Pakistan’s Five Fingered Fist (Weapons of the Third Horn)

If Pakistan and India Clash: 5 Pakistani Weapons of War India Should Fear

 
The Pakistani JF-17 Thunder Bomber Fighter Jet

The Pakistani JF-17 Thunder Bomber Fighter Jet

Editor’s Note: Please also check out “Five Indian Weapons of War Pakistan Should Fear.”

Since 1947, Pakistan has played second fiddle to a larger, stronger India. Despite spending 50% more as a percentage of GDP on defense than India, Pakistan is militarily much weaker than India, and would lose in any conventional war. Like North Korea, Pakistan is a weakening state that invested in nuclear weapons as an inexpensive way to assure territorial integrity. An invasion of Pakistan is now likely extremely dangerous and one of the surest ways to a nuclear war. In that respect, Pakistan’s nuclear program can be considered a success.

Pakistan practices a particularly brutal form of realpolitik that involves constantly playing one party against another, to distract all parties from Pakistan’s own weakness. In support of such a policy it has evolved a wide spectrum of destructive tools, from terrorist groups to nuclear weapons. All of these tools are arrayed against India. From terrorism to nuclear war, India has to consider a wide array of contingencies it could face from Pakistan. Here are five of the most dangerous weapons India could face in any contingency.

JF-17 Thunder Fighter Bomber:

A low-cost, single-engine multirole fighter, the JF-17 “Thunder” was jointly designed by the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group (developers of the J-20 fighter) and the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex. Two hundred JF-17s may be built for the Pakistani Air Force, a significant upgrade over the existing Mirage III, Mirage V, and Chengdu F-7 fighters. The JF-17 is destined to become the backbone of the Pakistani Air Force’s fighter fleet.

Pakistan, traditionally a strong customer for American weapons, purchased several dozen F-16 Fighting Falcons in the 1980s and 1990s. The first 40 were delivered but a second batch of 28 was not, held up by American disapproval over Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program. This delay sparked an effort by Pakistan to diversify the sources of its weapons. The need for fighters coincided with China’s burgeoning military aviation industry, and the JF-17 Thunder was born.

The JF-17 outwardly appears similar to existing Pakistani Air Force fighters, in particular the French Mirage V and the American F-16 Fighting Falcon. This is probably not a coincidence, and hints at extensive Chinese study of both fighters. First flight for the JF-17 was in Chengdu, China in August 2003, with initial production in 2007.

JF-17 Thunder has an extensive suite of features common to modern fighters: a fly-by-wire control system, pulse-Doppler radar for detection and air to air engagement, in-flight refueling capability, a laser designator for ground attack, an advanced defensive countermeasures suite, and an ergonomic cockpit featuring a heads-up display and full-color digital displays. It continues to benefit from the breakneck pace of Chinese aerospace development, with new engines, a new electro-optical, helmet-mounted targeting system and avionics upgrades all planned for the near future.

The JF-17 has five weapons hardpoints that can carry a total of 8,000 pounds of fuel, equipment or munitions. Air-to-air weapons are supplied by China, with PL-5 and PL-9 short-range infrared missiles occupying the two wingtip hardpoints. For beyond visual-range engagements, the JF-17 would be equipped with the Chinese PL-12 active-radar homing missile. Air-to-ground weapons are less well known but would likely include various forms of unguided “dumb” bombs, laser-guided bombs, rocket pods, precision-guided missiles and anti-ship missiles.

 Khalid-Class Submarine:

The Pakistani Khalid Submarine

The Pakistani Khalid Submarine

The Pakistani Navy is heavily outmatched by the Indian Navy in nearly all respects. The Indian Navy has more people, more ships and more planes. In terms of technology, it is far outstripping Pakistan. Pakistan’s most useful naval assets against India are its three Khalid-class diesel electric attack submarines. These submarines alone could practice an “anti-access, area-denial” (A2/AD) strategy of their own against an Indian Navy attempting to impose a blockade on Karachi and ports west.

The three Khalid-class submarines are modernized versions of the French Agosta-class diesel electric submarines. Khalid, Saad and Hamza are relatively small, weighing in at 2,050 tons submerged. The Khalid class can make 12 knots surfaced and just over 20 knots submerged. All three submarines have been fitted with an air independent propulsion system, allowing them to stay submerged—where they are difficult to detect—for greater periods.

