Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria | Twitter: @IAF_MCC
Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria | Twitter: @IAF_MCC
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Air Chief Marshal R.K.S. Bhadauria has said that India is prepared to fight a two-front war, if needed. This collusive threat from Pakistan and China is a reality — even if the possibility remains bleak — staring at us.

But behind this assertion of preparedness lie important questions that must be asked to ensure that India fights fit.

I don’t blame the Indian Air Force (IAF) chief for saying that India is prepared for a two-front eventuality even though he knows very well the huge challenge it poses and the capability gap that exists in the Indian military to truly fight that war and win. What else can we expect the Air chief, or for that matter the Army or Navy chiefs, to say when a journalist asks whether India is prepared to fight such a war or not?


Also read: IAF set to place orders for 21 MiG-29 jets from Russia by Dec to shore up aircraft strength


India’s reality

The fact that India is going for a large number of emergency procurement in wake of the border tensions with China shows that we are far from being prepared to fight a full-fledged two-front war.

To effectively counter the two-front crisis, India needs to put itself in a higher gear and have the vision to go for piecemeal deals or tactics, depending on the situation.

The only occasion in the recent past when someone from the military brass came close to publicly admitting the reality of India’s defence capability was former IAF chief B.S. Dhanoa, who in 2016 as the Vice Chief had said that his force does not have enough numbers in case a two-front war involving China and Pakistan breaks out. However, as the IAF Chief, he maintained, officially, that India did have the capability.

Many senior officers, in private, often speak about the challenges of a two-front war, but always underline that Indian soldiers are mentally prepared to fight and will not shy away from any challenge. However, while the collusive threat of Pakistan and China is a real worry in the current context, one needs to take a step back and look at the writing on the wall.

A full-fledged two-front war, where both Pakistan and China engage individually but simultaneously, in the western, northern, central and the north-eastern sector is too distant a possibility for now.

What could actually happen is that Pakistan may heat up the Line of Control (LoC) and move more troops into Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Gilgit Baltistan area to put pressure on India. An important factor that prevents a two-front war is China’s reluctance for a war with India.


Also read: IAF looking at leasing midair refuellers as efforts to purchase 6 go on, says Bhadauria


India’s air power lacks fire

Looking at the IAF, one finds that while it is well-equipped to meet a two-front challenge in terms of the logistics support it enjoys — a large fleet of fixed and rotary-wing transport aircraft such as C 130J Super Hercules, C17s, IL 76s, Chinooks and Mi17 V 5s among others— it does lack the needed fire.

Of the sanctioned strength of 42 squadrons, the IAF is currently operating only 30 and its fleet includes legacy fighters such as the MiG 21 Bisons and Jaguars. The Rafale is, indeed, a morale booster for the IAF but India currently operates only five of them. And even when the remaining 31 finally come in, their numbers will remain too less.

India’s air defence system, too, is not better than what the Chinese or the Pakistanis have. The IAF Chief was candid enough to admit that China’s strength lies in its missiles. India has ordered a new air defence system — the S-400 — from Russia. Apart from this, India has also completed phase one of the indigenous Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) programme. Air defence is something that India seriously lacks. A medium-range surface-to-air missile system that was to be developed indigenously by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) with Israeli collaboration remains a work in progress even a decade after the contract was signed with the IAF.


Also read: Decision to buy more Rafale aircraft or new fighter jets under consideration, IAF chief says


The underwater capability

The Indian Navy can easily take on Pakistan and put pressure on China. But fighting a two-front war is a different ball game. China has been on a massive modernisation drive — major military powers of the world have taken note of Beijing’s naval might.

A big gap between the Indian and Chinese Navy is the underwater capability. China has, at least, 50 operating submarines, including those capable of carrying out nuclear attacks, as against India’s strength of 15. China’s nuclear missile submarine strength could be bigger than global estimates. Anyone from the Navy would admit that while frigates, corvettes, destroyers and aircraft carriers do give the much-needed punching power, the deadliest of them all are the submarines — they lurk under water and can be used for both defensive and offensive operations.


Also read: Not just Arjun, DRDO looking to get indigenous anti-tank missile on Russian T-90 tanks too 


In Army, India has hope

When it comes to the Army, there is no doubt that the Indian soldiers are battle-hardened with war experience under their belt, but that alone cannot bridge the huge differential with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). It is often said that India is not the India of 1962. One must also understand that even China in 2020 is not the China of 1962.

Yes, a traditional war between India and China on the ground will prove to be extremely costly for the PLA because the Indian soldiers will do everything to stand the ground and give a strong reply, as they did in Galwan Valley on 15 June. However, modern warfare is not just about boots on the ground. It encompasses new fighting capabilities that include cyber, psyops, space and much more. Militaries world over have already started integrating Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology into their operational capabilities. As for India, we are still very far from getting to use such technology.

The Army is still in the process of equipping its soldiers with a basic modern firearm. It remains undecided on the future of tank warfare and is yet to meet some of the basic modernisation needs of the troops who fight more with their sheer grit and determination, rather than any state-of-the-art equipment.

Views are personal.

