Connect with us

Defense

Cybersecurity and NATO’s Nuclear Capability

Published

on

In July 2020, Chatham House released the “Ensuring Cyber Resilience in NATO’s Command, Control and Communication Systems” information and analytical report. It covers a series of aspects, including the mutual dependence between NATO’s command, control and communication systems (NC3) for its conventional and nuclear capabilities, and the legal consequences of an attack on dual-purpose command and control systems. The crucial issue under consideration is the cybersecurity of command, control, and communication systems of NATO’s nuclear capabilities: more than half of the report’s substantive part focuses on this. In addition to the prominent place and much attention given to this issue, its importance for the authors (the report has three co-authors: Yasmin Afina, Calum Inverarity and Beyza Unal) is underscored by their previous publications on this topic. In particular, Dr Beyza Unal, a Senior Research Fellow of Chatham House’s International Security Programme, has, over the last few years, co-authored such reports as “Cybersecurity of Nuclear Weapons Systems: Threats, Vulnerabilities and Consequences ” (2018), “Cybersecurity of NATO’s Space-based Strategic Assets” (2019), “Perspectives on Nuclear Deterrence in the 21st Century” (2020).

It appears that an overall assessment of this report should be based on its co-authors’ effectiveness in achieving their declared objective. They state, “This paper will identify, raise awareness of, and help reduce risks to NATO’s nuclear weapon systems arising from cybersecurity vulnerabilities. It aims to respond to the need for more public information on cyber risks in NATO’s nuclear mission, and to provide policy-driven research to shape and inform nuclear policy at member-state level.” The report partly achieves these objectives to the extent possible under the current restrictions. In particular, as the co-authors themselves note, this is a classified topic, so only open sources can be used and, accordingly, the information at the authors’ disposal may be outdated and/or incomplete. The authors tried to offset this problem by involving experts and former officials with knowledge of the subject. Even so, this approach does not provide a complete solution.

On the whole, this report has been prepared at a quite high methodological level, as is attested by the well-structured narrative and the authors having used a large corpus of both official documents and research that also solidly substantiate the recommendations offered. The authors consider five aspects that affect cybersecurity of the command, control, and communication systems: network and software protection, protecting data integrity, hardware protection, access/security controls and cybersecurity awareness/security by design. The report contains several points that prompt readers’ agreement, such as that, as cutting-edge technologies are used increasingly in command and control systems, these systems grow more vulnerable and that there are no invulnerable systems. Additionally, the authors rightly point out that new technologies (such as quantum computing) may create novel risks. Additionally, special mention should be made of the detailed overview of NATO’s command and control structure covering all the principal operational grounds (air, ground, and water). Appendices to the report also contain overviews of potential special interest to experts of the command, control and communication systems of the USA, UK, and France’s nuclear forces.

At the same time, the manner in which the report considers NC3 problems as applied to nuclear capabilities is flawed in several respects. Let us detail the most important of these. First, the authors claim that the responsibility for ensuring the cybersecurity of command, control and communication systems lies with all NATO members, not only with nuclear powers. This point invites debate. The authors themselves note that “the US is the only NATO member to have earmarked nuclear weapons … for the purpose of nuclear sharing in the context of NATO. … So it is inevitable that the NC3 system in the place within NATO is inextricably linked to the USA’s own NC3 system.” Curiously, the authors cite a report by the United States Government Accountability Office, but they do not indicate that the report mentions “mission-critical cyber vulnerabilities” in virtually all major programmes for acquiring weapons and equipment tested in 2012–2017. The media reported that the systems under review included two elements of the nuclear triad: future Columbia-class submarines and Ground Based Strategic Deterrent missiles intended to replace Minuteman III ICBMs. In view of this, the authors could have recommended that nuclear powers assume the principal responsibility for the cybersecurity of relevant NC3 systems. Although the report emphasises the mutual connections between NC3 systems for conventional and nuclear weapons, the real scale of this phenomenon remains under-researched.

