Parakram II: all services excercise on western front

Forum Moderator
Posts: 54781
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Re: Parakram II: all services excercise on western front

Postby ramana » 04 May 2002 02:53

Nitin please google for Exercise/Operation Gajraj circa 1998 held along with Shiv Shakti to get an idea of IAF tempo. I feel that event was not studied here on BR properly. Basically it appears that GOI wants to cream them using IAF and the so called signals on redlines say that is crossing the threshold. The question then becomes wiht what? No air assets to speak of and total air dominance over Pak skies. Then how are the redlines crossed?
Arun A has posted this in the PND thread....
Arun A
Member # 3120

posted 03 May 2002 04:25 PM
From the Nation. I am posting the complete article since the URL isnt fixed.

Nuclear arms balance

Thomas W. Simons, Jr.
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has extended his term for another five years by referendum. The stakes for the US go beyond just democracy in Pakistan or the durability of an ally in the war on terrorism. Both are important, and they are interrelated.
Since Sept. 11 Musharraf has committed himself to denying Pakistan to radical Islamists and making it the modern, tolerant Islamic state its founders envisioned. That commitment will be easier to sustain politically if he keeps his pledge to use his presidential powers to support a reforming prime minister answerable to an elected parliament.
But there is also a larger issue. A recent news report suggests Musharraf geared back the crackdown on Islamists during the referendum campaign. By resuming it, he can open the path toward a stabilization of the nuclear security situation. If he does not, South Asia is likely to remain the world's most dangerous region.
The reason has to do with what makes South Asia uniquely dangerous: the disparity in power between its large nuclear-armed countries, India and Pakistan. In no other part of the world are power ratios tilted so drastically against one side.
In other situations where the two nuclear powers are more evenly matched, the nuclear threshold is between conventional conflict and nuclear weapons use. In South Asia, the threshold is reached below the conventional level.
Weaker Pakistan has felt that it should conduct subconventional war against India by supporting Islamist insurgency in disputed Kashmir and that it could do so with impunity because it is nuclear-armed. Many Indians have felt India should respond by a conventional attack across the Kashmir line of control or the international border and that it could do so with impunity because it is so much stronger, even though Pakistan is also nuclear-armed.
Pakistan's conventional forces are not robust enough for Pakistan to renounce the right to use nuclear weapons first if it felt its national existence threatened in a conventional conflict.
In South Asia, therefore, the first rung of the escalatory ladder is the kind of subconventional war Pakistan has waged in Indian-held Kashmir since the current insurgency began there in 1989. The second is scaled when Indian policymakers respond with a conventional attack. The third is reached if and when Pakistani policy makers decide the success of that attack threatens their country's existence and use its nuclear weapons rather than lose them. So the flashpoint for policy is when India is so fed up with being eaten alive by Pakistan-supported insurgency that it attacks Pakistan with conventional forces.
These truths should have been clear to policy makers after both countries took their nuclear weapons programs out of the closet in May 1998 or with the Kargil crisis a year later. Even though both countries were nuclear-armed, Pakistan inserted regulars into Indian-held Kashmir, and India then mounted a conventional counterattack that was threatening to drive them back before Pakistan withdrew them. But no lessons were learned.
It has taken September 11 and the war on terrorism to open the way to real change. These events have set in train a political process that has allowed Musharraf's government to come to grips with the threat from Islamists to Pakistani state interests. The turn against the Taliban in September was sure to provoke strong opposition from Pakistani Islamists, but the government faced down that opposition and gained political support.
The acid test came with the Dec. 13 attack on the Indian Parliament by militants. It suddenly and brutally moved support for the Kashmir insurgency, a consensus issue for half a century, to the top of Pakistan's political agenda. And the huge Indian counter-mobilization in Kashmir moved the danger of nuclear war toward the top of the world's agenda.
Musharraf has done some cracking down, and India has stayed its conventional hand, but the dangers remain real. Kashmir fighting groups continue to operate in Pakistan-controlled territory, and India has not stood down from its hair trigger.
But the opportunities are also great.
If Pakistan can resume and pursue the crackdown on Kashmir fighting groups that has been fitfully underway since January, it will seriously degrade its option for subconventional warfare against India. This in turn will raise the nuclear threshold in South Asia to where it is in the rest of the world: between conventional war and nuclear use. Then, if India can muster the courage and will to recognize what Pakistan has done, it will be in a position to reduce forces in Kashmir - firming up the threshold Pakistan has created - and to resume dialogue with Pakistan with a view to a negotiated stabilization of both the nuclear and conventional deterrence situation in South Asia.
Once begun, dialogue will be difficult and prolonged. But a stabilized nuclear South Asia would contribute so much to world stability at a difficult time that all the region's friends-China, Russia, and the US among them - should find that dialogue worth supporting.

The writer, US Ambassador to Pakistan from 1996-98, is an Associate of Harvard's Davis Center for Russian Studies

That is precisely what India has been saying on ami when it says "Cross border terrorism must stop." Glad he now understands where India is comin from. BTW he was great ambassoador to TSP and read the riot act many times.

Y I Patel
Posts: 673
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Re: Parakram II: all services excercise on western front

Postby Y I Patel » 04 May 2002 03:51

Ashok that's a pre-partition line. IIRC NDA govt made some noises about reviving it during the Lahore Bus heyday.

Note to air power enthusiasts :)
Please read my arguments keeping in mind the second to last sentence of the first bolded portion of the ambassador's article (posted above by ramana). That's why IAF has to be absolutely sure of killing the beast in the first few hours. Else, an air only war is a non-starter. That's where, IMHO, the extra M2K squadrons come in handy.

We ain't there yet. But we'll get there.

BRF Oldie
Posts: 2075
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Re: Parakram II: all services excercise on western front

Postby Johann » 04 May 2002 04:47

The Pakistanis Of late have shown an increasing interest in acquiring a submarine based second strike capability. This will enormously complicate things if GoI is in fact thinking like Vikram.

A 'Kargil-like' attempt to fix, interdict/isolate and pound a Pakistani formation on the Pakistani side of the line does seem closer to what was disclosed after brahmastra, rather than threatening their existance as a nation.

I dont see the ability to demolish an entire PA corps yet, but as Vikram has pointed out elsewhere there is usually a substantial time gap between decision and implementation. The system has limited resources and is inherently conservative in exposing itself to risk.

Posts: 1562
Joined: 09 Oct 2000 11:31

Re: Parakram II: all services excercise on western front

Postby JCage » 05 May 2002 02:56

Thanks!Same thought comes to mind.

I am firmly in your "camp" now. :) What can make the 50% degradation thing moot is whether the IAF remains committed *only* or partially to the ALB thing.If they want to do more--- DPS on a wide ranging scale without being restricted to the above.....then things get hazy.

Nakul ,
If you're reading this..superb site.Pls keep up the good work on it.


Forum Moderator
Posts: 54781
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Re: Parakram II: all services excercise on western front

Postby ramana » 05 May 2002 07:24

OK nitin for you my take....
IAF’s Gajraj analyzed

In Frontline, Jan 2, 1999, John Cherian writes about the role of IAF in the Indian armed forces exercise Shiv-Shakti’98:
“The Air Force played a pivotal role in the exercises. According to a senior Air Force official, 125
combat aircraft and 30 transport planes and helicopters participated in the exercises. Top-flight
combat planes such as the Su-30s and Mig-27s were put into action. The plan was to organise
2,200 sorties, but the Indian Air Force performed 2,300 sorties. Initially only 260 sorties were
planned in support of the Army, but the final figure was 500. Nearly 300 pilots, 2,300 technical
and support staff and an operational crew numbering 1,300 participated in the exercises.

Unlike the Army, the Air Force said that its exercise was a "routine annual exercise", the basic
aim of which was to train personnel in "a war-like situation". One-third of the pilots who
participated were comparatively junior pilots. The Air Force believes that this kind of exposure
is crucial for them. Many of the combat formations were led by junior pilots. The recent
exercises were important for the Air Force also because this was the first major exercise after the
SWAC moved to Gandhinagar from Jodhpur and the operational and functional commands had
to be tested. According to sources in the Air Force, the exercises have helped the command
staff in terms of logistics and maintenance support.

A senior Air Force officer said that it was the largest exercise so far for the Su-30s. The plane
was extensively tested for day and night operations. The rate of rotations was very high, its
endurance and range were tested to the limits. The Su-30s operated from Ozar in Karnataka and
struck at targets deep in Rajasthan. According to the official, the Su-30s maintained a 100 per
cent serviceability record throughout the exercises. The overall percentage, with all the aircraft
put together, was 95 per cent, which he said was exceptionally high.

More than 250 night attacks were conducted. Both attack and air defence were tested. A large
number of helicopters were tested at night. Significantly, the exercises ended with the actual
delivery of live weapons at various ranges in Rajasthan and Gujarat. This was done to test the
weapons delivery capabilities in an operational mission and various possibilities in the field of
electronic warfare. Infra-red shafts and flayers were used as shields against heat-seeking

The exercises provided an opportunity to test extensively techniques of airborne reconnaissance
during day and night. These flights were used for mission planning and targeting.

There was also close coordination between the Air Force and the Army. There were air-borne commando attacks, many of which were conducted at night. Air cover was provided for armoured battalions; besides, logistical support was provided in the form of transport planes and helicopters. It was an example of "force integration" in practice.”


This article does not give the duration of the exercise. In India Today, Manoj Joshi (Ref.1) writes that it was from Dec2-7, i.e. five days. We can try to analyze what’s going on. The number of combat planes was 125 and additional 30 transport planes and helicopters were used. A total of 2300 sorties were flown. The original plan was to fly 2200 i.e. an increase of 100. This works out to (2300/(5*155) 2.97 sorties per plane per day for all types. During ‘Desert Storm’ the coalition averaged 1.25 sorties per plane per day. (Ref. 2) On the other hand the USMC AV-8B sortie peaked at 2.6 per day which is a realistic measure for short-range combat support. Except for the Su-30 from Karnataka others seem to fall in this category and hence the rate of rotations achieved by IAF during Gajraj is comparable to world standards. In contrast during ’65 operations, the IAF flew over 3000 sorties in 22 days mostly in the Western sector. During ’71 war, the IAF flew over 5000 sorties in the West and about 2000 sorties in the East in 14 days (Ref. 3). The high rate of sorties during Gajraj speaks volumes of the progress since then.

Support for Army was planned at 260 sorties however 500 were finally flown. That is, while the Army support mission increased by 240 sorties, the overall number went up by only 100(2200 to 2300.) Based on further references in the article these increases could be attributed to transportation and logistics or helicopters. If this is correct it would be more realistic to take these into consideration but we don’t know the breakdown of actual number of helicopters etc.

