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CNN: Why giving China the military edge over India may not be true

Mighty Lion

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Why conventional wisdom giving China the military edge over India may not be true
Analysis by Brad Lendon, CNN
22 June, 2020

Hong Kong(CNN) India and China went to war in 1962 over the same Himalayan region where at least 20 soldiers were killed Monday night in a bloody confrontation between the two sides.



A little under six decades ago, one month of combat resulted in a Chinese military victory, with Beijing declaring a cease-fire after securing de facto control of Aksai Chin, an area claimed by both countries. The month-long battle claimed the lives of around 700 Chinese troops and approximately double that on the Indian side in combat.

But the militaries that face off in the Himalayas today are far different from those that fought 58 years ago.

Conventional wisdom has it that China holds a significant military advantage over India, but recent studies from the Belfer Center at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in Boston and the Center for a New American Security in Washington suggest India maintains an edge in high-altitude mountainous environments, such as the one where the 2020 face-off is taking place.

Nuclear weapons

No one expects the fresh tensions to explode into nuclear war, but the fact that both China and India have become nuclear powers since their previous encounter cannot be ignored when assessing the balance of power.

Beijing became a nuclear power in 1964 and India in 1974.

An Indian Agni V missile is displayed during the Republic Day parade in New Delhi on January 26, 2013.
Figures released this week by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIRPI) estimate China has approximately 320 nuclear warheads -- more than double India's 150. Both powers have seen their arsenals grow in the past year, Beijing's by 40 warheads and New Delhi's by 10, according to SIRPI.

Both countries maintain a triad of delivery systems -- missiles, bombers and submarines. Both also ascribe to a "no first use" policy, however, meaning they've pledged only to use nuclear arms in retaliation to a nuclear attack on their county.

Air forces

India has about 270 fighters and 68 ground-attack aircraft it could bring to bear in combat with China, according to a study published in March by the Belfer Center.

New Delhi also maintains a string of small air bases near the Chinese border from which it can stage and supply those aircraft, the Belfer study, authored by Frank O'Donnell and Alexander Bollfrass, claimed.

China, by contrast, has 157 fighters and a small fleet of ground-attack drones in the region, the Belfer study said. The People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) uses eight bases in the region, but most of those are civilian airfields at problematic elevations, the study suggests.

"The high altitude of Chinese air bases in Tibet and Xinjiang, plus the generally difficult geographic and weather conditions of the region, means that Chinese fighters are limited to carrying around half their design payload and fuel," the study claims.

Aerial refueling could give the Chinese planes more payload and combat time, but the PLAAF doesn't have enough aerial tankers to get the job done, the study suggests.

A Chinese J-10 fighter jet performs at an air show in Zhuhai in 2018.

The Belfor study also gives the Indian Air Force (IAF), with its Mirage 2000 and Sukhoi Su-30 jets, a qualitative edge in the region, where China fields J-10, J-11 and Su-27 fighters.

The Indian Mirage 2000 and Su-30 jets are all-weather, multi-role aircraft -- while of the Chinese jets, only the J-10 has those abilities.

Meanwhile, India has built up its bases in the region with China in mind, according to an October 2019 report from the Center for a New American Security.

"To weather a potential People's Liberation Army (PLA) attack, India has placed greater emphasis on infrastructure hardening; base resiliency; redundant command, control, and communications systems; and improved air defense," the report claims.

The Belfer study points out that China, facing perceived threats from the United States on its eastern and southern flanks, has strengthened its bases there to the neglect of the Himalayas, leaving at least four PLA airbases vulnerable.

"Indian destruction or temporary incapacitation of some of the four above air bases would further exacerbate these PLAAF operational inflexibilities and weaknesses," it claims.

The Belfer report gives the edge to India's air force in one other area -- experience.

Pakistani soldiers stand next to what Pakistan said was the wreckage of a downed Indian fighter jet on February 27, 2019.
"Recent conflicts with Pakistan give the current IAF a level of institutional experience in actual networked combat," it says.

Lacking such experience, Chinese pilots may have difficulty thinking for themselves in a dynamic aerial battlefield, according to the Belfer report.

