Monday, September 5, 2016

Performance of Pakistan Armed Forces in 1971 War

Talking with Karan Thapar on BBC's Face-to-Face about the 1971 India-Pakistan war, India's Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw said as follows:

"About the 5th day of the (1971) conflict in (East Pakistan)...everything had gone wrong (for India); the (Indian) Navy had lost the Khukri; Our (India) Air Force has lost a lot of aircraft on the ground; my (Indian Army's) advances in Bangladesh were halted......The Pakistan Army in East Pakistan fought very gallantly but they had no chance; they were a thousand miles away from their base; I had 8 or 9 months of preparation; I had almost 50:1 advantage; they had no chance but they fought very gallantly."

Clearly, Indian Army Chief Sam Manekshaw was the victor of the 1971 war  but he also was honest in acknowledging the fact that he had all the advantages over his enemy fact, he said he had "almost 50:1 advantage".

In addition to praising Pakistan Army's gallantry, the Field Marshal also mentioned the losses suffered by the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy. Let's look at what he was talking about.

Sinking of Indian Navy Frigate INS Khukri:

Pakistan Navy submarine PNS Hangor sunk Indian warship INS Khukri off the coast of Diu, Gujarat on December 9, 1971, the first such sinking of a warship since WW2 by a submarine.  194 Indian Navy sailors died in the sinking that has been described in detail by the Indian Defense Review in 2014.

INS Kirpan,  another Indian warship which was close by when the attack took place fled the scene rather than attempt to rescue the sailors on board Khukri. Had Kirpan mounted rescue, at least some of the lives of the194 people (18 officers and 176 sailors) who perished in the sinking of INS Khukri could have been saved.

A book by retired Major General Ian Cardozo of the Indian Army on the sinking of Khukri has recorded the dismay of some of survivors at the cowardice INS Kirpan's captain and staff.

 “We were hoping that Kirpan, our sister ship would come to rescue us but we saw her sailing away from the area”, Commander Manu Sharma, a survivor of Khukri, has been quoted by Cardozo.

 “An early rescue was what everyone hoped for. We thought that at least INS Kirpan would send boat for our rescue, but no rescue boat came from INS Kirpan” Lt Commander SK Basu, who was aboard Khukri and survived the Pakistani attack, told Cardozo.

Prior to the Khukri sinking, Indian Navy had launched missile attacks on Karachi port and destroyed an oil terminal causing a huge oil fire that lit up the night sky.

After the sinking of Khukri, the Indian Navy ceased its attacks on Karachi and moved the focus of its operations to East Pakistan ports like Chittagong and Cox's Bazar.   To date, INS Khukri is the only ship lost in combat in the history of the Indian Navy.

Indian Air Force Losses:

Pakistan Air Force struck Indian air bases and destroyed scores of Indian Air Force fighter aircraft sitting on the ground as acknowledged by Field Marshall Manekshaw in his interview with Karan Thapar.

Legendary USAF pilot General Chuck Yeager observed the performance of the Pakistan Air Force in 1971 war.  Here's what he wrote in his autobiography "The Right Stuff":

 "This air force (the PAF), is second to none...The (1971) air war lasted two weeks and the Pakistanis scored a three-to-one kill ratio, knocking out 102 Russian-made Indian jets and losing thirty-four airplanes of their own. I'm certain about the figures because I went out several times a day in a chopper and counted the wrecks below...They were really good, aggressive dogfighters and proficient in gunnery and air combat tactics. I was damned impressed. Those guys just lived and breathed flying. "

Ground War on the Western Front:

There is a myth that Pakistan lost the 1971 war not just in the East but also on the western front. India did take territory in farflung, desolate and uninhabited areas of negligible importance but lost more of the fertile land in strategic areas.

Here's an except from Indian Defense Review on 1971 ground war on western front:

"The major Indian gains claimed in terms of area were about 3,200 square kilometres in the Ladakh region under Lt Gen Sartaj Singh and 1,200 square kilometres. under Lt Gen G G Bewoor in the Rajasthan Desert. In both regions these gains lay in farflung, desolate, uninhabited and difficult areas of negligible economic, strategic and political value which could hurt the rulers of Pakistan only in their prestige. On the other hand, Sartaj Singh lost the area of Chhamb, where the aftermath of the refugee problem still haunts the Jammu and Kashmir administration. The loss of the Kasowala bulge, the Hussainiwala enclave and the Fazilka agricultural belt in Punjab could not be equated with marginal gains in the Sehjra bulge and the Mamdot enclave in economic, military or political terms. The Indian occupation of the major portion of the Shakargarh bulge was somewhat embarrassing to the Bhutto government.....Rawlley lost more than he gained in Punjab. The loss of Hussainiwala, the Fazilka cotton track and Chhina Bidhi Chand were inexcusable. The battle in this sector was a peripheral loss and gain of border outposts and nothing more."