Armament for the Khalid class is in the form of four 533mm standard diameter torpedo tubes. The torpedo tubes can be used to launch French-made ECAN F17 Mod 2 wire-guided torpedoes. Capable of both active and passive homing, the F17 Mod 2 can deliver a 250kg warhead up to 20 kilometers. At longer ranges, the submarines can strike targets with the famous Exocet anti-ship missile. SM39, the submerged version of Exocet, has a range of up to 50 kilometers and a high explosive warhead of 165 kilograms.

Pakistani Nuclear Weapons:

The Pakistani Ghaznavi Nuclear Missile

The Pakistani Ghaznavi Nuclear Missile

Pakistan resolved to build a nuclear arsenal after the 1971 war with India; the 1974 test of an Indian atomic device reinforced in Pakistan’s view. Pakistan’s nuclear program proceeded under the notorious Dr. A.Q. Khan, considered the “Father of the Pakistani Bomb.” In 1998, Pakistan shocked the world by simultaneously detonating multiple nuclear devices that ranged in yield from sub-kiloton to up to a possible 36 kilotons.

The number of nuclear weapons Pakistan is thought to possess is unknown but estimated to be between 90 and 110, a number derived from the amount of fissile material Pakistan is thought to have produced. Pakistani nukes are thought to have two delivery systems: aircraft bombs and ballistic missiles. Early model Pakistani F-16 fighter-bombers were probably designated in the late 1990s to carry nuclear gravity bombs. From Pakistan’s F-16 base at Sargodha, a nuclear armed F-16A could reach as far as central India. That is, if it can get through India’s national air defense network.

Pakistan has two short-range tactical ballistic missiles, the Ghaznavi and Shaheen missiles. Pakistan is currently developing two more short range missiles, the Abdali and Nasr. For longer range strikes Pakistan has an unknown number of Ghauri-2 missiles, an intermediate range ballistic missile based on the North Korean Nodong missile. Not much is known about the Ghauri-2, which was first deployed in the 1990s. A liquid fueled, road mobile, single stage missile with a range of approximately 2,000 kilometers, it theoretically has the ability to hit eighty percent of India. A newer intermediate range ballistic missile, Shaheen-2, is solid-fueled and reportedly has a range of 2,000 kilometers.

Despite the proliferation of Pakistani nuclear weapons and delivery vehicles this does not particularly mean Pakistan has a secure or reliable nuclear arsenal. The physical security of Pakistani nuclear weapons—particularly against a military coup or terrorist attack—has been a source of concern for the West and the United States in particular. The proliferation of Pakistani nuclear missile designs suggests early designs have been less than successful.

Non-State Actor Terrorist Groups:

Pakistani Terrorist Groups

Pakistani Terrorist Groups

Perhaps the most dangerous weapon in Pakistan’s arsenal are terrorist groups.

The danger to India is that these groups—particularly those plotting and conducting attacks against civilians—could pressure the Indian government to retaliate militarily against Pakistan.

The larger danger of such groups is that they could prompt the Indian government to take measures that would lead to all-out war between the two countries. The activation of India’s “Cold Start” conventional military doctrine, in which the Indian Army would defeat the Pakistani Army and then rapidly move into Pakistan, could trigger a nuclear response from Pakistan, leading to a nuclear exchange between the two countries.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs):

The Pakistani Shaphar Drone

The Pakistani Shaphar Drone

Given Pakistan’s history of provocations against its neighbor India, the revelation that the Pakistani military is getting into drones is not exactly good news. Since 2008, Pakistan has fielded two small unmanned aerial vehicles for tactical reconnaissance, the Shahpar and Uqab. Although drones have legitimate battlefield uses, the thought of Pakistan possessing drones spurs thoughts of more nefarious purposes than providing reconnaissance and security for Pakistani troops.

The smaller of the two drones, Uqab, is described by Pakistani defense contractor Global Industrial Defence Solution (GIDS) as a “tactical UAV system which can be used for battlefield damage assessment, aerial reconnaissance, artillery fire correction, search and rescue, route monitoring, flood relief operations” and so on. Uqab has a range of 150 kilometers and an endurance of six hours. A twin-tailed design with a single push turboprop engine, Uqab is capable of speeds of up to 120 to 150 kilometers an hour. Navigating by GPS, Uqab has both a full color real-time camera and a thermal imager camera.

The Shahpar drone, also made by GIDS, is slightly larger and faster, about 15% bigger and capable of speeds up to 150 kilometers per hour. Some effort has been put into reducing the Shahpar’s radar signature, although with a large push propeller attached to the rear of the drone that may be a forlorn hope. Endurance is increased to 7 hours, and the data link can transmit real-time video up to 250 kilometers. Shahpar is capable of autonomous takeoff, flying and landing, utilizing GPS.