"Recent PLAAF exercises with unscripted scenarios have found that pilots are excessively reliant upon ground control for tactical direction," it says. "This suggests that PLAAF combat proficiency may be significantly weaker than often estimated."

Ground forces
While India has the experience in the air, the CNAS report says it is also hardened on the ground, fighting in places like Kashmir and in skirmishes along its border with Pakistan.


"India is by far the more experienced and battle-hardened party, having fought a series of limited and low-intensity conflicts in its recent past," the CNAS report says. "The PLA, on the other hand, has not experienced the crucible of combat since its conflict with Vietnam in 1979.

That month-long border war, launched by China in response to Vietnam's military intervention in Cambodia, is largely considered a defeat for China. The PLA had trouble making gains against Vietnamese troops that were smaller in number but vastly more experienced after fighting US forces during the Vietnam War.

Yet while there may be a big gap in experience in the Himalayas today, there is reportedly parity in the numbers of ground troops. Belfer estimates there are about 225,000 Indian ground forces in the region, as well as 200,000 to 230,000 Chinese.

Indian Border Security Force soldiers guard a highway leading towards Leh, bordering China, in Gagangir on June 17, 2020.
The numbers may be misleading, however. Counted among those PLA forces are units assigned to keep down any chance of insurrection in Xinjiang or Tibet, or deal with any potential conflict along China's border with Russia.

Moving them to the Indian front in the event of large-scale hostilities presents a logistical problem, as Indian airstrikes could target high-speed rail lines on the Tibetan plateau or choke points in the mountainous terrain closer to the border.

"By contrast, Indian forces are already largely in position," the report says.


However, the CNAS report adds that those Indian forces operate in rough terrain in steep valleys and can't be easily moved to plug breaches that any Chinese incursion might make. In short, the Indian troops too could be vulnerable to Chinese artillery and missile attacks on choke points in the mountains.

Those attacks could come by Chinese artillery or missiles stationed on the Tibetan plateau, which in some cases look right down on Indian border posts, the CNAS report says.

But the question is whether, in the event of large-scale conflict, China has enough missiles to take out all the targets it would need to hit in India.

The Belfer study cites estimates of a former Indian Air Force officer, who predicts China would need 220 ballistic missiles to knock out one Indian airfield for a day. With only 1,000 to 1,200 missiles available for the task, China would quickly run out of the means to shut down India's airfields, it says.

One area where China may be gaining advantage is technology and new weapons. With a larger defense budget and rapidly modernizing military, Beijing can't be counted out to close any gaps in its forces.

"China's economy is five times the size of India's and Beijing's defense spending far outstrips New Delhi's defense budget by a factor of four to one," said Nishank Motwani, international adviser at the National Center for Dialogue and Progress in Afghanistan. "The power differential between China and India is in Beijing's favor and this asymmetry is only widening."

Chinese state media has recently been heavy on articles and videos of new weaponry being deployed to its Tibetan region for exercises, including the Type 15 light tank and the new 155-millimeter vehicle-mounted howitzer. Both were introduced to the Chinese public at last year's much-hyped National Day military parade in Beijing.

"The weapons were specifically designed with advantages for plateau regions and can play important roles in safeguarding border areas," military experts told the state-sponsored Global Times.

The Chinese outlet on Tuesday --- after the clash with Indian troops the night before -- mentioned the new weapons in a report on war games in the mountainous region.

"These kinds of drills demonstrated the PLA's capability to win a regional, high-elevation conflict in its early stages by decisively eradicating the hostile headquarters and commanders, a PLA veteran who was once deployed in Tibet and asked not to be named told the Global Times," the report said.

Allies


While China may be largely on its own facing off against India in the Himalayas, New Delhi has been developing defense relationships with countries wary of Beijing as a rising military power.

New Delhi has grown closer to the United States military in recent years, with Washington calling India a "major defense partner" while increasing bi- and multilateral training.

An Indian soldier showcases a grenade launcher to a US soldier on Sept. 15, 2016, at Chaubattia, India.
In the event of a large-scale Himalayan conflict, US intelligence and surveillance could help India get a clearer picture of the battlefield.

The Belfer report uses the example of what might happen if China was to surge troops from its interior to the front lines in the mountains.

"Such a Chinese surge would also attract attention from the United States, which would alert India and enable it to counter-mobilize its own additional forces from its interior," it says.

