An IDC Analysis with inputs by Sayan Majumdar 


New Delhi, 03 November 2003

At the Combined Commanders Conference 2003, for the first time the Defence Minister George Fernandes stated for public consumption, that India was not afraid of Pakistan and the PM was clear that he wished to resolve India’s borders with China and Pakistan, to release funds for development in both countries. What got missed was that the PM stated that our Foreign Policy needed reorientation, and PM Vajpayee may not be good at military matters but in Foreign policy he is a past master assisted by the able Brajesh Mishra. As news snippets of India’s cooperation with Israel in the Air Defence, Phalcon and now nuclear field are emerging in the media, there is need to analyse the scenario.

It must be noted that the nine Corps Commanders of Pakistan, who run Pakistan and keep Gen. Musharraf in the chair and more recently the Indian Express gave a full page listing of serving and retired Army and military personnel that man Pakistan’s establishment. Unless India’s establishment can reach out to Pakistan’s military and Corps Commanders and get them somehow engaged in resolving Kashmir the way we want it –– along the LOC, there is little hope of a major breakthrough. The 12 new initiatives offered by PM as a Deepavali offering have been analysed on this site. They merely amounts to shadow boxing.

India and Pakistan today face each other on some of the most varied and inhospitable battlefields in the world in Kashmir, Siachen and Rajasthan. Both armed forces have undergone force modernisations with tanks, helicopters and artillery and re-organisation programmes and have sought to bring their military establishments up to much higher technological and operational standards, besides getting nuclear ready. The Indian and Pakistani armed forces are two extremely competent militaries and should not be underestimated. India has an advantage in numbers as George Fernandes stated, but if war was simply a numbers game, then 75–80% of the wars through history, particularly in the early years of man when numbers mattered, would not have been won by numbers. But it has been proved that smaller, well trained, more disciplined and highly motivated fighting forces, with technology can ensure victory. The Pakistan Army is motivated with Jehad. They have to be kept motivated and the Jehadis kept active with military support. This brings about a Catch 22 situation for India. 

The dynamics of Pakistan’s ‘Jihadi’ organisations, nurtured by the military establishment, are such that if not deployed in Kashmir they are likely to turn inwards, leading to heightened violence and turmoil in that country. This Musharraf and his Generals do not want. The Indian military has no say in policy so it feels compelled to ‘degrade’ Pakistan’s military machine. They are convinced that this alone would end cross-border terrorism and the security threat on its flanks that is claiming thousands of lives each year.

According to DIA estimates, more than 20,000 Islamic mercenaries, trained in guerrilla warfare and armed with sophisticated weapons, are in Pakistan today near the LOC and on the Afghanistan border, waiting to be transported to the next ‘Jihad’. Musharraf had talked of this force when India went in to Op Parakaram. And, if Kashmir is taken away from them, the Pakistani junta is in trouble –– not only are the insurgents trained in urban guerrilla warfare, but they are wholly familiar with the inner workings of the Pakistani military.

The Jehadis will become Pakistan’s Frankenstein. This Catch 22 situation needs to be tackled by India by trying to reach out to the Generals. The Arms race has begun in the sub continent and India and Pakistan are accepted as nuclear powers. India is stronger and is setting up missile batteries, which one can assume will be nuclear tipped when needed. Hence it will seek technologies to become a full-fledged nuclear power and have a robust Air defence. Israel seems to have the answers now that the Phalcon deal is through.

Recent media reports have suggested that Israel as the first “third world” nation has the nuclear triad. Their German designed submarines are now capable of firing nuclear tipped missiles. Reports have indicated a modification of a United States missile system but Israel possesses the 360 km range Popeye-3 and 400 km range Delilah. Indian Navy is also poised to get the triad going. From the opening years of the new millennium Israel was hotly pursuing a sea based nuclear deterrent that has much better chance of survival and opens up "strike options" and there was even speculations that India was very cooperative to Israel in this regard. Interestingly Israel recently stated its interest of sharing submarine related technology with India and if this indeed includes cruise missile technology capable of being fired from submarines, the cooperation is worth considering.

