CONSTANT Indian “warmongering” has now forced Pakistan to take “concrete” steps to further strengthen its “Deterrence” “Capabilities (DCs)” and upgrade its “Escalation Control System (ECS). Most recently, according to Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Major General Babar Iftikhar, Pakistan successfully conducted a test flight of “indigenously” developed “Fatah-1”, Guided Multi Launch Rocket System (GMLRS). The DG ISPR highlighted that the new weapon system is capable of delivering a “Conventional Warhead (CW) up-to a range of 140 kilometres (87 miles). It has further enhanced its “operational” and “tactical” capabilities in which its wide range of Short Range Ballistic Missiles (SRBM), Medium Range Ballistic Missiles ((MRBM), Battlefield Ballistic Missiles (BBM), Surface to Surface Cruise Missiles (SSCM) and Rocket Artillery would play a “decisive” role in the “war theater”. The newly developed GMLRS weapon system will give Pak Army capability of “Precision Target Engagement (PTE). Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and COAS have also congratulated the participating troops, technicians, engineers and scientists on successful conduct of flight test.
Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan and the COAS General Qamar Bajwa have been projecting Indian “hegemonic” and “destructive” designs as “potential” threat to regional peace, stability and harmony. Pakistan’s political leadership and defence forces have been on “alert” because of imminent threat of aggression from India since last year. Last February, amid heightened tension with India, Islamabad carried out a successful test of its “Ra’ad-II” cruise missile. In March 2020, Pakistan tested the “Ghaznavi Ballistic Missile (GBM), which has a range of 290 kilometers (180 miles), just days after India tested its submarine-launched K-4 ballistic missile. It is bitter reality that bilateral relations between the two neighbors have worsened since New Delhi revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s semi-autonomous status and imposed a lockdown in August 2019. Unfortunately, Indian massive arms purchasing “madness” and Strategic Security Deals (SSDs) with USA and others also flared up tension and have started a fresh arms race in South Asia.
The 140 Kilometers range capable Fatah-I GMLRS has a significant “tactical” and “strategic” importance because the majority of “Indian Air Force (IAF)” bases situate within its “range”. In this connection, the Multi-Launch Rocket System (MLRS) is basically a type of Rocket Artillery System (RAS) that contains multiple rockets assembled and fired from the same platform. The rocket fired from MLRS is “self-propelled” and has different capabilities and a larger effective range than Conventional Artillery Shell (CAS). It helps to “devastate” hell on the enemy by “striking” different rockets in Multiple Rapid Successions (MRS). It has lots of significance in terms of “operationalization” and “channelization” for Pakistan and defence forces of Pakistan. It has probably either Beidou or GPS inertial navigation system.
Deep analysis of “modern” and “advance” warfare system and weaponry reveals that during the war it will provide “comparative advantage” and essential “strategic cushion” to defence forces of Pakistan because, according to defence experts, distance of Fort Abbas (Pakistan) to Bikaner Air Force Station (IAF) is 130 kilometers. Distance of Lahore to Adampur Air Force Station (IAF) is 125 kilometers. Distance of Berwala to Sirsa Air Force Station (IAF) is 140 Kilometers. Moreover, distances from Haveli Lakha to Bhatinda, Kausar to Halmara, Shakargarh to Pathankot and last but not the least, Murree to Srinagar (Air Force Station, IAF) is 100, 120, 45 and 130 kilometers. It conceptualizes that all important strategic air force bases of India are now in the “line of fire” and fall within the range of recently fired Fatah-I GMLRS. In case of any “misadventure” of India, Pak Army can easily thrash all strategic air force bases of IAF in a “matter of minutes”.
According to various prominent defence analysts, the GMLRS Fatah-I the new system is very “fast”, “accurate”, “survivable” and “difficult” to intercept. It is primarily developed to hit targets without leaving behind the unexploded ordnance. The extended range guided MLRS is a developed variant of the guided MLRS family usually with an extended range of up to 150km. The development of a conventional system by Pakistan seems to be a response to the Indian focus on the development of its conventional capabilities, besides improving response options to India’s Cold Start Doctrine. President Dr Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan also congratulated the participating troops and scientists on the success of the test flight.
For the further strengthening of air defence of Pakistan its Air Force marked a major progress as it announced beginning the production of the state-of-the-art JF-17 Thunder Block-III war jets, while also acquiring 14 dual seats JF-17 aircrafts. The JF-17 Thunder Block-III of the PAF will be operational with a new radar, electronic warfare system and better engine set-up and will be better than the Rafale aircraft acquired by India. So far, 4 Rafael war jets have been handed over to Indian Air Force (IAF) and remaining 36 will be delivered till 2022. Whereas, according to PAF officials, more than new 50 JF-17 Thunder Block-III will be included into PAF till 2024, 12 in each year. Moreover, two new variants of JF-17 Thunder Block-III have been in the operation units of PAC.
If we compare JF-17 Thunder Block-III with Indian “borrowed” French Rafale fighter jet we will come to know that Pakistan’s “indigenously” developed JF-17 Thunder Block-III has certain “superiority” in terms of “manoeuvrability”, “multi-roll orientation”, “modern avionic”, “advance electronic war fare”, “price” and above all “upgradation facility” and “overhauling” mechanism because Pakistan manufactures itself in the country while India buys from other countries. Furthermore, it has Superior Missile System (SMS) in terms of “design”, “range”, “effectiveness” and “accuracy” than Rafael war jet. It has all the combination of air-to-air, air-to-earth, and air-to-sea missiles making it a perfect “killing machine” in any war theater. It has superior Target Lock Apparatus (TLA) which has already showcased at Balakot “dog-fight”.
Moreover, if we compare its price, JF-17 Thunder Block-III is much “cheaper” and affordable than Indian Rafael war jet enabling the Air Force of Pakistan for its “huge” manufacturing in the days to come. In a recently-held Corps Commanders meeting the top military brass of Pakistan Army discussed the current security situation and noted that defeat of the complete threat spectrum is only possible through a comprehensive national effort, where all segments of the society play their rightful role. “Forum specially discussed the ongoing security situation along the LoC and Working Boundary & Eastern Border”. Being a prominent regional expert, I term firing and induction of Fatah-I GMLRS and JF-Thunder Block-II & production of its third version a giant step for the protection of national security.
—The writer is Director, Geopolitics/Economics Member Board of Experts, CGSS.