Let us estimate the transport and helicopter sorties based on the data given with reasonable assumptions. The group of 30 aircraft and helicopters can be group of 12 transport and 18 helicopters. Estimated transport sorties - 12(aircraft)*5(days)*2(sorties/day) equals 120 sorties. The helicopter sorties - 18(helicopters)*5(days)*3(sorties/day- more as they are short range) equals 270 sorties. The combined sorties are 390. To this add 10 recce sorties (2/day*5days). This leaves us 1900 combat aircraft sorties. This would result in 3.02 sorties/aircraft/day (1900/(125*5).

Let us look at human resources. The number of pilots was 300 working out to about two pilots per aircraft engaged in operations. The technical support crew was 2300 and operational crew of 1300. I assume the operational crew to be planning staff etc. This works out to be 14.8 crew per aircraft (2300/155). This explains the high rate of rotation. I don’t know what is a comparable level in other air forces.

Army support

About 500 sorties were flown in support of the Army mission. No further breakdown is given as to the type of aircraft or nature of mission. This represents a rate of 500/2300 equal 22 percent of all missions. Pushpinder Singh in his book Fiziya (Ref. 3) gives the figures for PAF during ’65 and 71 as 27 percent and 32 percent respectively. Given that the exercise was part of combined operations with Indian Army looks like the level of support sorties could be higher.

Night attack capability

The Ref.1 article describes night attacks were made by Jaguars and Mig-27 and per the Frontline report helicopters were also used. The total of over 250 sorties is reported. No further breakdown is given. From this it is difficult to figure out the combat effectiveness of the IAF at night without knowing how many different aircraft took part. However a broad measure would be about 11 percent (250/2300). This includes the airborne recce, transportation and logistics sorties and helicopters. The actual figure for combat aircraft is probably much lower. The main conclusion that can be drawn is the IAF is developing a night attack capability and has to evolve further in this mission. For comparison in Desert Fox the US flew 622 sorties mostly at night dropping 600 bombs. Most were PGMs. RAF flew 28 sorties dropping 61 laser-guided bombs using Jaguars and Tornados. The reported effectiveness of the RAF was 75 percent. (Ref.4)
Combat aircraft attack potential

The 1900 sorties flown by the 125 combat aircraft can be further analyzed to determine the attack effectiveness. Assume 60 percent of the sorties were for attack purposes- deliver ordnance to targets and the rest were for fighter escort. Singh in his book Fiziya (Ref. 3) breaks down the PAF mission as 55 percent air defense during ’65 and 58 percent during ’71 operations. My assumption is, as the new strike fighters are more capable, it is reasonable to assume only 40 percent are for air defense role. Jewell in Ref. 7 says the air-defense mission was 20 percent in Surge’ 97. As IAF is evolving into a modern force, 40 percent is reasonable.
Targets can be classified into area and hard or point targets. Attack on area targets is based on the payload capability and the aircraft navigation system accuracy. An aircraft with high payload capability and advanced navigation system can deliver ordnance accurately to area targets. Hard target capability is confined to those aircraft that can deliver PGMs- the Jaguars delivering Paveway II, the Mig-27s delivering KAB-500L, those firing anti-radar missiles, and the AS-30L. Again based on the availability of these type of aircraft, assume 80 percent of the attack sorties were against area targets and the rest against hard/point targets. This results in 1520 sorties for area targets and 380 sorties for point targets. Assuming an average payload of 1500kg (Two 250 kg and two 500 kg types. It also assumes two AAMs for self-defense and fuel drop tanks), this gives an ordnance capability of 1520* 1500 equal 2,280,000 kg. As a reference the IAF delivered 600,000 pounds in 300 sorties by the Canberra planes in ’65 operations (Ref.5). This is impressive and puts a lot of strain on logistics. However it has to be tempered with the lack of advanced navigation systems which allow accurate delivery at standoff ranges. IAF would be constrained to fly at low level and in a dense anti-aircraft environment would result in quite a few losses. The flares (‘flayers’) and chaff (‘shafts’) are good but the SAM threat has to be neutralized in an active manner. Another factor is whether the fuses work after the ordnance is delivered at the right place. During the Falklands War, many of the fuses did not work even after the Argentine pilots braved difficult conditions. There was similar problem during the ’65 operations also (Ref. 5).
Against point targets, assume a .75 effectiveness- the RAF, flying at night in Desert Fox using Jaguars and Tornadoes launched Paveway II based ordnance, obtained this level. As the IAF was flying mainly in daytime using similar ordnance, this level of effectiveness can be claimed. This results in 380* .75 * 2 (bombs/aircraft) equals 570 hard/point targets over 5 days. This shows the measure of progress that has been achieved in the nineties.

The average sortie range was not given nor the flight time in order to measure power projection. The helicopters could be flown at ultra short-range 50 km; the Su-30s from Ozar would represent the other extreme. In all this data, the number of sorties canceled, if any due to due to various reasons- lack of mission capable aircraft, weather, other is not given. A possible measure could be the 140 sorties( 2200(planned)+240(increase due to Army support)-2300(actual flown)). This is pure speculation and is not backed by evidence.

Why all this fuss?

It is possible that the rationale for all this effort could be questioned. India now faces a neighbor that has refused No First Use and periodically threatens destruction of Indian cities by raining missiles on them. The other neighbor has not clarified whether its NFU pledge applies to India or not. India has not been recognized as NWS. China maintains its NFU pledge applies only to NPT-5. It is incumbent on the IAF to achieve air –superiority and destroy these threats before they materialize. This ensures that the adversaries do no escalate. One way of ensuring the credibility is to demonstrate conventional superiority. Any future engagement will be unlike any other in the past. India will not have the luxury of a long air campaign a la Gulf War to soften up the defenses. It will have to overcome stoutly held defenses in bad terrain. After Panipat the Indian civilization still survived under different rulers. Any failure or miscalculations will lead to massive casualties to the Indian public.
The IAF in the penultimate year of the decade is ready to emerge as a front-line tactical air force of the next decade if not the century. The annual exercises demonstrate the IAF’s emphasis on modern aircraft and methods. It highlights the growing jointness with ground forces and its interpretation of the Land- Air battle. An emerging night attack capability is demonstrated and will gradually develop as more assets are acquired. The high tempo of operations demonstrates the strain on the logistics and transport segments.

1. Manoj Joshi, “ Future Combat” India Today, December 21, ‘98
2. JIR Special Report No. 14
3. Chapter - “EPILOGUE: - WHERE ARE THEY NOW?” Singh’s book is quoted extensively
4. Duncan Lennox, ‘‘Fox’: the results’, JDW, 13 Jan. ’99
5. Chapter - “THE CANBERRA AND THE MiG-21”,
6. DRDO Tech focus bulletin:
7. U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, Sept. ’98, Jewell, ’ Surge-97’. This article has details of an USN exercise in 1997, of carrier operations were carried out during a four day period. Observers suggested the performance and prospects for improvements. The air-defense sorties were pegged at 20 percent. Fighter escort was included in the strike role. Hence our estimates of 60:40 mix for Gajraj are acceptable. The payload carried is similar ratio- 500 lb. and 1000 lb. with air to air missiles for self-defense.

BRF Oldie
Posts: 34982
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30
Location: Pindliyon ka Gooda

Re: Parakram II: all services excercise on western front

Postby shiv » 05 May 2002 08:05

Originally posted by Johann:
The Pakistanis Of late have shown an increasing interest in acquiring a submarine based second strike capability.
You know Johann - this is an interesting possibility because I see two different approaches by which nations can respond to this sort of threat. Both the "approaches" have the same effect - that of armtwisting supplier nations into thinking about what they are doing.

1) The "US" approach: based on economic and technical superiority. The controller of all strings. The US and its closest allies can combat this kind of threat by technology and economic denial, and specific military action in rare instances.

2)The "other" approach: India, and to some extent Pakistan, can take the "other approach" - but I will merely speak of India.

India does not have the clout to prevent nations from allowing a technology "seep" into Pakistan. Pakistan will get nuclear technology and missiles from a China that is too strong for the "West" to contain. Pakistan will get submaries from France or a nation whose government rationalizes and says Pakistan is a great and friendly ally, and so on.

So this ability of Pakistan to develop a sea based deterrent, and later a space based one is inevitable

The only approach India can use under the circumstances, (apart from diplomatic beseeching and handwringing) is to develop an overwhelming indigenous nuclear capability that will seriously damage the ecosystems of South Asia in the process of killing Pakistan. Let me explain a hindi statement I made earlier in this thread : "We may go down, but we will take you down with you" The interests that The US, Europe and China have in their own long term survival have to be seriously threatened by a nuclear retaliation by India on Pakistan. This may seem rather desperate - but desperation is logical under the circumstances.

I would suggest that this is the route for India to follow and since the conclusion pops up logically from the geopolitical scene - I would further suggeat that this is exactly what we will see developing over the next decade or so.

Posts: 547
Joined: 30 May 2001 11:31

Re: Parakram II: all services excercise on western front

Postby Umrao » 05 May 2002 08:53

Shiv>> This is what I had suggested to Dr. Tim and other jones that US always negotiates with nations that black mails. Be it

Say N. Korea.
Say Pakistan.
Say China.

The day Indian leadership turn belligerent Pakistan and its proxy supporters will all fall in line and understand the virtues of co existence.

Ideally If things become that worse a couple of nukes also have to be exploded right at the junction of POK and China so that wind gently wafts into middle kingdom too.

Posts: 336
Joined: 27 Feb 2002 12:31
Location: BOM/SIN

Re: Parakram II: all services excercise on western front

Postby vishal » 05 May 2002 20:41

Not related to Parakram II but is GOTUS trying to send a message to TSP by conducting wargames (Exercise Balance Iroquois) with India (in India) ?

BRFite -Trainee
Posts: 53
Joined: 09 Feb 1999 12:31
Location: India

Re: Parakram II: all services excercise on western front

Postby Shirish » 05 May 2002 22:37

What about 'Agra'? Are people supposed to read into that?

Posts: 111
Joined: 11 Nov 2000 12:31
Location: Earth

Re: Parakram II: all services excercise on western front

Postby Joeqp » 05 May 2002 22:50

Originally posted by Shirish:
What about 'Agra'? Are people supposed to read into that?

Nothing. Agra is the base of the 50(I) Para Bde. I assume these exercises won't be huge, but just an initial 'getting to know you' type of deal.

But lets try to keep this thread focussed on Parakram-II.

Y I Patel
Posts: 673
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Re: Parakram II: all services excercise on western front

Postby Y I Patel » 06 May 2002 00:42

The Pakistanis Of late have shown an increasing interest in acquiring a submarine based second strike capability. This will enormously complicate things if GoI is in fact thinking like Vikram.
Wait wait wait wait wait. IMHO it is unrealistic to entertain the notion that a sea based deterrent can be mounted by a force that can't even hope to achieve success in its primary role of sea denial. Nevertheless, Pak Admirals will continue to make these incredible claims, so it is important to nip them in their bud before one should treat them with anything but derisive laughter.

