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Book Folder
#38
Financial Express

Good review of Operation Kartikeya

As India and Pakistan dabble with the latest set of peace initiatives, we have a novel that reminds us that if things go wrong now—as they did when Pakistani militants attacked Indian Parliament in 2001 and India mobilised its troops—New Delhi might be tempted to go for air strikes.

<b>Airawat Singh’s Op-Kartikeya: Round Five in South Asia </b>is based on a scenario in which, this time, New Delhi might just order a series of surgical air strikes by the Indian Air Force (IAF) simultaneously across Pakistan, by Mirage 2000 fighters from air bases in Gwalior and elsewhere.

As intelligence intercepts reveal that a new set of missiles and weapon systems that Pakistan has received from China, via the Karakoram highway that runs from north of Kashmir, could strengthen the resolve amongst the hardliners in Islamabad to step up their campaign of terror across India, the government in Delhi sanctions “Operation Kartikeya” — named after the god of war — and orders the men and machines of the IAF to gear up and meet the challenge.

Set in 2005 — two decades after Ravi Rikhiye’s controversial The Fourth Round — this facto-fiction account is different from other such works about India-Pakistan wars. Mr Singh’s book is more about air battles than land battles, because in today’s electronic era, conventional wars are of limited value, whereas, as the author states, “In the air force, time is measured in hours and minutes. The tactical movements that two opposing armies or navies engage in usually extend into days if not weeks. But when the opposing birds are set in motion the conflict is decisively altered in favour of one or the other.” The ‘birds’ are India’s nuclear capable Mirage 2000 fighters.

Written with the expertise of an insider, but by one who has interestingly never flown a fighter, the book is surprisingly accurate about the details that so many want to know, but never quite get to know. And about how the services methodically deliberate over the consequences of a conflict at the bomb-proof integrated service head quarters in Delhi; or for that matter the ‘G’ forces that a pilot faces as he pulls the joystick of the Mirage 2000 and becomes air-borne in no time.

Here is a sample: “Squadron Leader Karan Dev Singh eased back the throttle of this Mirage 2000 fighter jet and rolled the joystick to the left and pulled. When the jet turned, he instinctively tensed the muscled of his lower body, even as the G-suit inflated to help him fight the gravitational force of the landmass 10 kilometres below. The Mirage 2000 could handle up to 9Gs of that force, but at that level the pilot would experience ‘tunnel vision’ as the blood rushed away from his head causing him to eventually black out ... but just then Karan decided it was time for some fun, he told himself and rolled the jet right and on to it back, allowing it to drop like a dead weight even as he gripped the stick and held that position. This manoeuvre was meant to avoid negative G-forces ... then blood rushes to the pilot’s head and induces a feeling of weightlessness.”

OP-KARTIKEYA: Round Five in South Asia
Airavat Singh; iUniverse (USA);
$14.95 (paperback)


This is a book that will thrill military buffs and arm-chair strategists alike. A facto-fiction, that is thoroughly researched but still a most readable account of how the next military confrontation between India and Pakistan could shape up. But for the hypothetical outcome, get a hold of a copy and read it for yourself.

<i>Maroof Raza is a series editor of the Military Affairs series of Har Anand Publications</i>
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