India participates in joint military drills with countries like the US, Japan, France and Australia.

"Western troops participating in such war games and exercises regularly have expressed a grudging admiration for their Indian counterparts' tactical creativity and high degree of adaptability," the CNAS report says.

"China's joint training endeavors, on the other hand, thus far have remained relatively rudimentary in scope — with the notable exception of its increasingly advanced military exercises with Pakistan and Russia."

https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2020/06/17/...UyL863jBgoKpYdzzk4c&__twitter_impression=true
 

Counter-Errorist

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India has about 270 fighters and 68 ground-attack aircraft it could bring to bear in combat with China, according to a study published in March by the Belfer Center.
So India's going to ignore its western border and focus all airpower to the east?
China has over 2,000 combat aircrafts, including long-range strategic bombers and stealth crafts - both of which India lacks. Let that sink in. Unlike India, where Pakistan may join the war - no one else is joining the war against China for India. Bean counting shows the incompetence of the writer.

Aerial refueling could give the Chinese planes more payload and combat time, but the PLAAF doesn't have enough aerial tankers to get the job done, the study suggests.
China operates 3 IL78s and 10 H-6s - pretty overkill for a relatively small border.

The Belfor study also gives the Indian Air Force (IAF), with its Mirage 2000 and Sukhoi Su-30 jets, a qualitative edge in the region, where China fields J-10, J-11 and Su-27 fighters.
If the writers paid any attention to events of February last year, they perhaps would have noticed that comparing qualities of individual fighters against each other is futile.

The Belfer study points out that China, facing perceived threats from the United States on its eastern and southern flanks, has strengthened its bases there to the neglect of the Himalayas, leaving at least four PLA airbases vulnerable.
The massive recent build suggests otherwise.

"Recent conflicts with Pakistan give the current IAF a level of institutional experience in actual networked combat," it says.
Bahaha! Is that their take from that?!
Are they talking about the networked combat where all their aircrafts were jammed? Or the one where their AWACS taking a nap? Or the one where they shot down their own heli?

"By contrast, Indian forces are already largely in position," the report says.
No they're not! They are still arriving, acclimatizing with the new environment from rotation and without adequate equipment.

Yet while there may be a big gap in experience in the Himalayas today, there is reportedly parity in the numbers of ground troops. Belfer estimates there are about 225,000 Indian ground forces in the region, as well as 200,000 to 230,000 Chinese.
Troop count parity is legacy thinking.

The Belfer study cites estimates of a former Indian Air Force officer, who predicts China would need 220 ballistic missiles to knock out one Indian airfield for a day. With only 1,000 to 1,200 missiles available for the task, China would quickly run out of the means to shut down India's airfields, it says.
Where do I even begin?

While China may be largely on its own facing off against India in the Himalayas, New Delhi has been developing defense relationships with countries wary of Beijing as a rising military power.
No one will send even a single soldier to fight for India. Pakistan, on the other hand, will open a whole new war front for China. Even if only for it's own interests. That's the ground reality. The most US will do and has historically done is throw weapons at its allies.
 

SrNair

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Why conventional wisdom giving China the military edge over India may not be true
Analysis by Brad Lendon, CNN
22 June, 2020

Hong Kong(CNN) India and China went to war in 1962 over the same Himalayan region where at least 20 soldiers were killed Monday night in a bloody confrontation between the two sides.



A little under six decades ago, one month of combat resulted in a Chinese military victory, with Beijing declaring a cease-fire after securing de facto control of Aksai Chin, an area claimed by both countries. The month-long battle claimed the lives of around 700 Chinese troops and approximately double that on the Indian side in combat.

But the militaries that face off in the Himalayas today are far different from those that fought 58 years ago.

Conventional wisdom has it that China holds a significant military advantage over India, but recent studies from the Belfer Center at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in Boston and the Center for a New American Security in Washington suggest India maintains an edge in high-altitude mountainous environments, such as the one where the 2020 face-off is taking place.

Nuclear weapons

No one expects the fresh tensions to explode into nuclear war, but the fact that both China and India have become nuclear powers since their previous encounter cannot be ignored when assessing the balance of power.

Beijing became a nuclear power in 1964 and India in 1974.

