May 18, 2021

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Could the INDIAN ARMY stand up to CHINA?

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indian army
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When we talk about large armed forces and armies we usually focus on cases such as the united states

china or russia beyond that it’s a stretch to come up with more contenders

perhaps those of the united kingdom or france and those countries barely feature in the struggle for power and

hegemony in the 21st century but what about india after all india is the second most populous country in the world and very

soon if it is not already it will be the first and it’s not just about population by area it is also among the 10 largest

countries in the world specifically it ranks 7th moreover in one way or another its

economy is booming or so many investors hope and more and more companies are setting up production

plants there tesla to set up electric car manufacturing unit in southern india reuters

apple ramps up iphone and ipad output shift to india and vietnam nikkei asia and keep in mind because we tend to forget about it but when we talk

about india we are also talking about one of the nine nuclear powers in the world today although there is no official confirmed data its arsenal is

estimated at around 150 nuclear warheads and yes although it is often overlooked india

also has its own geopolitical clashes and disputes including its own clash with the great

asian giant the people’s republic of china you see the two countries that india has the most problematic relationship with today are pakistan and china the main focus of

the conflict is in the region of kashmir a region shared between pakistan and india with a small part also in the hands of the chinese giant so in this area india keeps two flanks open

on the one hand against pakistan which

new delhi accuses of sending militiamen

across the provisional border to

destabilise the indian part of kashmir

and

on the other hand against china with

whom it shares a border in the galwan

valley that

from time to time becomes the scene of

armed clashes and tensions

likewise india and china as we have

already told you one visualpolitik share

an unfriendly mountainous border in the

himalayas and also have conflicting

interests in the indian ocean an ocean

where we find an increasingly

expansionist china that tries to take

control of the area by building naval

bases while india

seeks to strengthen its navy to ensure

its trade routes

however despite being a demographic

giant a rising power in the making and

having two conflicts with two nuclear

powers

india the world’s leader in bureaucracy

far from having developed a powerful and

fearsome army as we might expect has an

armed forces riddled with problems

and that is not the only issue in the

areas under dispute with its neighbors

the country also lacks good overland

infrastructure

such as roads and railroads which

greatly hampers supply chains and the

potential deployment of troops in the

event of a conflict however all this

could soon change

so what role does india really play in

the new power struggle that is

developing in the asia pacific region

how does new delhi hope to compete with

its northern neighbor are we perhaps

witnessing the beginnings of a new kind

of cold war

between china and india listen up

when size does not matter

unlike china russia and other major

emerging military powers india

never had a deeply rooted military

tradition when the country ceased to be

a british colony in 1947 the british

left behind no established military

culture and no strong internal security

or

intelligence structures in fact the

situation did not change much

after independence was achieved

successive indian governments considered

the lack of economic and social

development to be a greater threat than

any posed by the country’s neighbours

and of course if we’re talking about a

poor and densely populated country you

can imagine the makeup of its armed

forces traditionally the indian army has

always been very dependent on the number

of troops leaving the issue of equipment

modernisation in second

or third place therefore although india

has the third largest military budget in

the world

after china and the united states its

operational capabilities in practice

are very limited you could say that the

configuration of the indian army is more

reminiscent of the armies of the first

half of the 20th century than

of modern armed forces

now let me explain india’s armed forces

are currently composed of

1.5 million troops according to analysts

and military strategists they need to

get rid of at least 200 000 to 300 000

men and divert the surplus resources to

improving battlefield weaponry for

example

investing in modern artillery light

attack helicopters and fourth and fifth

generation air capabilities

then in addition to over staffing and

shortages of equipment and weaponry

there is also the problem of military

pensions to give you an idea almost

30 percent of the defense budget for

2021 goes to paying military pensions

that’s almost 18 billion

out of a total budget of about 62

billion

in other words the indian army

practically spends more on military

pensions than on the acquisition of new

equipment in fact if we subtract

military pensions from the budget then

india’s position in the ranking of

countries by military spending

falls from third place to ninth and is

on par with countries like south korea

but of course with almost 1.5 million

soldiers to pay

train prepare and equip yet these are

not the only problems facing the indian

armed forces

the country has also had serious

problems in trying to achieve the goal

of developing a strong military industry

of its own and this is precisely one of

the missions that the current government

has set for itself

obviously having a strong military

industry allows a country to be much

less dependent on the international

geopolitical situation when it comes to

buying military equipment

and that also makes you less vulnerable

if you depend exclusively on purchases

in the international market

and especially if you are overly

dependent on one country

and suddenly a conflict occurs you can’t

get involved without risking what would

happen to military supplies

now this is the current situation in

india but what are they doing about it

what are new delhi’s plans well let’s

take a look

building an armed force from scratch

for some years now the indian government

has been focusing on the weaknesses of

its armed forces you could say that they

seem to have realized that they are

neither efficient

nor modern nor would they be up to the

task in case things go wrong with china

or even pakistan that explains why a

15-year modernization and restructuring

program was launched in 2012 due for

completion in 2027. we are talking about

the long-term integrated perspective

plan

or l-tip it’s a plan that anticipates

the purchase of 250 billion dollars

worth of modern weaponry during that

