“Indian Military Expansion 2020 – Implications for Pakistan’s National Security”

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Shafei Moiz Hali[1]

Abstract (This paper aims at examining India’s defence modernization and expansion schemes which are set to be fulfilled by 2020 and to draw a comparison of India’s existing and forecasted defence inventory with Pakistan’s defence inventory in order to better understand how these military modernization and expansion programs can be used as a policy tool to the detriment of Pakistan’s national security. – Author)


The prime military focus of India seems to have overshot Pakistan as it attempts to obtain a place in the international arena. By 2020 it seems as if Pakistan will lie on the periphery of India’s military focus.

This paper aims to explore the extent of the military expansion plans of 2020 and to examine the implications of this expansion on Pakistan’s national security. India’s war and military doctrine, which was issued in 2004, apparently stemmed from the lessons learnt by its extremely slow mobilization during “Operation Parakram”, which was launched as a result of the attack on the Indian Parliament on 13 December 2001. The strategy that emerged from this doctrine is known as the “Cold Start Strategy” and has been developed in the backdrop of a nuclear environment. It specifically targets Pakistan as it visualizes the launching of eight rapidly-deployable “integrated battle groups,” including those drawn from the Indian Navy and Air Force and inflicting damage through “improved accuracy, lethality and stand-off capability of weapons leading to greater destructive capability.” (Indian Military Doctrine 2004) During “Operation Parakram”, India’s sluggish mobilization had enabled not only Pakistan to effectively position its own war machines and military arsenal in battle positions but it had also provided ample time and space for the international community to exert heavy diplomatic pressure on India to back down.  India was eager to teach Pakistan a lesson for its alleged support of the perpetrators of the attack on the Parliament; however, after ten months of a military standoff, it was forced to withdraw its forces. This major incident forced its military pundits to consider a fresh doctrine, where Indian forces could be set into action and deliver a telling blow before Pakistan could retaliate or even consider deploying its nuclear weapons.

A more comprehensive review of India’s military doctrine yields India’s military expansion plans. India is refashioning its armed forces to attain global reach. The litmus test for imperialistic designs include, a desire for international military bases, the need to include aircraft carriers in its fleet, naval expansion, the acquisition of air to air refueling tankers, etc.  These are means of exhibiting long-range force, show of might and hegemonistic aspirations.

The budget of India for the fiscal year of 2011-2012 presented to the Indian parliament on 28th February 2011 allocates rupees 164, 415, 4900,000[i](Behera) to the Indian military; which is approximately $36.8 billion. This allocation represents an 11.59% growth[ii] (L. K. Behera).

From 2010-2015 India is all set to spend approximately $ 80 billion in defence acquisitions. According to the confederation of India report on “Prospects of Global Defence Export Industry in Indian Defence Market”, India is spending extravagantly on all three services. The Army is spending 42.4 Billion, the Air force 24.8 billion and the Navy 12.8 billion US dollars for their respective acquisitions.

India is planning to enhance its naval fleet by adding Scorpene submarines, aircraft carriers and carrier borne fighter aircraft and has effectively bolstered its army aviation wing which is equipped with a massive fleet of combat and noncombat helicopters.

The impact of this will be significant on Pakistan. India intends to ascend on the world forum as a major world power by 2020. Though Pakistan has nuclear answers to most of India’s designs to infiltrate Pakistani territory, Pakistan lacks in its capability to fight an aerial battle for more than 22 days[iii] (Pakistan’s Defence Minister Ahmad Mukhtar on Dunya News) and also to project naval might to overcome India’s desires to be in control of the Indian Ocean and its energy trade routes.

Pakistan has not displayed any desire for military expansion, yet, India’s massive military expansion, especially its naval expansion and its desire to set up Air Force bases outside its borders, will definitely have implications for Pakistan’s national security.

Indian Military Strategic Thinking, Military Doctrine

“India has arrived”[iv] is a statement that is bustling in the global arena.   India is fast developing into an economic juggernaut that has yet to achieve its maximum speed and looking at the way it is poised on the economic and global front, the predictions are that India will be challenging China as an economic power in the coming century.  The Indian economy is being dubbed as a galloping economy, riding on the wave of information technology and well educated manpower.  In parallel, the Indian armed forces are set to ensure that India will be the undisputed military power in the region.[v]

During the Cold War, India’s foreign policy and security policy challenges were primarily Pakistan and China specific. Concurrently, India endeavored to manage the influence of Extra Regional Forces within the region. But despite maintaining a Non-Aligned status, dependence on the former Soviet Union particularly for military hardware remained a cornerstone of India’s foreign policy. The bulk of Indian military procurements, were and continue to be of Soviet origin.