An Indian Agni V missile is displayed during the Republic Day parade in New Delhi on January 26, 2013.
Figures released this week by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIRPI) estimate China has approximately 320 nuclear warheads -- more than double India's 150. Both powers have seen their arsenals grow in the past year, Beijing's by 40 warheads and New Delhi's by 10, according to SIRPI.

Both countries maintain a triad of delivery systems -- missiles, bombers and submarines. Both also ascribe to a "no first use" policy, however, meaning they've pledged only to use nuclear arms in retaliation to a nuclear attack on their county.

Air forces

India has about 270 fighters and 68 ground-attack aircraft it could bring to bear in combat with China, according to a study published in March by the Belfer Center.

New Delhi also maintains a string of small air bases near the Chinese border from which it can stage and supply those aircraft, the Belfer study, authored by Frank O'Donnell and Alexander Bollfrass, claimed.

China, by contrast, has 157 fighters and a small fleet of ground-attack drones in the region, the Belfer study said. The People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) uses eight bases in the region, but most of those are civilian airfields at problematic elevations, the study suggests.

"The high altitude of Chinese air bases in Tibet and Xinjiang, plus the generally difficult geographic and weather conditions of the region, means that Chinese fighters are limited to carrying around half their design payload and fuel," the study claims.

Aerial refueling could give the Chinese planes more payload and combat time, but the PLAAF doesn't have enough aerial tankers to get the job done, the study suggests.

A Chinese J-10 fighter jet performs at an air show in Zhuhai in 2018.

The Belfor study also gives the Indian Air Force (IAF), with its Mirage 2000 and Sukhoi Su-30 jets, a qualitative edge in the region, where China fields J-10, J-11 and Su-27 fighters.

The Indian Mirage 2000 and Su-30 jets are all-weather, multi-role aircraft -- while of the Chinese jets, only the J-10 has those abilities.

Meanwhile, India has built up its bases in the region with China in mind, according to an October 2019 report from the Center for a New American Security.

"To weather a potential People's Liberation Army (PLA) attack, India has placed greater emphasis on infrastructure hardening; base resiliency; redundant command, control, and communications systems; and improved air defense," the report claims.

The Belfer study points out that China, facing perceived threats from the United States on its eastern and southern flanks, has strengthened its bases there to the neglect of the Himalayas, leaving at least four PLA airbases vulnerable.

"Indian destruction or temporary incapacitation of some of the four above air bases would further exacerbate these PLAAF operational inflexibilities and weaknesses," it claims.

The Belfer report gives the edge to India's air force in one other area -- experience.

Pakistani soldiers stand next to what Pakistan said was the wreckage of a downed Indian fighter jet on February 27, 2019.
"Recent conflicts with Pakistan give the current IAF a level of institutional experience in actual networked combat," it says.

Lacking such experience, Chinese pilots may have difficulty thinking for themselves in a dynamic aerial battlefield, according to the Belfer report.

"Recent PLAAF exercises with unscripted scenarios have found that pilots are excessively reliant upon ground control for tactical direction," it says. "This suggests that PLAAF combat proficiency may be significantly weaker than often estimated."

Ground forces
While India has the experience in the air, the CNAS report says it is also hardened on the ground, fighting in places like Kashmir and in skirmishes along its border with Pakistan.


"India is by far the more experienced and battle-hardened party, having fought a series of limited and low-intensity conflicts in its recent past," the CNAS report says. "The PLA, on the other hand, has not experienced the crucible of combat since its conflict with Vietnam in 1979.

That month-long border war, launched by China in response to Vietnam's military intervention in Cambodia, is largely considered a defeat for China. The PLA had trouble making gains against Vietnamese troops that were smaller in number but vastly more experienced after fighting US forces during the Vietnam War.

Yet while there may be a big gap in experience in the Himalayas today, there is reportedly parity in the numbers of ground troops. Belfer estimates there are about 225,000 Indian ground forces in the region, as well as 200,000 to 230,000 Chinese.

Indian Border Security Force soldiers guard a highway leading towards Leh, bordering China, in Gagangir on June 17, 2020.
The numbers may be misleading, however. Counted among those PLA forces are units assigned to keep down any chance of insurrection in Xinjiang or Tibet, or deal with any potential conflict along China's border with Russia.