Second, the authors note that new technologies could help resolve the problem of data integrity (using, among other things, modelling and simulation techniques and big data analysis) and of decision-making within a very short time-frame. Indeed, the problem of cutting decision-making time is topical today, especially with respect to strategic stability, and states view artificial intelligence (AI) as a means for resolving it. For instance, “improving situational awareness and decision-making” is one AI task identified in the 2018 Department of Defense Artificial Intelligence Strategy. The authors of the Chatham House report point out that “at times, new technology (AI with machine learning techniques, for instance) may challenge NC3” and specify that data used in machine learning could be corrupted specifically to ensure subsequent system malfunction. The danger pointed out in the report appears to be part of a whole range of problems related to using AI for military purposes. It is quite obvious, among other things, that AI systems constitute a hardware-software complex vulnerable to cyberattacks. Additionally, the research showed that, to provoke AI mistakes, no interference in the learning process is required: specifically rigged data could result in malfunctioning of an already functioning system. Such attacks could be seen as attacks of a new, cognitive type intended to make use of flaws in the ways AI processes information. Current cybersecurity means do not appear up to the task of counteracting such threats.

Third, the authors note that attribution and response are measures for counteracting cyberattacks. The report also states that “NATO members’ NC3 architecture is secure and reliable is of particular importance for deterrence purposes. Even when the Alliance’s NC3 systems are under attack, all member states should be able to demonstrate their detection, forensics and response capabilities…” The report fails, however, to make any mention of the fact that, as of today, no international legal mechanisms have been created as a framework for considering and assessing dangerous ICT incidents; equally, there is no system in place for recording the facts related to those incidents. Many famous cases of establishing the culpability of a particular state in various ICT-related incidents resorted to so-called “public attribution”: in the absence of legally significant facts and due process, the guilty party was “appointed” on the basis of political considerations and subjected to various measures. A rapid and precise ICT attribution has been and is a rather labour-intensive procedure. The authors state that “offensive cyber capabilities are without doubt highly sophisticated at present, and such capabilities are in the hands of a small number of actors.” One can hardly agree with this statement since, in some estimates, over 60 countries have cyber weapons today. It is very difficult to assess how sophisticated a particular country’s capabilities are. The number of actors in possession of cyber weapons keeps growing, this making attribution even more difficult and entailing higher risks of misinterpretation and incorrect response. NATO is already known to view cyberspace as a fully-fledged operational ground and the Alliance is building up its military potential in cyberspace, while several of its member states have already formed specialised military units.

Finally, the report’s principal flaw is that it virtually ignores entirely the multilateral nature of controlling and reducing nuclear arms and reducing the danger of accidentally unleashing a nuclear war through, among other factors, cyber interference. According to current assessments, Russia and the US account for 90% of the world’s nuclear arsenal, so they appear to have a special role in maintaining global peace and security. Strategic stability essentially means strategic relations between the powers that remove incentives for a nuclear first strike. [1] bearing that in mind, one could draw parallels with protecting launchers: by default, their vulnerability creates an incentive for a first strike. Vulnerabilities in control and command of nuclear capabilities create similar incentives. Such vulnerabilities should not be removed unilaterally since, if one party to the confrontation has a high cyber defence level, this, too, creates an incentive for a first strike preceded by a cyberattack against the potential adversary’s command and control systems.

Finding a solution to the problem of ensuring the cybersecurity of nuclear capabilities and developing such mechanisms to rule out accidental escalation goes beyond NATO. Here, it would be apposite to recollect that, even at the peak of the Cold War, the communications channels between the two superpowers remained open and the urgent issues were discussed at all levels. The “Joint Statement by the Presidents of the United States of America and the Russian Federation on a New Field of Cooperation in Confidence Building” was signed less than ten years ago, in 2013. This statement touched upon certain aspects of cooperation in protecting critical information systems. It also laid the foundations for developing mechanisms for reducing cyberspace threats. Today, there is no such cooperation; moreover, since 2017, the US has imposed prohibitive restrictions on concluding any cybersecurity cooperation agreement with Russia.

