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India-Pakistan Arms Race Heats Up

These two long –time south Asian rivals are engaged in the world's most active nuclear arms race. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Pakistan has expanded its short-range missile capability while India is developing weapons systems which can fire nuclear warheads from land, sea and air. India has 110 atomic warheads and Pakistan possesses around 100 to 120 across various capabilities. Not only the nukes but two nations also enlarged its conventional arms and military expenditures exponentially.

India has already boosted defense spending by 12 percent for the fiscal year of 2014-15 over the previous year and further opened the domestic weapons industry to foreign investment to help rebuild the military. Present BJP government set the military budget at 2.29 trillion Indian rupees ($38.35 billion) for 2014-15, 50 billion rupees more than what the previous government agreed in an interim budget earlier this year. Defense expenditure for 2013/14 was kept at 2.04 trillion rupees. Foreign investment limit in the domestic defense industry is also increased to 49 percent from 26 percent, hoping to draw greater interest from its main arms suppliers and help reshape the defense industrial base dominated by state farms.

India has been the world's top arms buyer for the last three years, trying to replace an ageing Soviet-era military weapons with modern weapons as a deterrent to a rising China and Pakistan has cleared defense purchase costing approximately $3.5 billion to improve and procure new defense systems and enhance domestic industrial capabilities.

On the other hand, Pakistan unveiled its new defense budget that stands at 781 billion rupees -approximately $7.7 billion marking an 11.6 percent increase over last year’s spending. The increase is roughly in the line with Pakistan’s year-on-year defense budget increase, which amount to roughly 3.5 percent of its GDP. Along with rapidly increase defense budget both countries orchestrating arsenal by enhancing their indigenous military capabilities and importing weapons.

A report “Trends in International arms transfer 2014” by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) shown that India and Pakistan-accounted for 19 percent of total arms imports during 2010-2014, where India and Pakistan to hold together first and fifth position of recipients respectively. India accounted for 15 percent of the global total. India increased its import 140 percent between 2005-2009 and 2010-2014 where India’s imports were three times large than those of either of its regional rivals China and Pakistan. Pakistan is the fifth largest importer of the global total where it continues to prioritize china as it military policies.

Being the fourth largest military force in the planet, the Indian armed forces have a history marred with missed procurement deadlines and the domestic defense industry, being slow and inefficient in most of the research and development projects. The long term resultant is that the Indian armed forces now face tremendous shortages of critical equipment and desperate to acquire new equipment to balance the disparity of military power posed by the overwhelming military capability of Pakistan and China, of which Pakistan is treated as their existential enemy.

It is well understood from recent development that India-though expanding its defense budget in a large scale, she is facing lot of troubles in replacing her age old weapons and gradually lagging in indigenous production. On the other hand, Pakistan is more concentrating in its indigenous capabilities and could successfully incorporate its multi role fighter fleets, tanks, stealth frigates etc in its armed forces.

Following analyses will show how India and Pakistan have engaged themselves in an unprecedented arms race in the South Asian region.

Missiles & Nukes

Both India and Pakistan being nuclear capable has their own delivery mechanisms which both parties are more than eager to expand and enhance.

HQ-16 SAM System. Pakistan In Going To Procure This System From China

In 2012 and 2013 India has conducted Agni missile tests. Recently India has tested its first true ICBM Agni-V which has a payload capacity of 1000 kg and a range of 5000 km. This current version has cutting edge navigation and guidance capabilities. The effective range of which covers all of China and part of Europe. With this addition to its arsenal, India has now joined the elite ICBM club which previously had only five members all around the world: the United States, Russia, France, China, and Britain. Even though recently after the test of Agni-V the Chairman of the Armament Research Board at India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) confirmed a subject of long-term speculation that India is capable of developing an ICBM which is capable of striking distances even beyond 10,000 km. The missile is to be inducted into the Indian armed forces soon with multiple independent re-entry vehicles (MIRV) which enables the use of multiple warheads, each having capacity to strike different targets, independently. China and India so far maintain minimum credible deterrence and no-first use doctrines, with a focus on preparing for a first strike and stocking up on their nuclear inventories. China, which for long has had a part of its nuclear arsenal deployed across Tibet and its southwestern frontier, is capable of striking major Indian cities, including Delhi. Beijing is reportedly already building MIRV vehicles.