India would fear the Shahpar and Uqab drones because they are the ideal complement to small armed groups—whether Pakistani Rangers or Laskhar-e-Taiba—sent to stir up trouble at a border outpost or in a large city. Drone surveillance could be used to reconnoiter objectives, screen flanks and provide security, and provide real-time intelligence. The Shahpar, capable of carrying payloads of up to 50 kilograms, could likely even be used to covertly deliver cargo.

Kyle Mizokami is a writer based in San Francisco who has appeared in The Diplomat, Foreign Policy, War is Boring and The Daily Beast. In 2009 he co founded the defense and security blog Japan Security Watch. You can follow him on Twitter:@KyleMizokami.

Iran Hiding Their Uranium Supplies

Iran says no need for UN to revisit military site

 
The Parchin Nuclear Site

The Parchin Nuclear Site

Iran’s defense minister on Saturday said there was no need for U.N. nuclear inspectors to pay another visit to the Parchin military site, where the country is suspected of having tested components used in nuclear weapons.

Gen. Hossein Dehghan was quoted by the official IRNA news agency as saying the IAEA had already been to the site southeast of Tehran and carried out tests there. “Besides, they have accepted that nothing happened in Parchin,” he said.

He added that Iran would not make its nuclear scientists available to the inspectors. Tehran has in the past charged the agency with leaking information that led to the assassination of scientists.

Inspectors from the U.N. nuclear watchdog have visited Parchin in the past but want to go back. Iran denies it has ever pursued nuclear weapons at Parchin, insisting it is a conventional military site.
Iran has vowed to cooperate with the IAEA as part of talks with world powers aimed at reaching a lasting agreement on its nuclear program. Western nations have long suspected Iran of pursuing a nuclear weapons capability alongside its civilian program and have imposed crippling sanctions, which Iran now hopes to see lifted in exchange for curbing its nuclear activities.

Iran insists it has never worked on nuclear arms, describing such allegations as based on false intelligence from Israel, as well as the U.S. and its Western allies.

At the same time, Iran has been guarded when it comes to military matters, fearing that information about its conventional capabilities could be leaked to Israel or the U.S., both of which have threatened to take military action if necessary to prevent it from getting a nuclear weapon.

Earlier this month Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani told visiting IAEA head Yukia Amano that Iran’s long-range missile program will not be part of the nuclear talks.

Iran inaugurated a new plant on Saturday to convert a type of uranium into a material that cannot be used to make nuclear weapons, part of an interim accord reached with world powers last November, IRNA reported.

The report quoted Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s nuclear agency, as saying that the plant will convert uranium hexafluoride, which can be used to make nuclear weapons and fuel, into uranium dioxide, which can only be used in reactors. The plant is located in the central Iranian city of Isfahan, the report said. Iran has a nuclear power plant in the southern port of Bushehr that went online in 2011.

The New Cold War

“The Russian Aggression Prevention Act” (RAPA): A Direct Path to Nuclear War with Russia

 
The New Cold War

The New Cold War

The Russian Aggression Prevention Act”, introduced to Congress by U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), will set the US on a path towards direct military conflict with Russia in Ukraine. 

Any US-Russian war is likely to quickly escalate into a nuclear war, since neither the US nor Russia would be willing to admit defeat, both have many thousands of nuclear weapons ready for instant use, and both rely upon Counterforce military doctrine that tasks their military, in the event of war, to preemptively destroy the nuclear forces of the enemy.

RAPA provides de facto NATO membership for Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova via RAPA The Russian Aggression Prevention Act, or RAPA, “Provides major non-NATO ally status for Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova for purposes of the transfer or possible transfer of defense articles or defense services.” Major non-NATO ally status would for practical purposes give NATO membership to these nations, as it would allow the US to move large amounts of military equipment and forces to them without the need for approval of other NATO member states. Thus RAPA would effectively bypass long-standing German opposition to the US request to make Ukraine and Georgia part of NATO.

Germans rightly fear placing US/NATO troops and US Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) in Ukraine, given the profound and long-standing Russian objections against the expansion of NATO (especially to Ukraine and Georgia) along with deployment of European US/NATO BMD.  Germany is acutely aware of the distinct possibility that the civil war raging in Ukraine could evolve into a Ukrainian-Russian war. Under such circumstances, deployment of US/NATO forces in Ukraine would make it virtually inevitable they would come into fight with Ukraine against Russia.

