How will India behave in the event of an armed conflict with China? Here’s what two studies say

India has underappreciated conventional advantages that reduce its vulnerability to Chinese threats and attacks, according to a study in March this year by a school of public policy at Harvard University in the United States.

“India appears to have reason to have greater confidence in its military stance against China than is generally acknowledged in Indian debates, presenting the country with an opportunity for leadership in international efforts towards transparency and restraint. nuclear,” said the by the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School.

The study was carried out by Frank O’Donnell, postdoctoral fellow at the Department of National Security Affairs at the US Naval War College, and Dr. Alexander K Bollfrass, senior fellow at the Center for Security Studies at ETH Zurich.

Although discussions of the strength of India’s military posture have considered China to hold a conventional and nuclear advantage, O’Donnell and Bollfrass say that the balance of power assessment “may be flawed and a poor guide for Indian security and supply policies”.

Excluding the need for India to invest in new nuclear weapons, the study calls on New Delhi to “enhance the survivability of existing forces and fill the void in global arms control leadership through an initiative of restraint and transparency”.

Stating that Indian strategists have not focused on their advantages since drawing pessimistic conclusions, the study indicates that if the strength of conventional forces is taken into consideration, India’s defense posture is “more sure that it is sometimes pretended”.

Dwelling on Indian Army and Indian Air Force formations, the researchers claim that although the Chinese Air Force’s J-10 fighter is technically comparable to the Indian Mirage 2000, the India Sukhoi (Su-30MK) is superior to all Chinese fighters, including the additional J-11. and model Su-27 aircraft.

One problem China faces is that it must retain some of the 101 fourth-generation fighters for Russia-centric missions in Western Theater Command. India, on the other hand, exclusively has 122 comparable aircraft models only for China.

The Chinese air force is also hampered by the higher altitude of its airbases, so fighters would only have to carry half the payload and fuel. Air-to-air refueling is another issue that could affect the Chinese.

Taking into consideration China’s vulnerable airbases and fields in addition to fuel and payload issues, O’Donnell and Bollfrass say India has a “stronger regional air position.”

Stating that Chinese strategic planners had considered long-range missile strikes against India instead of an air offensive, the study said China would need “an impressive number of missiles to neutralize the Indian forces concerned. “.

In particular, he quoted a former IAF official saying that China would need 220 aerial ballistic missiles to keep an airfield closed for 24 hours, but that would make no difference to the Indian Air Force because it has a large number of other airfields to operate. of.

In particular, the researchers said the superiority of the Indian Air Force could lead to the cutting off of China’s critical logistics routes, including air and military bases, by remote bombing or missile strikes.

The study indicates that China has 40,000 troops in Tibet, the closest to India’s borders, while more troops (70,000) are stationed in the Xinjiang region. In the event of a stalemate, China would have to rely on the mobilization of troops from Xinjiang, while in comparison Indian forces are in position.

Any reinforcements from China would result in the United States alerting India, allowing it to counter and mobilize additional forces.

India has bolstered its ammunition stockpiles after suffering a shortage until 2016, the study said and pointed to the Chinese air force’s shortcomings in training and experience.

on India’s military choices in an era of strategic competition with China by the Center for New American Security on the “imbalance of power” declares “Delhi has a clear advantage in terms of localized military force, but China made major infrastructure improvements in Tibet to improve the PLA’s mobility toward advancing troops.

The study says “India has not stood still in the face of increasing military competition with China” and New Delhi has sought to provide its forces with greater mobility and operational awareness along the border. Himalayan.

The study was conducted by Daniel Kliman, Senior Fellow and Director, Asia-Pacific Security Program, Iskander Rehman, Deputy Senior Fellow, Asia-Pacific Security Program, Kristine Lee, Associate Fellow, Asia-Pacific Security Program, and Joshua Fitt, Assistant Fellow, Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for New American Security.

According to this study, India has placed more emphasis on strengthening infrastructure, base resilience, command, control and communication systems, in addition to improving its air defense.

New Delhi has also shifted to a more punitive deterrence posture by investing in long-range strike capabilities suitable for both land and sea warfare and has refined an operational concept for the Himalayan theater that aims to take the battle to the Chinese territory.

In the event of a Sino-Indian conflict, New Delhi will exhaust Chinese forces and disrupt the flow of its reinforcements across the Tibetan plateau. On the other hand, it will avoid large mechanized ground incursions into China.

An important finding of the study is that Indian forces are by far the most experienced and seasoned, having fought a multitude of low-intensity conflicts in the recent past.

Highlighting the 1999 Kargil conflict, the study says Indian forces are also well equipped for cross-border artillery bombardments, special operations forces raids and air skirmishes – a hallmark of India-Pakistan rivalry.

He says the PLA, on the other hand, has seen no combat since its conflict with Vietnam in 1979. Moreover, some of the remaining veterans of the 1962 border war are now nearing retirement.

Indian troops’ engagement in increasingly sophisticated joint exercises with the most advanced and experienced militaries in the world gives them an added advantage.

With the exception of its advanced military exercise with Pakistan and Russia, China’s joint training engagements have so far remained relatively rudimentary, it says, and complements the Belfer Center’s conclusion on the advantage. from India to the Himalayan border with China.

“India has a clear advantage in terms of localized military strength. This is the case both in terms of the huge number of Indian ground forces stationed near the LAC and in terms of the forward deployed air assets,” the Center for New American Study added.