Pakistan Army fought gallantly against an Indian Army which had an "almost 50:1 advantage" in East Pakistan as acknowledged by Indian Army Chief Sam Maneckshaw who led the Indian military to victory over Pakistan in 1971.

At the same time, Pakistani Army, Navy and Air Force scored major successes against India on the western front. Pakistanis not only captured territory of greater economic and strategic value from India but also inflicted disproportionately heavy damage to Indian Air Force and Navy in 1971.

Here's a video clip of Sam Maneckshaw speaking with Karan Thapar on 1971 war:

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

India's War Hero Manekshaw Passes On

India's Pakistan Obsession

Is this a 1971 Moment in Pakistan's History?

What if Modi Attacks Pakistan?

Ex Indian Spy Documents India's Covert Wars Against Pakistan

Pakistan Army at the Gates of Delhi


Mahesh said...

All soldiers are trained to fight valiantly. The superiors and the decision makers above them are the ones who are responsible.
Ultimately, just as in any sport, it only matters who comes out victorious in war.

Sammy said...

Agreed. There are stories of valor on both sides but the question is, what has Pakistan Superiors or High Command achieved in the last 60 odd years?
Kashmir banega Pakistan is still an impossible pipe dream despite lives sacrificed in 1965 and then again in the blunder of Kargil

Any over dominant military without civilian checks and balances will succumb to the hubris of catastrophic blunders

Riaz Haq said...

Sammy: "Kashmir banega Pakistan is still an impossible pipe dream despite lives sacrificed in 1965 and then again in the blunder of Kargil"

Kashmir is very much alive as an issue today in spite of India's best efforts to make it go away.

Pakistan has played a crucial role in keeping it alive.

A new generation of Kashmiris has now renewed the struggle against the brutal occupation of their home by 700,000 Indian troops.

In fact, nukes have made the Kashmir more relevant than ever.

It's recognized by the world as a nuclear flashpoint that must be resolved for world peace.

Hassan said...

A certain man named Tareq Fateh is often on Indian TV channels spewing hatred against Muslims in general and Pakistanis in particular. His most common anti Pakistan rant which he uses to please his mostly Hindu extremest audience from whom he pockets millions no doubt is how Pakistan was badly beaten up by India in the 65 war. He fails to mention the fact that there was a huge size difference between the Indian and Pakistani army in the 65 war and that the Indian army failed badly in its main objective to capture Lahore... One day you should enlighten him Mr. Haq... Debate him

Riaz Haq said...

Unk: " One day you should enlighten him Mr. Haq... Debate him"

Tarek Fatah vs Riaz Haq on India, Pakistan and Muslims

Please read and watch:

Anonymous said...

Tariq Fateh is looking for his 15 minutes of glory. No need to pay any attention to him. I enjoy hearing opposing views but was quite disappointed when he started making fun of physical features of Zakir Naik? What has a man's appearance got to do with what he is saying?

Also, Tariq Fateh lacks any original thought. All his views are borrowed from others.

G. Ali

Majumdar said...

Prof sb,

Excellent article as usual but the timing is a bit off. It is an odd time to write about the 1971 war, that shud be done in December. Sep is the time to write about 1965 when the Pakkki army scored a victory of Ghaznavid proportions over the Hindoos.


dantes said...

Haq : "Kashmir is very much alive as an issue today in spite of India's best efforts to make it go away.

Pakistan has played a crucial role in keeping it alive. "

That's true its Alive , keep it that way !! I believe you are 60 years old atleast . So given the shape you are in and life expectancy in US you may have 20 more years to live at best.

So do you foresee any change in the status quo over Kashmir in next 20 years ?
If no ? Then I must say a lifetime went in chasing the improbable
Be realistic in your introspection and then answer .

Riaz Haq said...

dantes: "So do you foresee any change in the status quo over Kashmir in next 20 years ? "

Did any one "foresee any change in status quo over" Soviet Union in 1980s?

Do you know that India is using Armed Forces Special Powers Act, the same law in Kashmir that the Brits used in 1942 to try to crush "Quit India" movement launched by Gandhi? Did the Brits succeed?

dantes said...

Haq : Did any one "foresee any change in status quo over" Soviet Union in 1980s?

"Quit India" movement launched by Gandhi? Did the Brits succeed?

Unfortunately India is not Soviet on 80's and neither it has a opponent as strong as America of 80's. Neither its opponent has as much disposable income as America of 80's.
And I clearly don't see another Gandhi being born among the stone-pelters of kashmir , because there is a certain level of education needed to become Gandhi and understand his ways.Gandhi's struggle wasn't religion based unlike the stone pelters.
Did you know that Gandhi prayer meetings opened my reciting verses from Quoran followed by Geeta shlokas and prayers.

But Yeah A world-war may tilt the balance much like Britain of 1942 ... But seriously a world-war ?? .. that will be more like freedom of earth from human race .

Anyway it will be interesting to see how it unfolds, I would love to have tracking of it on yearly basis , let say 10 sep every year ? Are you game ?