In the following paragraphs a short history of daring, intelligent and adventurous Israeli nuclear weapons and missile defence program is stated, as it is linked with the Security scenario of India in South Asia if Israel offers support to India. Then Chinese and North Korean tacit help to Pakistan cannot be ruled out. The Times of India in its front page on Sunday 2 Nov had a news item that an Indian engineer had been held for selling nuclear valve technology that could land up in North Korea. In fact an excellent research documentary BEHIND THE AXIS OF EVIL is doing the rounds highlighting how Pakistan gave nuclear technology to N Korea in exchange for supply of the No Dong missiles, with tacit Chinese help.

As the first Gulf war showed, Israel’s lack of territorial strategic depth like Pakistan makes it difficult to absorb a conventional attack. The quantitative predominance of its hostile Arab neighbours had resulted in Israel’s pursuit of the nuclear deterrent option as the basis of national survival. Pakistan did the same. Israel maintains a significant margin of conventional force by a reservist military to ensure victory in a conflict without practical application of the nuclear option. Pakistan does the same.

The Israeli nuclear weapons program was launched during autumn 1956 in the wake of ‘Suez Crisis’. At that point of time the Socialist government of France led by Guy Mollet was deeply committed to the survival of Israel. France like Israel felt disturbed by the virulent growth of the Arab nationalism because of growing unrest in French Algeria as again Israel felt isolated in the Middle East. France thus decided to supply a plutonium-producing reactor to be built at Dimona, in the Negev desert. In subsequent years with French Atomic Energy Commission approval, Israel in collaboration with the French firm St. Gobain Techniques Nouvelles built several additional facilities at the Dimona site including the key installation for extracting plutonium from the Dimona reactor spent fuel.

Soon France gave away key information on the design and manufacture of nuclear weapons confirmed later by Francis Perrin, the scientific head of French Atomic Energy Commission from 1951 to 1970 and intimately involved with the French–Israeli nuclear program. Thus with great and typical Israeli finesse the Israeli nuclear arsenal have possibly developed in part through the testing of non-nuclear components and computer simulation, and through acquisition of weapon design and test information from abroad. Israel is thought to have obtained data from France’s first nuclear test in 1960 and may have obtained data from United States nuclear tests during the same period including the tests of United States “boosted” and thermonuclear weapons.
Although there is no conclusive proof of any full-scale nuclear test by Israel, a signal detected on September 22, 1979 by a United States VELA satellite monitoring over the South Atlantic was in fact the flash from a low-yield nuclear explosive test, possibly of a tactical nuclear weapon or the fission trigger of a thermonuclear device. According to investigative journalist Seymour Hersh the event was indeed an Israeli nuclear test and the third of a series. The detection of the first two was obscured by storm clouds though the last mentioned aspect faces challenge.
During October 1986, revelations of Israeli nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu to the ‘Sunday Times’ were notable. Vanunu indicated that Israel has produced tritium and lithium deuteride suggesting that Israel may have developed “boosted” nuclear weapons. Seymour Hersh again in a 1991 publication, relying on United States intelligence analysts and “knowledgeable” Israelis, stated that Israel possessed significant number of low-yield enhanced-radiation type warheads mainly in form of artillery shells and land mines as well as full-fledged thermonuclear weapons. An articulate 1994 report identified Nahal Soreq as the Israeli installation for conducting research on nuclear weapons design. Assembly is done at Yodefat. Nuclear gravity bombs are sheltered at Kfar Zekharya while the tactical nuclear weapons at Eilabun.

Israel currently deploys two nuclear ballistic missile systems, 660 km range two-stage solid-fuel Jericho-1 is deployed in shelters on mobile launchers at facilities located mid way between Jerusalem and Mediterranean. Also in the arsenal are 1,500 km range two-stage solid-fuel Jericho-2. Moreover Israel’s Shavit space launch vehicle can be modified to an Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile, carrying a 500 kg payload to a distance of 7,800 km. The Israeli Heyl Ha’Avir (Air Force) deploys numerous aircrafts capable of delivery of nuclear weapons. Presently the premier strike platform is the F-15I Ra’am (Thunder). Based on United States F-15E Strike Eagle the first Israeli squadron was declared operational during 1999. Israel is keen to order attrition aircraft before the line closes. In accordance to “Begin doctrine” put forward by ex Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Israeli F-16s destroyed the Iraqi plutonium-producing Osiraq research reactor in a daring air raid on June 7, 1981 to “block any attempt by adversaries to acquire nuclear weapons”. Top cover was provided by the F-15s.