Sustainable economic development has now emerged as one of the key challenges in New Delhi’s strategic equation. The strategic priorities recently referred to by the Indian PM[vi] accordingly include, economic growth, poverty alleviation, social empowerment, and security from internal and external threats.

The Indian Military Doctrine was issued in 2004 and is set to be reviewed after every five years and to be re-written after every ten years. The current document is very detailed and is structured as a two-part document. The main part contains subjects for widespread dissemination in the Indian Army; the second part is classified with a restricted circulation.

The first part that is not classified has a total of seven chapters with twenty one sections, which lay down the guidelines for the Indian military to prepare for war.

The IMD also highlights how the future wars will be fought under Section 2 (Environment and Threat):

Emerging at short notice, being of short duration and being fought at high tempo and intensity
Non-linear conduct of operations
Deeper and wider combat zones due to increased reach of integral firepower and surveillance resources, including space-based systems
Added emphasis on the all-arms concept and need for increased jointmanship between the land, naval and air forces
Enhanced reliance on a variety of surveillance systems and, resultantly, greater availability of information contributing to increased transparency of the battlefield
Improved accuracy, lethality and stand-off capability of weapons leading to greater destructive capability
Ascendancy of Network Centric Warfare (NCW), Information Warfare (IW) and conduct of operations under the glare of the media
Threat from enemy special forces, insurgents and terrorists to rear areas which will necessitate earmarking of troops to provide security to lines of communication

Source:  Indian Military Doctrine 2004

Various chapters of the IMD all point towards modernization, quick action, maintaining the element of surprise, preparing for war, conducting operations, operations other than war, performing joint operations, enhancing logistic support and understanding war.

The strategy that culminates from the IMD is commonly known as the “Cold Start strategy.” It aims at mobilizing the armed forces swiftly and demands joint cooperation of all three forces. After a careful study of the IMD, it is quite evident that the IMD 2004 is closely linked with the Cold Start strategy as it continuously highlights the importance and need for joint operations, improving logistic support and swift action. The IMD and the annual report of 2010- 2011 issued by the Ministry of Defence clearly points towards Pakistan and Bangladesh as threats.  Since both countries are relatively small as compared to India, therefore, swift action and mobilization will create an element of surprise and will enable India to dictate its terms.

The Indian Army conducted a massive 10-day field exercise in the Nakodar- Ludhiana-Nawanshahr-Moga area.  In these exercises joint operations were conducted and 8 battle groups were used; the battle groups comprised of tank regiments, heavy artillery, missile regiments, the Air Force and the Navy.  This strategy is inspired by similar strategies that were used in the US led allied coalition attack against Iraq in Kuwait in 1991,  the air attacks against Kosovo in 1999, the war against Afghanistan in 2001, and the invasion of Iraq in 2003.   This Cold Start strategy from the IMD has left out one very important point from the equation:  Pakistan also maintains formidable armed services and India’s armed services are not as powerful as that of the US and their allies combined.

Indian strategists are contemplating on revising the IMD and recently, the Times of India has reported that the Army Training Command under Lieutenant General A S Lamba has stated that the focus of the new Indian Military and War Doctrine is upon the following points:(Pandit, Army reworks war doctrine for Pakistan, China 2009)

  • Dealing with the eventuality of a “two-front” war.
  • Countering “both military and non-military facets of asymmetric and sub-conventional threats.”
  • Enhancing “strategic reach and out-of-area capabilities” to protect India’s interests from the Persian Gulf to the Malacca Strait.
  • Attaining “operational synergy” between the three services.
  • Achieving a technological edge over adversaries.

Indian Army Expansion Plans

India is currently the world’s largest importer of weapons; it crossed China in terms of defence spending between 2006 and 2010(CSIS 2011).  It plans to spend approximately $36.28 billion on its military for the year 2011-12(Sanjeev Miglani 2011). From 2010-2015 India is expected to spend approximately $ 80 billion in defence acquisitions. According to the confederation of India report on “Prospects of Global Defence Export Industry in the Indian Defence Market”; India is spending magnanimously on all three services. Each armed service has a hefty share. The Army is spending $ 42.4 Billion. The Army’s share in the annual budget is 50% which has been cut down by 5% and this 5% is now shared between the Air force and the Navy. Army acquisitions will be fragmented. “In its 11th Defense Plan, spanning 2007-2012, the Indian Army has designated around 600 modernization schemes, amounting to around $1.44 billion,”(Perrett 2010).