Moving them to the Indian front in the event of large-scale hostilities presents a logistical problem, as Indian airstrikes could target high-speed rail lines on the Tibetan plateau or choke points in the mountainous terrain closer to the border.

"By contrast, Indian forces are already largely in position," the report says.


However, the CNAS report adds that those Indian forces operate in rough terrain in steep valleys and can't be easily moved to plug breaches that any Chinese incursion might make. In short, the Indian troops too could be vulnerable to Chinese artillery and missile attacks on choke points in the mountains.

Those attacks could come by Chinese artillery or missiles stationed on the Tibetan plateau, which in some cases look right down on Indian border posts, the CNAS report says.

But the question is whether, in the event of large-scale conflict, China has enough missiles to take out all the targets it would need to hit in India.

The Belfer study cites estimates of a former Indian Air Force officer, who predicts China would need 220 ballistic missiles to knock out one Indian airfield for a day. With only 1,000 to 1,200 missiles available for the task, China would quickly run out of the means to shut down India's airfields, it says.

One area where China may be gaining advantage is technology and new weapons. With a larger defense budget and rapidly modernizing military, Beijing can't be counted out to close any gaps in its forces.

"China's economy is five times the size of India's and Beijing's defense spending far outstrips New Delhi's defense budget by a factor of four to one," said Nishank Motwani, international adviser at the National Center for Dialogue and Progress in Afghanistan. "The power differential between China and India is in Beijing's favor and this asymmetry is only widening."

Chinese state media has recently been heavy on articles and videos of new weaponry being deployed to its Tibetan region for exercises, including the Type 15 light tank and the new 155-millimeter vehicle-mounted howitzer. Both were introduced to the Chinese public at last year's much-hyped National Day military parade in Beijing.

"The weapons were specifically designed with advantages for plateau regions and can play important roles in safeguarding border areas," military experts told the state-sponsored Global Times.

The Chinese outlet on Tuesday --- after the clash with Indian troops the night before -- mentioned the new weapons in a report on war games in the mountainous region.

"These kinds of drills demonstrated the PLA's capability to win a regional, high-elevation conflict in its early stages by decisively eradicating the hostile headquarters and commanders, a PLA veteran who was once deployed in Tibet and asked not to be named told the Global Times," the report said.

Allies


While China may be largely on its own facing off against India in the Himalayas, New Delhi has been developing defense relationships with countries wary of Beijing as a rising military power.

New Delhi has grown closer to the United States military in recent years, with Washington calling India a "major defense partner" while increasing bi- and multilateral training.

An Indian soldier showcases a grenade launcher to a US soldier on Sept. 15, 2016, at Chaubattia, India.
In the event of a large-scale Himalayan conflict, US intelligence and surveillance could help India get a clearer picture of the battlefield.

The Belfer report uses the example of what might happen if China was to surge troops from its interior to the front lines in the mountains.

"Such a Chinese surge would also attract attention from the United States, which would alert India and enable it to counter-mobilize its own additional forces from its interior," it says.

India participates in joint military drills with countries like the US, Japan, France and Australia.

"Western troops participating in such war games and exercises regularly have expressed a grudging admiration for their Indian counterparts' tactical creativity and high degree of adaptability," the CNAS report says.

"China's joint training endeavors, on the other hand, thus far have remained relatively rudimentary in scope — with the notable exception of its increasingly advanced military exercises with Pakistan and Russia."

https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2020/06/17/...UyL863jBgoKpYdzzk4c&__twitter_impression=true
The main issue Indian military is going to face the artillery and rocket attack from plateau.
Large scale Armoury movement wont be safe at all.
But highly trained ground troops would be far effective

So India's going to ignore its western border and focus all airpower to the east?
China has over 2,000 combat aircrafts, including long-range strategic bombers and stealth crafts - both of which India lacks. Let that sink in. Unlike India, where Pakistan may join the war - no one else is joining the war against China for India. Bean counting shows the incompetence of the writer.


China operates 3 IL78s and 10 H-6s - pretty overkill for a relatively small border.


If the writers paid any attention to events of February last year, they perhaps would have noticed that comparing qualities of individual fighters against each other is futile.