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21 COMMENTS

  1. TS Darbari – The Dassault Rafale is a delta-wing, single-seat, twin-engine fighter already used by the French Navy and Air Force, as well as Egypt and Qatar. The 10-ton Rafale is considered a 4.5-generation fighter that is somewhat stealthy, though less so than the fifth-generation U.S. F-35. On the other hand, it is far more maneuverable in a close-range dogfight than an F-35. The Rafale can also shoot down Chinese aircraft at long range using the deadly Meteor, a ramjet-powered, radar-guided, beyond visual range (BVR) air-to-air missile with an estimated range of more than 50 miles. The Rafale’s formidable arsenal also includes also carries the Scalp standoff air-to-ground missile, plus an advanced Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar and a Spectra jamming system. The Rafale can also “supercruise,” meaning it can fly at supersonic speed without devouring huge amounts of fuel. However, the war, in any case, is not a wise thing and therefore, both the nations should work more dilligently in resolving the issues though it is a known fact that China is master of deception and is not an ally to any nation. China is led by a single party with the policy of expansion which will prove to be pernicious for China itself in long run. Who is TS Darbari ? –
    TS Darbari is a top management professional, with several years of rich & diversified experience in Corporate Strategy, New Business Development, Sales & Marketing, Commercial Operations, Project Management, Financial Management and Strategic Alliances.
    #who_is_TS_Darbari #TS_Darbari #Ts_Darbari_Blog #TS_Darbari_News #Ts_Darbari_Views #Ts_Darbari_Blogger #TS_Darbari_Comments #Ts_Darbari_Opinion #About_TS_Darbari #TS_Darbari_Articles #Politics #Views #Comments #who_is_TS_Darbari #About_TS_Darbari

  2. Even if IAF gets more fighter jets, India will not dare fight war with china or Pakistan. Cause let alone waging war, Indian leader fears calling out ‘china’ in their speeches. This is a bitter reality. Why waste more money on procuring more defense gear?

  3. Taking on both Pakistan and China may not be that easy as it sounds. Pakistan may be weaker than India but it will try its best to keep 1/4 of Indian arm forces engaged with it.To fight Chinà with the remainder 3/4 of its arm forces who is a much bigger foe does not make much sense. India should never make such foolish decisions. One can never guess about China’s real arm forces capacity.

  4. Uniform personnel should discuss with defence minister or PM but should not give such a political statement with our drawbacks.

  5. Every entity in the world experience their strength because of their past doings . In India, our past was ruled by a shunned group of people, so now we have to struggle.

  6. Country reposes his faith in his army general air marshal admiral not theprint. For 15 years when country has not bought a single fighter jet what has been written in print. China what ever his might be will see the reality too.

  7. The writer forgot to mention Abhinonedone episode!!! Probably he considers him AbhiNoneDone!!! LOL

  8. If we could expand to a 100 Rafale in one year and maybe another 100 LCA Mark 1A in that year, the Air Chief’s comment makes sense. But he must be aware of the supply constraints of all our principal manufacturers. His comments in that context are unrealistic.

  9. India should avoid Chanayakya Mandala theory and give up religion based politics rather resolve all issues amicably and politically not militarily

    • Indians always wear the spectacles of hate ,even don’t know the meaning of respect, always found to be aggressive.

  10. So, like your boss wants and already declared that India is doomed , corrct? Shame on you… don’t worry let the time come , Indian Armed forces will prove you and your boss wrong again…and you will still have the shamefulness to stay here.. shame

  11. And What is the reason? Italian family Sonia Maino’s family ruled the country by proxy and did not care about the defence of this country for the last 60 years. Defence deals cannot happen without a cut given to the family with a network of European brokers working on behalf of the family. Be it Bofors, augusta westland, any deal the Vadra loot cut has to be ensured. Or else it will be mired for years in the red tape dragging. Lucky we still have the country intact. Thanks to lazy neighbors we have who do not want to take advantage of such catastrophic inertia in both the corrupt politicians and bureaucracy.

  12. IAF chief though himself a professional aviator was forced to make claims which even his body language did not fully support. After Feb 27th 2019 air battle it was loud & clear to all that IAF despite numerical superiority could not escalate against a determined PAF.

    IAF aircrafts like SU 30 & mirage 2000 could not fire even a single missile against intruding PAF aircrafts & had to depart the battlefield. Only Mig 21 were able to enter the air battle but after one Mig 21 got shot down other Mig 21 also pulled back.Another Mi17 helicopter also got shot down this fateful day.

    Just imagine if PLAAF had also attacked what would have happened???

    • Well your plaaf is suffering from its own challenges thats why it cant even think of attacking India. Plaf is just a paper tiger. Dont think that we Indians are not aware of your failures. Plaaf have more aircraft crashes than any other airforce in the world. Because almost all of your aircrafts are reverse engineered and so they lack technical superiority to stand against USA. Duplicate cant be better than original.Ofcourse you have numbers but these numbers didnt make any difference when you are against western war machines and that proved in vietnam war and korean wars. Dont you think that you are invincible cause the world saw what you are capable of in vietnam and korean wars. So better keep your rant to yourself and accept the reality.
      Also you seems to ignore the fact that Indian mirrages attacked deep inside in pakistan and returned unhurt. And you also ignored the fact that non of the paf war planes came closer to mirrages and sukhois on 27 th feb and instead of attacking returned back to their den. Not to mention their were 24 paf fighters against 4 IAFs that day. So stop bluffing and accept reality. Indian forces are battle hardened.

  13. On one hand, you have IAF Chief assuring the country of being capable of fighting two front war and on the other, we have The Print and its ever doubting Thomas journalists coming out with usual anti national chorus! We all know what our country lacks against Pak and China. What iAF Chief mentioned is in a specific context and we should leave it at that and get on with defense modernization, indigenization, alliance buildings etc. Let us not use too much of ‘artificial intelligence’ in shooting down our own IAF Chief!

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