Table: 1.1

Figures are given in Crores

Source: Annual Report Ministry of Defence India 2010-2011

India’s MOD report (2010-2011) has an exclusive chapter highlighting the “Arms/Services Modernization Initiatives.”   Elaborate plans for Army modernization have been laid out in this chapter.

The Armoured Corps is undergoing rapid transformation. Night vision equipment is being purchased with the latest guns and simulators for training. The contract to equip the T-72 tanks with night vision has already been concluded, while the gunnery simulators for the T-72 and the T-90 tanks are still underway and will be concluded soon.

The Mechanised Infantry is also being revolutionized. Contracts for environmental control systems for the BMP -2/2k and Milan 2T missiles for Recce and Support battalions have been formalized and concluded. Third generation antitank missiles integrated with heat signature recognition have also been ordered and will soon be incorporated.

As far as the Artillery is concerned the Field Artillery Rationalization Plan (FARP) which was originally concocted in 1999 is now being implemented with the introduction of two thousand one hundred and eighty four guns. It is an $8,000,000,000 plan, with 100 guns being inducted annually. The focus for procurement of Artillery equipment has primarily been the enhancement of surveillance capability.  Procurement of the Telescopic Mast for Lorros and Heron UAV is at an advanced stage. Procurement of various other weapons and equipment such as the Pinaka Multi Barrel Rocket Launcher System, 155SP Gun (Wheeled) and 155mm Ultra Light Howitzer, 155mm Towed Gun, Smerch  Multi Launcher Rocket System and Vehicle Platform for GRAD BM 21 MBRL is also in progress.

Army Air Defence is also being developed into a modern support group. The Corps of Army Air Defence is taking massive leaps in the up gradation process of its guns and surface to air missiles. The Akash Missile System is being procured which is far superior to its predecessor. Three dimensional tactical control and low level eight Radars are also being incorporated in the near future thus augmenting the Army Air Defence.

The Army Engineers Corps have been enhanced as well. Many new contracts have been signed for the procurement of modern technologies with the likes of Reaction Team Boats for high altitude missions, Trawls for tank T-72 and Engineers to operate in a Nuclear Biological and Chemical (NBC) environment has also been enhanced with the signing of contracts for Recce Vehicles, RPL Dosimeter MK II and Reader Personal Dosimeter.

The Signals Corps has undertaken a number of major steps in consolidating the various networks of the Indian Army. Up gradation of Army Static Switched Communication Network (ASCON) and Army Wide Area Network (AWAN) is in progress to incorporate the latest technological changes and further extend the reach of these Procurement of Defence Communication Network, a prestigious Tri-Service project, is at an advanced stage.

The Infantry within the army is also being revamped and are being given a new look, foot soldiers are going to be equipped with a wide variety of new weapons and the special forces are going to be allotted “Bullet Proof Jackets and Ballistic Helmets for counter insurgency operations; Hand Grenades and Ballistic Shields for Ghatak Platoons etc.”(India 2010) The Futuristic Infantry Soldier as a System (F-INSAS) is a modernization plan developed by the Indian army to revolutionize its 465 infantry and paramilitary battalions with the state of the art modern weapons and equipment. This plan will be implemented between 2012 -2020 for which deals are already in progress.  F-INSAS is aimed at giving the Indian army a complete facelift. “The next generation of ATGW should be in service by 2015” (Padmanabhan 2011) which will enable the army infantry to become a modern and lethal force.  Soldiers will also be equipped with night vision anti aircraft guided missiles and by 2020 Indian ground forces will be equipped with all the necessary modern requirements .

Army Aviation is also being modernized as the Indian armed forces are implementing a multibillion dollar program through which it will induct approximately 1000 new helicopters. This includes: attack, transport and utility helicopters. “The choppers to be inducted into the Army, Navy and Air Force include around 450 light utility, 12 VVIP, over 200 attack, 139 Mi-17 transport and 15 heavy-lift helicopters and over 50 multi-role helicopters for the Navy.”(Aerospace 19 2011)

Indian Air Force Expansion Plans:

Within the next decade, the Indian Air Force will become a formidable force with an estimated 180 Su-30 aircraft, Medium Multirole Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) which will replace the obsolete Mig-21 fleet. It is yet to be decided whether this new fleet will comprise of F-16s, F-18s, Raphael, Eurofighter, SAAB Gripen, or the Mig-35. In addition, there are plans of inducting approximately 120 Tejas light combat aircraft. New jet trainers, a fleet of 5th generation aircrafts which remain a secret, Air borne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS), etc. are all a part of the upgradation process which has been estimated at $ 30.5 billion, if not more. (Samaddar, Mehra and Behera)

On January 10, 2011, the capability of producing and inducting Tejas, a Mach 1 light combat aircraft (LCA) was announced by the Aeronautical Development Agency in the presence of the Raksha Mantri and Chief of Air Staff (CAS) during a formal ceremony held in Bangalore.