The massive recent build suggests otherwise.


Bahaha! Is that their take from that?!
Are they talking about the networked combat where all their aircrafts were jammed? Or the one where their AWACS taking a nap? Or the one where they shot down their own heli?


No they're not! They are still arriving, acclimatizing with the new environment from rotation and without adequate equipment.


Troop count parity is legacy thinking.


Where do I even begin?


No one will send even a single soldier to fight for India. Pakistan, on the other hand, will open a whole new war front for China. Even if only for it's own interests. That's the ground reality. The most US will do and has historically done is throw weapons at its allies.
It is a study from professional academics not some political tantrum of politicians
 

twocents

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There are at least two other US reports saying the same thing. One's by Harvard and the other by some American think tank. Go look for those as well.
 

PakSword

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Bahaha! Is that their take from that?!
Are they talking about the networked combat where all their aircrafts were jammed? Or the one where their AWACS taking a nap? Or the one where they shot down their own heli?
This is the experience the article is talking about.

Indians didn't know how actual scenario will look like against a good adversary.

They have probably learned a lot after getting jammed, losing a couple of aircraft and killing own heli followed by media and intelligence battles. Pakistan knew exactly where India had planned to attack with missiles and the msg was conveyed to them that Pakistan knew the locations from where India would fire on the 7 Pakistani locations and India should have gotten ready for 21 locations (3X) of Pakistani choice in response. Pakistan exactly knew who was attending meetings at the locations bombed by Pakistan.

Praveen Sawhney talks about the networked warfare and tech involvement a lot of times in his videos. He is a true nationalist who tells the establishment from time to time about the weaknesses. From our perspective, his kind of guys are more dangerous than the over confident delutional ones.
 

Salman876

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"Recent conflicts with Pakistan give the current IAF a level of institutional experience in actual networked combat," it says.
Pakistan learned from China, and taught a lesson to India, but how can China not have experience of actual networked combat?

This is the experience the article is talking about.

Indians didn't know how actual scenario will look like against a good adversary.

They have probably learned a lot after getting jammed, losing a couple of aircraft and killing own heli followed by media and intelligence battles. Pakistan knew exactly where India has planned to attack with missiles and the msg was conveyed to them that Pakistan knows the locations from where India will fire on the 7 Pakistani locations and India should get ready for 21 locations (3X) of Pakistani choice in response. Pakistan exactly knew who was attending meetings at the locations bombed by Pakistan.

Praveen Sawhney talks about the networked warfare and tech involvement a lot of times in his videos. He is a true nationalist who tells the establishment from time to time about the weaknesses. From our perspective, his kind of guys are more dangerous than the over confident delutional ones.
Praveen Sawhney is not good for Pakistan.
 

PakSword

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Praveen Sawhney is not good for Pakistan.
Exactly.. Even Pakistanis don't understand this. They think he is underrating IA.. in fact he is telling his leadership what they should expect and prepare for. I am happy that he is trolled by large number of Indians even the Army officers.

Until there are people like Gaurav Arya in Indian army, we should be fine.. and India will keep getting good thrashing from different neighbors.
 

PAKISTANFOREVER

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Why conventional wisdom giving China the military edge over India may not be true
Analysis by Brad Lendon, CNN
22 June, 2020

Hong Kong(CNN) India and China went to war in 1962 over the same Himalayan region where at least 20 soldiers were killed Monday night in a bloody confrontation between the two sides.



A little under six decades ago, one month of combat resulted in a Chinese military victory, with Beijing declaring a cease-fire after securing de facto control of Aksai Chin, an area claimed by both countries. The month-long battle claimed the lives of around 700 Chinese troops and approximately double that on the Indian side in combat.

But the militaries that face off in the Himalayas today are far different from those that fought 58 years ago.

Conventional wisdom has it that China holds a significant military advantage over India, but recent studies from the Belfer Center at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in Boston and the Center for a New American Security in Washington suggest India maintains an edge in high-altitude mountainous environments, such as the one where the 2020 face-off is taking place.

Nuclear weapons

No one expects the fresh tensions to explode into nuclear war, but the fact that both China and India have become nuclear powers since their previous encounter cannot be ignored when assessing the balance of power.