Riaz Haq said...

dantes: "Anyway it will be interesting to see how it unfolds, I would love to have tracking of it on yearly basis , let say 10 sep every year ? Are you game ? "

No one knows how irrational Indian leadership can be in attempting to hold on a region with totally hostile population by deploying 700,000 troops under Armed Forces Special Powers Act indefinitely.

But any rational person can see it as a losing proposition.

You can not call yourself a democracy while denying fundamental rights to tens of millions of the people you claim as your citizens.

On practical level, long term deployments of troops cause low morale, suicidal tendencies and poor discipline that India is already seeing among its 700,000 troops deployed in Kashmir.

At the same time, a new generation of tech-savvy Kashmiris is stepping up their struggle for "azadi".

All of this leads to only one conclusion: India can only barely hold on Kashmir to high and rising cost to itself.
The only question is how irrational can they be and how long they'll do it.

dantes said...

I work with a few Tech-savy Kashmiris myself , in particular muslims from the valley.
And my observation is, more learned they are, less is their aggression towards India.
Ofcourse, they resent the situation of the valley but aren't prepared to wage jihad against India.
You see there more distractions in the world now then time Gandhi was around.Being tech-savy only distracts you more ;)

Anyway I could be wrong since my sample size is too small for making a extrapolation.

And May be all that you say is correct. But then again its still a "MAY BE".
Being an Engineer you would know there are variables to an equation , which in this case can only be assigned a value with time.

So lets play the time ... I will take that as a YES see you on 10 sep 2017 . Stay put!!

Anonymous said...


Did any one "foresee any change in status quo over" Soviet Union in 1980s?

Do you know that India is using Armed Forces Special Powers Act, the same law in Kashmir that the Brits used in 1942 to try to crush "Quit India" movement launched by Gandhi? Did the Brits succeed?


You know total population of Kashmir Valley is 7 million. How much trouble will it take for Indian Army to liquidate all of them 7 million? The winters are approaching and will cut Pakistan off from Indian Administered Kashmir. What will stop indian army to just get rid of these 7 million? I think Kashmir is simply too small to effect a proper resistance to Indian control.

Riaz Haq said...

US State Dept Archive 1969-1972:

"Nixon: But these Indians are cowards. Right?

Kissinger: Right. But with Russian backing. You see, the Russians have sent notes to Iran, Turkey, to a lot of countries threatening them. The Russians have played a miserable game."


"Nixon: And what do we do? Here they are raping and murdering, and they talk about West Pakistan, these Indians are pretty vicious in there, aren’t they?
Kissinger: Absolutely.

Nixon: Aren’t they killing a lot of these people?

Kissinger: Well, we don’t know the facts yet. But I’m sure [unclear] that they’re not as stupid as the West Pakistanis—they don’t let the press in. The idiot Paks have the press all over their place.

Nixon: Well, the Indians did, oh yes. They brought them in, had pictures of spare tanks and all the rest. Brilliant. Brilliant public relations.

Kissinger: Yeah, but they don’t let them in where the civilians are.

Nixon: Oh, I know. But they let them in to take the good shots. The poor, damn Paks don’t let them in at all.

Kissinger: Or into the wrong places.

Nixon: Yeah.

Kissinger: The Paks just don’t have the subtlety of the Indians.

Nixon: Well, they don’t lie. The Indians lie. Incidentally, did Irwin carry out my order to call in the Indian Ambassador?

Kissinger: Oh, yeah. Yeah.

Riaz Haq said...

93,000 #Pakistani soldiers did not surrender in 1971 because….? #Bangladesh #Pakistan #India … via @GVS_News

Undisputed fact is that Pakistan had only one corps comprising three divisions in East Pakistan during 1971. In fact when operation search light began on 25th March, 1971, the total number of Pakistani troops on ground were around 27,000. More troops were sent from west Pakistan but they had to arrive through a long circuitous route since India had blocked air route over India taking advantage of the famous “Ganga Hijacking Case” (believed to be a false flag planned by RAW for this purpose)

The three divisions, of Pakistan army, by end November 1971, comprised a total force of 45,000, on books, including combatant and non-combatant troops. Out of these, there were 34,000 combatant troops and the remaining 11,000 were non-combatants, supporting men and CAF personnel. But between six to seven thousand Pakistani soldiers died in the war also.

It was also helpful in putting meat to the story of three million killed, hundreds and thousands of rapes and genocide. An army of less than 40,000, spread over a large theatre of conflict under attack from guerrillas supported by Indian army was hardly in a situation of doing what it was accused of.

This one corp was pitched against three corps of Indian Army from the West and North West and another two corps from the North East and East, a total of five Indian Corps plus 175,000 Indian backed and trained Mukti Bahini and many thousands of Awami League miscreants. When the total number of Pakistan army troops ranged between 34,000 to 45,000 how could 93,000 soldiers surrender?

From time to time various officers and commentators have attempted clarifying the myth but the power of first narrative is such that still the figure of 93,000 POW’s sticks in popular imagination.

