Arms

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  • Jens Heinrich asked: Why is nuclear (and conventional) arms control a "non-issue" in the current (and past) talks between India and Pakistan?

    A. Vinod Kumar replies: Nuclear or conventional arms control could figure as a key element in a dialogue only when it amounts to be the most potent point of contention between the two states or when it makes a drastic transformation in the equation. In the case of India and Pakistan where the core political issues are terrorism and Kashmir, quasi-political matters like water-sharing, arms control or nuclear confidence-building measures could only follow a larger political understanding. It could be noted that this point has not been achieved in the Indo-Pak talks. Another factor is the element of stability that is perceivably existent in the nuclear equation of these two countries.

    Though Pakistan had fought a limited war in Kargil and has undertaken a prolonged low-intensity conflict, both under nuclear conditions, and notwithstanding the Western notion of South Asia as a nuclear flashpoint, there were very few opportunities when both countries went the extra mile on nuclear Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) – the two instances being the agreement to abstain from attacking nuclear facilities and giving prior notice of missile tests. While the potential for nuclear or conventional CBMs to dramatically impact this relationship is minimal when the core political issues remain unresolved, such measures could be significant when there is threat of conflict escalation, leading to nuclear brinkmanship. Besides, there are conditions like an Indian push for ballistic missile defences, which could prompt Pakistan to seek countermeasures or push for arms reductions in the region.

    Sanket Telang asked: Why doesn't India Buy F-16s and F-18s from U.S.A? Is that not better than complaining about U.S selling arms to Pakistan?

    Cherian Samuel replies: India has no objections to buying the above mentioned aircraft from the USA; in fact, both Lockheed Martins’s F-16 Fighting Falcon and Boeing’s F-18 Super Hornet are among the six shortlisted contenders for the Indian Air Force’s intended purchase of 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) worth $ 8.5 billion. There are merits and demerits to purchasing US aircraft; while these aircraft are cheaper than the other European manufactured aircraft in the fray, there are many limitations imposed by US laws and regulations governing export of sensitive technologies that reduce the capabilities of the aircraft on offer. While the US says it is willing to ensure that these aircraft come with the latest technologies, this is contingent on India signing a number of agreements, something the Indian government is unwilling to do, since they contain clauses that would impinge on our strategic autonomy. Problems with earlier purchases of weapons arising out of such clauses also raise questions of the reliability of the US as an arms supplier. These issues would have to be settled before India can go in for purchases.

    The issue of the US selling F-16s to Pakistan is a separate issue altogether. India has objected to the fact that the United States is funding weapons purchases by Pakistan, going up from $700 million in 2010 to 1.5 billion in 2011, ostensibly for its counter-insurgency efforts. While much of these could be used in a conflict against India, it also frees up Pakistan to use its own funds to buy US armaments such as F-16s, thus indirectly fuelling an arms race in the sub-continent. The ultimate beneficiary of such an arms race would be armament manufacturers, be it in the US or elsewhere.

    Deflecting the Assassin’s Mace: The Pentagon’s New AirSea Battle Concept and its Strategic Relevance to India

    Indian strategists may well find that many of the tactical quandaries faced today by the US carrier fleets cruising through the Asia Pacific are destined to become those of the Indian Navy in the not-too-distant future. Devising an AirSea Battle concept would enable it to parry blows and reassert sea control.

    July 07, 2010

    India’s Future Aircraft Carrier Force and the Need for Strategic Flexibility

    India has long striven for a three carrier fleet comprised of one carrier battle group stationed on each seaboard, and a third carrier held in reserve.

    June 01, 2010

    MMRCA: A difficult choice for the IAF

    As an old fighter pilot, I would always pitch for a light, easily manoeuvrable, agile and relatively inexpensive fighter that delivers every time, generates high sortie rates and is easy to maintain and train on a day to day peace time schedule.

    May 19, 2010

    The Dragon’s Shield: Intricacies of China’s BMD Capability

    China undertook a BMD test on January 11, 2010, which it claimed was an exoatmospheric interception. Though Beijing was known to be developing missile defence systems for long, there were very few indicators on how far it has gone in terms of technological prowess.

    February 25, 2010

    China’s Missile Defence Test: Yet Another Milestone?

    China’s missile defence test could possibly up the ante in the region, with other regional powers considering measures in reaction.

    February 01, 2010

    Hiccups in Sino-US Relations over Arms Sales to Taiwan

    The military dialogue seems likely to remain suspended over the arms sales issue; discord over Iran’s nuclear issue may increase and more war of words may define the relationships between the two countries.

    January 25, 2010

    Japan Beefs up its Naval Capability

    To assuage fears, Japan might see merit to take India on board in the form of a naval cooperation framework to secure peace at sea. Developments in the past 4-5 years in India-Japan relations point towards that direction.

    January 05, 2010

    Developments in Major Arms Producing Countries

    The global defence industry has undergone serious restructuring since the end of Cold War. Military production has increasingly become concentrated in the hands of fewer but larger defence firms. The 1990s also saw mergers and acquisitions within the defence industry across the national boundaries. The resulting mega-defence firms especially in the United States dominate several sectors ranging from aerospace to shipbuilding to land systems, The European arms industry, on the other hand, has been under stress as the national markets are too small to support a heavily rationalised market.

    July 2009

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