Beijing became a nuclear power in 1964 and India in 1974.

An Indian Agni V missile is displayed during the Republic Day parade in New Delhi on January 26, 2013.
Figures released this week by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIRPI) estimate China has approximately 320 nuclear warheads -- more than double India's 150. Both powers have seen their arsenals grow in the past year, Beijing's by 40 warheads and New Delhi's by 10, according to SIRPI.

Both countries maintain a triad of delivery systems -- missiles, bombers and submarines. Both also ascribe to a "no first use" policy, however, meaning they've pledged only to use nuclear arms in retaliation to a nuclear attack on their county.

Air forces

India has about 270 fighters and 68 ground-attack aircraft it could bring to bear in combat with China, according to a study published in March by the Belfer Center.

New Delhi also maintains a string of small air bases near the Chinese border from which it can stage and supply those aircraft, the Belfer study, authored by Frank O'Donnell and Alexander Bollfrass, claimed.

China, by contrast, has 157 fighters and a small fleet of ground-attack drones in the region, the Belfer study said. The People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) uses eight bases in the region, but most of those are civilian airfields at problematic elevations, the study suggests.

"The high altitude of Chinese air bases in Tibet and Xinjiang, plus the generally difficult geographic and weather conditions of the region, means that Chinese fighters are limited to carrying around half their design payload and fuel," the study claims.

Aerial refueling could give the Chinese planes more payload and combat time, but the PLAAF doesn't have enough aerial tankers to get the job done, the study suggests.

A Chinese J-10 fighter jet performs at an air show in Zhuhai in 2018.

The Belfor study also gives the Indian Air Force (IAF), with its Mirage 2000 and Sukhoi Su-30 jets, a qualitative edge in the region, where China fields J-10, J-11 and Su-27 fighters.

The Indian Mirage 2000 and Su-30 jets are all-weather, multi-role aircraft -- while of the Chinese jets, only the J-10 has those abilities.

Meanwhile, India has built up its bases in the region with China in mind, according to an October 2019 report from the Center for a New American Security.

"To weather a potential People's Liberation Army (PLA) attack, India has placed greater emphasis on infrastructure hardening; base resiliency; redundant command, control, and communications systems; and improved air defense," the report claims.

The Belfer study points out that China, facing perceived threats from the United States on its eastern and southern flanks, has strengthened its bases there to the neglect of the Himalayas, leaving at least four PLA airbases vulnerable.

"Indian destruction or temporary incapacitation of some of the four above air bases would further exacerbate these PLAAF operational inflexibilities and weaknesses," it claims.

The Belfer report gives the edge to India's air force in one other area -- experience.

Pakistani soldiers stand next to what Pakistan said was the wreckage of a downed Indian fighter jet on February 27, 2019.
"Recent conflicts with Pakistan give the current IAF a level of institutional experience in actual networked combat," it says.

Lacking such experience, Chinese pilots may have difficulty thinking for themselves in a dynamic aerial battlefield, according to the Belfer report.

"Recent PLAAF exercises with unscripted scenarios have found that pilots are excessively reliant upon ground control for tactical direction," it says. "This suggests that PLAAF combat proficiency may be significantly weaker than often estimated."

Ground forces
While India has the experience in the air, the CNAS report says it is also hardened on the ground, fighting in places like Kashmir and in skirmishes along its border with Pakistan.


"India is by far the more experienced and battle-hardened party, having fought a series of limited and low-intensity conflicts in its recent past," the CNAS report says. "The PLA, on the other hand, has not experienced the crucible of combat since its conflict with Vietnam in 1979.

That month-long border war, launched by China in response to Vietnam's military intervention in Cambodia, is largely considered a defeat for China. The PLA had trouble making gains against Vietnamese troops that were smaller in number but vastly more experienced after fighting US forces during the Vietnam War.

Yet while there may be a big gap in experience in the Himalayas today, there is reportedly parity in the numbers of ground troops. Belfer estimates there are about 225,000 Indian ground forces in the region, as well as 200,000 to 230,000 Chinese.

Indian Border Security Force soldiers guard a highway leading towards Leh, bordering China, in Gagangir on June 17, 2020.
The numbers may be misleading, however. Counted among those PLA forces are units assigned to keep down any chance of insurrection in Xinjiang or Tibet, or deal with any potential conflict along China's border with Russia.

