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04/30/24 11:50 AM

#116 RE: gfp927z #115

>>> India is drawing lessons from Ukraine to counter China's military might

Business Insider

by Michael Peck


India is trying to modernize its military of 1.5 million people with lessons from Ukraine.

Until recent years, Russia supplied India with many weapons such as tanks and jets.

India is upgrading its artillery and switching to 155mm howitzers, the NATO standard.

As India boosts defense spending amid tensions with China and Pakistan, it is closely studying the Ukraine conflict for clues to the future of warfare and how to thwart its neighbors.

Some lessons that Indian experts have already drawn: India needs lots of artillery, drones and cyberwarfare capabilities.

Comparing Ukraine to India is tricky. Ukraine faces one major enemy — Russia — while India must contend with its old enemy Pakistan to the west, and an increasingly powerful China on its northwest frontier. The Russo-Ukraine war is mostly being fought over an Eastern European landscape of plains and forest, with a moderately good road network suitable for mechanized warfare. India must prepare for combat in a variety of terrain and climate conditions, including desert, jungle and some of the tallest mountains on Earth.

India is also trying to modernize and standardize equipment for its armed forces, which comprise about 1.5 million personnel armed with a potpourri of equipment from several nations, as well as indigenous Indian gear. Until recent years, Russia supplied many weapons such as tanks and jets, but India is increasingly acquiring arms from Western nations, including American howitzers, French jet fighters, and Israeli drones.

The Indian Army's artillery, for example, includes more than 3,000 weapons and multiple rocket launchers, including Russian, American, Swedish and South Korean designs. Indian observers believe Ukraine shows the importance of having plentiful and modern artillery. Artillery has arguably become the decisive combat arm in that war, with Russian firing 10,000 shells per day and advancing, while a munitions shortage has limited Ukraine to around 2,000 shells per day. This deluge of firepower has forced both armies to dig in, and turned the conflict into trench warfare.

"Looking at the demonstration of artillery fire in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, two lessons are available to the Indian Army," wrote Amrita Jash, an assistant professor at the Manipal Academy of Higher Education, in a report for the Observer Research Foundation, an Indian think tank. "First, that firepower can be a 'battle-winning factor,' and second, that the time between acquiring the target to shooting has drastically reduced: where it once took five to 10 minutes, it now takes only a minute or two."

Indeed, India already planning to modernize its artillery arsenal, including switching to 155-mm howitzers — the standard NATO caliber — and developing longer-range shells and rockets.

The air war over Ukraine has proven to be a surprise, especially given Russian superiority in numbers of aircraft and technology. Anti-aircraft missiles have deterred the air forces of both sides from venturing into enemy airspace, with Russian aircraft limited to firing stand-off missiles at Ukrainian cities rather than providing air support for its ground troops. Drones have become the stars and workhorses of the air war, with both sides deploying — and losing — drones in the hundreds of thousands.

There are lessons here for Indian airpower, according to Arjun Subramaniam, a retired Indian Air Force air vice marshal who helped write the ORF report. India must prepare for "gaining control of the air in limited time and space conditions in a short, high-intensity limited conflict as well as in a longer, protracted conflict." The Air Force must also ensure that its plans are synchronized with ground and naval forces. India should also continue to focus on suppressing enemy air defenses, "particularly against an adversary that is more interested in denying rather than controlling the airspace."

Not surprisingly, Subramaniam wants the Indian military to increase drone development and production. But he is also concerned about the possibility of a mass drone attack on India. "Of greater importance is the need to rapidly develop counter-drone capabilities that would be essential in responding to large-scale surprise attacks and retain effective second-strike capabilities," he wrote.

Cyberwarfare has also emerged in Ukraine as a crucial tool in everything from hacking into military computers and critical infrastructure to purveying propaganda and deepfakes in global media. ORF researcher Shimona Mohan noted "the increasing role of largely civilian organizations like big tech in conflict situations and the deepening interplay of civil-military partnerships around dual-use technologies like AI."

Mohan recommends that India invest in cyberwarfare, as other nations are doing. "However, if this is not feasible for socio-political or economic reasons, it should be a priority for countries to ensure that their strategic geopolitical allies are formidable tech powers—for instance in this war, Ukraine received much support from its more tech-savvy partners like the US and private tech companies."

Michael Peck is a defense writer whose work has appeared in Forbes, Defense News, Foreign Policy magazine, and other publications. He holds an MA in political science from Rutgers Univ. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.