It appears that, despite the report’s merits and its informational and analytical value, what essentially nullifies all of the recommendations it contains is the fact that it does not even hint that certain mutual steps for reducing cyber risks should be worked out jointly with other nuclear states, including those that have been openly labelled “unfriendly.” One of the few paragraphs dedicated to Russia (and China) states that “NATO should also address the cyber risk that comes with the procurement of military equipment from countries that are not friendly to NATO (e.g., Russia or China).” In order to reduce the risk of misinterpretation and rapid escalation, the report recommends conducting “an assessment of how adversaries think about command and control.” Since the report is positioned as a source of information for decision-makers, such an ideological slant toward creating an “enemy image” will hardly prove useful in developing long-term policies, especially given the current acute lack of international confidence.

[1] Soviet-United States Joint Statement on Future Negotiations on Nuclear and Space Arms and Further Enhancing Strategic Stability. State Visit of USSR Secretary General Mikhail Gorbachev to the United States of America. May 30 – June 4, 1990 (in Russian) // Documents and Materials. (in Russian) Moscow: Politizdat, 1990, p. 335.

From our partner RIAC

Continue Reading
Comments

Defense

India’s strategies short of war against a hostile China

Published

on

Since India’s independence several peace and border cooperation agreements were signed between the India and China. Prominent among them was the Panchsheel Agreement signed in 1954. A majority of the agreements were signed between 1993 and 2013. Recently genuine efforts were made by PM Narendra Modi by engaging Xi Jinping at the Wuhan and Chennai summits. But China is nowhere near to settling the border dispute despite various agreements and talks at the military and civilian levels.

After the 1962 war peace was largely maintained on the Indo China border. During the Mao and Deng era consensus building was the norm in the communist party. XiJinping appointed himself as chairman of the communist party for life. Today power is centralized with XiJinping and his cabal. Through Doklam and Galwan incidents Xi Jinpinghas disowned the peaceful principles laid down by his predecessors. China’s strategy is to keep India engaged in South Asia as it doesn’t want India to emerge as a super power. After solving a crisis on the border China will create another crisis. Beijing has declining interest in the niceties of diplomacy. Under Xi Jinping China has become more hostile.

China has been infringing on India’s sovereignty through salami tactics by changing the status quo and attempting to own the border territory. At Galwan on Xi Jinping’s birthday the PLA demonstrated hooliganism by assaulting Indian border positions. China violated the 1996 and 2005 bilateral agreements which states that both armies should not carry weapons within 1.24 miles on either side of the border. India’s Foreign Minister S Jaishankar mentioned that the standoff situation with China in Galwan Valley of eastern Ladakh is “surely the most serious situation after 1962.”China is constructing infrastructure, increasing forces and deploying weapon systems on the border.

Options for India

India led by PM Narendra Modi has implemented a realist foreign policy and a muscular military policy.India ended the age of strategic restraint by launching special operations and air strikes in Pakistan. Since the Galwan incident India has increased the military, diplomatic and economic deterrence against China. India is constructing military infrastructure and deploying weapon systems like SU 30 MKI and T 90 tanks in Ladakh. India banned a total of 224 Chinese apps, barred Chinese companies from government contracts and is on the verge of banning Huawei. Other measures include excluding Chinese companies from private Indian telecommunications networks. Chinese mobile manufacturers can be banned from selling goods in India.

India should offer a grand strategy to China. India has a plethora of options short of war. Future talks should involve an integrated strategy to solve all the bilateral issues and not just an isolated resolution of a localized border incident. All instruments of military and economic power and coercive diplomacy should be on the table.