Again for protection of the Israeli homeland from missile attacks from adversaries with nuclear, chemical or biological warhead the centerpiece of Israel’s layered system of strategic missile defence called Homa is the Arrow 2 ATBM (Anti-Tactical Ballistic Missile). Arrow 2 is meant to intercept tactical missiles just as they start re-entering atmosphere after reaching the highest point in their flight trajectory. Presently the best bet for terminal defence against theatre ballistic missiles, the hypersonic (Mach 6) United States–Israeli Arrow 2 that is undergoing extensive testing and evaluation. It is at the same time operational under Israeli Defence force. Two of the systems are deployed in central Israel with a third shortly to join. They are deployed in such a manner that the coverage of the systems overlaps over vital military, commercial installations and concentrated civilian population.

Arrow 2 is launched vertically, giving each battery 360 degrees coverage. The missiles can be launched separately or in salvos with the Green Pine L-band, phased array, dual-mode detection and fire control radar determining the intercept point and uplinking very accurate data to the Arrow 2. After Arrow 2 is brought to the best engagement point on the theatre ballistic missile, its Electro-optical sensor acquires the target to allow very near pass and then activate the fragmentation warhead. Arrow 2 has thrust vectoring control.

Green Pine is said to be capable of tracking ballistic missiles from a range of up to 500 km while intercept of the attacking missile may occur 140 km away at an altitude of 60 km. The long range of Green Pine radar system ensures that a second shot can be taken at the incoming ballistic missile if the first shot fails to secure the "kill". The ballistic missiles are again intercepted at a much higher altitude to prevent them from disintegrating as they approach lower altitude, thus "faking" multiple targets on radar screens. Intercept can thus be endoatmospheric or exoatmospheric. Israel also receives data from the United States DSP (Defence Space Program) early warning satellites and Boeing RC-135 Cobra Ball intelligence aircraft.

The Citron Tree FCC (Fire Control Centre) is capable of conducting multiple, simultaneous interceptions and includes ten battle stations. Launches are controlled by Hazelnut Tree launcher control centre. Also at the horizon is the ASIP (Arrow System Improvement Programme) being carried out jointly by Israel and United States. Arrow 2 functions as the upper tier of a two-tier combined air defence network. The lower tier comprises of United States and Israeli Patriot PAC-2/PAC-3 and United States Navy ship borne AEGIS systems.

Israel has also focused on boost-phase interception of ballistic missiles that ensures the highest percentage of success. The Israelis are reportedly working on high-altitude HA-10 UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) that will fire missile interceptors toward the attacking ballistic missiles during boost phase. They are directed by a command-and-control system developed by Tadiran Electronics Ltd. and the aircraft, in turn, feed a search and track system that can scan the area to determine whether the enemy is firing a real missile or a decoy. Their passive electro-optic sensors will have the capability to detect and track ballistic missiles during their boost phase. If the missile is fired towards Israel, the system decides which UAV will fire its interceptor. Data fusion techniques will be used to detect the most threatening target.

The UAV then fires missiles being developed by the Israel Armament Development Authority (Rafale), in a project called MOAB (Missile Optimised Anti-Ballistic Missile System), toward the enemy rocket at the boost phase. The attacking missile destroyed at that stage falls on the aggressor's territory along with its NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) payload. In this context the deterrent value of a Boost-Phase Intercept System is well apparent. The UAV is armed with extensive sensors for autonomous navigation and targeting and is able to successfully complete its mission and return to base even if the link from the controllers is cut off.

Recently, the Israelis have shifted their attention to target the enemy’s mobile missile launchers following the tactic of BLPI (Before Launch Phase Intercept). There will be far fewer launchers than missiles. Emphasis will be on developing a very high-speed, precise air-launched missile. To carry this new missile, Israel wants to refine the BPI concept. While MOAB/IBIS system is a combination of UAVs with two AAMs (Air-to-Air Missiles) for the BPI role, now Israeli planners envision a UAV that carries perhaps as many as 10 ASMs (Air-to-Surface Missiles) internally for a reduced radar signature. Such a design may also require retractable landing gear, stealth qualities and shaping and jet engines rather than propellers. A second long-range UAV, designed to loiter over enemy territory for up to 60 hours, would carry fused and multispectral sensors designed to pull additional and more precise identification and location information from the targets.

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