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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Indian Military’s Modernisation: A Threat To Strategic Stability Of South Asia – Analysis

Written by: Masood-Ur-Rehman Khattak

India is on course to revamp its military machine in next few years to compete with China and coerce Pakistan. India is spending about 2.5 percent of its GDP on defense, which is a huge amount as compared to the other South Asian states. India’s defence budget for the year 2010-11 is $32 billion, and which shows its ambitious designs in the region. This article assesses some of the Indian Military’s modernisation programmes and their implications for the region.

According to a report, India may spend about $120 billion in the next five years to refurbish its military. India has floated a tender to add almost 126 combat aircraft. This is the first time in the history of India that it has concluded a contract of this magnitude. Many international companies including Dassault Aviation SA, Chicago-based Boeing Co, Lockheed Martin Corp. Saab AB, Russia’s United Aircraft Corp. and the European Aeronautic, Defense & Space Co are competing to get the contract. Moreover, India will spend approximately $48 billion through 2017 on purchases of combat jets, helicopters, transport and trainer aircraft. Indian navy may also buy fighter jets and helicopters worth $7.5 billion through 2022. So it could be analysed that the next decade would seemingly bring revolutionary change in the Indian military.

Europe’s largest defense contractor BAE Systems Plc expects that India will to become their second-biggest market after the U.S. in the next decade. This company has already won $803 million contract with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. for 57 Hawk jet trainers. Such collaboration would improve Indian defense industry. India is also modernizing its fleet of helicopters; the Indian Air Force recently announced that it would acquire more than 230 choppers in the near future. Lockheed is also in talks with the Indian government to sell its Sniper advanced targeting pods for fixed-wing aircraft. All these contracts involve transfer of technology to India. Such development will give boost to India’s fading defense industry.

Indian military is also in negotiations with the U.S company to supply Hellfire Romeo missile and Longbow radar as part of a bid by Boeing to sell 22 Apache AH-64 helicopters to India. Lockheed is already implementing an order for supplying six Super Hercules planes in a deal worth about $1 billion. The company sealed the order in February 2008. The first plane was delivered to the Indian Air Force late last year and was inducted into the Indian Air Force on Feb. 7, remaining planes will also be inducted in the IAF in coming years. India is also heading towards the induction of Ballistic Missile Defence system, such system would destabilise the region and may provoke arms race in South Asia. The Indian government is in dialogue with Lockheed Martin Corp, for sale of Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missile systems.

The Indian Navy will add a few Scorpene submarines with the help of France’s state-owned DCNS for an estimated total cost of $4.6 billion. These subs can stay sunken for about a week, making difficult for enemy radars to track and giving more room to the Indian navy in the Indian Ocean. India has also purchased eight maritime-reconnaissance and anti-submarine aircraft from Boeing Co. for $2.1 billion in 2009, and the Indian government recently approved an order for another four. Such inductions would upgrade India’s prying capabilities; it would also give Indian navy strategic outreach in the Indian Ocean. In order to add more teeth to its amphibious warfare capabilities, the Indian Navy is planning to induct four Landing Platform Docks to join the fleet alongside INS Jalashwa. These ships will be of 200 meters long and to be able to transport Main Battle tanks, heavy trucks, Armoured Personnel Vehicles and other heavy machinery. It would also be able to carry out operations of heavy-lift helicopters of the Navy. The four LPDs will also have a point missile defence system and a close-in weapon system to protect itself from enemy firing and aircraft.

The Indian Army is making strides towards modernisation and introducing high-tech and all-terrain infantrymen, including the Futuristic Infantry Solider as a System (F-INSAS). These soldiers will have the capability to fight in network centric warfare and electronic warfare environment. The Indian Army has recently floated a global tender for acquiring an integrated computer and communications system for its infantrymen. The systems included mini-computers or laptops along with GPS and radio systems, which will be part of the F-INSAS programme. The entire process is likely to cost more than $3 billion. The F-INSAS programme was first announced in 2007. The first phase of acquiring and training infantrymen is likely to be over by the end of 2011. These futuristic soldiers will have a more lethal but lighter rifle, lighter but stronger bulletproof jacket and lighter boots, besides ultra modern gadgets to increase his efficiency in the modern warfare. Latest technologies like GPS, radio systems and computers in the form of mini-laptops, helmet-mounted pads or wristbands will enable soldiers to exchange important information with the chain of command under all conditions. The main idea of the F-INSAS programme is to augment the soldier’s lethality, survival capacity and mobility.

The Indian Army has also inducted its first indigenously designed and developed Nishant unmanned aerial vehicles. The 15-foot-long Nishant has a wingspan of nearly 22 feet and a ceiling of around 11,800 feet. Maximum speed is around 115 mph and turnaround launches can be done within 20 minutes. Niashant is also joined with Lakshya, which has a range of 370 miles, a flight ceiling of 29,504 feet and a maximum speed of about 600 mph. such UAVs would enhance Indian army’s surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, making things worse for Pakistan military. The Indian Army has recently issued a global tender for procurement of 400 towed artillery howitzers. It was recently revealed that trials on various kinds of guns would take place this summer, leading to their induction by end of 2012. India is already in an advanced stage of negotiations with the US for procuring over 145 ultra-light howitzers for their deployment in mountainous regions. Such induction is to deter Kargil type situation in future and also to meet any threat from China. In addition to that Lockheed Martin is also in talks with the Indian government to sell the Javelin shoulder fire missile system to the Indian Army. The potential contract for supplying 8,000 missiles and 300 command launchers could be valued at more than $1 billion.

India has also acquired an Israeli RISAT-2 satellite that has day and night viewing capability. This satellite will keep a 24/7 watch over Pakistan even when the landmass is covered by a thick cloud cover. This capability puts the satellite in the class of what are often called spy satellites. Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has been developing its very own RadarSat at the cost of almost 400 million Indian rupees, that would be operational in few years and it would give India an edge in the space.

The level of funds India allocated for the revitalization of military’s capabilities reveals that Indian Military is on route to achieve the potential to establish its hegemony in South Asia and also to operationalise its aggressive doctrine against its neighbours. Induction of latest aircrafts and Air borne early warning systems will enhance its air mobility, firepower, reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities. Such a capability is essential for the quick and swift operations. India has also brought change in its military’s night time operations’ capabilities, such a shift would shore up Indian Military’s capacity to carry out day and night operations without any time impediment.

It is necessary for Pakistan to monitor Indian Military’s modernisation and come up with an adequate response. Pakistan is a democratic country with effectual military force. Its military and political leadership can play a viable role to allay threats to the national security. Political leadership must show a clear direction to the Pakistan armed forces. Political parties of the country must support the ruling government and military in any crisis situation. Inter Services harmony and coordination is necessary in the modern warfare. After the induction of nuclear weapons, wars have become limited, lethal and destructive. In such warfare, it is necessary to have Inter Services synergy and better coordination. Therefore, keeping in mind the changing strategic environment and India’s technological advancement, Pakistan has to develop and equip its military with latest weapons and equipment. It has to rely on its indigenous defense industry for the maintenance and development of its military machine.

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