Simply put, PN would have to undertake a humongous build up in several areas before their threat of mounting a sea deterrent can be taken seriously. Let me expand:

The biggest weakness by far is lack of ability to communicate with submerged submarines. Without this ability, submarines would have to surface frequently to keep updated on "nuke 'em" orders. And this will leve them extremely vulnerable to detection.

Secondly, diesel submarines can be used as a first strike platform, but that would require many many more Agostas. I would estimate a minimum of 9 to 12, [bold] but that number would have to increase by many more[/bold] to stay ahead of IN's increasing ASW capability.

Thirdly, they would need more capable land attack weapons - their current arsenal requires them to come within range of shore based defenses before they can launch, which would translate to an unacceptable vulnerability for a nuclear strike mission.

Finally, they would need to invest heavily in combat support services that would enable their submarines to operate at long ranges for any decent amount of time. They would also need to invest heavily in suface and air elements to assure protection against IN counter actions.

The only other alternative for them is to nuke an IN ship - but this will be a totally ineffectual measure that will invite a massive and catastrophic retaliation.

I hope that this puts that particular matter to rest.

Ramana, thanks very much for your detailed analysis. I remember a short communication between us about this, and I am delighted you decided to come up with this analysis. Our understanding of joint operations, and of IAF's operational capabilities, will get a quantum leap from you number crunching. I need to read it very slowly to digest all the ramifications before I can post any knowledgeable response. Till then, great job!

Posts: 1562
Joined: 09 Oct 2000 11:31

Re: Parakram II: all services excercise on western front

Postby JCage » 06 May 2002 00:52

Beautiful writeup.Here are details on Poorna Vijay and Vijay Chakra(excerpted from Nakul Shah's site) to give further addition and to see some contextual development.
I am posting in full as excerpted portions lose out on context and i wasnt able to bookmark the relevant links.The IAF related parts are in bold.
Plus there's VIkrams article in BRM for "overall picture" and exact idea.
SO much to learn and refresh.


Exercise Poorna Vijay

Soldiers participating in the wargames

In May 2001, India undertook its largest and most successful military exercises in 14 years. Codenamed Poorna Vijay(Complete Victory), the exercise aimed to train troops to face nuclear, biological and chemical weapons strikes. They also dovetailed the considerable capabilities of the Indian Air Force in launching fighter ground attack missions and deep insertion of airborne and helicopter-borne Army units.

Following the overt declaration of nuclear prowess by India and Pakistan in 1998, the Indian Army decided that there was an urgent need to conduct an exercise involving a war being fought by the two against the backdrop of a possible nuclear strike, an option Pakistan may exercise if it finds itself in danger of losing a battle with India. Soon after he took over as chief of army staff in October 2000, General S. Padmanabhan had said, "If we have a capability, it is necessary that we should be prepared. The army will be trained to prepare for a nuclear war with an emphasis on weapons, tactics and war games even if it is unlikely to take place."

General S. Padmanabhan
The decision to hold "Poorna Vijay" was taken during the Army Commander's Conference in April. The last time the Army held war games on this scale was the 1987 exercises codenamed "Operation Brasstacks" which drew India and Pakistan dangerously close to war.

Exercise 'Poorna Vijay' assumes that India has been hit with a surprise nuclear attack, and must then recover and launch a nuclear counter-strike. "We are re-positioning our aircraft. Fortunately India is a large country and we can hide our assets to launch a second strike after the enemy launches a nuclear strike first. After India delivers its own nukes, the air force and armored corps then strike deep into enemy territory to destroy the attacker. This will involve deep penetration strike aircraft(DPSA) Jaguars bombing enemy lines of communication, logistics bases and troop concentrations," one government military source said, noting that troops will work together to simulate a counter-attack deep into "enemy" territory.

"The fighter aircraft will not only provide air cover to ground troops but also jam the enemy's communication network. Armored, mechanized infantry, artillery and ground troops will move forward for complete take over of enemy locations. The five-day exercise will enable the fighter planes to test their ability to launch deep strikes, while the army's elite commandos and paratroopers will attempt to seize enemy assets", the source said.

"The aim of the exercise is to teach the enemy a lesson once and for all. In all the previous battles, the task was left unfinished. This time, before the ceasefire and diplomatic intervention, the armed forces in a speedy joint operation will achieve 'Poorna Vijay' or complete victory. There is no question of staying within the Lakshman Rekha or not crossing the Line of Control anywhere," the government source added.

Under the confidence-building agreements that require prior notice of large-scale war games, Pakistan was given advance warning of the exercise when the Directors General of Military Operations(DGMO) of the two countries met on April 17.

Military attaches from 25 countries including the United States and China were flown by a special Indian Air force(IAF) aircraft to Jodhpur and Bikaner to witness the massive armour and artillery movement as well as the IAF fire power demonstration.

The main exercise Poorna Vijay(5-11 May) was conducted in the Bikaner area. Simultaneously three other exercises -- Vijay Shakti(13-16 May) in Gurdaspur region, Amogh Prahar(strike on target, 5-10 May) in Suratgarh and Vajra Path(invincible missile path, April 30 - May 12) in Ludhiana division areas were carried out. These exercises in different phases evaluated the combat readiness of the Indian Army and its capabilities of handling joint operations along with the Air Force.

Main aims of the exercise

1. To do fast manoeuvres in a fluid modern battlefield against a nuclear backdrop, so that the combination of 'fire and move' is a optimally utilised.

2. To exercise special forces and airborne troops for activation deep inside the enemy's rear.

3. To exercise senior commanders in the control and conduct of air-land battle with large formations.

4. To exercise manoeuvers in a battlefield strewn with Electronic Warfare and air-defence missiles.

5. To train troops in a passive Nuclear, Biological and Chemical measures.

6. To exercise commanders in the control of high volumes of fire power.

7. To exercise commanders at all levels in combined-arms operations, to optimise the outcome.

These exercises also aimed at enhancing the Army's operational preparedness and to evaluate concepts and practice battle procedures during offensive and defensive operation to help troops survive the challenges of nuclear, chemical and biological strikes. The exercise also trained troops on undertaking deep armoured thrusts involving self-contained battle-groups consisting of armoured divisions, mechanised formations and their mobile artillery components.

The Poorna Vijay exercise was conducted in four phases carried out in the Western Thar desert, 60 km away from the Ganganagar international border in Bhatinda, Jalandhar, Gurdaspur and Pokhran firing range. The Central command was in charge of the Corps-level exercise involving an entire corps of about 50,000 men, 1000 battle tanks and batteries of artillery backed by about 120 warplanes(fighter, transport aircraft and helicopters) from the IAF air bases at Bhatinda, Nal, Naliya, Uttarlai and Bhuj, among others. The simulated battle ground was spread over a radius of 40 km.

Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal A.Y. Tipnis, accompanied by the Western Air Command chief, Air Marshal S. Krishnaswamy visited the IAF's operational location for the exercises. ``This is the closest fighter pilots can get to a war-like situation,'' said the IAF chief.

Air Chief Marshal Tipnis(right), with Air Marshal S. Krishnaswamy in the western sector
Giving details of the exercises, Air Office Commander-in-Chief, Western Air Command(WAC), Air Marshal S. Krishnaswamy said more than 500 IAF personnel were taking part in it. ``Approximately, 70 fighter aircraft, 30 transport aircraft and 20 helicopters were taking part in the exercise. Krishnaswamy said aircraft from the Western, Central and Northern commands were taking part in the exercises. Besides MiG-21, MiG-29, Jaguars, Mi-35 and Mi-17 IV, which was used for the first time, were being used. So far, around 720 sorties had already been flown during the exercise, and by the end of the exercise, the number of sorties would be touching 1000." He said the aircraft and helicopters have been taking part in various kinds of air operations including land-air operations, giving logistic support to the Army, and surveillance operations.

Talking about a shift in "air strategy," Krishnaswamy said IAF was improving "interception and detection" technologies to strike down an enemy aircraft, attempting to violate Indian air space. ``If a strike is imminent, we have to shoot down the aircraft. For that, detection ranges of radars have to be improved.'' He added that in this respect, the first time used, indigenously developed radar, Indira II, had performed ``beautifully during the exercise.'' When asked if it is possible to detect an enemy aircraft carrying a nuclear warhead, he said there is no technology available to do so now. He, however, added that intelligence inputs and the kind of aircraft would give hints.

Krishnaswamy, said IAF pilots had been instructed how to cope with a post-nuclear blast situation. "There are self-contained oxygen systems in aircraft and if they have to fly over an area where the air is contaminated, the special protective system has to be activated "," he said. He, however, avoided a question on whether "Poorna Vijay" would see IAF personnel practice dropping nuclear tipped bombs and missiles.

Krishnaswamy said with a ``very dense air defence environment'' being created in border areas, offensive tactics have to be moulded accordingly. The emphasis now is on three things, that included the time taken to retaliate, the way it would be done, and the methods that should be used. He was reffering to the importance of electronic warfare and said "jammers could be very useful". Jammers would also be very useful during an offensive to ensure that the communication systems of the enemy were rendered useless.

General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Central Command Lieutenant General Pankaj Joshi proudly surveyed his troops participating in the exercise Poorna Vijay in the Thar desert. Joshi had lost both his legs in a mine-lifting operation in Sikkim in 1967. ''He has been handpicked to lead this most crucial exercise after Brasstacks,'' said top sources at the Army headquarters. ''The exercise is crucial since it is the first mock battle with a nuclear, chemical and biological warfare in mind.''

Before the exercises Gen. Joshi, who has 60,000 troops under his command, had no inkling of what was in store for him. ''He could face the worst-case scenario of the enemy unleashing chemical and biological warfare due to which the entire water and food supply could get contaminated and declared unfit for consumption. Then what?'' say sources in the operations directorate.

Gen Joshi and the commanders on the ground will then have to work on an alternate water and food supply chain. ''Though it's just an exercise, if they fail to do so, the soldiers under the scorching desert sun will get no water to drink. It's a big task. Real bullets and ammunition will be fired in the field firing ranges. Soldiers will be walking, driving or flying through the desert as they would in real war.''

''There will also be a mock engagement between the blue flag(our Army) and the red flag(enemy). The troops are carrying red toothpaste and dark tan liquid shoe polish. The victorious soldiers will apply this on the bodies of the 'dead' soldiers,'' said the sources.

The exercises also put the Army Medical Corps to test. They had to keep the soldiers fit for battle despite the temperatures touching 45 degrees Celsius. A strike Corps carried out battle manoeuvres with tanks and infantry combat vehicles moving into the area designated as ''enemy land''.

The Army headquarters monitored the progress on ground with Army Chief General S. Padmanabhan watching from the sidelines. An official connected with the exercise explained even the "enemy" troops here will have to perform at their best. ''If they allow the Indian Army to win easily, the purpose of the exercise is defeated. At every stage impartial referees will judge the performance of both sides.''