Moving them to the Indian front in the event of large-scale hostilities presents a logistical problem, as Indian airstrikes could target high-speed rail lines on the Tibetan plateau or choke points in the mountainous terrain closer to the border.

"By contrast, Indian forces are already largely in position," the report says.


However, the CNAS report adds that those Indian forces operate in rough terrain in steep valleys and can't be easily moved to plug breaches that any Chinese incursion might make. In short, the Indian troops too could be vulnerable to Chinese artillery and missile attacks on choke points in the mountains.

Those attacks could come by Chinese artillery or missiles stationed on the Tibetan plateau, which in some cases look right down on Indian border posts, the CNAS report says.

But the question is whether, in the event of large-scale conflict, China has enough missiles to take out all the targets it would need to hit in India.

The Belfer study cites estimates of a former Indian Air Force officer, who predicts China would need 220 ballistic missiles to knock out one Indian airfield for a day. With only 1,000 to 1,200 missiles available for the task, China would quickly run out of the means to shut down India's airfields, it says.

One area where China may be gaining advantage is technology and new weapons. With a larger defense budget and rapidly modernizing military, Beijing can't be counted out to close any gaps in its forces.

"China's economy is five times the size of India's and Beijing's defense spending far outstrips New Delhi's defense budget by a factor of four to one," said Nishank Motwani, international adviser at the National Center for Dialogue and Progress in Afghanistan. "The power differential between China and India is in Beijing's favor and this asymmetry is only widening."

Chinese state media has recently been heavy on articles and videos of new weaponry being deployed to its Tibetan region for exercises, including the Type 15 light tank and the new 155-millimeter vehicle-mounted howitzer. Both were introduced to the Chinese public at last year's much-hyped National Day military parade in Beijing.

"The weapons were specifically designed with advantages for plateau regions and can play important roles in safeguarding border areas," military experts told the state-sponsored Global Times.

The Chinese outlet on Tuesday --- after the clash with Indian troops the night before -- mentioned the new weapons in a report on war games in the mountainous region.

"These kinds of drills demonstrated the PLA's capability to win a regional, high-elevation conflict in its early stages by decisively eradicating the hostile headquarters and commanders, a PLA veteran who was once deployed in Tibet and asked not to be named told the Global Times," the report said.

Allies


While China may be largely on its own facing off against India in the Himalayas, New Delhi has been developing defense relationships with countries wary of Beijing as a rising military power.

New Delhi has grown closer to the United States military in recent years, with Washington calling India a "major defense partner" while increasing bi- and multilateral training.

An Indian soldier showcases a grenade launcher to a US soldier on Sept. 15, 2016, at Chaubattia, India.
In the event of a large-scale Himalayan conflict, US intelligence and surveillance could help India get a clearer picture of the battlefield.

The Belfer report uses the example of what might happen if China was to surge troops from its interior to the front lines in the mountains.

"Such a Chinese surge would also attract attention from the United States, which would alert India and enable it to counter-mobilize its own additional forces from its interior," it says.

India participates in joint military drills with countries like the US, Japan, France and Australia.

"Western troops participating in such war games and exercises regularly have expressed a grudging admiration for their Indian counterparts' tactical creativity and high degree of adaptability," the CNAS report says.

"China's joint training endeavors, on the other hand, thus far have remained relatively rudimentary in scope — with the notable exception of its increasingly advanced military exercises with Pakistan and Russia."

https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2020/06/17/...UyL863jBgoKpYdzzk4c&__twitter_impression=true



These guys said the same thing about the Iraqis in 1980 in order to induce Saddam Hussein to attack Iran. The rest is history. If war breaks out between China and india, america wins big time.
 

Longhorn

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All inputs from Americans, whether academics or politicians are designed and timed to encourage the Indians into a fight with the Chinese.
They are stoking the Indian delusion.
 

Bagheera

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These guys said the same thing about the Iraqis in 1980 in order to induce Saddam Hussein to attack Iran. The rest is history. If war breaks out between China and india, america wins big time.
India is not Iraq or Iran to be misled by US. India has it's own foreign policy.

- PRTP GWD
 

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