All the aforementioned references point toward one fact that the number of total army personnel who surrendered were far less than 93,000. Whereas my research shows that they were only around 34,000 but in any case they could not have been more than 40,000. The number of 93,000 soldiers that is talked about has been conflated with civilians. West Pakistani civilians who were present in large numbers in former East-Pakistan were taken over into custody by Indian army to protect them from revengeful Bengali crowds and Mukit Bahni.

The figure of 93,000 also included children, women, civil administration officials and staff, non-combatant troops such as nurses, doctors, cooks, barbers, shoemakers, carpenters and others. The higher number talked about was a deliberate attempt to defame and demoralize Pakistani army, to demonstrate to the world extent of Indian victory. It was also helpful in putting meat to the story of three million killed, hundreds and thousands of rapes and genocide. An army of less than 40,000, spread over a large theatre of conflict under attack from guerrillas supported by Indian army was hardly in a situation of doing what it was accused of.

The total figure, a mix of soldiers and civilians was deliberately floated by Indians, and later by Bangladeshis to support their case for victimization. In Pakistan, a clever Bhutto used this for various reasons of his own politics. No one ever wanted to clarify. In reality, the actual number of Pakistani troops who surrendered on 16th December 1971 was only around 34,000.

Riaz Haq said...

Excepts of Dead Reckoning by Sarmila Bose:

On Page 10: An interesting example is Anthony Macarenhas' famous report in Sunday Times published on 13 June 1971. His eyewitness description from Comilla of how a Bengali, especially a Hindu, could have his life snuffed out at the whim of a single army officer serves as a powerful indictment of the military action, but his description of the army's attack on the Hindu area of Shankharipara in old Dhaka on 25-26 March--where he was not present--given without citing any source and turns out to be entirely inaccurate according to the information obtained from my interviews with survivors of Shakharipara.

On Page 73: In his (Mascarenhas') book that followed his report in the Sunday Times condemning the military crackdown in East Pakistan, Anthony Mascarenhas wrote ," In Shankaripatti an estimated 8000 men, women and children were killed when the army, having blocked both ends of the winding street, hunted down house by house:". This is not an eyewitness account, as Mascarenhas was not there, and he does not cite any sources for his information---which in this case s totally wrong in all aspects.

Mascarenhas' reports, like many foreign press reports in 1971, are a mixture of reliable and unreliable information, depending on where the reporter is faithfully reporting what he has actually seen or is merely writing an uncorroborated version of what someone else has told him. ......According to survivors of Shankharipara, the army did not go house to house. They entered only one house, Number 52.

Riaz Haq said...

The courageous Pakistan army stand on the eastern front —Sarmila Bose
"Clearly, the Pakistani army regained East Pakistan for their masters in Islamabad by April-May, creating an opportunity for a political settlement, and held off both Bengali guerrillas and their Indian supporters till November, buying more time — time and opportunity that Pakistan’s rulers and politicians failed to utilise."

Authoritative scholarly analyses of 1971 are rare. The best work is Richard Sisson and Leo Rose’s War and Secession. Robert Jackson, fellow of All Soul’s College, Oxford, wrote an account shortly after the events. Most of the principal participants did not write about it, a notable exception being Gen. Niazi’s recent memoirs (1998). Some Indian officers have written books of uneven quality — they make for an embarrassing read for what the Indians have to say about one another.

However, a consistent picture emerges from the more objective accounts of the war. Sisson and Rose describe how India started assisting Bengali rebels since April, but “the Muktib Bahini had not been able to prevent the Pakistani army from regaining control over all the major urban centers on the East Pakistani-Indian border and even establishing a tenuous authority in most of the rural areas.” From July to October there was direct involvement of Indian military personnel. “…mid-October to 20 November… Indian artillery was used much more extensively in support …and Indian military forces, including tanks and air power on a few occasions, were also used…Indian units were withdrawn to Indian territory once their objectives had been brought under the control of the Mukti Bahini — though at times this was only for short periods, as, to the irritation of the Indians, the Mukti Bahini forces rarely held their ground when the Pakistani army launched a counterattack.”

Clearly, the Pakistani army regained East Pakistan for their masters in Islamabad by April-May, creating an opportunity for a political settlement, and held off both Bengali guerrillas and their Indian supporters till November, buying more time — time and opportunity that Pakistan’s rulers and politicians failed to utilise.

Contrary to Indian reports, full-scale war between India and Pakistan started in East Bengal on 21 November, making it a four-week war rather than a ‘lightning campaign’. Sisson and Rose state bluntly: “After the night of 21 November…Indian forces did not withdraw. From 21 to 25 November several Indian army divisions…launched simultaneous military actions on all of the key border regions of East Pakistan, and from all directions, with both armored and air support.” Indian officers like Sukhwant Singh and Lachhman Singh write quite openly in their books about India invading East Pakistani territory in November, which they knew was ‘an act of war’.

