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The Perils of Indo-French Defense Cooperation

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France and India have convergence of interests as far as political and strategic policies in the Indo-Pacific region are concerned. Both states now have a relatively multifaceted partnership spanning in many fields, for instance, defense, civil nuclear, space, and counterterrorism. France has overseas territories in the Southwest and operates military bases in the Northwest Indian Ocean rim. So, one of the major French objectives in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) is to maintain the strategic status quo and it needs Indian partnership in order to achieve this objective. However, French strategic partnership and arms transfer to India has become one of the major causes of strategic instability and arms race in South Asia.

Especially relevant are their vision and action plan for maritime protection and outer space. During the State visit of President Emmanuel Macron to India in March 2018, both states signed over 14 agreements to strengthen partnership. India and France vis-à-vis Chinese rise and IOR have maintained the stance of respecting global laws by all states in order to safeguard freedom of navigation and overflight, and countering piracy, and smuggling. With regards to maritime cooperation, French Navy sent its anti-aircraft destroyer FNS Cassard to dock at Mumbai in 2019 as a first step in implementation of the agreements for the provision of reciprocal logistics support. This French move was seen as a commitment with India to balance China in the IOR.

India has been purchasing weapons for decades and remains the second-largest importer of arms worldwide for the duration from 2015-19. Indian imports of weapons from France have risen by 715%, making latter the third largest supplier of arms to India in last 5 years. France is exporting weapon systems to India, which not only have conventional but strategic implications as well. The application of such weapon systems also varies from air to land to sea. The Rafale fighter jet agreement is a significant example of growing Indo-French defense cooperation. The collaboration between Indo-French defense forces found new dynamism when the Government of Modi concluded a deal to receive 36 Rafale Multi-Role Combat Aircrafts (MMRCA) from France. The deal has been subjected to many controversies, for instance, corruption charges, contract favoritism, pricing, and off-set clause issues.

India signed a formal agreement with France to buy 36 Dassault Rafale fighter jets for US $8.8 billion in 2016. The Rafale aircraft is capable of carrying out all combat aviation missions, air superiority and air defense, close air support, in-depth strikes, reconnaissance, anti-ship strikes and the nuclear delivery. Rafale is well equipped for India, with its multiple capabilities, to pursue aggressive teachings which involve air supremacy. A Rafale nuclear role will affect the security of South Asia and will raise questions about French undertakings of the NPT, which restricts transfer of such strategic weapons. China has also raised concerns about the Rafale weapons system, asserting that its deployment by India in border regions of China and Pakistan will improve India Armed Forces’ offensive capability.

In order to attract foreign investment in the defense sector India has long been playing the so-called Chinese threat card. However, India is using all the benefits it is getting through such ‘Get Help’ method in its hegemonic regional designs, especially against Pakistan. France is investing aggressively in the maritime realm of India in order to combat China’s increasing influence and its rising footprint in the Indian Ocean. Through betting on India’s ambitious proposal to create a fleet of nuclear attack submarines, France is focused on doubling its scale in IOR. It is offering weapon systems, knowledge transition, military preparation, logistics and information sharing to India. Under the Project 75, French naval defence and Energy company DCNS is assembling and building six Scorpene-class diesel-electric submarines. Two such submarines, i.e., Kalvari-class were commissioned in the Indian Navy by November 2019. India is further looking to acquire six diesel-electric submarines under the Project P75I from France.

India in 2019 during the crisis with Pakistan, used Kalvari-class submarines to enter Arabian Sea, but Pakistan Navy thwarted the Indian attempt. India is also planning to boost its nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine capabilities, and in this context, it fantasizes French Triomphant-class submarine with 16 vertical launch tubes for the M51 SLBMs. Recently, France has successfully tested new generation M51 intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering several nuclear warheads, which will be integrated with its nuclear submarine.

French biased inclination towards India and transfer of advanced strategic weapon systems is only adding to the tensions of South Asia because such weapons in Hindutva extremist hands could result in a disaster. The resulting arms race will further deteriorate the region’s security if the established weapons are used against the respective opponents of India. The already complex strategic stability in South Asia is under threat from French strategic arms transfer to India. Such transfers of sophisticated military technology to India besides affecting the regional stability is also seriously eroding the legitimacy of international disarmament and arms control laws.

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Defense

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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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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