🔴 INTRODUCTION :
Pakistani establishment has the habit of staying in a fool’s paradise that it will always have its deterrence alive against numerically and weapons-wise superior Indian Military. Every few years it raises a new bogey from its closet that it has found a counter to India’s Cold Start Doctrine. And in the garb of this subterfuge it continues to stoke fires of separatism in Kashmir and other places uninterrupted by funding and fueling them from across the border. In fact this speciousness suits Pakistani military as it serves two purposes simultaneously. On the one hand, the Pakistani Army or so called Deep State can keep its relevance in Pakistan’s already tottering political-economic set-up, and on the other it serves to psychologically dissuade Indian Military from launching an all out offensive against Pakistan.
🔵 THREAT FROM PAKISTAN :
A cocksure, self-confident Pakistan hedges its bets mainly against three missiles that it believes would see it through in case hostilities start with India. First is Hatf IX or NASR which is a tactical ballistic missile with a range of 60km that can be armed with conventional or tactical nuclear warheads against advancing units of Indian Army. However it will take some time before Pakistan manages to manufacture in sufficiently large numbers. Primary threat therefore -both then and now-stems from 80 solid-fuelled single-stage Hatf III or Ghaznavi (M-11/CSS-7 Mod 1/DF-11) 280-km range Tactical Ballistic Missile (TBM) and 60 liquid-fuelled single-stage IRBM’s (Intermediate-range ballistic missiles) Hatf V or Ghauri-1 (Nodong-1 of North Korean origin). The Pakistan Army deploys two Missile Groups each of the Ghauri-1 and Ghaznavi (grouped under two separate Artillery Brigades).
During hostilities with India, all these missiles will be armed with conventional HE (High Explosive) or FAE-based (Fuel Air Explosives) warheads. Each such Missile Group comprises 18 Ghaznavi Transporter Erector Launchers (TELs) each with one ready-to-fire missile and two reloads, and 18 Ghauri-1 TELs each with two ready-to-fire missiles and two reloads. A Group can also be divided into three Batteries (with six Ghaznavi TELs and six missiles plus two reloads and six Ghauri-1 TELs with 12 missiles and 24 reloads).
🔴 INDIA’S THEATRE MISSILE DEFENCE :
Though the Indian Air Force had decided to acquire Theatre Missile Defence (TMD) assets way back in 1996, it was the Ministry of Defence-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation that first got into the act of proposing a homegrown solution, for which it initiated the development of the PAD/PDV family of exo-atmospheric interceptor missiles and AAD family of endo-atmospheric interceptor missiles. For target acquisition-cum-engagement, two EL/M-2080 ‘Green Pine’ active phased-array L-band long-range tracking radars (LRTR) were ordered in late 1998 from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), along with two THALES-built Master-A MFCRs, and a TMD simulation testbed from Israel’s Tadiran Electronic Systems.
Unfortunately, despite 19 years of R & D effort, the DRDO was finding it difficult to offer a fully functional TMD system, leave alone a networked TMD network. The main problem had been the DRDO’s inability to develop hypersonic interceptor missiles and their internally-mounted Ka-band active phased-array radars for terminal guidance. Only homegrown X-band and Ku-band radar seekers have been designed and tested.
And that is precisely the reason why, in 2013, when a combined team from Israeli Aerospace Industries and Russia’s JSC Almaz-Antey MSDB made an unsolicited presentation to the IAF on an improved version of the S-400 ‘Triumph’ LR-SAM (a generation ahead of what has been sold to China) that would make use of IAI’s latest EL/M-2090U UHF-band active phased-array LRTR, the IAF began making hectic plans for procuring such a system for TMD within the foreseeable future.
Presently, the S-400 makes use of four different types of supersonic endo-atmospheric interceptor missiles (top speed of 4.8km/second): the 40N6E, the 9M96E2, the 48N6E3 and the 48N6E2, all of which are armed with HE-fragmentation warheads. What Russia has proposed for the IAF are two HYPERSONIC missiles, the exo-atmospheric 77N6-N and the endo-atmospheric 77N6-NI, having top speeds of 7km/second and also being the first SAMs of Russian origin to possess INERT warheads, i.e. warheads that do not contain any explosives and instead, are ‘hittile’, meaning they will destroy inbound TBMs, IRBMs or MRBMs (Medium Range Ballistic Missiles) by sheer force of impact.
