Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Blockading the Gwadar Port

Blockading the Gwadar Port

The Indian navy exploring new options to blockading the Chinese built Pakistani economic port in Gwadar, which is currently being in final phase of construction. Blocking the supply routes is the known strategic key to attain superiority in the conflict. In all the previous war Indian Navy provide better support to the Indian armed forces by blockading and destroying the Pakistani economic supply routes.

Pakistan shifts it's major shipping lane slight away from Karachi due to the Indian navy's superiority in the region. The Gwadar port is currently being in construction with the Chinese assistance to provide substantial shipping route to Pakistan. Gwadar port is closely guarded by the Pakistani navy, whose western naval command situated few meters away from the commercial port.

China is also assisting the port construction and laying fast lanes to access major Pakistani cities, The port expected to be operational before 2020. After that Pakistan use the Gwadar as main economical shipping port by reducing the Karachi port's economical activities.

Compared to Karachi, Gwadar is located far away from the Indian navy's missile range, that navy earlier had upper hand against the Pakistani navy's infrastructure in Karachi. Karachi is the first victim of many war that India and Pakistan fought earlier. Karachi is some 800 kilometers away from the Naval base in Mumbai, while the Gwadar is some 1200 kilometer away from Mumbai, which is very difficult to maintain full spectrum naval blockade.

Pakistan also gets some modern missiles for it's navy, The air launched C 802 AShM and the YJ 62 Coastal missile batteries. Those long range high subsonic sea skimming missiles are the major threat to the Indian navy, if IN tries for a naval blockade close to Karachi and in Gwadar. Those missiles had far strike range, reportedly over 300 kilometers.

So IN needs to keep away from some 500 kilometers off from Pakistani shores. Pakistani air force also operates one JF 17 squadron dedicated for maritime strike role, carrying two C 802 missiles per aircraft. PAF also in talks with the Russian's to supply one Su 35 S squadron to replace the older JF 17, since the JF 17 range is very small and its a single engine light aircraft.

Another is the Pakistani navy Agosta class submarines, The PN's Agosta 90B's are modern and capable to launch Exocet anti shipping cruise missiles. PN operates three modern Agosta 90B's. In comparison, Pakistan navy is the least equipped force in the Pakistani armed forces. The reason why they planning to add another eight modern S 20 SSK's from China.

So if IN wants to put a complete Naval blockade on  both Karachi and Gwadar, they must keep away some 500 km off from Pakistani shores. Since those AShM threats are usually in large scale. So navy can think about the Submarines alone.

The Navy's western fleet had better surface fleets, as well as submarines too. INS Vikramaditya is the flag ship of western naval command operates along with modern Kolkata class destroyers, Delhi class Destroyers and Talwar class frigates. It also had newly upgraded Kilo class submarines and modern Kalvari class submarines. Western command also had better ASW platforms like P8, Tu 142 and IL 38 SD's.

IN's fleet operates as a group only, as they performed the same since decades. All the above said warships had better destruction capability, however Barak 8 is the only better air defense systems in the fleet which is employed in the Kolkata class ships.

It's very hard to penetrate the IN's battle group with PN's Agosta's. Since IN operates few Submarines and ASW plane to hunt the Pakistani submarines in first wave of attack. Also new upgrades in the IN Ships with Towed array sonar and Mareech ASW system provide better cover for the fleet from PN's submarine threat.

As already said, IN needs to operate 500 km off from Pakistani shore, due to the AShM threat, also IN had no missiles that can strike such long range. So the only essential option is the MiG 29 K with Kh 31 AShM. Those MiG's can go close to some 100 km near Pakistani shores. Since Pakistan will not have any modern long range air defense missiles, Their JF 17 is short in legs, F 16 maybe busy to dealing with the IAF.

INS Vikramaditya can launch 20 MiG 29 K against the PN's surface targets. while keeping two to four for combat air patrol over the fleet. Vikramditya can capable to perform more than three such sorties per day. MiG 29 K is the only available option to blockade the Pakistani ports in future conflict.

IN desperately need Nirbhay missiles in it's fleet to perform cruise missile strike on Gwadar port, And it's clear when the Gwadar is operational, Navy too get long range cruise missile Nirbhay in its fleet. 

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