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Published on 15 Aug 2016 | 4 months ago

If India and Pakistan Went to War - World Military Strength Comparison


In straight numerical terms of population, economic might, military manpower and equipment it is almost meaningless to speak about an India-Pakistan balance.

"Imbalance" would be a more appropriate term since India dominates in every respect.

What has to be understood from the outset is that the two countries have very different military aspirations.

Indian Agni II missile
India is eager to project its power in the region

India sees itself as a rising regional actor, and it sees military power as one element in this process.

As any aspiring regional player must do, it looks around for potential partners and potential enemies.

China too has growing regional ambitions. The two countries need not be enemies, but clearly India's military planners must have at least one eye on China as they draw up their own modernisation proposals.

Pakistan is in an altogether different position. It seeks to provide itself with the military means to deter any pressure from India.

It cannot match India man-for-man or gun-for-gun. But as it modernises its armed forces, it can seek to invest in those technologies that maximise its capabilities and take an effective toll against any enemy.

India modernises

India's broader strategic goals mean that it is pursuing an ambitious modernisation programme across all of its armed services.

The air force is getting the largest share of new money, with plans for new combat aircraft, airborne warning and control systems and missiles.

The army is destined to get new tanks and new artillery.

The navy hopes to deploy new Russian-built warships, along with home-constructed vessels, new aircraft carriers and new submarines.

The plan is to spend some $95bn over the next 15 years. How far these plans actually come to fruition will depend both on economics and upon potential suppliers.

India also has huge maintenance problems, in part due to the poor supply of spares from Russia but also to inadequate local servicing facilities.

India is eager to boost its own impressive arms industry but for the foreseeable future, many "big ticket" items will come from abroad.

Russian supplies

Russia is still the principal source of advance weaponry and looks set to continue in this role.

A protocol signed between the two governments in June 2001 covers Russian supplies of some $10bn worth of weaponry and other military hardware over the coming decade.

In January, India agreed to lease four nuclear-capable Tupolev Tu-22 long-range bombers from Russia along with two nuclear-powered submarines.

China helps Pakistan

In the face of India's growing military arsenal, Pakistan is seeking to modernise its forces.

Clearly, it has put a good deal of effort into the nuclear and missile fields - areas where it can at least offer some credible deterrent against a potential threat.

China remains Pakistan's principal arms supplier, though Pakistan's purchases are modest in comparison to India's.


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