The Doklam standoff set alarm bells ringing. It showed the urgency for the three services of the Indian Armed Forces to develop a coordinated plan to respond to a future Chinese offence. Also what needs to be kept in mind is a two-front war against China and Pakistan. A Pakistani intervention if India and China go to war is a given as Pakistan will see that as the perfect opportunity to settle old scores.
India – both the government and the forces – have become proactive since the Doklam episode to raise basic war preparedness and increase war-fighting capabilities with arms production and acquisition. All three arms of the forces have begun preparations to counter this burgeoning threat.
In January 2018, the Indian Navy’s Mumbai-based western fleet will start a series of annual theatre-level naval exercises. The exercises will last over a month. They’ll involve aircrafts, surface warships and submarines, divided into red and blue forces, and will simulate naval war games and refine tactics while bringing their platforms into a high state of operational readiness.
These exercises will then be replicated off the coast of Visakhapatnam by the eastern fleet of the navy. The exercise will operate from the mainland up to the Andaman and Nicobar islands and Malacca Straits. This is the first time in recent years that the navy is activating both commands. Before the exercises would be combined and conducted on one coast but from next year simultaneous twin-front maritime war games will be conducted.
India has also formed a quadrilateral grouping with the US, Australia and Japan to counter China’s aggression at sea. This is a bold and explicit move by New Delhi to shed its fear of angering China.
The Indian Air Force is also taking steps to raise its capabilities. Primary of these steps is building modern airfields to shield fighter jets and protect against China’s potent rocket force. Old airstrips are also being activated along the Indo-China border. Seven advance landing grounds (ALG) in Arunachal Pradesh are being activated.
Last year, 30 airfields were upgraded under first phase of the ₹1,200 crore Modernisation of Airfield Infrastructure (MAFI). Now, the MoD will award contracts worth nearly ₹1,800 crore for upgrading 30 more airfields of the IAF, Navy, Coast Guard and RAW’s Aviation Research Centre under phase 2.
China has around 1,200 intermediate range ballistic missiles that can target India’s airfields. This is the reason why on October 24 20 IAF airplanes including C-130J transports and Su-30MKI fighters landed and took off from the Agra expressway. The IAF has identified another 12highways in the country which could be used as emergency landing strips. The purchase of Rafale jets and induction of LCA Tejas will also boost the air force.
To tackle China’s potent rocket force, India had made the very crucial purchase of five S-400 Triumph long-range surface-to-air missiles from Russia last year that can shoot down cruise, ballistic missiles and aircraft 400 km away.
The Army too is replenishing its ammunition on war-footing. Upgrading of tanks and armoured vehicles, purchase of field guns, providing soldiers with modern equipment is being carried out by the Army.
The concerted efforts being made by the forces backed by the Modi government are commendable. Everything from infrastructure to purchases of crucial arms to indigenous production is being given impetus in the last three years.