RAPA would accelerate the “implementation of phase three of the European Phased Adaptive Approach for Europe-based missile defense . . . by no later than the end of calendar year 2016.”  In 2012, Russia’s highest ranking military officer stated that Russia might consider a pre-emptive strike against such BMD deployments “when the situation gets harder.”

RAPA “Directs DOD [US Department of Defense] to assess the capabilities and needs of the Ukrainian armed forces” and “Authorizes the President, upon completion of such assessment, to provide specified military assistance to Ukraine.”  RAPA would have the US quickly supply Ukraine with$100 million worth of weapons and equipment, including anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons, crew weapons, grenade launchers, machine guns, ammunition, and Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles.

RAPA requires the Obama administration to “use all appropriate elements of United States national power…to protect the independence, sovereignty, and territorial and economic integrity of Ukraine and other sovereign nations in Europe and Eurasia from Russian aggression.” This includes “substantially increasing United States and NATO support for the armed forces of the Republics of Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia,” and “substantially increasing the complement of forward-based NATO forces in those states.”

Consequently, RAPA would produce significant buildups of US/NATO forces into Poland and the Baltic States, accelerate the construction of US BMD systems in Eastern Europe, and authorize substantial U.S. intelligence and military aid for Ukrainian military forces that continue to lay siege to the largest cities in Eastern Ukraine. If RAPA did not result in the deployment of US forces to Ukraine, it would certainly position them for rapid deployment there, in the event that the Ukrainian civil war escalates into a Ukrainian-Russian conflict.

RAPA intensifies support for ethnic cleansing in Eastern Ukraine

In Russia, Putin now is under intense domestic political pressure to send Russian forces into Eastern Ukraine, in order to stop the attacks by the Ukrainian military on the cities there, which were once part of the Soviet Union.These attacks have created an absolute humanitarian catastrophe.

On August 5, 2014, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reported that 740,000 Eastern Ukrainians had fled to Russia. They go there because Russia is close, and because most of the refugees are ethnic Russians, a fact that explains why the Russophobes in Kiev have been quite willing to indiscriminately bombard their cities.

What is taking place in Eastern Ukraine amounts to “ethnic cleansing,” the forced removal of ethnic Russians from Eastern Ukraine. This is a process that is fully supported by the US; RAPA would greatly enhance this support.

Ukrainian military forces have surrounded Donetsk – a city of almost one million people – and have for weeks conducted daily attacks against it using inaccurate multiple-launch rockets, heavy artillery fire, ballistic missiles carrying warheads with up to 1000 pounds of high explosive, and aerial bombardments. Water supplies, power plants, train stations, airports, bridges, highways, and schools have all been targeted, along with the general population. In Lugansk, a city of more than 440,000 people, a humanitarian crisis has been declared by its mayor, because the siege of the city has left it with little medicine, no fuel,intermittent power, and no water since August 3 (three weeks at the time of this writing).

After the separatists of Eastern Ukraine demanded autonomy from Kiev, and then reunion with Russia, the government in Kiev branded them as “terrorists”, and sent its military forces against them in what they euphemistically call an “anti-terrorist operation.” Framing the conflict this way makes it politically acceptable to refuse to negotiate with the separatists, and easier to justify in the US and Europe, which have grown accustomed to “the War on Terrorism.” However, the thousands of Ukrainians being killed and hundreds of thousands of being driven from their homes are just ordinary people, trying to live ordinary lives.

The New York Times reports the Ukrainian military strategy has been to bombard separatist-held cities and then send paramilitary forces to carry out “chaotic, violent assaults” against them. Many of the Ukrainian paramilitary forces were recruited from ultra-nationalist, neo-Nazi political parties; the Azov battalion flies the “Wolfs Hook” flag of Hitler’s SS divisions. Considering that more than 20 million Russians died fighting the Nazis during World War II, the presence of openly Nazi militias attacking ethnic Russians in Ukraine creates extreme anger in Russia.

RAPA supports plans in Kiev for an attack on Crimea

The Russian Aggression Prevention Act demands that Russia “withdraw from the eastern border of Ukraine,” which is by definition, the Russian border.  In other words, RAPA provocatively demands that Russia remove its own military forces away from its own borders, while Ukrainian military forces are meanwhile massed on the other side, attacking predominantly Russian cities.