In the meantime, Pakistan, conducted successful test launch of the Shaheen-III surface-to-surface ballistic missile, capable of carrying both nuclear and conventional warheads with an effective range of 2,750 km which could enable it to reach deep into the Middle East including Israel.

Shaheen-III is an indigenously developed version of the previous Shaheen-I and Shaheen-II missiles which were tested late last year. The Shaheen-II missile was found capable of carrying nuclear and conventional warheads to a range of 1500 km. Pakistan is also trying to incorporate the MIRV technology in Shaheen-III which will make it tough for Indian missile defense systems to defend or even intercept any such device.

However, the strategic plans division of Pakistan military is technically capable of lengthening the reach of its Shaheen and Ghouri missiles programs beyond this test by adding solid or liquid-fuel engines. Alongside with`state-of –the –art’ weaponries development process Pakistan continues to build conventional medium level weapons arsenal, like nuclear-capable Ghouri (aka Hatf-v) medium range ballistic missile (MRBM).

Launched since 2012, the nuclear-capable Ghauri MRBM was developed by Khan Research Laboratories under the Pakistani-integrated missile research and development program.

The test involved a Ghauri-I MRBM with an operational range of 1,300 kilometers (807 miles) and the capacity to carry a 700 kilogram conventional or nuclear warhead. The missile was launched from a transporter erector launcher (TEL) on the Tilla Test Range in Jhelum District.

Pakistan also has the Ghauri-II MRBM in its arsenal, which has a maximum range of 2,300 kilometers.

Pakistan reportedly possesses about 100 to 120 nuclear weapons across various deployments mechanisms. China is reported to have about 250 and India, meanwhile, is thought to possess around 110 warheads across various capabilities. India therefore plans to continue to keep its deterrence guard up: it uses its nuclear arsenal more as a political weapon to deter its adversaries. Pakistan has the world’s fastest growing nuclear arsenal capable of producing up to 200 nuclear devices by the year 2020, which is a probability expressed by a US-based think tank in a recently released report.

“Pakistan. is believed to have enough fissile material to produce between 110 and 120 nuclear warheads,” says the report published by Council on Foreign Relations titled as Strategic Stability in the Second Nuclear Age, the Council also went on to say, “By 2020, Pakistan could have a fissile material stockpile sufficient to produce more than 200 nuclear weapons.”

This comes in a time when the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists reveals that Pakistan is ahead of India in the nuclear arms race by 10 atomic weapons.

SAM (Surface-to-air missile) Development

In South and East Asian region the military superpower China-Pak alliance possess `state-of-the-art’ supersonic surface-to-air missile (SAM) but Indian SAM capabilities drawback is ostensive. India is working on a short-range surface-to-air missile (SRSAM) which, when developed, can be used by the country's navy which earlier rejected the indigenous Akash missiles. For several times India’s indigenous surface-to-air missile development programs have failed to inspire full confidence of any operators, in the country and outside. In 2014 India & Israel successfully test-fired a long range surface to air missile jointly developed by them. Along with other military projects India & Israel have various Long Range Surface to Air Missile (LRSAM) and Medium Range Surface to Air Missile (MRSAM) project, like Barka-8, Trishul and Akash, under development with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Indian Defense Research & Development Organization (DRDO). Previously India mostly depended on Russia for its air defense. But now India is trying to replace Russia with West (US, France) and Israel. The missile most attractive feature may be its active seeker system. Instead of the launching ship or land-based radar to paint/illuminate its target at all times, Indian Barak-8 can left alone to delegate by itself towards the target once it is in close proximity to the target.

On the other side, Pakistan depends on its largest ally China to its air defense. In April 2015 Pakistan started negotiations with China on the import of HQ-9 medium to long-range active radar homing surface-to-air missile and the HQ-16 truck-based vertically launched surface-to-air missile.

