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Indian BMD Program: Strategic Response of Pakistan

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The South Asian region has remained fragile due to the hostile relations of India and Pakistan. The history of conflicts and wars generated a mistrust between the two countries. Owing to their strategic needs, India and Pakistan tested their nuclear devices in May 1998. Soon after the induction of nuclear weapons, India initiated the ballistic missile defence program in 1999. India’s indigenous program was divided into two phases; the first phase included Prithvi Air Defense (PAD)exo-atmospheric interceptor missile to cater the aerial threats outside the atmosphere between the altitudes of 50 to 80 km with the speed of Mach 5. Moreover, Advanced Air Defense (AAD) is to counter threats between the altitudes of 15 to 30 km along ‘Swordfish’ Long Range Tracking Radar (LRTR) developed jointly by India and Israel based on the Israeli Green Pine early warning and fire control radar, this radar was imported by India from Israel in 2001-2002. This two-tiered air defense system is aimed at neutralizing aerial threats at two stages; exo-atmospheric interception or mid-course and endo-atmospheric interception.

The Phase 2 missile defense system will be based on the AD-1 and AD-2 interceptor missile that are currently under development. These interceptor missiles will be hypersonic-having the speed of ballistic missiles with the maneuvering capability of cruise missiles- with the speed of Mach 6-7. Phases 2 missile systems are claimed to match the capability of “Terminal High Altitude Area Defense” commonly known as THAAD, developed by United States. In parallel, the radar to support Phase 2 interception will have 80% indigenous component, DRDO chief VK Saraswat told the press on May 15, 2011.
“Only some of the equipment’s and consultancy would be provided by Israel”.

In addition, India successfully tested Prithvi Defence Vehicle (PDV) indigenously developed by Defence Research and Development Organization in September 2018, designed to engage targets in exo-atmospheric region at the altitude of 50 km PDV is intended to replace Prithvi and Advanced Air defence systems of India.

In parallel, India has shown keen interest and has invested in cruise missile defence as well. One such development is Barak-8. Barak-8 is an Indo-Israeli surface-to-air missile (SAM), designed to defend against any type of airborne threat including aircraft, helicopters, anti-ship missiles, and UAVs as well as ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and combat jets. Both maritime and land-based variants of the system exist in Indian Navy and Indian Army respectively. Moreover, India’s indigenously built Akash missile defence system also has the capability to “neutralize aerial targets like fighter jets, cruise missiles and air-to-surface missiles”. The Akash surface-to-air missile was designed to intercept enemy’s aircraft and missiles at a distance of 18 to 30 km.

In missile defence, Israel is an important ally of India. The Indian PM approved 2.5 billion dollars for purchasing medium-range surface-to-air missile system from Israel on February 22, 2017. Moreover, the Indian armed forces are already armed with Israel’s Green Pine radars. Israel to supply advanced medium-range surface-to-air missile systems to India. The contract is worth $1.6 billion. Israel’s joint venture with Indian companies is in consonance with “Make in India”. In this regard, Russia has also helped India, New Delhi had concluded a deal with Moscow to purchase the four (some sources say five) regiments of S-400 advanced Air Defense Systems, which is a robust anti-access & area denial (A2/AD) asset. It is a fourth generation advanced air and missile defense system, designed to protect high-value military, political, and economic targets from ballistic and cruise missiles, and air strikes. According to the Russian defense sources the S-400 deliveries to India are likely to start by 2020.In parallel, New Delhi has been asking Washington for “the cooperation in the area of BMD as part of an emerging strategic partnership with the United States. These discussions subsequently even included the possible sale of the US Patriot-3 BMD system to India. However, both countries have no official stance on this.

The above mentioned advancements significantly increased the security dilemma for Pakistan. The question was what to do now? Shall Pakistan go for purchasing a BMD system? Can Pakistan afford this expensive system with a narrow economy? To address these concerns, Pakistan opted for a dynamic and cost effective approach and conducted successfully the test of a mediumrange, surface-to-surface, ballistic missile Ababeel, which uses the MIRV to deliver multiple conventional and nuclear warheads on January 24, 2017. The Ababeel range is 2,200 kilometers – three times the distance between Islamabad and New Delhi-having the capacity to engage multiple targets and thereby it would be very lethal for the Indian BMD shield. According to the official statement by ISPR “Development of Ababeel weapon system is aimed at ensuring survivability of Pakistan’s ballistic missiles in the growing regional Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) environment.”

In operational terms, ballistic missile defence systems are considered to be defensive as their purpose is to detect and intercept the incoming missiles. However, in South Asian context, induction by India has further increased the security dilemma for Pakistan. This can give a false sense of security to the Indian military and political leaders; motivate them to launch an offensive against Pakistan or intentionally initiate a conflict which will destabilize the strategic stability. The response of Pakistan is not only cost effective but credible as well. Since no BMD system can intercept multiple targets at once, the Ababeel can dodge and penetrate through the Indian BMD systems. Also, India has a huge country, defending whole of the country with a BMD is not feasible and affordable. Similar thinking prevails in India as well. Secondly, geography poses significant handicaps for Indian BMD, given the short flight times between the two countries which is around 4-6 minutes. Pakistan’s MIRVs would make Indian investments in BMD even more indefensible as the process of detecting, deciding and launching an interceptor takes time.