Foreign Policy

China expects other nations to follow bilateral agreements and international treaties while it conveniently violates them. India should abrogate the Panscheel agreement given China’s intransigence and hostility. China claims 35,000 square miles of territory in India’s northeast, including the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. China occupies 15,000 square miles of India’s territory in the Aksai Chin Plateau in the Himalayas. India’s primary objective is to take back territories like Aksai Chin. While the secondary issue is the resolution of the border issue and China’s support to Pakistan. India can leverage the contemporary geopolitical climate to settle all issues. India can target China’s soft underbelly characterized by issues like Taiwan, Xinjiang and the economy. China raises the Kashmir issue at international organizations. As a countervailing measure India can raise Xinjiang at international organizations and conferences.

China has been militarily and diplomatically supporting Pakistan against India. Pakistan is a rentier and a broken state that sponsors terrorism. India can establish bilateral relations with Taiwan thus superseding China’s reunification sensitivities. China has territorial disputes with 18 countries including Taiwan and Japan. India can hedge against China by establishing strategic partnerships with US, Australia, Japanand Vietnam.

Military policy

An overwhelming military is a deterrence for China’s belligerent foreign and military policy. The 1990Gulf War demonstrated the capabilities of high technology weapon systems. As compared to China’s rudimentary weapons systems India has inducted 4th and 5th generation weapons like the SU 30 MKI, AH 64 Apache and T 90 tanks. The deterrence capacity of fighter aircrafts is reduced as they cannot target China’s coastlines due to their restricted range. Full deterrence can be achieved by ICBMs and nuclear powered submarines. With these weapons India can target centers of gravity like Shanghai and Shenzhen.

China is not a signatory to arms limitations treaties like Start I and Start II. China continues to expand its nuclear weapons stockpile and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) like DF 21 and DF-26B which are banned by the INF Treaty. India is a law abiding stable democracy in an unstable region with two hostile nations on its flanks. US and Russia can relax the arms control mechanism considering India’s’ impeccable record on peace and non proliferation. This will allow India to buy Russian weapon systems like Zircon and Kinzhal hypersonic missiles, Topol and Bulava ICBMs and Yasen and Borey class SSBN submarines. While US can sell SSBN submarines and C4ISR gathering platforms like RC 135 and RQ 4 Global Hawk.

China remains a security threat for Asia. As China foments instability the APAC region from South Asia to South China Sea remains volatile. The Quad can be expanded to include Taiwan, Vietnam, Philippines, South Korea and Indonesia and multinational naval exercises can conducted in the South China Sea.

The enemy of my enemy is my friend. China fought small wars with India, Vietnam and Soviet Union. Vietnam defeated the PLA at Lang Son in 1979 with advanced weapon systems and guerilla warfare. India can increase militarily cooperation with Vietnam. China attacked the Soviet Union on the Ussuri river leading to heavy PLA casualties. Historically relations between Russia and India have been close. As a result of the Indo Soviet Friendship Treaty China did not support Pakistan during the 1971 war. India can enhance its military and diplomatic ties with Russia to the next level.

Strategic partnership with US

Its time for a partnership between the world’s largest and the world’s biggest democracies. India and the US have a common objective to preserve peace, maintain stability and enhance security in Asia. India’s reiteration at leaders’ level and international forums that both countries see each other as allies for stability in the APAC region is not enough. India has to go beyond the clichés of the need for closer ties.

Due to the China threat the US is shifting its military from Europe and Middle East to the APAC region.US and India can establish an Asian equivalent of NATO as China’s destructive policy frameworks and threatening postures remain a strategic threat. India should enhance and deepen cooperation with the US intelligence community in the fields of MASINT, SIGINT, GEOINT, TECHINT and CYBINT. Both countries can form an alliance of democracies. If China militarily or economically targets one of the member country then the alliance can retaliate under a framework similar to Article 5 of NATO. Thus power will be distributed in the APAC region instead of being concentrated with China. A scorpion strategy will ensure that China does not harass its neighbors. The strategy involves a military pincer movement by India from the west and US from the East against a hostile China. India can conduct joint military exercises with the US in Ladakh. China cannot challenge Japan and Taiwan due to the US security agreements with these countries.

