The looming shadow of an arms race - Pakistan Today

The looming shadow of an arms race

  • India is pushing ahead to become the regional hegemon

By: Hamzah Taoqeer

A new cycle of arms race is on the horizon as the major powers are striving for power projection. The rapid force modernization has ensued a domino effect across contested regions, plunging states into arms races. The global defence spending has reached $1.82 trillion in 2018, with the USA ($649 billion), China ($250 billion), Saudi Arabia ($67.6 billion) and India ($66.5 billion) accounting for 60 percent of total spending. The hegemonic ambitions of India under the Modi regime has initiated a force modernization programme involving major procurementa of weapon systems, hardware for tri-services by allocating specifically $16.91 billion. The gravity of the issue can be seen from the Modi regime spending $1.23 billion for emergency arms procurements in the first 50 days after its re-election, thus setting forth on a path to destabilize the strategic balance of the region.

The Indian Army’s Future Infantry Soldier System (F-INSAS) programme, aiming to equip infantry soldiers with new weapons, armour and network-centric communication systems received $6-8 billion investment by the DRDO for upgrading 325 battalions by 2020. It has allocated $3.4 billion under the Field Artillery Rationalization Program for equipping its 169 artillery regiments with 3,000 tracked, self-propelled 155 mm Howitzers by 2025. The Indian Army’s 65 armoured regiments comprising 3000 tanks are to be replaced by T-90S Bhishma MBTs under a $1.93-billion Transfer of Technology (ToT) agreement with Russia.

Pakistan should capitalize existing capabilities, ensure survivability and redundancy of command and control structures, enhance intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities such as spy satellites and develop delivery means such as long-range strategic and cruise missiles capable of striking targets deep within enemy territories while suppressing enemy air defences. Therefore, China and Pakistan should further strengthen their military ties and initiate joint ventures for research and development in the conventional domain, the emerging aerospace and naval domain and most importantly the space and cyber domain which will be the battle space of future

The Indian Air Force has embarked upon a major force modernization programme, with purchases worth $1.088 billion cleared for it during May-July 2019. Deals for procuring 170 aircraft, including 114 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA), including 56 C-295 cargo jets, worth $22 billion are also underway. The deal for 36 Rafale jets worth $8.6 billion and S-400 BMD worth $5.5 billion are to be matured by 2022 and 2023 respectively. Moreover, a deal Wis also going ahead orth over $3 billion for AH-64E attack helicopters.

The Indian Navy, with its blue-water ambitions, has been aiming to man over 200 naval vessels by 2027. Projects are underway like acquisition of six Scorpène-class diesel-electric AIP submarines for $4 billion, and six more conventional submarines under project P75I for $6.6 billion, by 2030. Furthermore, under Advance Technology Vessel (ATV), work on six Arihant-class SSBNs is underway for $13 billion. The Indian Navy’s first indigenous aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, is also under construction which, worth around $2.4 billion, will be inducted by 2023. Major deals for acquiring advanced frigates, destroyers, AEWACs, and replenishing vessels, are in the pipeline.

India has been running the world’s largest unsafeguarded nuclear programme, being the violator of nuclear safeguards, but was given a waiver in the Nuclear Suppliers Group in 2008. The Indian Nuclear City project at Challakere, Karnataka, boasts of being the world’s largest nuclear site, with excessive fissile material production capabilities sufficient to manufacture over 2,500 nuclear devices, including hydrogen bombs. According to estimates, India maintains fissile material stocks ranging to 4.0±1.4 tonnes of HEU (30 percent U-235) enriched, 0.58±0.15 tonnes of weapon-grade plutonium. [1]

The Indian space programme with a budget of $1.6 billion has embarked on multiple projects including sending manned missions to space. India on 27 March 2019 carried out an ANTISAT test targeting its own satellite, thus indicating its reckless ambitions for militarizing space. . India has launched over 29 satellites into three different orbits which include navigation, weather monitoring, and military intelligence gathering satellites. Moreover, the formation of Defence Space and Cyber Agencies by India will broaden the offensive capabilities of India.[2]

The new era of arms race in the domain of conventional, nuclear, outer space and cyber domain by India showcases only its hegemonic ambitions which can potentially destabilize the region. The balance of power in the region is gradually getting disturbed, thus creating pressure upon Pakistan to engage in an arms race to maintain the balance of power. Indian force modernization along with formation of cyber and space defense commands in coming decades would subsequently increase the security and strategic implications for Pakistan. The massive spending and procurement of weapons systems and rapid force modernization by India poses a grave danger to regional stability by 2030 upon maturation of Indian defence projects.

Moreover, the force build-up could give India the ability to engage Pakistan across all spectrums of the battlefield using network-centric warfare capabilities. In its second term, the  Modi administration has alarmingly spent $2 billion on its defense needs, indicating belligerent and hostile intentions of India. As India is crucial to the US Pivot to Asia policy, India is on a spree of force modernization for quenching its hegemonic desires at the cost of destabilizing strategic balance in South Asia. The picture that will develop after the ripening of Indian defense deals, portrays a considerable threat to the national security of not only Pakistan, but also China. Assessing emerging battlefield scenarios, it is imperative for Pakistan to reinvigorate its warfighting capacities across various domains. Pakistan should capitalize existing capabilities, ensure survivability and redundancy of command and control structures, enhance intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities such as spy satellites and develop delivery means such as long-range strategic and cruise missiles capable of striking targets deep within enemy territories while suppressing enemy air defences. Therefore, China and Pakistan should further strengthen their military ties and initiate joint ventures for research and development in the conventional domain, the emerging aerospace and naval domain and most importantly the space and cyber domain which will be the battle space of future.

[1] Indian Fissile Material, International Panel on Fissile Materials, February 12, 2018, http://fissilematerials.org/countries/india.html

[2]“India’s Military To Create Defence Space And Cyber Agencies As Part of Reforms,” SpaceWatch, April 30, 2019, https://spacewatch.global/2018/10/indias-military-to-create-defence-space-and-cyber-agencies-as-part-of-reforms/.

ventures for research and development in the conventional domain, the emerging aerospace and naval domain and most importantly the space and cyber domain which will be the battle space of future.



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