Barak-8 and other systems of India

Over an overdue development timeline measured in decades, India’s indigenous “Akash” and “Trishul” programs for surface to air missiles have failed to inspire full confidence of any operators, in country and outside. Trishul was eventually canceled entirely due to its technological ineptness paired with the inefficiency with which it was being developed. Akash had a long and difficult development cycle but was blessed to have a solid niche in the rugged terrain of the Northeast India. India still needed longer-range advanced SAMs to equip its navy and army and decided to try and duplicate the success of the partnership model that had fielded the excellent Indo-Russian PJ-10 BrahMos supersonic cruise missile thus the Indians went for upping the stakes by signing contracts for advanced medium range surface to air missile systems with Israel.

India and Israel agreed to jointly develop a medium-range surface-to-air missile (MRSAM) system and to replace Russian-made air defense systems that are in use with the Indian Army.

The land version of MRSAM would be an extension of the ongoing MRSAM project by the Indian Air Force, which is expected to see operational deployment by 2017, three years behind the scheduled time. The Indian Army has an immediate need for one regiment (18 systems) of MRSAMs which will cost them approximately $1.5 billion, but the total requirement for these systems is estimated to be more than $6 billion.

The Army’s mobile MRSAM systems will be developed by India's state-owned defense development agency, the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO), and Rafael and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) of Israel. The system will be produced by India's state-owned Bharat Dynamics Ltd., in participation with domestic private sector entities Tata Power SED and Larsen & Toubro.The Indian Army has needed a new surface-to-air missile system for more than a decade to replace Russian-made Kvadrat and OSA-AKM systems bought between 1970 and 1980.

The Army wants to use the MRSAM to defend mechanized formations operating in the plains and desert regions of the country.

On the other hand Indian Navy’s Barak-NG/ LR-SAM project is aimed to give India’s naval defenses a much longer reach in defending itself, with the intention of eventually making it India’s primary naval SAM. The project was later renamed Barak 8, and aims to deliver a defense perimeter of 60-70 km/42 mile radial range. It is fueled by a dual-pulse solid rocket motor whose second “pulse” fires as the missile approaches its target. This ensures that the missile isn’t just cruising, limped, in the final stages rather it enables it to engage and destroy a fast, maneuvering target.

The missile’s most attractive feature may be its active seeker system. Instead of the launching ship or land-based radar to “paint”/illuminate its target at all times, the Barak 8 can be left alone to delegate by itself towards the target once it is in close proximity to the target. It is an excellent approach for enabling the use of older ships with this new SAM giving a way to deal with saturation attacks using older ship radars, which can track many targets but illuminate just a few. In land based systems it will help the missiles survive longer against enemy anti-radar missiles (ARMs) if they can turn themselves on and off to confuse enemy seekers, without much concern about losing their effectiveness.

The naval Barak-8 maintains its principle of using compact launchers and systems. Its additional capabilities will always depend on the radar and combat system aboard the launching vessel.

One of Barak’s many potential use is in a point defense role against ballistic missiles.

The land-based Barak 8 Air and Missile Defense (AMD) system includes several components:

• RAFAEL supplies the Barak-8 interceptor missile, which are vertically launched.

• The battle management, command, control, communication and intelligence center (BMC4I) is produced by the MBT Division of IAI’s Missiles, Systems, and Space Group; it offers both standalone operation for a single fire unit, and joint task force coordination (JTC).

• IAI ELTA Systems Ltd. supplies the Land-Based Multi-Function Surveillance, Track & Guidance Radar (LB-MF-STAR), a rotating S-band digital Active Electronic Steering Array (AESA) Radar System that can deliver an accurate, high quality arena situation picture, and extract low radar cross section targets like stealthy cruise missiles, even in the toughest environmental conditions. The naval MF-STAR is expected to be part of Israel’s next-generation missile frigates.

In Israel, the Barak-8 is planned to equip its next-generation frigates, and may find its way to other roles in its defense forces. India expects to field the missiles on both the land and sea domains of operation.

[To Be Continued] Source: PTI, The Economic Times, Dawn, Reuters, SIPRI

Fakhrul Islam is a Student of Computer Science at North South University