Chief of Army Staff Gen S Padmanabhan sharing a glass of water with the troops
When India's Defence Minister became Major Jaswant Singh went to inspect the exercise he learnt that the Central India Horse(CIH), the armoured regiment in which he was commissioned, was participating in the role of the 'Pakistan Army'. The soldier in him came alive and, assuming briefly his previous persona of Major Jaswant Singh, he expressed the desire to visit his regiment. The two sides in the game were distinguishable through their dress; The Red Land army(Pakistan) was dressed in regular olive green uniform and the Blue Land(India) in combat(camouflage) fatigues.

''However, in the presence of the minister and General S. Padmanabhan the officers of the Red and Blue Land armies came together. But strictly in the presence of referees and neutral umpires,'' a senior Armoured Corps officer said in lighter vein. After the bonhomie the games resumed in earnest. Less than 24 hours after the minister's departure the Red Land army carried out a successful midnight raid on the Blue Land Armoured Division headquarters.

And like the Army, a section of the Air Force has been declared as ‘Red Land’ or enemy air force. ‘‘We have placed some of our best pilots in Red Land Air Force because we do not underestimate the enemy,’’ he added. Mi-35 attack helicopters have been brought in to move along with the armoured(tank) divisions. And the Air Force is using its newly inducted Mi-17 IV helicopters for enemy tank and radar busting operations.

The newly-inducted Mi-17 1V helicopter from the IAF's "Condors" squadron
Not only will the attack helicopters provide air cover to the armoured columns, mobile radar detachments of the Air Force will also ‘‘leap frog’’ along with the Army columns. ‘‘In the tactical battle area, two mobile radar units have been placed along with the Army troops. The radars would detect enemy presence and call for necessary counter measures. When the area is sanitised, the troops would move forward and the radars would move along,’’ said an officer overseeing the exercises.

‘‘The Air Force has divided its task into three operational roles. Counter surface force operations(CFSO) against enemy ground forces, Fighter reconnaissance operations(FROps) and air defence role. The main targets given to the fighter aircraft are enemy communication and radar installations, ammunition, vehicle and logistics depots and troop concentrations. We are using MiG-21s, 23, 27 and 29 fighter jets. The Jaguars are being used for deep penetration strikes,’’ IAF sources said.

A MiG-21 takes off from the Suratgarh air force base
This is the first time after Exercise Brass Tacks that the Army and the Air Force carried out EWT(exercises with troops) at a Corps level. ‘‘And this is for the first time that 16 AN-32 and four IL-76 heavy lift transport aircraft will carry out simultaneous air dropping of troops and war equipment,’’ sources said.

The Special Forces units(army commandos) also participated in the exercises to launch specialised heliborne operations, jumping behind enemy lines to take control of strategic points. Concurrently, a major air-borne complement conducted parachute drops by night, along with heavy equipment.

''At every stage of the operation, the Army and the Air Force will move forward together. What ever differences we have we'll try to iron out later so that in real war, differences do not crop up. And even if they do, we should at least know each other's working to understand each other's point,'' sources added.

The manoeuvres ended with the firing of high-calibre live ammunition rockets and other battlefield missiles in India's nuclear weapons test zone of Pokhran in Rajasthan.

An Indian Army T-72 tank rolls on its way during military exercises in Kala Chingra village, Punjab
The Amogh Prahar exercise was carried out for a period of five days and Vajra Path in two phases of four days each. Select air bases were declared as operational readiness platforms(ORPs). ''An ORP means that the pilots are sitting ready to scramble at less than a minute's notice. In war at times pilots sit strapped in their cockpit. Here, they are in their hangars or in the base. Suddenly an order is given and scramble announced. We are checking their responses,'' said an official.

Unfazed by the crash of a MiG-21 aircraft, the IAF said more aircraft would be provided for the exercise to validate theories if the need arose. Already, around 130 aircraft were involved in the three exercises. The IAF fighters took off day and night from five air bases, including Nal, Suratgarh and Sirsa. The transport aircraft flew from Agra and Chandigarh. The attack helicopters operated from Adampur, Suratgarh and Nal.

India's biggest military manoeuvres in 14 years reached a crescendo on 10th May with thousands of troops and armoured vehicles fanning out across the blistering Thar Desert some 150 km north of the border with Pakistan.

"God-speed and good hunting," ordered Brigadier Deepak Raj over the wireless. "Tango one roger, and over," was the reply. And then the combat squadron of T-72 tanks and Infantry Combat Vehicles(ICVs) promptly began rumbling down towards the "enemy" positions. The tanks blazed through a stinging sandstorm as temperatures shot to 49ºC in the mock battle theatre.

The T-72s, armed with menacing 125mm high-explosive shells, and the ICVs, with their 30mm canons and missiles, soon overtook the "enemy" positions. Then, it was the turn of the heavily-armed troops to spring out of the ICVs and hold the positions over the sand dunes.

Commander of the armoured division, Major-General Ivor Anthony Satur, leading the blitzkreig on the notional enemy land said "my mechanised columns are moving in BMPs(troops carriers) proofed against NBC". The General, who claimed to have moved his tanks, mechanised columns, heavy artillery and other force multipliers almost 190 km in six days, said his well spread out troops moving in divergent pincers had "de-containment teams" which along the way were making men and warmachines fortified against chemical and biological warfare. ``The strike force has gone deep into the `enemy' heartland, destroyed and degraded his strategic reserves and defences, and brought him down to his knees," he added.

Army soliders in suits, made in India, used to protect them from NBC(Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) weapons run through the Rajasthan desert in Bikaner.
At the end of the exercises the top commanders of the country’s armed forces expressed satisfaction that both men and the machines had emerged with vital experience and endurance under the extreme climatic conditions. “We have been made conscious of the deficiencies which are not so critical. We know exactly what happens to machines in such climatic conditions,” Lt-Gen Joshi told western and local reporters at a makeshift base in the Thar Desert about 150 km from the international border with Pakistan.

Cartoon by critics who said the exercises were a waste of money
Joshi said the exercise "Poorna Vijay" was aimed at honing the skills of India's war machine in an environment of chemical, biological and nuclear assault. "The fact is that we are living in an environment where there are nuclear weapons. We are not expecting a tactical nuclear strike(by Pakistan). We do not believe these can be used as weapons of warfare...They have their own different uses and purposes. But should something happen, we have sufficient equipment for defensive purposes,'' he said.

"There will be some nuclear sabre-rattling, but we don't figure nuclear weapons will be used...International opinion will not allow it", added Maj-Gen I.A. Satur, Joshi's top armoured commander. Experts, however, said the country cannot be unprepared since there will always be a threat of nuclear weapons being used, even against field forces. Proper emphasis should be laid on nuclear, biological and chemical-proofed weaponry, shelters and suits, as also quick-reaction teams.

Maj-Gen I.A. Satur said the Army had made dramatic advances in nuclear or chemical warfare. "In case there is a persistent strike and chemicals cling to our vehicles or equipment we are equipped to start the process of de-contamination. The Army has taken active measures as far as training goes to withstand a nuclear strike and now we have the capability to traverse a contaminated area. We are also acquiring some more sophisticated systems," he said.

Joshi tried to allay fears of an accidental nuclear launch and said India's strategic command-and-control systems were secure. India's nuclear strategy was defensive in nature. "The chain of nuclear command is limited to the top military brass in New Delhi and even the corps commander does not have a role," he said.

Asked if New Delhi had come up with the wherewithal to survive nuclear attacks, Joshi replied “Yes and no”. He said armed forces did not differentiate between tactical and strategic nuclear weapons adding that in his estimation the country’s neighbourhood had not witnessed development of tactical nuclear weapons delivery system. Top commanders were tightlipped when asked if the 150-250 km long surface-to-surface Prithvi missiles with nuclear warheads had been deployed in the wargames.

Prithvi missile
Taken aback by a barrage of questions on nuclear preparedness, Lt-Gen Joshi said the biggest foe his troops had encountered during the last six days was the heat and dust-storms. “The boys and machines had to contend with temperatures soaring to 52 degrees C and inside tanks and infantry combat vehicles it was even 5 to 7 degrees higher". But the soldiers and war machines performed exceedingly well. "Some deficiencies had come to the fore, specially about spares”, he said, but added that these were not on critical items which could cripple such future vital operations.

Lt-Gen Joshi said force multipliers like Unmanned Aerial Vehicles(UAVs), communication system, VSAT terminals and Information Technology tools were extensively tested in field conditions during the exercise during which senior commanders conceived and carried out large scale "operations" on ground. "Technology upgrades have changed our strategies. We now know how the equipment functions at 50 degrees...Very heartening to see most of it working well,'' he said.

Maj-Gen Satur, on use of UAVs said "They add quite a punch which we were lacking earlier. It keeps track of rapid build-ups and thrusts by armour and mechanised forces making the battlefield more transparent. The UAVs being used have a range of about 150 kms...the IAF, for instance, can mount strike operations by fighter aircraft after getting additional information about enemy formations from UAV missions.''

The figure needs to be crosschecked.

Maj Gen H.S. Kanwar took part in the exercises
Coming back to the T-72s, Army officers said while they had performed ``extremely well'' during the wargames, they had become almost 30 years old. On why Arjun main battle tanks had not been deployed, Gen Joshi said though some of these tanks had been inducted, no one regiment was fully equipped with these tanks, to enable their testing in such wargames. “Four armoured regiments have received these tanks. But they are still in the stage of building it up to deployment level”, he said.

Concluding Lieutenant General Pankaj Joshi said "All the aims that we set out in this operation have been more or less met. We wanted to check out the leadership of our senior commanders and they have met their goal. We wanted to test the equipment ... and all the equipment has performed very well and withstood the heat."


Operation Vijay Chakra.Feb 2000

In February 2000, the Indian Army and Airforce conducted a joint exercise codenamed "Vijay Chakra" in the Rajasthan desert. The objective of the exercise, the first after the Kargil war and the military takeover in Pakistan, was to integrate the staff and combat elements of the Western Air Command(WAC) with the Army for delivering a decisive punch to the enemy.

Vijay Chakra was carried out in the Suratgarh area, 100 km from the International Border with Pakistan in the tri-junction of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. The exercises were spread over an area of 100 sq km, involving an infantry division of about 20,000 troops, an armored brigade(over 100 T-72 tanks and armoured personnel carriers), one Prithvi missile group, besides logistic and support elements like paratroopers and signal units. Nearly 2,000 IAF personnel and more than 66 aircraft including 40 fighter jets(MiG-29s, Jaguar and MiG-21s) along with other support units, 16 helicopters(including anti-armour Mi-35 attack choppers) and 10 transport planes(IL-76s and AN-32s) participated in the exercises.

