Monday, January 07, 2019

Rafale Deal - Why is a Hindu RW PM making it easier for Pakistan?

I am sure you have all heard everything about the Rafale Deal and you are heartily sick of it. While the political consequences of this Rafale Deal/Scam are obvious i.e. Sangh Parivar is no less corrupt than the Gandhi Parivar - there are a few things on the strategic side I would like to point out.

My understanding of the original Rafale deal was setup to fill the coffers of those who are more receptive to INC's electoral prospects. When Modiji came to power, he renegotiated the deal to make it more attractive to people who want to see BJP win the next elections. Disappointing as it is to some - this is just business as usual. If you thought Modi was going to be different - you are just an idiot.

Without an emergent threat to the country - politicians everywhere try to maximize the "return" on any such transaction. If Modiji had not gone to town talking about how clean he was and how dirty the Gandhi Family was - the INC might not have complained about his "renegotiation". But then not only did he overdo the whole "anti-corruption" marketing - he actually physically attacked INC slush funds with his demonetization scheme and literally transferred money stashed there into BJP slush funds. When you get that aggressive with your political opponents - they will strike back at you*.   I mean seriously - put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself what would you do?

So with that out of the way - the biggest unfortunate consequence of this kind of "renegotiation" is yet another delay in getting the IAF the airplanes it needs. This is the part I worry about the most.

The IAF has been running at way below it's ideal strength of 42 squadrons. While this old idea of a 42 squadron IAF might not be appropriate for the present time as current multi-role fighters are much more capable and have longer MBTF (Mean Time Between Failure) than older airplanes - we still have to take into account that in any crisis situation the key to air dominance is a high sortie rate.

To keep up a high sortie rate and to dissuade enemy forces from even getting off the ground - you need good airplanes and pilots. Even if you have the best aircraft in the world, you still need highly trained pilots to stay in the air and keep a high alert. If you keep using the same pilots - you will lose them to fatigue and lose aircraft to pilot errors. And this is where IMHO the aircraft shortage hits the IAF the most. With fewer squadrons, it is simply not training enough pilots or retaining a critical mass of senior experienced pilots.

All this wouldn't be an issue if the situation around India was static, but if you look at the PAF and PLAAF - both of them have vastly improved their situation. The PAF has been able to bring its squadron strengths up with the JF-17 and the thanks to the renewed spares - their F16 pilots can train more. The PLAAF for its part has built massive airbases in Outer Tibet and is now stationing Su-27/J-11 variants there. Both nations have built up their AWACS and aerial refueling capabilities.

I think this is a bad situation for the IAF.

The big idea that everyone latched on to during Gen. Padmanabhan's tenure was that the Indian army would maximally dissuade the Pakistanis on the western front and deter PLA shenanigans on the eastern front. The IAF for its part would service both air superiority over Indian Army IABGs in the west and keep India's mountain divisions supplied with air cover along the LoAC. Now I feel this is not viable.

The Pakistanis for their part have an idea that in the event of an India-Pakistan shooting war their conventional forces will be able to hold of India's forces for a few days (this is sometimes referred to as the "conventional pause"). This pause will allow Pakistan to seek international aid to de-escalate the situation while simultaneously marshaling its nuclear forces into a state of high readiness.

Whatever else happens on the political scene, I think degrading the IAF's strength like this will only increase Pakistan's ability to achieve a conventional pause. **

I don't understand why a Hindu RW PM would want that to happen. There is something here that I am struggling to get my head around but this may not be the usual accident of stupidity that we see.

* After this demonetization based robbery of the INC's slush funds by Modiji, the jury is out whether Gandhi Parivar will every rise to political prominence in India but on their way out they will make it abundantly to clear to all that the Sangh Parivar is no cleaner than they are. Perhaps that is not such a bad thing. I for one grow weary of the millenarism that surrounds the Sangh Parivar. I don't understand how so many people can continue to believe that there is some magic bullet solution to the problems facing the world.  In the US - so many educated evangelical people believe that Christ is going to come down from heaven and save them from a Climate Change apocalypse and in India similarly religious folks think the Sangh is going ride out on unicorns to the save them. Stupidity must grow on trees somewhere.

** No amount of M77s howitzers, Arjun MBTs or Attack helos are going to change this. There will be no point in even putting those assets out in the FEBA without sufficient air cover. You will simply repeat the mistakes of the PA Commander at the Battle of Longewaal.


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