None of the outside scholars expected the Eastern garrison to withstand a full Indian invasion. On the contrary, Pakistan’s longstanding strategy was “the defense of the east is in the west”. Jackson writes, “Pakistani forces had largely withdrawn from scattered border-protection duties into cleverly fortified defensive positions at the major centres inside the frontiers, where they held all the major ‘place names’ against Mukti Bahini attacks, and blocked the routes of entry from India…”

Sisson and Rose point out the incongruity of Islamabad tolerating India’s invasion of East Pakistani territory in November. On 30 November Niazi received a message from General Hamid stating, “The whole nation is proud of you and you have their full support.” The same day Islamabad decided to launch an attack in the West on 2 December, later postponed to 3 December, after a two-week wait, but did not inform the Eastern command about it. According to Jackson, the Western offensive was frustrated by 10 December.

Riaz Haq said...

Kelvin Hughes to supply SharpEye #Submarine #radar systems to #Pakistan #Navy

The Pakistan Navy has placed a follow-on order to Kelvin Hughes for the delivery of a second SharpEye Doppler submarine radar system.

Kelvin Hughes is set to supply its second set of radar systems for the navy’s newest Agosta 90B-class, or Khalid-class, diesel electric attack submarine under the latest deal.

The new radars will be installed on-board the Pakistan Navy submarines as part of its mid-life upgrade programme, which is currently being carried out at the Karachi Pakistan Naval Shipyard.

The original contract was awarded to Kelvin Hughes in February this year and saw the company deliver the I-Band SharpEye Doppler submarine radar system for the navy’s first Agosta 90B-class vessel.

Kelvin Hughes is expected to work in collaboration with the modernisation programme’s main contractor, Turkish defence company STM, in support of the initiative.

Kelvin Hughes regional sales manager Barry Jones said: “We have a long standing relationship with the Pakistan Navy and STM and I am very pleased to be working with STM to supply the state-of-the-art SharpEye radar system to the Khalid-class submarines.”

The SharpEye radar solution for the first ship is slated to be supplied to the navy next year, while the newly ordered system for the second vessel is scheduled for delivery in 2019.

SharpEye I-Band (X-Band) radar transceivers feature a downmast transceiver system installed in an enclosure located within the pressure hull.

This configuration provides submarines with a high-performance solid state radar with similar capabilities to SharpEye radars deployed on naval surface ships, both in-service as a retrofit and for installation on-board new classes.

The downmast submarine radar solution makes use of the existing bulkhead infrastructure in the pressure hull, thereby eliminating the need to replace the antenna mast system by utilising the existing external antenna, rotational drive and waveguide connections.

Riaz Haq said...

The full story behind this vestige of the Kargil occupation as per an article published in Front line in September,2000 ,titled "

The strange story of Peak 5353 began with the end of Operation Vijay, and the proclamation of a national triumph at Kargil. Point 5353, like the features around it, had been occupied by Pakistan troops at the start of the Kargil war. Indian soldiers, how ever, were nowhere near its summit when hostilities were pronounced to have ended, in the wake of a United States-authored Pakistani pullout. All that had been achieved was the occupation of two secondary positions on the Marpo La ridgeline, Charlie 6 an d Charlie 7. Indian troops had also been unable to evict Pakistani soldiers from Point 5240, some 1,200 m as the crow flies from Point 5353. 56 Brigade Commander Amar Aul, in charge of the operations to secure Point 5353, responded by occupying two heigh ts on the Pakistani side of the LoC, 4875 and 4251, just before the ceasefire came into force.
Aul's tactics, evidently under political pressure to bring about a quick end to hostilities, were designed to secure a subsequent territorial exchange. In mid-August 1999, his efforts to bring about a deal bore fruit. Extended negotiations between the Br igadier and a Pakistani interlocutor, who called himself Colonel Saqlain, led to both sides committing themselves to leave unoccupied Points 5353, 5240, 4251 and 4875. Both Indian and Pakistani troops were pulled back to their pre-Kargil positions, leavi ng an aerial distance of about a kilometre between the armies along most of the Marpo La ridge. The deal was not an ideal one, for 5353 was of enormously more strategic importance to India than either 4251 or 4875 was for Pakistan, but it was better than nothing.
Towards the end of October, things began to go wrong. Aul tasked the 16 Grenadiers to take Point 5240 and the 1-3 Gurkha Rifles to occupy 5353, choosing to violate the August agreement rather than risk the prospect that Pakistan might reoccupy these posi tions. While the 16 Grenadiers attack proceeded as planned, despite bad weather, the men of 1-3 Gurkha Rifles, for reasons which are still not clear, never made their way up 5353. When Pakistan troops detected the Indian presence on 5240, they promptly l aunched a counter-assault on 5353. Seven days later, in early November, the Grenadiers unit on 5240 watched Pakistan take up positions on the more important peak. Saqlain, who is now believed to be facing court martial proceedings in Pakistan, was left c omplaining that Aul's ill-considered course of action was treacherous and dishonest.
Pakistan moved rapidly to consolidate its position on 5353. Concrete bunkers came up on the peak, and a road was constructed to its base from Benazir Post, Pakistan's most important permanent post in the area. Meanwhile, Aul considered plans to retake th e peak. He did not have much choice. India's positions on 5240 and Pathar post were under threat, along with positions of the 2 Naga in Mushkoh, the 2 Grenadiers in Drass, and the 8 Sikh in Bhimbet. Offensives were discussed in January and February, and again in May and August, but had to be abandoned each time because of the risks involved. With 5353 and its adjoining area now linked by road to Pakistan's rear headquarters at Gultari, and with the defensive positions heavily fortified, any attack would mean a full-blown resumption of hostilities in Drass.

