'Tactical' N-warheads moved along borders

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'Tactical' N-warheads moved along borders

LAHORE, May 28 (PNS): Two nuclear powers in South Asia are locked in an eyeball-to-eyeball stand-off as both have moved their 'tactical' nuclear warheads, with an accurate range of 200km, along the LoC, working boundary and international boundary. In addition to this, both the countries have long-range batteries of moveable and static missiles, capable of carrying nuclear payload, which can home on various major cities on either side of the divide.

According to a detailed survey conducted by a western intelligence agency, the Indian army's eight out of nine strike divisions have moved to 'jumping off points' near the border. Particularly, the 21st strike force (mainly comprised the 33rd Armoured Division) has advanced towards Akhnoor in the Jammu region, assuming a forward command post.

This strike force has been supplemented by two more mechanised infantry brigades and self-propelled artillery units from Meerut and Mathra. Moreover, three corps in Kashmir have been augmented with additional armoured and infantry brigades to enable the Indian troops in the region to move forward from a defensive posture to major offensive. These corps include 16th Corps at Nagrauta, Jammu, 15th Corps at Badami Bagh, Srinagar and 14th Corps at Nimmud, Leh.

To supplement the ground forces, out of the total 738, around 660 combat aircraft, including bombers, ground-attack aircraft and interceptors, are expected to be deployed for immediate offensive operations. In addition to this, at least, 90 Mi 25 and 35 Hind Helicopters of class gunships would be deployed behind the frontlines.

The Indian armed forces central command has already deployed seven ex-Soviet Kilo Class submarines in an offshore picket-line formation in the Arabian sea to be joined by the sole aircraft carrier 'Viraat', a British Hermes Class carrier with Sea Harriers aboard. This is in addition to the wide range of Indian Navy fleet in the region, including frigates and destroyers.

In response to India deployment, Pakistan, in addition to engaging its nine divisions in the holding formation, has moved a sizeable attack-force of armoured and motorised infantry divisions (strategic formation) into a combat readiness position. The two infantry divisions based in Balochistan and the NWFP had also been moved towards the eastern borders. However,the troops, including 12 brigades of the 30th Corps (Gujranwala), contingents of the 4th Corps (Okara) and the 19th Armoured Brigade (30th Corps), which have been engaged in the annual exercise 'Khabardar', have not been moved.

Pakistan has reinforced the Uri Sector by deploying two brigades of 10-Corps (Rawalpindi). Four brigades of the 31-Corps (Bahawalpur) have moved into forward positions along the Bahawalpur-Fort Abbas stretch in Punjab and Rajasthan sectors. In addition to this, an independent Armoured Brigade has been moved forward to support the local infantry in the Old Beas Area.

Further south, five brigades of 5-Corps (Karachi) have been moved up to the border stretch south of Fort Abbas to Gadra Road and Darwaza and in the border region adjacent to Jaisalmer, Bikaneer and Barnar forward areas. The report says Pakistan's strike formations are poised for operations deep inside India. The troops include North and South Army Reserves, including 1-Corps (Mangla) with significant armoured element. It is important to note that Special Forces have already been taking positions along the Jammu-Rajouri sector.

To defend the skies of Pakistan, and to aid the ground forces, besides conducting sorties deep into Indian territory, Pakistan has the entire complement of Mirage ground-attack fighters on or near the border along with all 49 Chinese A5Cs. These aircraft will play a pivotal role in countering the Indian armoured advance in case of war. These squadrons of Mirage and A5C will be reinforced by 100 Chinese Q5s, leaving only 35 ground-attack aircraft in reserve.

The squadrons of interceptors, including 38 F-16As and Bs (Fighting Falcons), 160 Chinese F-7Ps (modified MiG-21s multi-role aircraft), 85 Chinese F-6s and newly-acquired 40 F7PGs will be deployed for countering Indian designs on Pakistani armoured and artillery brigades by the Indian ground-attack aircraft.

The Indian armed forces, having 1.1 million active army, 1,10,000 active airmen and 53,000 active seamen, are poised to come into action. It has a numerical advantage over Pakistan vis-a-vis armament gadget. In the armoured range, India has 700 T-55 ex-Soviet tanks (modified to 120mm guns). There is a perception that 450 T-55 are operational. It has another 1500 T-72/MI ex-Soviet tanks with 125mm guns in addition to 1200 Vijayanta Tanks (195mm guns), made in India with the collaboration of the UK. Besides this, India has 90 PT-76 light tanks. To supplement this, India also has 100 BRDM-2, 350 BMP-1, 1000 BMP-2 and 162 OT-62 ex-Soviet Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs).

The artillery power of India includes (towed artillery of range 75 mm) 900 75/24 mtn, 215 FRY M-48. In the range of 105 mm, it has 1300 IFG Mk-1 and Mk2 and 50 M-56. In the 122mm range, it has 550 D-30s and in the 130mm range, it has more than 750 M-46 guns besides 410 FH-77B 155mm guns. The towed artillery mostly comprises ex-Soviet guns.