The indigenous developments of India depicts their technological edge over Pakistan which is alarming. India prospering in military technology is a direct threat to Pakistan’s security. Moreover, India’s bilateral cooperation with countries like Israel, Russia and US conversely impacts Pakistan’s interests. Lastly, the South Asian region is indulged in an arms race. India in pursuit of ambitious goals is constantly enhancing military capabilities, which not only conversely impacts Pakistan’s security but also places South Asia on the verge of a major conflict. This may exceed beyond controllable situation and in worst case scenario may result in nuclear exchange. South Asia is in need of an arms control agreement which limits these development. It can be bilateral or may have a third party as on over-looking authority and to ensure the smooth implementation of the agreement.

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India’s Sprouting Counterforce Posture

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In recent years, the technological advancements by India in the domain of counterforce military capabilities have increased the vulnerability of the South Asian region. While trying to disturb the strategic stability in South Asia, India through its adventuresome counterforce posture against Pakistan is on the verge of becoming a rogue state. Notwithstanding the repercussions, India is voyaging towards destabilization in the South Asian Region.

India’s enhanced strategic nuclear capabilities which includes-the development of Multiple Independent Reentry Vehicles (MIRVs), Ballistic Missile Defence System (BMD), Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs), supersonic and hypersonic cruise missiles, and acquisition of nuclear-capable submarines- indicate that India is moving away from its declared policy of ‘No First Use’ (NFU) towards a more aggressive, counterforce posture against Pakistan. The BMD and MIRV technology along with the provision of an advanced navigation system under BECA would embolden India to go for the first strike against Pakistan. While having reliance on BMD, as to be sheltered in return. These technological advancements made by India are sprouting a new era of counterforce posture, which would further make the South Asian region volatile and vulnerable to conflicts.

India’s urge to acquire counterforce capability is strongly associated with its doctrinal shift. As the stated posture requires flexibility in the use of nuclear weapons, which fortifies the first strike capability, and thus a deviation in India’s declared policy of ‘No First Use’ (NFU) has become more significant, particularly concerning its impact on regional stability. India’s declared policy of NFU, set out in Draft Nuclear Doctrine in 1999, followed by its first amendment in January 2003 has since then been into hot debates. Pakistan has long doubted the Indian policy of NFU, as the actions and statements by the officials of the latter have always been aggressive and protruding towards the former. India, now, is drifting away from its policy of NFU with the acquisition of counterforce capabilities, particularly against Pakistan. This is further evident from the statement issued by India’s Defense Minister Mr. Rajnath Singh, back in August 2019. It stated “Till today, our nuclear policy is ‘no-first-use’ (NFU). What happens in the future depends on the circumstances.” A change at the doctrinal level is evident in the Indian strategic enclave. Notwithstanding the challenges and repercussions caused by the counterforce strategy and with an attempt to destabilize the nuclear deterrence in the region, India would go unjustifiably low to attain such measures.  

In the same vein, India has been enhancing its nuclear capabilities for strategic flexibility against its regional rivals. By the same token, it wants to attain nuclear dominance, which would ultimately result in chaos in the region. The counterforce capability by India would compel its adversaries to heed towards the preemptive strike, in case of a crisis, out of the fear of the use of Nuclear weapons first by the patent enemy.  Moreover, the counterforce capability pushes the enemy to put the nuclear weapons on hair-trigger mode, which is directly linked with the crisis escalation.  The acquisition of counterforce capability by India would likely provoke a new arms race in the region. This would further destabilize the already volatile South Asian region. The far-reaching destabilization which India is trying to create, just to have an edge on the nuclear adversary, would be back on India’s face, faster than she knew it.

On the contrary, Pakistan has been maintaining a posture of Credible Minimum Deterrence (CMD) and does not claim to have a No-First Use (NFU) policy. Moreover, Pakistan’s nuclear capability is defensive in principle and a tool for deterrence. Given the Indian evolved notions of counterforce preemption, even now Pakistan would be left with no choice but to leave room for carrying out a ‘first strike’ as a feasible deterrent against India. Nevertheless, with the advent of technological innovations, its countermeasure arrives soon, too. Presently, there are two aspects that Pakistan should take into consideration; the growing Indo-US nexus and India’s concealed innovations in the nuclear posture. Though India is far from achieving counterforce strikes against Pakistan’s nuclear targets, concrete steps are required for maintaining future deterrence stability. With that intention, Pakistan might need to look towards its allies for getting hands-on the modern capabilities which includes- advanced communication and navigation systems, sensors, and advancements in artificial intelligence and otherwise, is essential for strengthening its deterrent capability. Pakistan should heed towards the development of absolute second-strike capability; as, what is survivable today, could be vulnerable tomorrow. Therefore, advancements in technology should be made for preserving nuclear deterrence in the future as well.