Prithvi-150 surface to surface missile
Military attaches from 22 countries, including USA, Britain, China, Italy, Egypt, Iran, Nepal and North Korea were brought from Delhi to witness the exercises. The exercise evoked strong reaction from Pakistan with Pakistan Army spokesman Maj Gen Rashid Qureshi labelling it as "unannounced Indian exercises near the Punjab border". Pakistan took massive defensive postures in the region facing the Kutch, the Pakistan navy even mined the approaches to Karachi and Gwadar harbours. However, Indian Army sources emphasised that the exercises were being held at the command-level which did not entail providing advance information on the hotline of the Director-Generals of Military Operations(DGMOs) of both armies.

While the international border in this sector was quiet, Army Chief General Ved Prakash Malik confirmed reports that there had been enhanced troop movement on the Pakistani side of the military Line of Control(LOC) in Jammu and Kashmir. "We have noticed movement of floating troop units on their part of the LOC," he said, adding that the Indian Army had taken adequate steps to prevent any military misadventure. An officer pointed out that the Bijnot sector in Pakistan, across the area where the exercise was conducted, was rich in mineral resources. The importance of the region had risen after the discovery of gas and the Pakistanis had stepped up security in the area and were busy building major road networks.

Columns of T-72 tanks and infantry combat vehicles move towards a target at Purbana ki Dhani in Bikaner district of Rajasthan.
On field survey near an observation high ground on the outskirts of Purbana ki Dhani in Bikaner, Western Army Commander Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi said the exercises were closest to actual warfare except that no bullets or shells were being used and it was being conducted during peacetime as a result of which that war mode of mind was lacking. "We are training our soldiers to perform under pressure and we are creating that pressure."

Dismissing the perception that the exercise was being carried out to send a message across the border, Lt Gen Oberoi said ``it gives an opportunity to the higher commands the brigade commanders and corps commanders to learn lessons in how to handle their commands in crises-like situations." He added ``there is a lot of difference in planning on paper and executing it on the field. It throws up a lot of surprises and gives everybody an opportunity to observe and learn."

BMPs, which are Infantry Combat Vehicles, raising dust clouds as they move through the desert
Lt. Gen. Vijay Oberoi, pointed out that the core objective was to fine-tune tactics of an integrated battle so that depth areas could be engaged and captured. The army was working towards acquiring a capability to quickly neutralise intermediary resistance so that decisive tank battles in the last 40 km, which is the heart of the combat zone, can begin. The exercise was apparently testing the concept of a limited short-duration war. Since most of the Indo-Pak wars have not usually extended beyond a few weeks, Exercise Vijay Chakra is seeking to validate tactical doctrines to ensure a decisive victory in quick time. He said this exercise was different than "Shiv-Shakti" conducted last year, as "Vijay Chakra" was basically to test rapid deployment of forces.

Lt Gen Oberoi said the desert provided an ideal all-terrain theatre to carry out manoeuvres. The nearest Pakistani place was Fort Abbas, about 100 km away. And since few areas here are under cultivation, the Army need not worry about ``damaging crops and paying a lot of compensation'' in this season of gram cultivation in this land that's irrigated by the Indira Gandhi and Rajasthan canals. The troops also do not need to worry about water during this time of the year.

Commenting on the decision to allow the media to cover the exercise, he said the people wanted and should know more about the forces and this was an attempt to tell them that the Army was carrying out intensive training. "If in the process we attract suitable talent it is all for the better, he added in a lighter vein.

a multibarrel rocket launcher being used during the exercises
The exercise also provided an opportunity to test new equipment, particularly in field and battle communication and battlefield computers. It will enable the Army to assess future requirements and prepare QR (qualitative requirements), said the General. For the first time, the Indian forces deployed unmanned aerial vehicles(UAVs) in the wargames for better observation and surveillance of the "enemy territory". The UAVs were also pressed into action for launching precise counter-bombardment by the Indian artillery units.

Vijay Chakra was conducted as a two-sided exercise. Ground and air support troops were divided into 'Red Land' and 'Blue Land' forces. Similarly the battle area was demarcated as 'Blue Land' and 'Red Land'. Blue land forces were the advancing troops while the Red land forces were a ``token, smaller force so that it appears a two-sided affair''. Umpires monitored the tactical moves of the attackers and the enemy and evaluated their performance.

Essentially, this wargame is aimed at over-running the enemy territory by the strike armour and mechanised infantry. The fighter aircraft are used to provide air support to the rapidly moving tanks and infantry combat vehicles(BMP), while troops are para-dropped behind enemy line to secure vital points and installations. The integrated task force finally links up with the paratroopers to secure a victory in the battle.

A T-72M1 crossing over an AM-50 bridge, laid over a ditch by the army engineers
(photo: Bharat-Rakshak)
On February 15, after days of preparation, the Blue land forces finally launched a full frontal assault on the enemy(Red land forces). They crossed a canal, built a bridge over it, crossed an area strewn with landmines and planned to 'attack' the nearest Kalu village which was of tremendous "political, strategic and commercial importance" to the Red land forces, who were tasked to defend the village and occupied a dominating height about two km from the village.

The establishment of a bridge-head, forward mobile corps command post, area re-arming and refuelling point were missed by the media covering the event because they lost their way somewhere in the Blue Land-Red Land sector. The scene was of frantic activity with the supporting arms of the main assault party establishing their lines of communication and strengthening the approach network, while the main force lied low and planned their next move to be executed in the dead of the night.

Overseeing all this, Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi was discussing the progress of the exercise and questioning officers why a particular defence had not been breached by the troops. He was consulting a detailed map which had been spread out on a T-72 tank. General Oberoi told journalists that the Indian Air Force was playing a larger role. The aim was that both forces should work in close tandem and make optimum use of their resources to achieve the objective. This way the air force too could test its own strategies and give inputs to the Army, enabling it to make certain modifications.

The IAF transport planes played a key role in the rapid deployment of airborne troops. The decision on the airborne deployment was coordinated with the ongoing assault of tanks on the ground. On February 15 night, IAF Jaguar fighters carried out a photo reconnaissance mission. Then five AN-32 and a IL-76 aircraft, airdropped about 20 'pathfinders', a BMP(weighing 14 tonnes), two Jeeps fitted with anti-tank weapons and 160 troops, some 60km inside the "enemy" territory.
At that point, the strike armour had crossed the make-believe international border and managed to penetrate 40km inside the area of the "opposing" forces.

The two services chiefs Army Chief General V. P. Malik and his Air Force counterpart Air Chief Marshal A.Y. Tipnis who witnessed the entire exercise at a vantage point near Bikaner, described the paradropping as "very accurate and satisfactory."

Army Chief Malik(left) and Air Force Chief Tipnis(right), witness the night exercises.
The Indian Airforce flew over 100 sorties a day and Air Chief Marshal Tipnis personally flew a MiG-21 strike mission over the exercise area. The IAF, which did not use some of its frontline fighters including the Mirage 2000s and Su-30s, performed three other key tasks. It defended the moving mass of armored vehicles from rival air attacks. Its planes were also the key to surveillance. IAF aircraft went behind the enemy lines and took extensive pictures of the build up across the imaginary border during day and night. The jets, especially the deep strike Jaguars and MiG-23s, pounded simulated bridges, railway lines and command and control headquarters.

The paratroopers, after establishing a firm base with the help of the armoured personnel carriers and jeeps which had been dropped by the Il-76 aircraft, were then engaged in establishing a link-up with the tank columns left 20 km behind.
The Kalu village soon fell to the Blue land forces.

An IAF deep-penetration Jaguar aircraft during the exercises.
Speaking to journalists at the NAL Air Force base, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, WAC, Air Marshal S. Krishnaswamy said that Operation Vijay Chakra was an expression of the Air-Land Battle(ALB) concept. He said the idea of the exercises was to build up the frame of mind of soldiers and fighter pilots for actual battles. It was not a question of "who is the winner or loser in this exercise, it is training down the line," he observed.

Air Marshal Krishnaswamy said utmost security and coordination was needed in an exercise of this kind where large scale induction of airborne troops to form bridges heads was envisaged. He said the IAF was evolving new techniques to improve paradropping, particularly during night, from high altitude. He said paradropping from a high altitude(about 12,000 ft) and safe height is normally not very accurate. It can be accurate from a low altitude. This was however, risky because an aircraft flying low can easily become the target of the enemy and para troops can be spotted.

a Mig-27 flying above the Thar desert
Air Marshal Krishnaswamy said technical as well as the technological aspects were being considered for improvement and very systematic details were being explored to remove any weaknesses. He said Pilots must learn a lesson to master tactics, application and know the enemy's weaknesses. "For instance when the enemy is armed with a shoulder-fired missile, he cannot fire after about 40 second of the battery being charged. If he tries to fire once the battery has been on for some specific time and the aircraft is still hovering, the missile won't simply go off. This way a Pilot can keep reducing the enemy's chances of strike and that is what we are now working on."

The Army strike corps missed a vital element in the absence of tank-mounted 155mm guns which form an essential part of the strike formation. The Army is yet to decide on the choice of an armoured mounted 155mm guns after the Government cancelled the second part of the Bofors contract. General Oberoi said the defence budget during the past ten years had been on a "very low level." He hoped that this year more is added to it. "Security is important and money spent on security is not lost."

Naval ships taking part in the exercises
Simultaneously with "Vijay Chakra", the IAF also carried out joint exercises with the Navy off the coast of Goa. Codenamed "Springex-2000", these manoeuvres with the Navy were to revalidate and revise the concept of maritime strikes, reconnaissance, electronic warfare and combat air patrol over high seas.

The reassessment of the doctrine to neutralise maritime strike planes had assumed additional importance in the light of Pakistan acquiring highly capable P3C Orion planes from the U.S. During the exercise, the IAF also tested its capability to carry out surveillance sorties at night. Besides, its ability to jam communication of hostile planes and shipping were also put on trial.

Defence Minister George Fernandes with the three service chiefs at Brahmastra
In May 2000, a brainstorming conference "Exercise Brahmastra" was attended by the top brass of all the three Services. The main purpose of this effort was to evolve doctrinal precepts to meet the battlefield requirements of the 21st century. The stress was on interservice operations, theme of jointness and efforts to achieve greater cohesion in all facets of functioning of the three Services. As an outcome of the deliberations, a number of studies on joint planning processes were ordered. And one such study was for evolving a joint doctrine for the Indian Armed Forces

Air-Land Battle(ALB) doctrine


Armed with newly acquired long-range strike weapons and delivery systems, the Indian defence forces have fine tuned the cold war concept of "air-land battle" and adopted it as a key doctrine for fighting any possible theatre war in the future. The ALB concept revolves around complete integration of a multi-squadron air formation with a field army to carry out decisive strikes within a designated geographical theatre.