Riaz Haq said...

VK Singh on Gen Musharraf Kargil War 1999 Victory Of Pakistan Gen Pervez Musharraf has received praise for coming deep into Indian territory in Kargil in 1999 from former Indian Army Chief Gen V K Singh, who said it showed the courage of a military commander.

Riaz Haq said...

Are #Aircraft #Carriers Still Relevant? In the 1971 Indo-#Pakistan War, #India’s carrier, the Vikrant, was sent to the permissive Bay of #Bengal and not to the more contested northern Arabian Sea. @Diplomat_APAC #EastPakistan #Bangladesh #IndianNavy

By Ben Ho Wan Beng

At this juncture, let us revisit the Pacific War. During this conflict, William Halsey of the U.S. Navy was the archetypal aggressive and offensive-minded carrier admiral. His polar opposite, Raymond Spruance, was restrained and more adverse to risk. Hence, the big question is: In a future conflict involving carriers, would the leadership be in the mold of Spruance, the “Quiet Warrior”? Or would a “Bull” Halsey hold sway? The risk of losing a capital asset could play on the minds of the leadership, and it might take an existential threat to the homeland for carriers to be sent into a nonpermissive environment. Hence, it is likely that leaders, whether military or political, would deploy the vessel in a manner more akin to Spruance than Halsey.

It is worth noting that there has not been a direct clash-of-arms between great powers since World War II. Moreover, there has not been a major campaign at sea for over 30 years since the Falklands War. With very few reference points, any future conventional maritime campaign is likely to be cautious, with the side having the more valuable assets taking more probing actions.

Deterrence favors the A2/AD-centric nation in such circumstances.

Though carriers have not been in a high-end fight since 1944, there is evidence of them being deployed more cautiously in combat during the Cold War. In the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War, India’s carrier, the Vikrant, was sent to the permissive Bay of Bengal and not to the more contested northern Arabian Sea. Similarly, during the 1982 Falklands campaign, the Royal Navy kept its two carriers farther from the area of operations than usual for fear of reprisals from Argentine airpower. It also bears notice that these two episodes occurred before the coming of age of precision-guided munitions and what the Russians termed as the reconnaissance-strike complex.

Moreover, in this current age where the “battle of the narratives” predominates, the enemy need not sink the carrier to secure a major political victory; this could be attained by merely hitting it (which may or may not cause significant damage). That said, even limited damage to the carrier force could be spun into a political victory for the adversary. Think China or Russia and their far-reaching information warfare (IW) edifices. To illustrate, the adversary’s IW machinery could amplify on social and other mediums a hit on a destroyer escorting the flat-top. The invincibility of the much-vaulted carrier task group could then be downplayed

Riaz Haq said...

#Indian defense analyst Pravin Sawhney: Fighting tactical battles for one-upmanship. #Rafale and #S400 would certainly help Indian Air Force, but would not tilt the operational level balance in #India’s favor in conflict with #Pakistan via @thetribunechd

The issue, thus, is about tactics and operational level of war. The Pakistan military, learning from the Soviet Union, has always given importance to the operational level. This is why in the 1965 and 1971 wars, despite being more in bean-counting of assets, India never won in the western sector. Proof of this are the ceasefire line and the Line of Control, which otherwise would have been converted into international borders.

The situation, regrettably, remains the same today. Separate doctrines of the Army and the Air Force, and with each service doing its own training is evidence that no amount of modernisation would help if the focus of service chiefs remains on tactics. For example, after the Balakot operation, a senior Air Force officer told me that the PAF would not last more than six days. He believed in tactical linear success. What about the other kinetic and non-kinetic forces which impact at the operational level?

This is not all. Retired senior Air Force officers started chest-thumping about the Balakot airstrike having set the new normal. Some argued that air power need not be escalatory, while others made the case for the use of air power in counter-terror operations like the Army. Clearly, they all were talking tactics, not war. Had India retaliated to the PAF’s counter-strike, what it called an act of war, an escalation was assured. It is another matter that PM Narendra Modi had only bargained for the use of the IAF for electoral gains.