During this ceremony, the Chief Executive of the Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC) handed over the ‘Release to Service Document (RSD)’ for the LCA (IOC-I) aircraft to the CAS.  Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) was scheduled to hand over IOC-II to the IAF in August, 2011.  In addition, another contract has been signed to procure 20 additional LCA in Final Operational Clearance (FOC) by December, 2012.(India 2010) .

Table 1.2

Budget allocation for the air force has increased from 24% of the military budget to 28% which is illustrated in the above graph taken from the Annual Report of the Indian MOD.  The dollar figure for 2011- 2012 is approximately $10.1 billion.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has a choice between F-16s, F-18s, Raphael, Euro fighter, and SAAB Gripens, to replace its aging fleet of MiG-21s. For this purpose, the IAF has issued a tender for $10.4 billion. This is being regarded as “the mother of all defence deals”(Aerospace 19 2011).  Recent reports indicate the tender worth $10.4 billion will be revised to $20 billion in order to acquire not 126 but 189 aircrafts in the near future.  The Times of India stated that “The “mother” could well become the “granny” of all defence deals in the years ahead.”(Pandit, Biggest deal: IAF may buy 189 jets for $20bn 2011)

The IAF is not only revamping its aircraft fleet but is also modifying its Radar systems. 15 Low Level Light Weight Radars (LLLWR) are being purchased from Israel. Out of the total of 15, so far 09 have already been inducted.   As a result of these inductions all the tier-I leaks of the Air Defence network have been plugged.   In addition to these acquisitions, Central Acquisition Radars (CAR) have been developed domestically by the Laser Research Development Establishment in cooperation with M/s Bharat Electronics Limited (India 2010).

Diagram 1.3

Indian Air Bases

Source: www.scramble.nl/mil/2/india/iaf-eac-orbat

As mentioned above, the Indian military is acquiring approximately 1000 new helicopters to be divided amongst all the armed services. Among these 1000 helicopters, being procured with the intention of strengthening the existing IAF fleet of Russian Mi-35 and Mi-25 combat helicopters, the IAF is planning to acquire 22 attack helicopters for which Boeing’s Apache 64-D and the Russian Mi-28 are the contenders. “Trials for the tender have been completed and the report has been submitted with the Air Headquarters and the deal would be signed in the near future.”  (Aerospace 19 2011) The IAF is also on the verge of completing its trial runs for the procurement of “15 heavy-lift helicopters to replace the fleet of Russian-origin Mi-26. Russian Mi-26 and the Boeing twin-rotor Chinook 47D are in the race for the tender”. (Aerospace 19 2011)

Indian Naval Expansion Plans:

“A developed and strong India by 2020 or even earlier, is not a dream. It may not even be a mere inspiration in the minds of many Indians. It is a mission we can all take up and accomplish”.

Dr A P J Abdul Kalam

The Indian Navy (IN) is swiftly acquiring state of the art platforms, weapons and sensors as it foresees a much broader role in the near future. With India’s economic boom, the relevance of the IN as a diplomatic force multiplier in furthering and defending Indian policies and alliances is rising[vii].  Given India’s central location the primary area of operations will be the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).  The IN must have the capability to reach out immediately to all areas within this region to sustain Indian forces, undertake required operations and achieve Indian objectives[viii].

Short to Medium Term.        In the short to medium term, the IN would want to keep the area between Hormuz and Malacca under its strategic influence. Furthermore, the IN would favor continued support of the U.S.N in the region. Over the next decade, the IN envisages operating some 160 plus platforms out of which approximately 70 percent will be capable of blue water deployment across the navy’s primary area of responsibility.  The remaining third of the IN’s fleet, comprising of mine sweepers and off shore patrol vessels (OPVs) would be divided between brown water offensive/defensive forces and an auxiliary fleet to augment sustainability and reach[ix].

Long Term.    In the long term, the IN would want to extend its strategic gaze to cover the South China Sea, the Pacific, the Red Sea and perhaps beyond in an attempt to become the sole regional policeman. At this stage, the relevance of the support of external powers would diminish as India itself would consider itself capable enough of not only managing its own agenda and objectives but also providing the necessary assistance required in the region. This however would depend on how rapidly India is able to develop its domestic military industrial infrastructure that would eventually diminish its dependence on external sources for hardware supplies.