The massive Army-IAF joint exercise, Shiv Shakti, held in the deserts of Rajasthan during the winter of 1998 was a prelude to this doctrine and some of the concepts tried out during the exercises were later analysed and given a final shape by the Army Training Command(ARTRAC) and IAF's Air War Strategy Cell who were deeply involved in the fine tuning of this doctrine.

The doctrine comes in the backdrop of military planners envisioning that future wars in the region would be short and intensive and would require lightning strikes and thrusts through enemy defences rather than first launching pre-ground assault air campaigns to ''soften'' the enemy as was in the case of Operation Desert Storm or the Kosovo crisis.

The air-land battle concept in a classical sense revolves around completely integrating the tactical Air Force with the ground troops. A single service is not enough to determine the course of the battle and herein lies the need to integrate two or more services to carry out a synchronised assault, requiring corps-level or more ground forces along with the requisite air or naval forces.

''Air and ground assaults will have to be simultaneous, crippling the enemy's military infrastructure with a triple hammer blow before he realises what has hit him and leaving him with no means to launch a counterattack,'' an Indian officer said. This involves the destruction of the enemy's middle and rear echelons through long-range missiles and using deep penetration strike aircraft thus leaving advancing ground troops to mop up the isolated front echelon.

''The primary role in an ALB is that of the Army and the Air Force, while naval forces are kept in a standby mode in case the conflict extends beyond the intended battle zone,'' the officer added.

Crippling the enemy war machine and capturing as much enemy territory in the early stages of war would be vital not only to attain an upper hand in the conflict, but also to negotiate from a position of strength.

The ALB doctrine was originally framed by NATO(North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) to tackle the numerically superior Warsaw Pact forces, which favoured attacking the enemy in echelon formations. It rests on conventional "emerging technology" weapons such as Remotely Piloted Vehicles(RPVs), satellite imagery and precision-guided ammunition to be effective in a wartime scenario. The RPVs and satellites are used for surveillance in order to "see" behind the enemy lines to obtain ''real time'' intelligence and to guide fire power to the enemy's choke points such as bridges, ammunition dumps, marshalling yards and dams.

Defence analysts find this concept applicable to the "tank country" across the desert in Rajasthan and Gujarat. Incidentally, the Shiv Shakti exercise was centred around Thar desert with a beefed up South-Western Air Command(SWAC) participating in manoeuvres with the Southern Army Command. It is understood that the doctrine worked well during the exercise because of the availability of deep strike weapons such as the 150-km range Prithivi surface-to-surface missile, the IAF's Mirage 2000s, SU-30 and the Jaguar deep penetration strike aircraft. Satellite imagery and data from RPVs were also used


Suffice to say that Mr Rikhye's previous comments about efficacy of present IAF airpower were far off the mark.

More comments later,but a lot of *new* stuff has been publically admitted in the past few years.In particular we can also look at the disposition of IAF a/c and the "types" chosen for antiarmor ops.The importance attached to EW etc.


Y I Patel
Posts: 673
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Re: Parakram II: all services excercise on western front

Postby Y I Patel » 06 May 2002 00:59

Ramana some preliminary feedback:

Army support

About 500 sorties were flown in support of the Army mission. No further breakdown is given as to the type of aircraft or nature of mission. This represents a rate of 500/2300 equal 22 percent of all missions. Pushpinder Singh in his book Fiziya (Ref. 3) gives the figures for PAF during ’65 and 71 as 27 percent and 32 percent respectively. Given that the exercise was part of combined operations with Indian Army looks like the level of support sorties could be higher.
It could well be that these sorties merely represent those where A2G ordnance was delivered - if we assume an equal number of sorties sent for air defence of the attacking force, then the total number of sorties devoted to CAS duties jums to 44%. And this would not include any sorties flown for air defence of the friendly ground force.

Also to be added would be sorties flown by helicopters in support of ground forces.

Another imponderable over here is the "non-CAS" strike sorties that were flown against fixed targets. I wonder if that was even part of Ex Gajraj - the annual Aakraman exercises (part of TACDE) may deal with that aspect.

What were the transport aircraft used for? I do not believe any para drops were part of Gajraj - so were these logistics sorties in support of AF or army?

Since the para drops role has evolved after Gajraj, Nitins posts should help update that part.

So if we take all this into account, it seems like the IAF's participation in these joint exercises displays only one half of their role - the initial strategic phase (anti ADGES, anti strategic targets) would be another ball game altogether, and would be covered in the more secretive Aakraman series chew on that.

Posts: 1562
Joined: 09 Oct 2000 11:31

Re: Parakram II: all services excercise on western front

Postby JCage » 06 May 2002 01:00

Pls also note IAF ew.Not just AAD,SEAD but to jam comms.Which can be directed against land opfor.This seems to be implied.Later on a ref to Shipping is there.Also see how MANPAD'S threat has been addressed.
Re Ramanas point about nav systems,data suggest that entire IAF fleet is getting makeover in oneway or the other.Tata GPS sets are already IAF standard till comprehensive fits-INS/RLG via upgrade comeonline.


Posts: 1562
Joined: 09 Oct 2000 11:31

Re: Parakram II: all services excercise on western front

Postby JCage » 06 May 2002 02:05

We *may* be onto something.
Thislink has a rant by Maj Gen(rtd)Ashok K Mehta posted by a paki-Syed(at the end).We all know of the sniping which goes on b/w the Army and the AF.Fortunately serving officers dont have this luxury and appreciate the exigency of getting their act together.Many flaws in the article..but..

Anyway,heres the part which caught my eye.

Air warriors and scholars say the IAF prefers to fight its own wars. It has told the army
that during the first seven days of a war, support should not be expected from the IAF as it would
be committed to winning the air battle

The Retd Gen may be "in the know" and the above may be true.Suppose.He takes it to be IAF cussedness.

What if the above simply refers to an "Aakraman" on strategic targets/ADGES etc?
Following which the ALB begins?
Would make eminent sense.


Posts: 599
Joined: 28 May 2001 11:31

Re: Parakram II: all services excercise on western front

Postby Rudra » 06 May 2002 06:30

so is the new-new plan to isolate and crush ARS
in the desert- apply the "teach a lesson" principle and then have Uncle's Regent beat Mush on the head with a kolhapuri chappal to accede to certain concessions ?

I mean wipe out ARS, major PAF radars and most
of PAF, plus the PN annihilated in (say) 10 days ?

BRFite -Trainee
Posts: 53
Joined: 09 Feb 1999 12:31
Location: India

Re: Parakram II: all services excercise on western front

Postby Shirish » 06 May 2002 10:42

If a holding Corps suddenly has at its disposal, 2 or more independent armoured brigades, not counting its own armour, what is left to turn it from a 'hold' to a 'push' ? Logistics & Supply train in enemy territory and re-designation ofits area of operations ?

Posts: 599
Joined: 15 Sep 1999 11:31
Location: Mumbai,India

Re: Parakram II: all services excercise on western front

Postby VKumar » 06 May 2002 13:53

Today DD News, 7.30 am reporter from Jaipur, read out from a rajasthan newspaper a report that due to scarcity of water, Indian and Paki troops were fighting or at least exchanging fire (perhaps over a water source), and that several TSP troops and rangers had been killed. The temp. in raj. desert is reported at over 48C.

Given the water scarcity and the temp. I wonder how this huge excercise will suffer. Also if the shooting 'hots' up, maybe by TSP with a view to prevent such an excercise taking place.

BRF Oldie
Posts: 34982
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30
Location: Pindliyon ka Gooda

Re: Parakram II: all services excercise on western front

Postby shiv » 06 May 2002 15:08

Originally posted by Vijay Kumar:

Given the water scarcity and the temp. I wonder how this huge excercise will suffer. Also if the shooting 'hots' up, maybe by TSP with a view to prevent such an excercise taking place.
Vijay kumar - have you considered that the exercise is being held at this time precisely because the systems must work in this weather.

It has been a commonly held assumption in Packeeland that wars will only be fought in cold weather bacuse the NATO/Russian equipment used by both nations wok best at lower ambient temps.

India has put in much effort to change that and Pakistan will need to match that if they are to defend anything in this weather - and they need to cough up the moolah to do that, thereby starving their other programs - like education and health while the try to "catch up". That should notch up the degree of chaos in Pakistan a few more degrees. A winner either way.

Posts: 111
Joined: 11 Nov 2000 12:31
Location: Earth

Re: Parakram II: all services excercise on western front

Postby Joeqp » 06 May 2002 18:28

Originally posted by Vijay Kumar:
Today DD News, 7.30 am reporter from Jaipur, read out from a rajasthan newspaper a report that due to scarcity of water, Indian and Paki troops were fighting or at least exchanging fire (perhaps over a water source), and that several TSP troops and rangers had been killed. The temp. in raj. desert is reported at over 48C.

I don't know what the DDD reporter said, but the story is that RATS and Pak Rangers are fighting among <B>themselves</B> over a water source.

If you can read Hindi, read the report <A HREF="">here</A>

Posts: 599
Joined: 28 May 2001 11:31

Re: Parakram II: all services excercise on western front

Postby Rudra » 06 May 2002 19:39

yeah, testing at 48C in Raj. for a month or two
has been the acid and compulsory test for all
of IA equipment - arjun, tank-ex, bhim et al.

ia, iaf, in has had the highest number of large
exercises in history looks like after kargil.
all the "fat" has been burned off and mistakes
made in training so that fewer is made later.

PA seems to have nursed their whisky and tandoori
at the spic-n-span Cantts. for the most part.

Y I Patel
Posts: 673
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Re: Parakram II: all services excercise on western front

Postby Y I Patel » 06 May 2002 22:09

It is becoming increasingly clear that in an all-out war, IA strike corps need not worry about crossing red lines, since all such escalation events will have materialized through use of air power assets, by the time the first strike corps unit reaches its FUP

Air power assets are primarily IAF strike aircraft, but they also include SRBMS and SLCMs/ShLCMs.

This realization is an epiphany of sorts for this professed IA admirer. But reality has to be acknowledged.

Land actions will still have a role in deciding the final outcome, but clearly the "use it or loose it" launch scenario becomes operative within the first few hours of the campaign.

So let me propose a rough outline for translating vague deterrence arguments into a model that can help us predict beforehand whether Indian air power assets can mount a successful conventional disabling strike.

Let us begin with a context for the time scales required, since clearly the speed with which the strikes happen is a vital consideration.

Gen Mush's decision cycle will go roughly like this:

At time = 0
"Multiple bogeys detected"
Pak decision: launch conventional AD ops, alert nuke delivery systems for orders.
Low probability of button being pressed (bbp) yet.

At time = 2 mins to 20 mins (rough estimate)
The first SRBMs, PGMs, and cruise missiles (probably in that order) land on their targets.
Nuke systems on alert, but low probablity of bbp yet.