The most revolutionary element of the 77N6-N and the 77N6-NI hypersonic LR-SAMs will be their on-board nose-mounted, Ka-band millimeter-wave active phased-array radar seekers and their real-time discrimination algorithms required for fire-control and guidance of hit-to-kill interceptors. To this end, the radar seekers have been designed with a rigid mount and narrow beam to provide precise angle metric accuracy. The combination of metric accuracy, wide bandwidth, and high Doppler-resolution capabilities makes them excellent sensors for real-time discrimination, for they can provide extremely accurate identification-processing estimates of motion differences caused by mass imbalances on real and threat-like targets.
The 300-tonne EL/M-2090U ULTRA C-22 LRTR features an array of 22 UHF-band transmit-receive modules (TRM) in a single clustered unit that has been designed so that modules can be easily swapped. Using UHF, rather than the higher frequency bands, has particular application at long ranges since it suffers from less signal loss in the atmosphere. A discriminating innovation of the ELM-2090U is the digitisation of the signals at the TRM-level, which allows more flexibility in beam-forming and shaping. For TMD along a sectoral footprint, IAI has developed the EL/M-2090U’s ULTRA C-6 version, which has six TRM clusters. Each cluster can electronically steer its beam through +/-60 degrees in azimuth and across a 40-degree sector in elevation. In all cases, the array can be mechanically tilted through 30 degrees in elevation to provide a total elevation coverage of 70 degrees. The larger C-22 version comes mounted on a rail assembly that can be mechanically slewed through +/100 degrees to give 320-degree coverage.
As per the IAF’s projections, there existed a requirement for 12 Batteries of the S-400 (each Battery using four TELs each housing four cannister-encased LR-SAMs), plus 12 C-6 LRTRs and two C-22 LRTRs. In other words, as per the IAF’s appreciation, a total of 11 strategic sectors are required to be protected against inbound TBMs, IRBMs and MRBMs.
🔵 INDIA’S STANCE VIS-A-VIS PAKISTAN :
Interestingly India had officially decided not to field a new generation of solid-fuelled tactical ballistic missiles—be they conventionally armed or nuclear-capable—for replacing the liquid-fuelled Prithvi-1 NLOS-BSMs of 1990s vintage. What this essentially meant, was that unlike Pakistan, India will not use ballistic missiles of any type that are conventionally armed, since such weapons have zero counter-force/counter-strike value. Pakistan, on the other hand, views conventionally armed ballistic missiles as weapons that can be employed as ‘terror weapons’ against civilian targets like large Indian cities as part of an effort to demoralise the civilian population residing in cities that are either India’s financial hubs, or technological hubs.
Therefore, if Pakistan wants to secure the deterrent value of its strategic Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD arsenals) against an Indian Theatre Missile Defence shield, it can only do so if it formally adopts a ‘no first-use’ doctrine with universal applicability, at least for its strategic WMD inventory, if not for the short-range Tactical Nuclear Warheads (TNWs) that are presently intended for use only in battlefields within Pakistan.
However despite coaxing by USA since the term of President Obama, Pakistan has refused to abide by the ‘No First Use of Nuclear Weapons.’ In this scenario only two options remained for India. One was to procure Hypersonic anti-missile systems and neutralise the threat of Pakistan’s WMDs and delivery systems. Other is to join forces with like-minded democracies like USA, UK, Afghanistan and possibly Iran and physically confiscate or destroy Pakistan’s entire arsenal of WMD’s.
🔴 HOW PRALAY, PRAHAR AND S-400 ARE SIGNIFICANT :
It was in response to China’s People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force (PLARF) fielding a sizeable inventory of conventionally armed BMs in Tibet like Dongfeng 12 (DF-12), that Indian Army felt the need of an effective counter that could defeat the TMDs of the adversary and hit high value targets. Besides Pakistan had begun to flaunt series of short range missiles like Hatf 2 “Abdali”, Hatf 9 “Nasr”, Hatf 8 “Ra’ad”.