The Indian navy is endeavoring to project power through “Reach, Multiplied by sustainability” across its “Legitimate (AOI) areas of interests.”[x] Modernization/Indigenization: Building Indian sea power through a sustained program of naval expansion is a prerequisite for a global role.[xi] The IN has realized that “great fleets need to be built and not bought.” To progress as a truly sea faring nation it must have the internal capability to match its maritime dreams and ambitions.   While substantial assets and technology are being acquired from other countries, the primary emphasis remains on developing indigenous capability.   As many as 37 ships are under construction in Indian shipyards.

Mazagon Docks Limited and Garden Reach Shipbuilders are notable among these.    Construction of an ambitious Air Defence Ship is also in progress.[xii] In addition, the navy has requested proposals from European, Russian and US shipbuilders for seven project 17A guided missile frigates; the first of which will be built overseas jointly with Indian designers and the remaining six at home.   Admiral Mehta said the navy is strongly committed to indigenization and is upgrading shipyards[xiii].  The IN is also exploring a variety of propulsion technologies for its surface and subsurface platforms which are progressing satisfactorily.

The Indian Navy has consciously taken the difficult route of indigenization in consonance with the national endeavor towards self-reliance. The Navy embarked on a program for indigenous construction of ships and development of major sub systems, sensors and weapon systems with the help of the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and the Defence Public Sector Understandings (PSUs). The present rate of construction is struggling at around 1-5 ships per year.  To meet the target by 2020 the rate of ship building needs to accelerate to 4-5 ships per year. Self-reliance through indigenization has been the Navy’s guiding philosophy over the last half century[xiv].

The Budget allocation for the Indian navy has been around 14% of the overall military budget which has now been increased to 15%.

Table 1.4

The approval for the induction of the Russian vessel Gorshkov has finally been given. The Russian Gorshkov has now been christened as the Indian Navy Ship (INS) Vikramaditya. Plans are now being made for inducting a third carrier. With the arrival of the third carrier it would become much easier to carry out routine maintenance of the carriers which, in turn, enhances the life of the carriers. The first carrier was decommissioned only because there was no replacement for it and it was being over used with insufficient maintenance. The modernization plan for the Indian Navy requires three carriers; a goal which they plan to achieve by 2020.

Some of the Indian Navy’s Major Procurement and Modernization Programs are as follows:                                                Table 1.5

Project Brief Description

Carrier Programs

The carrier program revolves around extensively modernizing the INS Viraat, acquiring the ex‐Admiral Gorshkov from Russia, and perhaps more importantly, building Vikrant class 40,000 ton aircraft carrier, being built at Cochin Shipyard expected to enter service in 2012, while the INS Vishal, a 65,000 ton aircraft carrier is also being constructed at the Cochin Shipyard.

INS Viraat modification

Major modifications and upgrades of the INS Viraat hangar include new firewalls, higher speed aircraft lifts, refits to machinery, etc. Installation of new EW systems, long‐range surveillance radars, advanced computer packages for secure and enhanced communication systems

Admiral Gorchakov

Modification & refit of Admiral Gorshkov includes fitting a 14‐degree ski jump in place of the existing missile systems on the bow, etc.

Air Defence Ship (ADS)

Construction of two ADS at Cochin Shipyard

Project 15 Delhi Class


Construction of three, large, general‐purpose destroyers, with a hybrid mix of Russian, Western and Western‐derived Indian technology in the Mazagaon Dock

Project 17 Frigate

Construction of three units of Frigate in the Mazagaon Dock
Project 1135.6 Frigate Three destroyers being ordered from Russia to replace the dwindling force

of Leander Class frigates

P16A Brahmaputra FFG Three modified variants of the 3850‐ton Project 16 Godavari Class are in various stages of sea trials, fitting out and completion at the GRSE yards in Calcutta
Project 25A Kora Class corvettes Repairing of three 25A Corvettes in the Garden Reach Shipyard

Modified Tarantul (1241RE)

Class corvettes

An order for two modified Tarantuls    ‐ one at the Goa Shipyard and one at the Mazagaon Dock


Construction of two Fast attack Crafts (FAC) intended for patrolling coastal waters, policing, anti‐smuggling and fisheries protection in the Indian EE

Amphibious Ships

Construction of the third unit of the Magar class LST


Construction of Kilos, modernizing of other eight Kilos, modernizing the 4 Type 1500 SSK, construction of locally designed Project 75 SSK, and nuclear SSN or the ATV
Source: Report Titled “Report on Indian Navy & Coast Guard” by Innovation Norway for the Norwegian Maritime Exporters Organization.


