counterparts, the IAF would have to engage in a major rebuilding to address the losses that it would suffer to it's fleet mainly it's older attack fighters in their attacks on Pakistani targets and in maintaining air superiority, while the INS would have to address losses that would incur in it's engagements with the PNS. While Pakistan's push to become a regional superpower would have been severely curtailed. While the economies of both countries but in particular Pakistan would be severally damaged.
Pakistan need only pop 1-2 Indian cities to cause mass civilian panic and spontaneous evacuation of most of India's other cities, which would utterly collapse India's war effort. Sure the Indians could do it back, but they're on the strategic offensive so mutual collapse would be their defeat. The status quo favors Pakistan.
Yes, but who has more Oracle programmers?
Thus in a nuclear conflagration India would suffer great loss to some of its major cities, but it would survive, albeit wounded.
Pakistan on the other hand would be COMPLETELY destroyed. Destroyed as in nuclear wasteland. Hence the only thing Pakistan would accomplish by engaging India through nukes is killing a few million indians (note India has a population of around a billion....it is second to china). However India would still have the capability to strike back at Pakistan, destroying it completely in the process.
The article is pretty on the mark, but from speaking with friends in the defense industry, I have heard that India has badly neglected the concept of air-ground coordination, meaning their ability to support ground actions through air superiority may not be as great as it would appear.
The Pakistanis have apparently paid more attention to that aspect, but their air force will probably be too busy defending urban centers and military facilities to do much CAS.
If India does manage to acheive a major battlefield breakthrough or surprise, I suspect the Pakistanis will feel obliged to use their nukes. India will probably only use their nukes in response to a Pakistani nuclear strike. But I think the more likely scenario is an Indian advance into the disputed Kashmir region, followed by a stalemate and a negotiated peace in a few weeks.
Thing to lookout for; an Indian victory is almost certain (IMHO) to be followed up with a fundamentalist uprising in Pakistan. If that happens, I think the fundamentalists will succeed, and the overall world situation will not be the better for it.
That type of attitude is not only myopic, it is just outright crazy!
Remember, all the analysts said the Iraqis would put up a brutal, bloody and long fight.
LOL! That is the real threat!
Disturbing and sad. My feelings about Muslims are changing from rage and anger to pity.
Islam. Religion of Peace. Please move along...
Perhaps because there are currently US soldiers stationed in Pakistan.
Maybe the Pak think if some of our boys are killed and India is blamed, we could be forced into the conflict (on Pakistan's side).
We could be forced to defend Pakistan anyway --- IMHO Pakistan will go nuclear if they are overrun, even if they have to smuggle nukes in on camelback.
Don't laugh, this is a very possible if their air force is destroyed.
Also remember these are muslims --- with Allah on your side you don't need logic.
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