Conclusion

The world has entered the age of instability and uncertainty. The 21st century is characterized by hybrid warfare through military and coercive diplomacy. South Asia is not a friendly neighborhood where peaceful overtures lead to harmonious relations. China is a threat to India even in the context of a friendly relationship. Diplomatic niceties have no place in India’s relations with China. India can impose costs on China which can be more than the benefits offered by normalizing relations. The application of measures short of war without engaging the PLA will reap benefits. India can fulfill its national security requirements and global responsibilities through a grand strategy.

A policy of engagement and deterrence is crucial against an antagonistic China. While India attempts to develop cooperative ties with China it will need to continue to enhance and implement its military and coercive diplomatic strategies. China does not represent a direct military threat to India but at the same time one cannot deny that challenges remain.

Continue Reading

Defense

COVID-19 and Challenges to the Indian Defence Establishment

Published

on

The COVID-19 pandemic has created an uncertain situation all over the world. It is defined as the greatest challenge faced by the world since World War II. At a certain point, the pandemic had forced world governments to announce lockdowns in their respective countries that led to more than half of the human population being home quarantined. Since then, social distancing, travel bans, and cancellation of international summits have become a routine exercise. Most sectors such as agriculture, health, education, economy, manufacturing have been severely hit across the globe. One such sector which is vital to national security that has been impacted due to the pandemic is defence.

The effect of influenza and pneumonia during WWI on the US military was huge. The necessity to mobilise troops across the Atlantic made it even ideal for the diseases to spread rapidly among the defence personnel and civilians. Between mid-1917 and 1919, the fatalities were more so due to the disease than getting killed in action. Due to COVID-19, there have been many implications within the defence sector. Amid the ongoing transgressions in Ladakh, it becomes imperative to analyse the preparedness of the Indian defence establishment to tackle the challenges at hand.

Disrupting the Status Quo

Many personnel in the Indian armed forces have been tested positive for COVID-19. This puts the operational capabilities at risk. In one isolated incident, 26 personnel of the Navy had been placed in quarantine after being tested positive for COVID-19. The French and the Americans had a great challenge ahead of them as hundreds of soldiers were getting infected onboard their Naval vessels. Furthermore, the Army saw some cases being tested positive as well. In one such incident, the headquarters of the Indian Army had to be temporarily shut down because of a soldier contracting the virus. These uncalled disruptions are very dangerous for our armed forces. These disruptions challenge the recruitment process and training exercises.

Since the Indian Army has been involved in quarantining tasks, this exposes the personnel to the virus. As a result of this, the first soldier was tested positive on March 20 in Leh. Among them, those who work as medical personnel are even more exposed to the virus. In order to enforce damage control to the operational capabilities, the Army made sure that the non-essential training, travel, and attending conferences remained cancelled. They called off any foreign assignments and postings for the time being. The Army also made it a point to extend leaves for that personnel who were already on absence. This was a major preventive measure adopted to prevent further infection.

As a result of the lockdown that had been imposed nationwide, the defence services were forced to temporarily stall all the activities that relate to soldiering during peacetime. These activities include training, pursuing professional qualification, fitness tests and regimes, equipment maintenance such as unit assets and stores, up-gradation of the cadres among others. Since the Indian Army boasts of a force that has signed up voluntarily to guard the borders, most of the troops are away from their families, which makes it even more difficult during the times of crises. The mega biennial naval exercises scheduled to be held in Vizag were cancelled due to COVID-19. A total of 41 navies were planned to be a part of the joint exercises called MILAN. The Service Selection Board (SSB) training and the recruitment process have been put to a halt as well. This will severely impact the intake process for this year.

Handling Biohazards

The Army’s capable of operating in a Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) environment and has sufficient equipment like infantry vehicles, helicopters and tanks which can operate without any hassles. Since instances of chemical warfare have been witnessed in West Asia and other regions in the last two decades, the focus of the Army has been on that and not on biological warfare. Most Armies believe that bio-weaponry is still fictional and won’t come into play any time soon. Naturally, due to this mindset, most Armies are not capable of handling biohazards. This is a major setback in the time of COVID-19 and has to be addressed.