In the self-propelled class, India has 80 Abbot in the 105mm range (mostly in store), 100 modern M-46 130mm guns (about 70 in store and some mounted on Vijayanta) and some 2S19 152 mm guns. Moreover, it has more than 100 multiple rocket-launchers, including BM-21, LRAR and 214mm Pinacha (still in deployment phase).

The Indian forces have been equipped with Milan, AT-3 Sagger, AT-4 Spigot and AT-5 Spandrel anti-tank guided missiles, besides 84mm Carl Gustav recoilless guns along with over 1000 106mm M-40 AI recoilless guns. The Indian surface-to-air missile batteries include 180 (SA-7), 620 (SA- , 50 (SA-8B), 400 (SA-9), 45 (SA-3), some SA-13, 500 (SA-16) along with Akashs and Trishuls.

The army has been equipped with 100 Chetak and 50 Cheetah helicopters. The Indian forces have Searcher and Nishaant drones to carry out reconnaissance operations. As far as Indian airpower is concerned, it has 116 Jaguar, 200 MiG-27, 74 MiG-29, 18 Su-30 (Flanker), 42 Mirage 2000 fighter-bombers and ground-attack aircraft, all capable of carrying nuclear warheads (minimum 5kt to maximum 1mt). In addition to this, it has 10 TU-142 Bear, 4 TU-22 Backfire long-range bombers, capable of carrying 5kt-100mt of nukes.

The Indians have 52 Mirage 2000Hs for interception, aided by 320 MiG-21 (Fishbed) and 65 MiG-23 (Flogger) multi-role aircraft. The most advantageous of all the Indian airfleet are 8 Mig-25Rs (Foxbat), which are the most sophisticated reconnaissance aircraft in the world, having the ceiling and speed records to its credit so far.

In addition to this, Indian Air Force (IAF) has more than 20 Mi-25/35 Hind (attack) Helicopters, 80 Mi-17 (light transport gunships), 20 Chetak and 20 Cheetah helicopters. To defend this kind of mighty Indian power, Pakistan has around 120 M-47, 280 M-48A5, 50 T-54/55, 1200 T-59 (Chinese), 250 T-69, 200 T-85, 320 T-80UD and 15 Al-Khalid tanks. Pakistan doesn't have light tanks. In addition to this, Pakistan has between 800 to 1150 M-113 APCs.

As for the artillery power, Pakistan has 200 T-56 (85mm), 300 M-101 and 50 M-56 pack (105mm), 200 T-60 and 250 T-54 (122mm), 227 T-59-1 (130mm), 30 M-59, 60M-114 and 124 M-198 (155mm) and 26 M-115 in the 203mm class towed guns. Pakistan has 50 M-7 (105mm), 150 M-109A2 (155mm) and 40M-110A2 (203mm) self-propelled guns. The anti-tank guided weapons include 800 missiles, including those carried by Cobra gunships, 200 TOW Baktar Shikan (modified from Chinese Red Arrow besides 45 Azar (T-83) multiple rocket-launchers and some M-20s (3.5 inch) rocket-launchers.

The country's surface-to-air missile capability depends on 1440 (including 350 Stingers, some HN-5A, some RBS-70) and 500 Anza Mk-1 and 2. The army helicopters fleet includes 20 AH-1F (Tow) attack helicopters, 12 Bell 47G, 6 Bell-205, 10 Bell 206B, 16 Mi-8, 18IAR/SA-315B, 24 IAR/SA-316, 25 SA-330 and 6 UH-IH transport helicopters. Pakistan has Bravo-type drones for reconnaissance purposes.

The country's air defence depends on 58 Mirage V (nuclear capable 5-40kt), 110 Mirage III, 49 A5Cs (nuclear capable 5-20kt) and 135 A5s (Chinese) fighter-bombers/ground-attack aircraft. It doesn't have any long-range bombers. For the interception purpose, Pakistan primarily rests on the capability of 38 F-16 (Fighting Falcons), the air-superiority aircraft, which has been upgraded occasionally. It has 160 F-7Ps and 85 F-6s (Chinese) combat aircraft to take on intruders and to give cover to the armoured battalions from the Indian ground-attack missions. There are another 11 Mirage IIIRPs for the reconnaissance missions.

Although India has a numerical superiority on almost all the fronts yet some of their military gadget is either in store or not in service. Pakistan, despite having the numerical disadvantage, has a qualitative edge as its equipment inventory is relatively latest, and has higher proportion of western built and designed items, especially the M-series tanks and the stock of anti-tank missiles.

India's real advantage lies in its airforce, but Pakistan has the potential of overcoming the problem through its sophisticated and superior Airborne Early Warning Systems (AEWS). However, the survey further suggests Pakistan might have additional support from the locals along the LoC and working boundary in the north, where any activity of freedom fighters behind the enemy lines will help Pakistan sustain Indian aggression.


-- Martin (mthom1927@aol.com), May 28, 2002

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