period but which has nevertheless been

suffering cuts and constant delays over

the years

even so although not all the deadlines

and goals set so far have been met

there has been some improvement in

indian military capabilities by sea

land and air let’s take a look at these

improvements starting with the navy

india aims to have a force of 200

warships and 500 combat aircraft

operational by 2050 which would make it

one of the strongest navies in the world

however at present

it only has about 170 ships 17

submarines and just over 200 naval

aircraft

they are therefore still far short of

their goal amidst its current equipment

it has one aircraft carrier the ins

vikramaditya which

is a soviet aircraft carrier purchased

from russia in 2004. it is also

developing native aircraft carriers with

the aim to incorporate two or more

vessels before the end of the next

decade just out of interest

approximately 60

of current indian military equipment is

of soviet or russian

origin particularly submarines aircraft

and armoured vehicles but back to the

navy in addition to the aircraft carrier

it also has 11 destroyers

13 frigates 23 corvettes seven

reconnaissance ships

15 conventional submarines one nuclear

submarine and a ballistic missile

submarine as well as other smaller

vessels

well this is the current inventory but

the question is what is to come

in addition to the two new aircraft

carriers mentioned before the plans for

the navy include

24 new submarines including six nuclear

powered and six diesel electric

submarines with advanced air independent

propulsion systems which will allow them

to stay underwater for longer they will

also acquire seven new frigates and five

support vessels among other minor

acquisitions but perhaps the real news

comes when talking about what is

expected to be added to the army and

air force you see the modernization of

the indian army involves the

incorporation of 464

russian t90 tanks in addition to the

2000 tanks

already in service the aim is to operate

some 3000 russian tanks of this type and

to have them replace the older tanks

such as the soviet t-72s that are still

in service

but it’s not just tanks improvements are

also coming in the field of artillery

with the development of long-range

artillery guns and greater mobility that

will allow

indian weapons to reach targets on the

border with pakistan from greater

distances for example up to 145

m777a2 howitzers will be procured from

the united states

a total of 100 south korean k9

self-propelled howitzers

and native atax atags howitzers are also

being developed

then to protect military and nuclear

bases along with cities and strategic

infrastructure india signed an agreement

with russia in 2016 to deploy the

russian s 400 anti-aircraft defense

system one of the best anti-aircraft

systems in the world

the adoption of the s400 could give

india a decisive advantage over pakistan

making it practically impossible for any

pakistani plane drone

helicopter or missile to attack indian

territory we’re talking about the

deployment that

yes has not sat well at all with the

united states a country allied with

india which even threatened sanctions

for

a 2017 law that punishes the purchase of

this type of russian equipment

india’s friction with the united states

rises over planned purchase of russian

s 400 defense systems new delhi did not

have a wide waiver

from a 2017 u.s law aimed at deterring

countries from buying russian military

hardware

cnbc in addition in 2017 india signed a

2 billion

contract with israel to equip the indian

army with a regiment of 16 launchers and

560 israeli barak 8 missiles oh and they

will also add 22 us apache attack

helicopters which are considered one of

the most lethal machines in the world

and after reviewing

the changes in the navy and the land

forces it is now time to turn to the air

force

friends although india is the fourth

largest air force in the world after the

united states russia and china it is not

exactly the most cutting edge

it currently has 806 fighters 82 special

mission aircraft

seven refuelling aircraft 232 transport

aircraft 652 helicopters and 325

training aircraft and if that already

sounds like a lot the iaf

the indian air force intends to add more

than 400 additional aircraft

to this end the iaf has just added 53

new sukhoi su-30s to its fleet so that

it now flies 272 aircraft of this

russian model it has also signed a

nearly 9 billion dollar contract with

france for the purchase of

36 dassault rafale fighters these two

models are capable of carrying different

types of missiles

including nuclear-capable missiles such

as the indo-russian brahmos

in addition to the fighters there are

also new early warning and airborne

control systems as well as a new

satellite network that india already has

in operation we are talking about

satellites such as the risat 2.

and a kind of lookout satellite

specially designed to monitor pakistan

24 hours a day

and this long list that we have

described only covers the most

significant programs but i think the

idea is clear

it seems that india is getting down to

work on a major modernization of its

armed forces the country wants to stop

being a paper tiger and become a feared

and fierce fire tiger but it’s going to

take a lot of money to complete its

plans and for the time being the truth

is that india has not put much money

into its defence programs in recent

years and that means that many of these

plans are being developed in

more of a piecemeal fashion than as an

integrated program to improve

operational capabilities

for example between 2000 and 2019

india’s defense spending relative to its

gdp

fell from 2.45 to 1.49

and although it has now rebounded

slightly to 2.18

if we compare it with china’s

approximately two percent and taking

into account that china’s gdp

is five times larger than india’s we can

see the significant gap between the two

countries

for their part many defense analysts say

that india’s 15-year plan which expires

in 2027

lacks strategic sense that is some of

the arms acquisitions may not be well

targeted to actual needs in the event of

war

of course perhaps india’s great strength

its great bit

is the deterrent capability of its 150

nuclear warheads but that does not mean

that it is questionable that

despite having an annual expenditure of

more than 60 billion dollars the country

can barely aspire to play any regional

role

will india manage to change the

situation and see its budding desires to

become a powerhouse field we can see

that for the time being as you can see

the modernization plans continue to

advance

albeit slowly local production is not

taking off either the government has

signed co-production and co-development

agreements with the united states

israel and russia through the make in

india scheme but it does not seem to be

enough

not to mention the bureaucratic hell

that is india and how that affects

production chains.


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