Talking of tactics, Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa spoke about relative technological superiority. Perhaps, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman would not have strayed into Pakistani airspace if his MiG-21 Bison had Software Defined Radio (SDR) and Operational Data Link (ODL). The SDR operates in the VHF, UHF, Ku and L bandwidths and is meant to remove voice clutter. The ODL provides the pilot with data or text, in this case from the ground controller. The officer, separated from his wing-man, and without necessary voice and data instructions, unwittingly breached the airspace and was captured by the Pakistan army. There are known critical shortages of force multipliers in addition to force levels in the IAF. Surely, the IAF Chief can’t do much except keep asking the government to fill the operational voids. But, he could avoid making exaggerated claims since his words would only feed the ultra-nationalists, and support the Modi government’s spurious argument of having paid special attention to national security.

The same is the case with Rafale and S-400. These would certainly help, but would not tilt the operational level balance in India’s favour. For example, the IAF intends to use S-400 in the ‘offensive air defence’ role rather than its designed role of protecting high-value targets like Delhi, for which it was originally proposed. For the protection of high-value targets, the Air Headquarters has made a strong case to purchase the United States’ National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System (NASAMS). This is ironic, because while S-400 can destroy hostile ballistic missiles, NASAMS can’t do so. It can only kill cruise missiles and other aerial platforms. The thinking at the Air Headquarters is that since there is no understanding on the use of ballistic missiles — especially with Pakistan — both sides are likely to avoid the use of ballistic missiles with conventional warheads lest they are misread and lead to a nuclear accident. So, NASAMS may probably never be called upon to take on ballistic missiles.

Given the direction of the relationship between the India and Pakistan, this assumption may not be the best to make when procuring prohibitively expensive high-value assets.

Riaz Haq said...

How incompetent is the #Indian Navy? Read scathing assessment of #US Naval Officer who spent 5 days onboard the Indian Navy warship, INS #Delhi . AMA. - LessCredibleDefence

I see a lot of disappointments/shock in your comments. Were there any positives? Did they have good food?

Actually, their food was excellent. They also made really good tea, too. I drank nothing but hot milk tea my entire 5 days there because I was afraid of drinking the water (I saw their reverse osmosis units, dear god).

How bad was it?

15+ years old and they looked like nobody had done any maintenance in the last 5+ years. Their ROs were in such poor shape that despite having a greater fresh water production capacity than my ship by several thousand gallons, they were still on water hours.

How do they runs things differently then the USN?

Their engineering practices were abysmal. No undershirts, no steel-toed boots - they wore sandals - no hearing protection in their engineering spaces. No lagging (sound dampening material) in any space. No electrical safety whatsoever. No operational risk management. No concept of safety of navigation. Absolutely did not adhere to rules of the road. They more or less did not have any hard-copy written procedures for any exercise or event, at all. They had no concept of the coded fleet tactical system that US coalition forces and allies utilize (they literally made it up as they went along, and when I tried to interject and explain to them how it worked, they ignored me). When I arrived onboard they thought I was a midshipman and treated me as such. I had to be frank and explain that I was a commissioned officer and that yes, I stood officer on the deck onboard my ship and was a qualified surface warfare officer. They don't entrust their people with any responsibility until they are very senior Lieutenants (O-3s) and junior Lieutenant Commanders (O-4s). At this point in the US Navy there are literally guys commanding ships, and these guys couldn't even be trusted to handle a radio circuit.

How knowledgeable did you find the officers to be?

Well, their captain was driving the ship when it came within 50ft of the stern of a USNS replenishment ship and at any given time there were multiple officers on the bridge screaming at each other. They were generally clueless and had almost zero seamanship skills. I found their enlisted guys to be far more competent than their officers on the bridge.

Why do you think they're so incompetent and have such crappy operations?

Well, coming within 50ft of another ship at sea is never a good sign. But, afterwards, the general consensus/excuse that they came up with during their mini-debrief was "oh well, rough seas, better luck next time" not "holy ******* ****, we parted a tensioned wire cable made of braided steel under hundreds of thousands of pounds of tension". And wearing sandals during replenishment/helo ops/boat ops/in engineering spaces pretty much says it all. They legitimately didn't understand why I was wearing steel-toed flight deck boots. Things like these aren't cultural differences, they are golden exhibitions of their sheer lack of common sense and seamanship.

1. Are you breaking any US Navy rules by telling us all this?

2. How did they do in the exercise? Did they get "sunk" five times or what?

3. Were there equivalent Indian Navy personnel on a US Navy ship and do you happen to know their assessment? Were they disappointed by the lack of slaves?

4. Let's say * * * * hits the fan. India and Pakistan (or any other country. Take your pick) are at war and the ship you were on is sent into action. Would they be an effective fighting force or are they on the bottom of the ocean before the first day of shooting? Great AMA btw!

Riaz Haq said...

Could Pakistan Sink an Indian Aircraft Carrier in a War?
What does the evidence suggest?

by Robert Beckhusen

Essentially, this makes Indian carriers’ self-defeating, with the flattops existing primarily to defend themselves from attack rather than taking the fight to their enemy. Carriers are also expensive symbols of national prestige, and it is unlikely the Indian Navy will want to risk losing one, two or all three. Under the circumstances, India’s investment in carriers makes more sense symbolically, and primarily as a way of keeping shipyards busy and shipyard workers employed.