Earlier the only means for the IA to strike targets at distances of close to 500 km was the Brahmos supersonic cruise missile (CM), which though deadly accurate, can carry a payload of only about 200 kg or so, besides being somewhat expensive. Therefore DRDO in 2015 was tasked to develop a new mobile short-range ballistic missile dubbed “Pralay” which has the ability to carry several different conventional warheads.
Conventional warheads that can be equipped on the Pralay include cluster warheads, fuel-air explosives, bunker-busters, and electromagnetic pulse (EMP) warheads. Pralay can also carry nuclear warheads up to 800 kg and employs a maneuverable re-entry vehicle (MaRV) and decoys to defeat theater missile defense systems. Even with a payload of 1000kgs the missile will have a range of 350km. With a lighter payload of 500kg Pralay will be able to hit a target as far as 400km.
Pralay Missile system will also be getting a Canister Mobile Launcher based aboard an 8×8 truck chassis. This system uses on-board inertial navigation system (INS) and will carry a warhead weighing under 800kgs with a circular error probable (CEP) of less than 10 meters. Pralay will also have unconventional flight profile and will have the ability to change directions to make it more unpredictable and raise difficulty level for Air Defence Systems. Further, mobility of the launch platform also makes a launch difficult to prevent.
Prahaar is another solid-fuelled TBM (with a range of 150 km) developed by DRDO which is expected to replace the Prithvi-I short-range ballistic missile. It has superior hardware components and better accuracy than Prithvi series of missiles which were developed in 1990s.
DRDO is also developing Pakistan-centric nuclear missile called Agni-1P which will replace Prithvi and Agni-1 and will have a range of 300 to 700 kilometers. Agni-1P will be a two-stage, solid propellant missile with relatively latest technology which will vastly improve its accuracy but relatively will be reserved for High-value targets. Then to replace Prithvi-III missile Indian Navy is getting Dhanush surface-to-surface missile with a range of around 350km.
While these are some among many attacking options for Indian Army, Pakistan’s offensive if any would be thwarted by India’s TMD studded with S-400 launchers. For securing high value targets, India has put in place layered defence of indigenous systems like Akash Missiles and Barak air-defence systems developed in highly cherished collaboration with Israel.
🔴 HOW WAR AGAINST PAKISTAN WILL PLAY OUT :
When push comes to shove, India will order planned invasion of Pakistani territory in Rajasthan, Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir. Marching Indian Units will be protected by fully mobile Akash-2 and Barak-8 anti-missile systems. Pakistani Army vaingloriously claimed that Pakistan’s Nasr missile which is to be used on advancing Indian troops inside Pakistani territory has put paid to India’s Cold Start Doctrine. With that end in view, Pakistan has invested heavily in miniaturised tactical nuclear weapons. But it would be foolish to believe Indian troops are going to invade Pakistani territory unguarded. Nor is Indian Army wanting in answers to Pakistan’s 60km range NASR missile. Indian MBRL PINAKA-II alone strikes 75km away and its range is being further augmented. Research in guided and possibly manouverable shells as in developed countries is at an advanced stage. That apart, use of TNWs inside Pakistani territory will also have a collateral damage. And in this case bearing the brunt will be Pakistan’s own innocent population which will further serve to demoralise already stressed Pakistani government machinery.
Bamboozled by the initial outcome Pakistan will resort to launching its Hatf series of missiles targetting Indian cities and key installations. With first few launches subsumed by S-400, the Pakistani Launchers will give itself away to Indian AEWACS (Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems). Foregone that immediate reprissal from 3 arms of Indian Military using PRALAYA, PRAHAR & naval DHANUSH TBMs will be huge. Already shoddy Pakistani Arsenal suffering from want of spares since decades will hold little water against India’s Brahmos and Nirbhay Cruise missiles.
There is going to be enormous loss of life on Indian side as well, that is given, but Pakistan as it is known today will simply cease to exist. Post-war there would be reorganisation of Pakistani territory under the overarching umbrella of United Nations. Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir will finally be united with the state of Jammu and Kashmir. A country that is fomenting terrorism and holding not just India but whole world hostage to its nuclear arsenal since long, would eventually have been brought to book. And we shall get to breathe once more in a free and secure world
some inputs from trishul blog