Riding Down the Slope

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the Indian economy has been nose-diving day by day. This is some bad news for the defence sector since the military spending will possibly be reduced as a result of the slowdown. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), India’s GDP will grow at 1.9 per cent. This is one of the lowest in the history of post-independent India. Allocations and spendings will naturally take a hit and will take a long time to revive again. Defence manufacturing will also face a setback and discourage indigenous players who are looking at getting involved in the manufacturing and innovation sector. MoD has already received the Ministry of Finance’s circular that called for the defence spending to be limited to 15-20 per cent of the total amount allocated. This will ensure that the defence budget is not the priority for the finance ministry. A gap of Rs. 1,03,000 crore has been highlighted between the requirement and the allocated money. More than 60 per cent of this allocated amount anyway goes towards paying salaries and pensions. This means that the modernisation efforts will face a major slowdown in the next two years. Defence procurement is already difficult due to the bureaucratic hurdles, now the monetary crunch only adds more woes.

Moreover, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had announced earlier that more than 9,000 posts belonging to the Military Engineering Services (MES) will be abolished in the said industrial division. The reason cited was that this would bring about a balance to the expenditure. Due to the lockdown, the military development has taken a hit and has seen a decline in the production of freights. As of now, there is no manufacturing that is ongoing as far as fighter planes or aircraft, in general, is concerned. Some of the signed defence deals and contracts are said to be reviewed due to the financial crunch. India’s defence budget is expected to see some cuts due to the economy slowing down. The pandemic has worsened this even further. There is already an existing order to cap the spending for the first quarter of this fiscal year. Most of the payments that are being disbursed is largely that of paying for the existing contracts. This will diminish any scope for procurement of newer defence equipment that helps in modernising the armed forces in the long run. According to a report, it says that the Ministry of Defence is looking at a savings of anywhere between Rs. 400 and 800 billion in the 2020-21 financial year. To quote Yuval Noah Harari from his recent article in the Financial Times would seem relevant in this case, “Many short-term emergency measures will become a fixture of life. That is the nature of emergencies. They fast-forward historical processes. Decisions that in normal times could take years of deliberation are passed in a matter of hours.”  India has displayed the significant political will to make impactful decisions during the pandemic. The question is, how far and how soon can we push ourselves to be prepared on all fronts?

Continue Reading

Defense

Rafale deal: A change in aerial balance in South Asia?

Shaheer Ahmad

Published

on

The induction of the first consignment of five Rafale jets in the Indian Air Force inventory is considered to be a game-changer in the aerial balance of the South Asian region. A multi-billion-dollar package will be beneficial to increase the air prowess of Indian Airforce. While equipped with weapons of tangible accuracy including long-range SCALP and Meteor missiles, it will be able to hunt any target with accurate precision.  The arrival of French-made engines has concerned neighboring Pakistan and China due to its high accuracy of conducting sea and ground attacks.

The experience of operation ‘Swift Retort’ and Chinese intrusion in Ladakh, compelled New Delhi to introspect the efficiency of IAF in any major or minor engagement in the future. The deal to acquire Rafale fighting jets to plug the loopholes in the aerial power of IAF was inked in September 2016.  This induction is meant to enhance the Indian Air force’s operational capabilities and will also assist it to overcome the technological disparity with the US manufactured Pakistan’s F-16 and Chinese Chengdu JF-17 thunder. However, the task for PAF to restrict IAF moves in the future has become more challenging. Despite its competence and better training of its personals as compared to IAF the air superiority is still not guaranteed if the technological gap between IAF and PAF gets wider. Notably, it’s hard to assess the proficiencies of one jet over another because the ‘man behind the machine is more critical’. 