RAPA also demands that “Russian forces must have withdrawn from Crimea within seven days of the enactment of the Act.” Not likely to happen, given that

(1) Crimea was part of the Russian empire from 1783 until 1954,

(2) withdrawal from Crimea would require Russia to abandon its only warm water port at Sevastopol, where Russian forces have been based, by internationally recognized treaty, since 1997, and

(3) more than three-quarters of all Crimeans voted “yes” to reunify with Russia, a vote which Russia accepted by its subsequent annexation of Crimea.

Thus, in the eyes of Russia, the requirement to “withdraw from Crimea” amounts to a US demand that Russia surrender Russian territory. Putin has just taken the entire Russian Duma (the Russian House of Representatives) to Crimea, to address them there and strongly make the point that there will be no withdrawal from Crimea.

RAPA, however, stipulates that the US does not recognize the Russian annexation of Crimea, and creates sanctions and legal penalties for anyone who does. RAPA therefore provides both military and political support for Ukrainian President Poroshenko’s stated goat that Ukraine will retake Crimea.

This goal was recently echoed by the Ukrainian defense minister, who was applauded by the Ukrainian Parliament when he told them that the Ukrainian army will “have a victory parade in Sevastopol“. These statements are taken seriously in Moscow, where they are viewed as a promise to attack Russia. Thus, Putin’s advisers are telling him he must fight today in Eastern Ukraine, or tomorrow in Crimea.

Any Russian military intervention in Eastern Ukraine would certainly be described in the West as Russian aggression in pursuit of empire, which would trigger deafening demands that US/NATO forces act to support Ukraine. Should NATO intervene, subsequent Russian military action against any NATO member would trigger the alliance’s Chapter 5 mutual defense clause, committing it to war with Russia.

Any major Ukrainian attack upon Crimea would make war with Russia inevitable. Ukraine appears to be preparing for such an assault by drafting all men of ages 18 to 60 years, in a forced mobilization of its armed forces, which also includes calling up its active reserves of one million men, and bringing more than 1000 battle tanksout of storage.  Putin is being told by his close advisers that Ukraine will have an army of half a million men in 2015.

RAPA would provide hundreds of millions of dollars to train and arm the rapidly expanding Ukrainian armed forces, and position US/NATO forces for rapid intervention on the side of Ukraine in the event of a Ukrainian-Russian war. Thus, the many political and military provisions of RAPA would certainly act to fully encourage Ukraine to carry out its stated policy to retake Crimea. The Republic of Georgia attacked Russian forces in 2008 with far fewer US promises of aid. Of course, RAPA would also arm Georgia, too.

RAPA moves the US towards nuclear war with Russia

A US/NATO-Russian war would instantly put US and Russian nuclear forces at peak alert, with both sides anticipating a nuclear first-strike from the other. Both the US and Russia have changed their nuclear war-fighting plans to include the use of preemptive nuclear first-strikes; both nations have “tactical” nuclear weapons designed for battlefield use.

The US has 180 B61 nuclear bombs deployed on six military bases of five other NATO states, which would be released to these NATO members in the event of a US/NATO-Russian war. Russia also has at least 1300 tactical nuclear weapons, and Russian war doctrine specifies their use against overwhelming conventional (NATO) forces. Any use of “tactical” or “battlefield” nuclear weapons, by either side, would likely trigger an equal or greater response from the other.

During the first Cold War, the US studiously avoided any direct military confrontation with Russia, because it was widely thought that such a war would inevitably escalate to become a nuclear war – which would utterly destroy both nations. However, there seems to be little thought or discussion of this in the US today, despite the fact that both the US and Russia appear to be preparing for such a war.

In May, the increasing tensions in Ukraine led both nations to almost simultaneously conduct large nuclear war games.  Long-range Russian nuclear bombers tested US air defenses16 times in a ten day period (July 29 – August 7). US and Russian leaders are either unaware or choose to ignore the fact that such “games” and “tests” are a dress rehearsal for human extinction.

Peer-reviewed scientific studies predict the environmental consequences of a war fought with only a fraction of US and/or Russian strategic nuclear weapons would likely wipe out the human race. Scientists predict that even a “successful” US nuclear first-strike, which destroyed 100% of Russia’s nuclear forces before they could be launched, would create catastrophic changes in global weather that would eliminate growing seasons for years. Most humans and large animals would starve to death.

Nuclear war is suicide for humans, but our leaders still have their fingers on the nuclear triggers. There seems to be absolutely no awareness, either in our Federal government or in the American public, of the existential danger posed by nuclear war. Such ignorance is embodied by The Russian Aggression Prevention Act, which if enacted will put us on a direct course for nuclear war with Russia.

Steven Starr, Senior Scientist, Physicians for Social Responsibility