New Delhi, 18
had recently highlighted India's Nuclear Status and the need to have
a credible Second Strike capability and the option to have a first
strike force for Pre Emptive Defence appears to be taking shape. We
now add a view on the TU 22 M aircraft that the Indian Navy is due
to acquire (as reported in media) and as CNS is due to visit Russia
shortly to commission the over due INS Talwar. The acquisition TU 22
may be discussed and analysis of this very crucial acquisition is a
projected acquisition of Tupolev-22M3 (Backfire C) for the Indian
Navy raises some questions of its intended role since the 'M3'
version is designed for strategic bombing/maritime strike. In Indian
Navy service its main weapon is projected to be the supersonic PJ-10
BrahMos ASCM (Anti-Ship Cruise Missile) and possibly a capability to
carry Nuclear bombs, that DRDO and BARC say are available. If
primary high speed reconnaissance role is also the peace time role
intended, Tupolev-22MR would have been the better choice since the 'MR'
version carries a giant SLAR (Side Looking Airborne Radar) in what
was previously the internal bomb bay. This subject is interesting as
TU can serve both recce and deterrence at low cost. The IAF is
getting the Phalcon and we had recommended joint use and TU 22M can
be a great force multiplier.
Tupolev-22MR can conduct aerial reconnaissance from a great slant
distance without having to over-fly its intended 'targets', thanks
to the SLAR. However, prudence dictates that the Indian Navy should
settle for at least two "compact" squadrons (6 each) of
the Tupolev-22M3/MR in appropriate mix. Since START 2 (Strategic
Arms Reduction Talks) had debarred the 'Backfire' from carrying
nuclear weapons, there may not be any shortage of 'surplus' in
Russia. The Russian Dalna Aviatsiya (Strategic aviation) is more
obsessed with upgradation of its Tupolev-160 'Blackjack' and
Tupolev-95MS6/MS16 'Bear' fleets and testing and induction of Kh-101
and Kh-65 ALCMs (Air Launched Cruise Missiles).
a standard Indian practice, European/Israeli radar, avionics and
detection systems may well be integrated with the Indian Navy’s
Tupolev-22M3s. The Russians are also projecting an upgraded
Tupolev-22M5 version, and the Indian Navy may be interested. Of
equal importance is the induction of an "extended range"
BrahMos ASCM to further increase the stand-off distance and range.
Finally the IAF must cooperate and not be upset that it is the Navy
that has accepted the TU 22 M, which the IAF refused as old and
ancient. They saw it in Iraq in the 70s when they trained the
decision for the Gorshkov, nuclear submarines and TU 22 M is taking
so long that our analysis is unable to keep up with the emerging
events and we hope it does not take decades like the AJT. God Bless