Summarizing it all, the existence of Pakistan’s nuclear deterrence has created a stable environment in the region, by deterring full-scale wars on multiple occasions that might have resulted in a nuclear exchange. With the revolution in nuclear technology, the threat of nuclear war has emerged again. Instead of going towards the attainment of peace and stability in the region, India has been enhancing its counterforce capabilities. This would likely remain a significant threat to the deterrence stability in the region. Moreover, any kind of failure to maintain nuclear deterrence in South Asia could result in an all-out war, without any escalation control. India, in its lust for power and hegemonic designs, has been destabilizing the region. Both the nuclear states in South Asia need to engage in arms restraint and escalation control measures. This seems to be a concrete and more plausible way out; else the new era of destabilization could be more disastrous.  

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A pig in a poke of Lithuanian Armed Forces

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The proverb “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link” perfectly reflects the situation in the Lithuanian armed forces. It is it unclear how the army will carry out its tasks, if everything that happens there runs counter to common sense.

The conscription took place in Lithuania. The recruits once again were revealed by an electronic lottery on January 7, 2021. 3,828 recruits were selected from the list of 38 thousand conscripts aged 18 to 23.

The idea of using electronic lottery in such a serious procedure arises a lot of questions among Lithuanians. Young people are suspicious of this method and fully admit the possibility of corruption. Nobody could check the results and so nobody could be blamed for random selection. The more so, the armed forces could get weaker recruits than in case of using usual ways of choosing among candidates. So, the army buys a pig in a poke.

This approach to recruitment in Lithuania results in presence of those with criminal intents and inclinations. Сases of crimes committed by Lithuanian military personnel have increased. Incidents with the involvement of military regularly occurred in Lithuania in 2020.

Thus, a soldier of the Lithuanian army was detained in Jurbarkas in October. He was driving under the influence of alcohol. A Lithuanian soldier suspected of drunk driving was detained also in Siauliai in December. Panevėžys County Chief Police Commissariat was looking for a soldier who deserted from the Lithuanian Armed Forces and so forth.

Such behaviour poses serious risks to public safety and leads to loss of confidence in the Lithuanian army in society.

Lithuanian military officials have chosen a new way to discourage young people from serving in the army, which is already not popular.

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” The ministry of defence decided to run a photo contest that would reflect service in the country’s armed forces. It is doubtful that such pictures will attract to the army, but the real situation is provided.

Usually, popularization is the act of making something attractive to the general public. This contest served the opposite goal. Look at the pictures and make conclusions.

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Defense

Fatah-1: A New Security and Technological Development About Pakistan’s Indigenous GMLRS

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Islamabad: It seems like 2021 has been a good start for Pakistan specifically with regard to stepping up its missile testing. On the 7th of January, the Pakistan military has successfully conducted a purely indigenously developed missile test flight known to be Fatah-1. As stated by various reports, Fatah-1 is an extended-range Guided Multi-Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) which itself is a developed variant of the guided MLRS family.

According to the recent statement given by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) about the newly developed rocket, it was stated: “The weapon system will give Pakistan Army capability of a precision target deep in the enemy territory.” Director-General of Pakistan Army, Media Wing, major general Babar Iftikhar on 7th January tweeted: “Pakistan today conducted a successful; test flight of indigenously developed Fatah-1, Guided Multi Launch Rocket System, capable of delivering a conventional Warhead up to a range of 140 km.”

Defense analyst Mr. Syed Muhammad Ali also stated in his capacity: “the new system was very fast, accurate, survivable, and difficult to intercept”. A video was also shared by ISPR on their official website, in which the missile launch can be seen while being fired from the launcher however, the details on when and where the test flight has taken place, along with the specification of the rocket system are yet to be announced.

Currently, Pakistan Army owns a wide range of Short-Range Ballistic Missiles (SRBM), Medium-Range Ballistic Missiles (MRBM), Battlefield Ballistic Missiles (BBM), Rocket Artillery, and Surface to Surface Cruise Missile (SSCM). In the previous year, Pakistan had also maintained prime success in conducting the Ra’ad-II cruise missile and Ghaznavi surface-to-surface ballistic missile (SSBM). Besides, Pakistan Air Force (PAF) on 30thDecember made apt progress when it comes to the national air defense arsenal as it was announced that PAF is beginning the production of the State-of-the-art JF-17 Thunder Block 3 fighter jets, at the same time acquiring the 14 dual-seat Jf-17 aircraft.

According to various reports, the JF-17 Thunder Block 3 will be said to have a new radar operational capability which will be far better in the practical domain as compared to the Raphael aircraft acquired by India. Whereas, the exchange of 14 dual-seat aircraft, manufactured with Pak-China cooperation were also given to the PAF which will be used for extensive training.

The recent successful testing of Fatah-1 has been considered to be another milestone for Pakistan as it tends to be a fitting response to the recent developments in the conventional capabilities carried out by India and also to India’s Cold Start Doctrine.

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