Pakistan Army Balance Vis-à-vis The Indian Army:

The Pakistan Army is considered smaller in number as compared to the Indian army which is obviously due to the difference in size of the two countries. As of 2011, the Indian  army is said to be “The largest standing volunteer Army in the world”(Indian Army 2011),  comprising of more than a million active troops. In comparison, the Pakistan army’s active manpower is 550,000 highly trained and skilled personnel. Pakistan’s army is proportionally higher in number when it comes to comparing both the armies in terms of soldier per persons.

Table 1.6

Source: (Cordesman, et al. 2011)

The Pakistan army utilizes American and Chinese equipment such as the FIM 92 Stinger SAMs, BGM-71 TOW anti-tank missiles, T-82 tanks, etc.  In comparison, the Indian army uses mostly indigenously produced weapons or weapons of soviet origin such as the IR guided 9K35 Strela-10 SAMs, 3rd Gen IR guided Nag anti-tank missiles, UAVs and a large inventory of tanks and support vehicles. In terms of quality of equipment, both are evenly matched.  In terms of sheer numbers and inventory, India has an upper hand; however, overall both forces are quite evenly balanced.

According to the inventory comparison between Pakistan and India presented in table 1.6 the Pakistan Army’s air defence is weak because the countries air defence responsibility lies primarily with the Pakistan Air Force.  Therefore, in comparing air defence systems we need to compare the Indian Army air defence with the Pakistan Air force air defence. India has 2,395 air defence guns while Pakistan has 1,900 guns.  India has 880 air defence surface to air missiles whereas the Pakistan Air Force has 150. India needs to maintain a superior air defence due to the country’s size (Pakistan is one forth the size of India) and higher number of military installations.

The Indian army has a total of 26 aircrafts while the Pakistan army holds 124 aircrafts. India maintains 4,117 tanks while Pakistan has 2,656 tanks.  In order to offset this imbalance; the Pakistan Army has 14,400 anti-tank weapons whereas India has 3,000.

In terms of Artillery, India maintains 10,758 guns in contrast to Pakistan’s 4,521 guns.   This difference in numbers is primarily due to India’s size followed by the fact that India considers itself surrounded by hostile neighbors.  In the annual Indian MOD report 2010-11 Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka are termed as medium level threats (India 2010) and China is also considered as a threat. Thus India has to maintain Artillery divisions on all its borders.

Helicopter fleets maintained by the Indian army comprise primarily of utility helicopters whereas the Pakistan Army maintains helicopters of all categories ranging from attack, support, training to utility. The total number of helicopters with the Pakistan Army is 182 out of which 25 are attack helicopters. The Indian army has 12 assault helicopters and 210 utility helicopters.  The bulk of the attack helicopters (a fleet of 20) are with the Indian Air Force.

The Indian army has 2 landing crafts whereas the Pakistan army has none. The Indian army also has 1,786 personnel carriers while the Pakistan Army maintains 1,266.

Table 1.7

Source: (Cordesman, et al. 2011)

The table above (table 1.7) shows a comparison of the total strength of the armies of both the countries. The Indian Army is much larger in number and also better equipped, however, the equipment maintained by the Pakistan Army is higher in quality which allows it the ability to match its rival. The equation will tilt in favour of the Indian army if it successfully carries out its modernization schemes mentioned in the Indian Army expansion plan.

Pakistan Navy Comparison with Indian Navy:

The Pakistan Navy, in comparison with the Indian Navy, is extremely small due to a smaller coastal area. Despite its size, the Pakistan Navy is not lacking in strategy, tactics, preparedness and the will to defend which makes it a formidable force.

The Indian Navy has a massive aircraft fleet (92) and, as we saw in the expansion plans of the Indian military and their “mother of all defence deals” (Aerospace 19 2011), they plan to purchase naval counterparts of 4th and 5th generation aircrafts as well.  This will significantly enhance their naval air arm. In comparison to India, Pakistan has two squadrons of its Air Force dedicated to protecting its coasts and another 12 aircrafts are maintained by the navy.

The purchases of the Pakistan Navy are more strategic; therefore, it is maintaining 7 Anti-submarine aircrafts while India has 4. As far as aerial maritime patrolling is concerned, India has 19 aircrafts while Pakistan has 5.  This difference is negligible because of the size of the coastal region.  The coastline of India is 7,000Kms whereas Pakistan’s is only 1,046 km.

India currently has one aircraft carrier thus making its navy far superior than Pakistan’s but at the same time it makes the Indian navy’s task more difficult as maintaining an aircraft carrier within the fleet requires extra protection to defend this asset.

The Indian navy, as can be seen in table 1.8 is far superior in terms of equipment and capability. They have 24 corvettes and 10 destroyers whereas the Pakistan navy has only 1. The number of frigates is evenly matched as the Pakistan navy relies heavily on its frigates and submarines for the defence of its shores. India has 10 mine warfare vessels whereas the Pakistan navy has 3.