Rafale is a twin-engine Medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRC) whose design instigate from Dassault Mirage with an up to date frame of the 1990s, already used by the French Navy and air force as well as by Egypt and Qatar. Furthermore, these jets were also engaged in combat missions in Afghanistan and Libya where they demonstrated a high proficiency. Whilst JF-17 thunder holds a conventional design originating from Mig 33 having an airframe of 1980s and it also demonstrated its capabilities in PAF’s Operation “Swift Retort”.

In an overall assessment, JF17 is a lightweight, conventional, fuel-economical, and cost-effective jet aircraft. The most momentous factor in JF17 thunder is it’s beyond visual range capabilities and integration of AESA radar that will not only allow detecting the wide-ranged targets but also to detect and lock multiple targets instantaneously. Meanwhile, it is less disposed to jamming and leaves a low sign to radar that makes the detection of fighter difficult hence increasing its reliability. Moreover, a crop numerical advantage and training aptitude due to the use of a similar platform and its cost-effectiveness makes itself a suitable aircraft for the Pakistan air force. Similarly, the ability of any up-gradation domestically for JF-17 also increases the feasibility of this aircraft, while Rafale lacks this opportunity because Indians lack the platform that can guarantee any domestic up-gradation for Rafale. Generally, Dassault Rafale is advanced in airframe, delta wing Canard design, semi stealth specter to counter threats as well as MBDA meteor that makes it a very affluent fighter with a high operational cost.

Rafales are considered superior over existing fighter jets present in PAF inventory and with the advanced technology they will relish an edge over Pakistani jets. But in case of any aerial engagement on Pakistani soil, Experts orate that in such a scenario Pakistani fighters will enjoy an edge due to its enhanced Air defense ground environment (ADGE) and also a window will remain open for PAF that when and where to carry out a counter strike as it did during operation ‘Swift Retort’. In such case, Indian numerical advantage and war resilience will be of less significance because these factors are relished by the party having a counter-strike option and that party will decide that how much allocation of resources is needed to engage for a mission after having a careful assessment of adversary’s air defense capabilities.

It’s also important to know that PAF and IAF can carry out surprise air raids nearby to the international border in peacetime without the probability of interception by adversary radars. Neither sides have the strength and capabilities to maintain 24/7 air surveillance across a 3323-kilometer long international border. Hence it’s also necessary for Pakistan to counter or deter any kind of surgical or tactical strike in the future. But the concern is still there that after the Balakot experience will India be deterred for conducting similar strikes in the future?

While viewing this scenario and having an experience of Balakot episode, PAF efforts to enhance its capabilities of airborne intercept radar and BVR missiles in JF-17 thunder’s fleet are noteworthy.  However, PAF should pursue an up-gradation on its existing F16 squadron. The presence of Rafale and S-400 air defense system will be challenging for PAF to retaliate, but the Indian S-400 and Rafale jets can’t shield the whole international border so the PAF needs a careful assessment to choose the targets that are not under the umbrella of S-400 or the access of Rafales while keeping in mind not to carry out an action that can trigger the adversary towards any escalation.

In a nutshell, the arrival of French-made engines equipped with long-range SCALP and meteor missiles having high precision is not only beneficial for Indian air prowess but it has also concerned its neighbors notably Pakistan for countermeasures. The experience of Operation Swift Retort and the recent military standoff in Ladakh has compelled New Delhi to modernize its Soviet-era air force by the induction of Dassault Rafales that will provide IAF an edge over the existing fighter jets in PAF’s inventory. However, the crop numerical advantage and training aptitude due to the use of a similar platform increases the feasibility of JF-17 thunder in PAF’s inventory. Hence in case of any aerial engagement in future the numerical advantage will be of more concern as 100+ JF-17 thunders will relish an edge over 36 Rafales and PAF will have the option of counterstrike that when and where to carry out a retaliation after carefully assessing the adversary capabilities in light of S-400 air defense system and Dassault Rafales. Hence Rafale jets have air superiority over existing Pakistani fighter jets but it can’t alter the aerial balance in South Asian region unilaterally.

Continue Reading

Publications

Latest

Trending