The Indian Navy has put out a proposal for its third aircraft carrier, tentatively titled the Vishal due to enter service in the latter 2020s. The 65,000-ton Vishal will be significantly larger than India’s sole current carrier, the Vikramaditya known formerly as the ex-Soviet Admiral Gorshkov, and the incoming second one, the domestically-built Vikrantwhich is expected to enter service later in 2018.

To see why Vishal is a big deal for the Indian Navy, one needs only to look at her proposed air wing — some 57 fighters, more than Vikramaditya — 24 MiG-29Ks — and Vikrant‘s wing of around 30 MiG-29Ks. While below the 75+ aircraft aboard a U.S. Navy Gerald R. Ford-class supercarrier, Vishal will be a proper full-size carrier and India’s first, as the preceding two are really small-deck carriers and limited in several significant ways.

The Indian Navy is also looking at an electromagnetic launch system for its third carrier, similar to the one aboard the Ford class. India’s first two carriers have STOBAR configurations, in which aircraft launch with the assistance of a ski-jump, which limits the maximum weight a plane can lift into the air. Typically this means that fighters must sacrifice weapons, or fuel thus limiting range, or a combination of both.

Most likely, India would attempt to enforce a blockade of Pakistan and use its carriers to strike land-based targets. But Pakistan has several means to attack Indian carriers — with near-undetectable submarines and anti-ship missiles — which must also operate relatively far from India itself in the western and northern Arabian Sea. China does not have a similar disadvantage, as the PLAN would likely keep its carriers close and within the “first island chain” including Taiwan, closer to shore where supporting aircraft and ground-based missile launchers can help out.

Thus, Indian carriers would be relatively vulnerable and only one of them will have aircraft capable of launching with standard ordnance and fuel. And that is after Vishal sets sail in the next decade.

To directly threaten Pakistan, the small-deck carriers will have to maneuver nearer to shore — and thereby closer to “anti-access / area denial” weapons which could sink them. And even with a third carrier, the threat of land-based Pakistani aircraft will force the Indian Navy to dedicate a large proportion of its own air wings to defense — perhaps half of its available fighters, according to 2017 paper by Ben Wan Beng Ho for the Naval War College Review.

“Therefore, it is doubtful that any attack force launched from an Indian carrier would pack a significant punch,” Ho writes. “With aircraft available for strike duties barely numbering into the double digits, the Indian carrier simply cannot deliver a substantial ‘pulse’ of combat power against its adversary.”

Riaz Haq said...

@GenChuckYeager's tweet on Nov 16, 2017:

Legendary Retired #USAF Ace Pilot General Chuck Yeager, who broke the sound barrier, on #Pakistan Air Force Pilots: Q: Of all the pilots you've flown iwth, which do you respect the most and why?A: In 1971-73, I flew with the Pakistan Air Force in the war with India. They were the best in the world because they had the most experience - over 75 hours/month.

Anonymous said...

War That Never Was: The Story Of India's Strategic Failures
Ravi Rikhye

In the Chapter 4- How India Lost All Its Wars of the book, the author gives analysis of the proposition that war of 1947-48 and 1965 were a favorable stalemate and that of 1971 was an outright victory has been carried out in this chapter. Here the author comments that in all security crises, there have been very serious misperceptions of adversary behavior and that India repeatedly commits same mistake.

Riaz Haq said...

Q: Of all the pilots you've flown iwth, which do you respect the most and why?A: In 1971-73, I flew with the Pakistan Air Force in the war with India. They were the best in the world because they had the most experience - over 75 hours/month.

Riaz Haq said...

3 cheers for INS Vikrant & 3 questions for India’s leadership on naval doctrine

by Shekhar Gupta

Key points:

1. Indian aircraft carrier is powered by American General Electric turbines

2. Russian MIG 29s require a lot of maintenance. These will be replaced with French Rafales or US F-18s in future.

3. Chinese aircraft carriers are totally indigenous (including engines, weapons, and aircraft) are much bigger

4. China has developed "aircraft carrier buster missiles" to deal with hostile nations' Navies.

5. Indian Navy hid its aircraft carriers from Pakistani submarines during 1965 and 1971 wars.

6. Indian-American analyst Ashley Tellis questions the utility of Indian aircraft carriers in the absence of India's geopolitical aims and its Naval Doctrine.


Ashley Tellis on submarines vs aircraft carriers


The Unusual Carrier Killer Capability Of The Chinese Navy’s Strategic Bomber - Naval News

China’s recent test of a hypersonic ‘Orbital Bombardment System’ has been characterized as a ‘Sputnik moment’. The world is only just waking up to Chinese advances in strategic weapons technologies. Among a raft of new weapons, which increasingly do not have direct equivalents in the West, are anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBMs). One of these, an air-launched version, appears to include a hypersonic maneuvering missile.