Source: (Cordesman, et al. 2011)

With the modernization plans set in motion and targeted to be achieved by 2020 the Indian navy will move one step closer to becoming a blue water navy and the Pakistan Navy will have a very tough task at its hand.

(Table 1.9)

Source: (Cordesman, et al. 2011)

Pakistan Air Force Comparison with Indian Air Force:

Pakistan Air Force has historically fared well against the Indian Air Force in both the encounters of 1965 as well as 1971, despite being faced with 4 to one odds. This was primarily due to the far superior weapon systems that the Pakistan Air Force was utilizing at the time. The F-86 Sabre and the F-104 were far advanced as compared to the “hunters”, “Gnats” and MiG-21s maintained by the Indian Air Force.

The scenario has now altered. The Indian Air Force has acquired sufficient number of highly sophisticated aircrafts.  The Pakistan Air Force is in a modernizing phase, however, currently, from its inventory of fighter jets, only the F-16s can counter an Indian Assault.

At present, the fleet of fighter jets maintained by Pakistan Air Force comprise of Mirage III, Mirage IV, F-16s A, B, C& D, F-7P, F-7 PG and the newly developed JF-17 thunder which has yet to weaponized. Despite having fighter pilots far superior in training than the Indians, until Pakistan completes the induction of all the ordered JF-17 thunder aircrafts and also finalizes the deal of J-10 Aircrafts with China it cannot match the Indian Air Force.

Pakistan Air Force is also modernizing itself.  Aircraft tankers are a new edition to the Pakistan Air Force. Pakistan Air Force has two while the Indian Air Force has six. Similarly three Air Borne Early Warning Systems have been recently acquired. In the field of reconnaissance the Pakistan Air Force is endeavouring to develop a full-fledged squadron of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).

(Table 2.0)

Pakistan Air Force Equipment India
150 Air Defence
150 Air Defence Surface to Air Missiles
578 Aircraft 1041
3 Aircraft Air Borne Early Warning System
2 Aircraft Electronic Warfare
226 Aircraft Fighter Class 112
192 Aircraft Fighter Ground Attack 419
15 Aircraft Reconnaissance 3
2 Aircraft Tanker 6
112 Aircraft Training 282
26 Aircraft Transport 219
20 Helicopter 326
1 Helicopter Attack 20
4 Helicopter Support 178
15 Helicopter Utility 128
51 Radar
51 Radar land
Air Force and Air Force Reserve Manpower (1000s)
45 Active 127.2
Reserve 140

Source: (Cordesman, et al. 2011)

Source: (Cordesman, et al. 2011)

India also maintains a high number of air force bases (diagram 1.3) in comparison to the 9 that Pakistan has (diagram 2.2).  This is primarily so, because of India’s size and its perceived threats from all directions.

(Diagram 2.2)

Implications of Indian Military Expansion on Pakistan’s National Security:

1. Pakistan’s primary bone of contention with India is “Kashmir” which dates back to the origin of the two countries. India’s growing military, economic and political clout globally, has made it more resolute in its stance on this issue.

2. India’s growing influence in Afghanistan can be considered as a threat to Pakistan’s National security. The US is propping India as their economic, military as well as political ally in the region against China.  As this budding relationship grows, India can be considered as a viable member of ISAF or given the responsibility to maintain security in Afghanistan. India already has opened up 4 consulates in Jalalabad, Kandahar, Herat and Mazar-e-Sharif and ten trade missions. (Embassy of India Kabul 2011).  According to Christine Fair in her article “India in Afghanistan, part I: strategic interests, regional concerns” published in the Foreign Policy journal, she believes that “India is interested in retaining Afghanistan as a friendly state from which it has the capacity to monitor Pakistan and even, where possible, cultivate assets to influence activities in Pakistan.” (Fair 2010)

3. A report titled: “India and Afghanistan a Development Partnership” issued by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) India, highlights the influence India has created in Afghanistan. “India’s pledged assistance to Afghanistan stands at 1.2 billion US dollars” (Embassy of India Kabul 2011).  According to this report, India’s endeavours in Afghanistan range from humanitarian Assistance, Public Health, Road Construction, Power and Transmission, Support to Democracy, Transport and Communications, Small and Community-based Development Projects, Capacity Building, Industry and Commerce, to Cultural Exchanges. It seems quite ironic that despite having one third of its population living below the poverty line (International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) 2009) India is indulging in aiding others. This obviously raises concerns for Pakistan. This economic and political assistance can soon develop into a military relationship and it would not be farfetched to assume on Pakistan’s part that India would be contemplating opening up of military bases in Afghanistan like it had aspired to do so in Tajikistan. This would augment the already raging argument that India is supporting Baloch insurgencies.

