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India - Conventional War Asymmetry

Modern day warfare technology which is privy to western powers and Russia is slowly inching up towards Indian shores in the guise of thrust vectoring system, powerful phased array radars, sophisticated avionics, precision guidance mechanism, and telemetry – some of the components that are embedded in our cruise missiles, also known as currency of power in conventional war parlance.

Talking about cruise missiles and other ballistic missiles as started during 1975 under Integrated Guided Missile Development Program which was the brainchild of late prime minister Indra Gandhi whose endeavors have finally culminated fruitfully for Indians who have obtained prized catch of the day – BRAHMOS – a deadly supersonic cruise missile which can alter the battlefield scenario a la stinger in Afghanistan which made the graveyard of Russian choppers and forced Russians to flee.

Such is the deadly force of accurate, menacing Brahmos that Some have even warned that the US Navy's largest ships, the massive carriers, have now become floating death traps, and should be mothballed.

So far none has seen the massed cruise missile attack, but should it happen with multiple salvo, above is stark reality, even if not, such is the precision of Brahmos that its guidance system is able to distinguish an aircraft carrier from its escorts when locked on mode. Its land version has demonstrated its accuracy by pinpointing its target among the cluster of decoys and now follows Sea version which would be ultimately followed by Air version.

Please note the salient point here that the Brahmos missile is as deadly and precise as SS-N- 22 Sunburn or Moskit as called in Russia, another supersonic cruise missile whose technology has roots in Brahmos. In her testimony before the US House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, leading defense expert June Teuffel painted the following scenario about SS-N-22:


<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->"Nine feet above water, traveling at twice the speed of sound, with a 200-kiloton nuclear warhead, the radar-guided Sunburn missile can weave its way through smaller ships until it reaches its real target -- a US aircraft carrier. At the last instant, it would pop up from the ocean's surface, smash into the side of the carrier and set off a nuclear explosion six times as powerful as Hiroshima. The US Navy has nothing that can stop it." <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

This is the only missile that has hit the bulls eye during a test which was marked *X*, other missiles just hit the moving decoy or decommissioned tugs/vessles. So did our Brahmos, which hit the chosen target on its head, hidden among decoys.

Had Argentina possessed about fifty Exocet missiles (instead of five which downed two UK frigates/destroyers) during the Falkland war or Guerra De Las Malvinas, they could have converted all British ships to underwater museums. Such is the ferocity of missiles in today's conventional war asymmetry.

Now imagine punching a hole in one of the US aircraft carrier (which comprises of several sister escort ships) and rendering it inoperable or sinking it with couple of more strikes, that would change the course of any war.

US aircraft carriers or floating airports as they are known, which are the weapons of choice of USG that during the crisis any president is left asking where are our aircraft carriers, cause they don't need any permission from host countries as they perform in international waters and not littoral.

More, when the adversary knows the deadly power of its enemy, it thinks over and during the war crisis, changes the tough attitude, instead looks for the truce or middle ground.

Although India's blue water navy has long way to go, but if India is to retain its regional power status, it better keep up with changing technologies and weapons of choice to maintain the cutting edge because the influence and the leverage matters in today's power matrix with international ramifications.

But as I have said before and let me reiterate my pet phrase ' Migs and Mirages wont make any difference to India, Mir jafars of India will '. Thirty three years without using our combat birds and our tanks against our external threat, versus India’s fifth column who is silently stabbing Indians within our borders and goes unpunished, Its time we join hands or perish we will, Because Indians are at receiving end when it comes to internal security.

Time to think 3D.

Keshto patel

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