At time = 15 minutes to 30 mins
Extent of damage starts being apparent to Mush (not to India at this point).
Mush checks nuke systems still alert.
Decides press/don't press.
If unacceptably heavy damage perceived => press.
So low prob of bbp, but higher than before.

At time = 30 mins to 5 hours
This is the time of maximum danger for both countries.
This is when IAF strike aircraft will have to mount follow-on raids to take out launch sites and delivery vehicles.

Okay. I know it's very crude and simplistic, but that's where y'all come in :)

Now suppose we need to take out 150 Pak targets to successfully disable their nuclear option.

Then we need to do the following:

(a) figure out the priority list for which targets to be taken out in first wave, in second wave, etc. Very importantly, how soon can we take them out. Remember, from above context, that speed is vital.

(b) figure out the weapons with which said targets will be taken out, and number of strike aircraft/missiles needed to do the job. Here, precision will become crucial, so that we can have assured success with minimum number of (strike) aircraft.

(c) use step (b) to figure out how many aircraft (SEAD, strike, AD) for each attack group. AWACS would be a huge force multiplier in this decision, because it will allow us to reduce number of AD aircraft required (and thus free up more of them for the strike role).

If after all of this number crunching, we find that IMF (Indian Military Forces) have sufficient strike assets to take out the 150 targets in the first few hours, then we can say that yes, a successful disabling strike is possible. If not, then we need to build up our assets. I strongly suspect we are not close to the number right now.

Just as a frame of reference, here are some rough numbers:

For first wave:

Number of Land attack Klubs and range: 4 klubs/sub * 6 subs = 24 klubs, effective to say 200 km.

Number of SRBMs: 60 (?) effective to 150 km.

Number of SEAD aircraft: ??
Number of PGM capable strike aircraft, range and tonnage: ???
Number of AD aircraft to protect above force: ??

For second wave:

So you can see we are talking about some very involved computations here. But most of the info may be available from open sources.

Question is, should we do these computations??

BRF Oldie
Posts: 2075
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Re: Parakram II: all services excercise on western front

Postby Johann » 06 May 2002 22:20


Given the Pakistani investment and commitment up to this point it is difficult to beleive that they will *not* find a way to pay for a credible second strike capability should the survival of first strike forces come into doubt.

Given past experiences, how realistic do you feel your assumptions about the detection and tracking of *all* mobile TELs are? Or do you feel the GoI would settle for 75%?

Y I Patel
Posts: 673
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Re: Parakram II: all services excercise on western front

Postby Y I Patel » 06 May 2002 22:36

Johann, I will readily confess that at this point my model is crude and very likely unrealistic. I have no idea about GOIs TEL tracking abilities, and you are correct in pointing out that GoI would have to track them if it desires any chance of succees. The whole purpose of posting was to encourage queries like yours, and to get us all thinking quantitatively about a disabling first strike.

When you say Pak second strike do you mean a strike after a conventional Indian first strike, or a nuclear Indian counter strike? I assume you mean the former.

Posts: 634
Joined: 21 Sep 1999 11:31

Re: Parakram II: all services excercise on western front

Postby Sunil » 06 May 2002 23:21

I guess the pakistanis may view the damage from an indian conventional strike in a graded fashion and these gradations will be changed by each government depending on what it feels is its position in the international arena and in domestic politics.

An example of a possible gradation:

Very Low: LRRP detected and engaged.

Low: militant camps destroyed, severe shelling on forward positions, engagement of a Pakistani surveillance platform.

Medium Low: Strike on primary node (logistics/ communications), severe attack on `forward position' resulting in the destruction of Bn Hq or ship at sea or a/c in the sky.

Medium: Simultaneous loss of several positions on the LoC/Border, loss of several minor assets in the sky or at sea. Loss of Brigade HQ or threat to vital transport node in J&K.

Medium High: Loss of transport node in J&K, Attrition to air and major ship assets at sea, Minor damage to ports like Karachi, Pasni, Gwadur, Threat to major transport node in Punjab or Sindh.

High: Imminent loss of Major Transport node in Punjab or Sindh. Moderate damage to Karachi and industrial belt. Severe attrition to PAF, loss of upto 5-10 Sqns to offensive air action. Destruction of elements of the submarine fleet. Threat to dams and water supply.

Very High: Loss of/damage to major nodes in Punjab and-or Sindh. Severe damage to Karachi Harbor. Destruction of AD infrastructure. Loss of upto 15 sqns to offensive actions. Complete destruction of PN. Damage to dams and water management network.

This correlates to their nuclear posture is some ill understood way.

George J

Re: Parakram II: all services excercise on western front

Postby George J » 07 May 2002 00:12

Originally posted by Vikram Vyas:
For first wave:

Number of Land attack Klubs and range: 4 klubs/sub * 6 subs = 24 klubs, effective to say 200 km.
Six? How? Which?
One report says Sindhushastra (OEM) + 3 more Kilos upg (S'raj,S'Kesri and S'ratna) = 4. Another report states that S'vir was the first to be klubbed (upg), S'shashtra (OEM) and S'ratna (upg). Thats three.

Am i missing something?

Posts: 599
Joined: 28 May 2001 11:31

Re: Parakram II: all services excercise on western front

Postby Rudra » 07 May 2002 00:32

kilos carry 14 weapons - klub,torps,mines.
I too read this report about 4 kilos having
been Upg thus far (probably 1 in refit or soon).

its reasonable to assume perhaps 6 klubs/kilo,
and 8 wake-homers. prefered weapon will be the
klub to strike with least risk on ships but
for attacking lightly defended targets merchant
ships, torps are cheaper. they wont carry mines
unless on a specific mission to mine paki approaches in which case they might just carry 3 torps (self-defence) and 11 mines!

but all this talk is moot as klub doesnt have a
land-attack seeker and can only do a smackdown
on karachi oil refinery -> on shore and high RCS.

Posts: 270
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Re: Parakram II: all services excercise on western front

Postby Amitabh » 07 May 2002 00:33

For this very reason, I suspect that India will avoid hunting Pakistani IRBMs. The idea would be to inflict maximum attrition without endangering the Pakistani nuclear deterrent so as to avoid incentives to preempt. The danger will be if in fact the Pakistani missile force is not sufficiently operational and conventional Indian operations endanger the PAF's nuclear delivery capabilities, thus once again creating incentives for Pakistan to strike first with nuclear weapons.

Given the inordinate difficulty in tracking TEL's over airspace where air superiority is not guaranteed, I doubt if the IAF will make an all out effort in this area to the detriment of other duties.

Forum Moderator
Posts: 54781
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Re: Parakram II: all services excercise on western front

Postby ramana » 07 May 2002 02:43

Lots of good thinking going on here. Nitin thanks for the extra info on the subsequent exercises.
Vikram Gajraj had air commando operations and might have paradrops too. Yes in all these exercises only the combined arms aspects are shown. Yes it is quite possible that IAF by itself could cross the redlines suggested in the Landau network article. I got that realization when I first looked at Gajraj soon after it ended and wanted more confirmation.
If you notice the description of the concept of the ALB posted by nitin, the Indians are thinking of a short sharp war using all three service assets, with out the air assault phase. The key is a triple hammerblow leaving no means to counterattack. The longrange aircraft and missiles are to be used to wreak a path for the ground troops and the navy stands by to handle any escalation. The experts are not talking about Operation Vijay where the tri-service command and control were exercised in real time. The next set of exercise will involve the anti-strategic aspects while the ALB is going on.
Does anyone remember details of Gen. Sunderji's three or four exercises- Brasstacks, Checkerboard, Falcon and one more that was never implemented- an all India level, all services exercise including political leadership. They wrote about these as part of articles i his memory.

Posts: 599
Joined: 28 May 2001 11:31

Re: Parakram II: all services excercise on western front

Postby Rudra » 07 May 2002 03:33

I tend to agree with the futility of trying to
locate highly mobile Shaheen TELs in an area
roughly 4 times the size of Iraq in the western
regions of Pak. usaf diverted F-15e sorties under
israeli pressure and unable to do much, they
resorted to using 12 x 500lb bombs , flying
orbits and dropping 1 bomb occasionally just to
"keep them quiet".

There aint no way we can find them once they
disperse unless we used hundreds of recon a/c
round the clock and had total air-superiority.

If we had that level of dominance we would be
sitting in 'pindi anyway.

Y I Patel
Posts: 673
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Re: Parakram II: all services excercise on western front

Postby Y I Patel » 07 May 2002 23:45

Tsk tsk tsk you guys give up too easily... Johann did raise a valid point, but lets not take it too far. When in doubt, start putting numbers I say.

So let's see. Suppose Pak has 40 weapons. How many go on aircraft, and how many on missiles? Where are the devices stored? How many are expected to be mated with the delivery system at any time? (I suspect none) How many devices storage sites have been identified?

Then, let me point out that we do have some fancy SLAR assets that no one talks loudly about. Maybe not enough, but give me numbers about what and how many reco assets we need!

All in all (and for heaven's sake don't nitpick on these off the bat numbers - if you have better ones just post them) let's say to temporarily disable their button, we need to immediately take out 5 storage sites plus 10 comms nodes plus 5 radar stations (local anesthetic) plus 15 TELs plus 5 other targets I can't think of. That means some 40 sites on top priority list.

Now let's assign 4 SRBMs per hardened (comms node?) site and 4 SRBMs per radar site, to take out 3 radars and 3 comms nodes. That still leaves some 34 sites to be taken out. Total assets used = 24 SRBMs.

Say we need 6 SEAD aircraft and 6 strike aircraft per remaining AD node - that means 12 SEAD and 12 strike aircraft, plus 24 supporting AD aircraft. So now 32 sites remain. Total assets used = 24 strike (incl 12 SEAD), 24 AD aircraft, 24 SRBMs.

Suppose the five nucear storage sites require 6 PGM and 6 area strike aircraft, escorted by 18 AD aircraft per site - that's 60 strike and 80 AD aircraft. So now 27 sites remain. Assets used = 84 strike, 104 AD, 24 SRBMs.

Okay 7 comms nodes, 15 TELs, and 5 other sites remain.

Suppose comms nodes require 6 strike aircraft each, with 12 supporting AD aircraft. That means 42 strike; 84 AD. Total assets used = 126 strike, 188 AD, 24 SRBMs. Targets remaining = 20.

Suppose 5 other sites need same kind of assets as hardened nuke storage sites. That means 60 more strike and 80 more AD. Total assets used = 186 strike, 266 AD, 24 SRBMs.

Suppose 15 TELs require 2 strike, 4 AD aircraft each, plus 10 LR reco assets to track. Assets used = 30 strike, 60 AD, 10 LR reco. Total assets used = 216 strike, 326 AD, 10 LR reco, 24 SRBMs.

Okay, numbers may be flaky. But atleast we are not waving hands anymore. And we have one very interesting revealation right off the bat - the limiting factor will be the number of PGM strike aircraft we can throw at them in the first wave.