4.  With its growing might, India is not only becoming a major player in global politics, but it is also actively seeking a permanent seat in the UN Security Council (UNSC) under the umbrella of the G4 UNSC reforms. The military modernization aspect of India is helping India to enhance its involvements in UN peace keeping missions, which it is undertaking to further its international political clout. If India gains militarily as well as politically in the International arena then it can easily sweep Pakistan off all negotiating tables and would even hinder Pakistan in making bilateral trade deals such as when India Challenged the European Union’s grant of special trade concessions for Pakistan due to the devastating floods of 2010.

5. Indian Navy’s continuous evolution and modernization can lead to making it the sole regional power dominating the Indian Ocean (IO). Dominance over the Indian Ocean is vital for India, the northern part of which is of immense economic and strategic importance.  India’s primary area of interest ranges from the Persian Gulf in the north to Antarctica in the south and from the Cape of Good Hope and the East coast of Africa in the west to the Straits of Malacca and the archipelagos of Malaysia and Indonesia in the east.  With a huge coast line, a strong navy is a prerequisite for India’s security[xv]. As such India’s advocacy of demilitarization of IO by ERF (especially China) is an essential element in establishing its naval supremacy.[xvi]In any future conflict, Pakistan is unlikely to match the conventional strength of India. Pakistan could consider reorienting its policy towards the east by developing its Chinese links to balance this asymmetry.


India is expanding its military might rapidly and we have seen so far that due to its economic growth it even has the means of fulfilling a very expensive shopping list for its armed services worth almost $100 billion. According to the annual report 2010-2011 issued by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) India, in the chapter of “the regional security environment”, Pakistan “continues to raise apprehensions.” (India 2010) This military modernization and expansion is certainly making all of India’s neighbours, including Pakistan and China, uneasy as it will definitely have an impact on their national security.

Study of the inventories of both militaries suggest that they are both evenly matched when it comes to strategy and more so because of the nuclear deterrence factor.  Furthermore, one can observe that there is no logical connection between the military spending of India and using its military as a policy tool to impact other nations. This is primarily so because the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy’s modernization schemes make some sense as previously they suffered due to aging equipment but the Indian Army has little need to expand, as a ground war with Pakistan is un-likely in the near future due to the nuclear factor.

Even if we analyze future procurements by the Indian Navy we can observe that; “the navy appears to want one of each  kind- a nuclear missile submarine, a modern aircraft carrier, a working cruise missile, … little attention is paid to the jointness or the linking of weapons to strategic priorities” (Dasgupta and Cohen 2010).

The IMD as well as the Indian MOD’s annual report of 2010-2011 suggest improving the military armed services through induction of modern technology. In reality, “military modernization is not just new technology, but new thinking about strategy and security and the ability to implement good ideas” (Cohen and Dasgupta 2010).  Unless India sorts out and links its structural problems regarding strategy and modernization its efforts would be scattered and not as effective which would give Pakistan and its neighbours a head start to bring their own house in order.


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[1]Shafei Moiz Hali is an instructor at the National Defense University, Islamabad.  He teaches courses on Disaster Management Policy, International Trade & Economics, and Governance Theory and Practice.




[iv]Gp Capt A K Sharma(Retd) “Indian Navy:  A Three Dimensional Technology Enabled, Networked Force” Indian Defence Review

[v]RanjitRai “The New Indian Maritime Doctrine” Asian Military Review, December 2005

[vi] ibid

[vii] Admiral Sureesh Mehta’s Interview with Jane’s Defence Weekly dated 31 January 2007

[viii] Admiral ArunPrakash, Top Brass Interview with Asian Defence Journal 10/2005

[ix] Ibid Pg 1 Admiral Sureesh Mehta

[x]Asian Defence Year Book 2009.ADJ Asia’s naval requirement.

[xi]VarunSahni:  Indian Foreign Policy Vol. 1 “India as a Global Power: Capacity, Opportunity and Strategy” Pg 25

[xii]GpCapt A K Sharma(Retd) “Indian Navy:  A Three Dimensional Technology Enabled, Networked Force” Indian Defecnce Review OP cit Pg 1

[xiii] Admiral Sureesh Mehta Op citPg 1

[xiv] www.defenceindia.com/indiannavy

[xv]Gp Capt A K Sharma(Retd) Op cit  Page 1

[xvi] The IO and the super powers Vistar , publication New Delhi