So. This is not reality, but I hope I have set you all thinking in numbers instead of generalities. Throw more stones at it, but lets see what the decisive factors are.

Posts: 136
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30
Location: USA

Re: Parakram II: all services excercise on western front

Postby Tim » 08 May 2002 00:32

A couple of thoughts on methodology, etc. Intended simply to raise additional issues, not to start an argument.

I'd get hold of a copy of the US "Gulf War Air Power Survey" (published after the Gulf War, and not nearly as complimentary as the USAF had hoped) and look at the way they calculated the target set and the strikes (and assets) necessary to cripple those targets. Then look at their overall effectiveness. That might provide some insight.

Vikram, those are some intersting numbers you've come up with. But youve already assigned virtually the entire IAF to the initial strike (550 + aircraft). What about PAF opposition? The USAF had none - but carrying out "1-shot-kill" PGM strikes on hardened nuclear bunkers when there's dogfighting going on around you may be difficult. I'd probably triple the number of PGMs to be safe, and that is probably an underestimation. USAF combat experience with PGMs is taking place in almost ideal conditions, under pretty strict rules of engagement (well out of ground fire, for instance). Actual opposition, even if ineffectual, would degrade performance significantly.

Another factor that might be worth considering is range/flight time, and how you time such a strike. Mass aircraft on the Indian side of the border might be detected early - but if you knock out the air defense radars, you've already shown your hand before you start going after the main assets - which means Pakistan has time to either devolve command and control of the weapons (releasing them to operational commanders) or certainly to put CAP over the crucial nuclear targets, leading again to the dogfight problem. I'm not familiar enough with organizing air ops to know how to do a "time on target", but even though Pakistani strategic depth is limited, it would still constitute a problem.

Does anyone want to speculate what the response of the US, or some other satellite owner, might be if they detected several hundred IAF aircraft sortying at once and heading west? That can be averted through tight operational security, perhaps.

It would be interesting to know how hardened the storage sites are. I've seen (unclassified) photos of some of them - they look a lot like Soviet nuclear storage facilities, both in shape and operational layout. They may be relatively PGM-proof - the US had to rush special munitions into production during the Gulf War for particularly hard targets.

Killing TELs relies on very accurate and timely intelligence. If you're off by few minutes, you lose them (again - that was the US experience in an environment that was largely sand. It's even harder if there's terrain to hide in).

I think Amitabh and Sunil also have a point - there's some gradation of threat implicit in the statements of General Kidwai and others. An assault conspicuously aimed at conventional preemption of Pakistani nuclear assets is likely to accelerate the perception of the threat to very significant levels, possibly inviting early nuclear response. If the threat is implicit in terms of IAF procurement, one way to manage that (which Brig. Feroze Khan recently implied may already be happening, or at least under consideration) is to have warheads and delivery vehicles at a much higher level of readiness - partially or fully assembled, devolved to trusted operational commanders, etc. That's an inexpensive but risky "quick fix" response to increased IAF capabilities.

Posts: 634
Joined: 21 Sep 1999 11:31

Re: Parakram II: all services excercise on western front

Postby Sunil » 08 May 2002 00:43

This may be a bit of a flame bait.. but (what the heck i'll throw it in) completely hypothetically (ofcourse! would i be that irresponsible to suggest that such a thing is true? never), if the position of the most of the TELs (most certainly the longer range ones) was known. would life be any different?

here are some interesting points on the deployment of TELs.

There is no gigantic desert to continually hide these things in. If they try to hide them in Baluchistan, they will lose out on range (at present maybe not in the future). They can put it in the small desert of Thar, but that makes the detection job much easier.

So that leaves the possiblity of deploying them in PoK or in `settled' Punjab. I agree this will make for an interesting hunt but I wonder which PA commander is going to be interested in launching a Surface to Surface missile from a place that is exactly 10 feet from where his CO's father lives?, especially knowing full well what the purely conventional retaliation will be like.

So most likely the TEL sites are in places where the retaliation aimed at hitting the TELs will not damage other `more important' things. There are some places i can think of, which meet this criteria.

Hopefully this puts my comments in perspective.

Posts: 599
Joined: 28 May 2001 11:31

Re: Parakram II: all services excercise on western front

Postby Rudra » 08 May 2002 00:47

an iaf pilot and various writers have mentioned
this, that strike aircraft laden with heavy munitions will dump and run even when faced with
F-7MGs or F-6s.

So if you want some quality time over target, you
need to peel away all the fighters that PAF sorties, kill the SAM batteries and then have the
Jags/M2ks arrive on target. This is a difficult
feat if you consider 50 targets and areas upto
500km inside Pakland. even sargodha is well inside
Pak (300km?) and you are flying from bases 150km
inside India at the minimum, often more. You will
need drop tanks that will take you partway and
the jettison before final run. this will reduce
the free pylons.

So if you want a 1-pass hardkill, a overwhelming and I mean a scary, bronz-mob kind of interceptor force will need to be thrown. Just minutes before they go in, cruise missiles will need to *accurately* hit runways on about 20 PAF airbases and disable them for 3-4 hrs. this will bottle up most of PAF on the ground. then perhaps 150 large interceptors with 10X AAMs each backed up by tankers and 4-5 phalcons will move in and establish a "total air dominance" over target areas very deep inside Pak (NWFP, baluchistan) ,
then SEAD, then green flag to jag/m2k swarm.

so even look threatening, we need.

150 MKis
15 AAR tankers
4 phalcon
200 - Jags + M2Ks or equivalent.
huge supply of PGMs

meantime the Mig29s can screen the border to
protect returning a/c to safety.

2010 is earliest, 2015 more likely. we need to
keep them pegged at their current dismal level
if we had this fearsome force , I would say we go to
way asap and wipe the PAF out first then hand
ARS and ARN a very painful and severe mauling.

options would be many and there wouldnt be a damn
thing the PAF could do, except make a run for Iran
and shout and jeer from across the border.

Y I Patel
Posts: 673
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Re: Parakram II: all services excercise on western front

Postby Y I Patel » 08 May 2002 01:13

Wonderful! Now we are deep into what we call "Uncertainty Analysis" and "Sensitivity Analysis" in my line of work. My numbers are already attracting informed feedback, so we are making progress :)

Also, just so that we are all on the same page, I am not talking about "what we should do" or "what we can do" - I am trying to figure out the resources that we would need "for a hypothetical conventional disabling strike".

So let me give a somewhat revised summary of requirements. This is not an answer to Tim's valid points, just a summary of what I have so far.

This is a set of targets for the "first wave"

****10 hardened nuclear sites or equivalents:

12 PGM loaded strike aircraft
6 area strike aircraft
18 AD aircraft

Total: 120 PGM strike, 60 area strike, 180 AD

**** 6 shallow ADGES nodes or comm nodes
4 SRBMs per node

Total: 24 SRBMs.

**** 2 deep ADGES nodes
6 Area strike
12 AD

Total: 24 SEAD strike, 24 AD

**** 7 deep comms nodes
6 PGM strike
2 area strike
12 AD

Total: 42 PGM strike, 14 area strike, 84 AD.

**** 15 TELS + 15 dummy TELs
2 area strike
4 AD

12 LR reco

Total: 60 area strike, 120 AD, 12 LR reco

Grand total: 162 PGM strike, 24 SEAD strike, 134 area strike, 348 AD, 12 LR reco, 24 SRBMs.

In other words, 320 strike, 348 AD = 688 combat aircraft out of a current fleet of about 840!

Is this realistic? Well, I am still processing and I hope you guys are, too! The point is not that "we can't do it" but "what does it take to do it?" Also, thinking along Sunil's lines, how can we use information intelligently, or allocate resources more innovatively? Not the 24 SRBMS seem to be very cost effective - would it pay to have conventional Agni-1s for some deep targets?

Tim - nowhere near answering your questions, but one thing - I just finished reading Ehud Yonay's "No Margin for Error" on IsAF. Their Op Moked took a couple of years to plan, and all training, procurement etc was designed with just that one half hour operation in mind. IsAF had 5 aircraft defending Israel during that half hour. They thought big. I believe GoI should do likewise.
Keep 'em coming, guys!

Posts: 599
Joined: 28 May 2001 11:31

Re: Parakram II: all services excercise on western front

Postby Rudra » 08 May 2002 01:40

Vikram, what is your overall war objective ?
if your strike succeeds (and gawd knows with 688
a.c pounding them it will), and you dont occupy
and dismantle all their mil-industrial complex,
PRC will again sneak a few shaheens and nukes
into their pocket and the cycle starts once more.

makes me think if you dont want the "regime change" path, we will need to constantly bomb their military targets for a undermined period to
keep their WMD ambitions in check.

sounds like Iraq & the Brits :D

Y I Patel
Posts: 673
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Re: Parakram II: all services excercise on western front

Postby Y I Patel » 08 May 2002 01:47

Aw shucks, Rudra. I ain't got no overall war objective right now :) All I want to do is to figure out if a successful disabling strike is feasible. If it is, then we will take it further. Till then, humor me.

Forum Moderator
Posts: 54781
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Re: Parakram II: all services excercise on western front

Postby ramana » 08 May 2002 01:58

Vikram your comment the GOI should show similar pro-active thinking is quite illuminating. In the past it has shown that. During '71 war it had only one battalion facing the PLA. However it had ~13 squadrons dedicated for that effort. One thing to think about is there can be no sudden shift of air assets fro East to west as that would tip off the defenders. ACM Kaul had said that every airfield is monitored by the US sats in the IR domain and that is how they keep track of the IAF. So it has to be using the assets in the West and then shift after general hostilities have commenced. Also consider the Pandava factor. India wil not commence hostilities. However Dupuy in his book Future Wars thinks that fed up with the constant terrorism India could break the taboo. BTW Bay area members might remember a spreadsheet I showed them at last meet on similar lines. Day four nothing of value is left.

Posts: 599
Joined: 28 May 2001 11:31

Re: Parakram II: all services excercise on western front

Postby Rudra » 08 May 2002 02:15

ramana, large integrated exercises like parakram
are the perfect "normal" excuse to shift units
and materials to jump-off points. if you read
cold-war novels, almost every warsaw pact attack
started with a winter-exercise that one stormy
night went beyond the line, the bad weather kept
allied a/c away and spetsnaz units hiding in ships
created all'hell in the baltic.

except the two Mig27s squadrons is WB, and some
helos from assam, what would you want to take west? surely not the MOFTU Migs! :( these can
valiantly guard our eastern border...

Ashok Vyas
BRFite -Trainee
Posts: 7
Joined: 28 Mar 2002 12:31
Location: USA

Re: Parakram II: all services excercise on western front

Postby Ashok Vyas » 08 May 2002 02:37

Now all we have to do is wait for a stormy night.....

Return to “Strategic & Security Issues Archive”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest