Indian Military News, Reports, Data, etc.


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We know for a fact
Honestly, what's the point of discussion if you simply take the "I don't want to hear anything" stance?
This is the exact same thing which prevents any useful discussion on China in India.

Again: position in question in red square. (actual number of airfields there is substantially higher, IIRC is 11).

Gloire isn't Indian and he's certainly much more reasonable than a Jai hind bhakt. He just likes playing devil's advocate and occasionally uses a lot of mental gymnastics to be a proponent of many strange positions as a result of playing devil's advocate.
Yep, I am not Indian indeed. ;)
The whole point is trying to understand how powers around China adjust their militaries to China's rise, and what and how they can do, what China can do. And so on.
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Fact is no Indian fighter has the range to go from Indian mainland to MS. They can have 1,000,000 airfields and still not the range to project power to MS.

Andamans airfields require PLARF. They cannot resupply and rearm those airfields without IN being able to defeat PLAN. So again IAF is not even a factor in such a MS blockade.

In any case, IAF fighting in the Indian Ocean and around MS even if we grant them the range just for hypothetical, this leaves India open to PLAAF with a lower IAF presence than without IAF being directed to MS.


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Let's see what an Indian Navy blockade would look like
I'll answer in a more appropriate topic, this isn't an economic discussion at this point.

You didn't compare blockade: you compared current fleets.

Blockade... lets write down blockade then.

For example, lets roughly sketch (but more realistic) "Blue" Order of battle.
Forewarning: It's intentionally disconnected from actual IN deployment patterns, as it is only a demonstration.

Disclaimer: this was invented by me, right out of my head, just looking on the map, and taking into account my small knowledge of naval history. Myriads of "small details" may make it completely unrealistic, but let us be frank - I am neither a naval officer nor I am paid to do this seriously.

Overall concept: IN deployment will be as follows: Forward position - sea denial assets deployed to chokepoints; Andaman position establishes control over the battle area; Battle fleet as a reactionary force; Rear formations exploit local sea control to the fullest. All that trying not to use too much IAF fighting strength (they'll be busier elsewhere), and somehow keeping eye on Pakistan.
In addition, IN is divided into Eastern(maneuver) and Western(deterrent) force, as well as units meant to move freely(escorts).

Important note #1: Geography.

Basically our combat theater. Courtesy of google maps.

Basic physical geography:
Indian subcontinent&Shri Lanka are positioned in the middle of the ocean, which is clearly defined by landmass. While India itself may look small on a 1:26'000'000 map, - it's actually freaking huge, with an important consequence of splitting the theater for IN itself into two parts. Additional consequence, often forgotten, is that huge exposed sea coastline is one huge vulnerability, which can be often exploited by units that don't look so grand and cool on 26 mil map. Humans don't live on 26 mil map, we're smaller creatures.
The Eastern part of the theater is composed of everything that lies west from Indochina, Malay peninsula, as well as west, south-west, and south of the ensuing 1st Island chain. Islands and straits east of Sunda are essentially out of practical reach for IN - but also arguably too inconvenient for PLAN.
First of all, this really disconnects two theaters - only leaving few entry points, with huge maritime traffic flowing through them w/o stop. This makes any crossing operations risky.

The most important feature in question for the eastern part is Andaman and Nicobar islands - located within 1300...1700 km from the eastern entrance to Malacca strait. At the same time, they're comfortably within an unrefuelled flight range from India.
This ensures that the whole length of the passage as well as much of the surrounding sea is one big shooting ground: Indian heavy fighters comfortably reach everything, unrefuelled and with a combat load.
Another important aspect: Islands are numerous(almost 600), stretch over a huge area(Solomon islands-light), and include large and densely populated islands(middle Andaman is significantly larger than Okinawa). Just getting to them will be quite troublesome, and landing =/=capturing.

Western part of the theater(for India), while very secondary in our scenario, has one huge, Pakistan-shaped problem.
The range between two points is such that units in the west can't react in time to problems in the east, and vice-versa. In addition - This time it's actual indian SLOCs(and coast) that are under threat.

Basic political geography:
Eastern part: 1st Chain problem once again: neutral countries(countries of Indochina peninsula, Malaysia) form "Wall" of neutral airspaces. It substantially using some of the most convenient Chinese reconnaissance assets at will - and crucially - all of them that can provide full targeting data by themselves. Air assets are tied to the very same international straits which ships have to use - this both limits their useful patrol range and makes them vulnerable (due to obvious ambush points).
Some are too short-ranged, some are stuck with their operational profile(WZ-13 as a single-use suicide drone doesn't sound too nice).
Furthermore, the same abundance of countries provides a headache of the whole bunch of possibilities to engage neutrals instead of enemies: massive civilian shipping and air traffic, huge scale of fishing activity, and so on. Neutral countries make scenarios annoying for both sides, and favor the side with better access to tactical reconnaissance assets(as well as with better ability to identify targets).

Western part: not much to say again. Pakistani navy almost unavoidably ties the amount of Indian assets comparable with its own size.
This draws quite a lot of forces from the East, and it's actually here( @Ouagh), and not against the PLAN, where IN really would want to have more area defense anti-air ships. But alas, they can't.
Also, unlike on land and even in the air - India won't be able to settle on just deterring - it needs to somehow be able to protect its traffic. Even if it'll avoid Pakistani waters - it will not become invulnerable, hence the need for continuous escorting. Pakistan also alleviates some of the pain the whole approach creates(its ports can be used for China-bound goods), but only part - infrastructural capacity here isn't limitless.
Honorary mentioning is Djibouti base: it's isolated. "don't let your enemy use your bases against you"(A. Mahan again ;p).

Important note #2: assumptions.
-no third parties, but western powers remain blind to Indians playing sea control games. For example, another Tibetan contingency grew into a full shooting war;
-third parties remain neutral and unoccupied, but also retain their current political stance(Pakistan clause);
-no nukes and counter value, but all other means are assumed to be at play.


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(/2)With this in mind, let's go a bit deeper into the force pattern.

1. Forward position:
Conventional submarines with patrol sectors cut in:
-Malacca&Andaman sea(Calvari-class- no less than 1...2 on station),
-Sunda and Mentawai(Kilo-class - no less than 2...3 on station). This will hurt, but Kilos are actually large boats.

Control of all straits(spies&coastal watchers, aircraft surveillance, whatever). If there are no other missions for them - surface combat and small coastal asw corvettes may be deployed to the same island regions(or into Malacca) - there is more than enough land clutter to attempt hiding them within.
Finally - preemptive deployment of CAPTORs (India has them) to the chokepoints. If and when other types of mines with smart fuses become available - them as well. Just to be annoying.
Tasks of the group: engaging PLAN formations when they're at their most vulnerable points of transition.

2. Nikobar/Andaman island chain. Main fighting position. Purpose: guarding Malacca, closing away the bay of Bengal.
-couple of squadrons of MKIs dispersed on Nikobar/Andaman airbases('222' is an obvious choice since their MKIs carry Brahmos, the second one doesn't matter but preferably a southern one). More if needed, but overcrowding islands will be risky for them.
-Mix of Tamil Nadu&Andaman-based INFAA MPAs(whole available strength) - but they are also part of point 5.
-Surveillance squadron(or MQ-9 squadron in the future) - (Patrol, ELINT)
-Mainland-based AWACS
-SAR/Utility helicopter squadron(islands)
+ land-based defensive assets (infrastructure, missile batteries - AA&ASM, engineering&coast defense units). Key beaches get landing obstructions.
Discussion point: there is merit for Indians to try to flying in part of actual fighters only when there are clear signs of a PLAN sortie. IAF is a bit overstretched to allow anything significant to stay idle.
Tasks of the group: air superiority, anti-shipping strike, ASW, mining.
Capability: a regiment of IA Brahmos is 72 missiles, but those are tied to the islands=are defensive.
Su30-MKI payloads are a huge topic, but for our interest, crucial is, once again, Brahmos(up to 1, only 1 squadron), or Kh-31 family of ARM and ASM missiles. Fighting strength of this position healthily exceeds USN CSG in all regards sans mobility. It has a bite.

3. Battle fleet(only here we come to most units you've listed). Awaits signal for action - ships either dispersed and covered(Indian Mainland), or potentially concentrated on remote bases(I remember you, Mauritius), or at sea(when signs of the sortie are imminent).
Security is paramount, because it's actually at bases when this force is most vulnerable to Ballistic missile threat. Not sure if they really be used here(early warning radars don't differ b/n nuke and conventional tipped missile, and even small mistakes can turn antiship strike into counter-value one). During actual fighting, this is their eastern maneuver force.
The intention is maximum continuous readiness(number of ships at sea) at the key moment. Doesn't include units involved in convoy duties, though they may be joined in on an emergency basis.
Tactics: to maintain complete radio&emission silence unless forced out; if necessary - wide use of Ka-31 AEWs to save actual fleet location from emissions. The aim of those restrictions is to prevent any useful OtH targeting. China still lacks active radar satellites, and by maneuvering silently fleet can prevent itself from being targeted by the whole trio (SIGINT, Optical, SAR).
Widely dispersed - i.e. anywhere from the Bay of Bengal to patrol areas behind Cocoa islands, depending on the situation. Idea - to converge them on identified PLAN formations and attempt to surprise&overwhelm them w/o getting into effective YJ-18 range, disengage if unsuccessful.

-1(2) small CSGs (Carrier with air groups - 1-3 destroyers - 2-3 frigates). Composition concentrates on ensuring a minimum viable level of self-defense against 1-2 strikes, sufficient ASW, and ensuring proper ~50 missile salvo.
-A similar(1-2) number of frigate-based SAGs. Those may be found to exploit the results of a successful salvo if it occurs.
The actual composition may be up to the debate - the problem of coordinating so many silent formations in conditions of high-end conflict (space jamming and intercepts are to be expected) may be excessive. But in theory, such angular dispersal of coordinated assets provides maximum tactical problems for the opponent and ensures relative resilience of the whole formation (if you don't have AA firepower to do it - don't even try it).
Combined salvo - ~ 200 SSCMs. Mig-29Ks carry Kh-35s, but those are secondary weapons here.

Tasks of the group as a whole: fleet-in-being, intercepting major sorties of PLAN beyond the 1st chain;
Priority tasks of CSGs in particular: intercepting any fixed-wing recon assets to the best of the ability.
Priority tasks of SAGs in particular: being in a position to go in in case of a successful strike.
Trough all these - preventing the taking of Andaman islands.


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4. Interdiction formation.


Some random sea traffic map. Those two thic wisps going through the Indian ocean are basically the whole point of the contest. Those are the very same ships that everyone is so worried about in the South China Sea.

And here we finally come. A huge group of secondary ships (by default), aircraft, and other surveillance/secondary strike assets, ensuring maximum exploitation of control of the Indian ocean. Intercepting inspecting and potentially detaining eastbound ships: China bound - by default; Eastbound - whether reconnaissance seems them to be suspicious. Same for any vessel coming from Chinese ports, or which was found visiting them in process.
Composed of:
-OPVs, CG ships, or whatever is suitable to be commandeered into navy service.
-Surveillance aircraft;
-Utility helicopters;
Task: suffocating Chinese commerce and raw material supply basically.
p.s. it's actually this group that is the most harmful, and it is this group that forces the decisive character of this scenario.

5. Rear formation.
Well, those boring guys who make everything actually work, but not only. Ensure that this whole huge system is supplied and maintained; ASW; overwatch over Pakistan; deterrence.
-Escort formation: Kamortas(ASW escort of whatever necessary wherever necessary, together with other assets ensuring SSBN patrols);
-MPA squadron(see point 2; at the moment they're probably the main threat to PLAN's SSNs);
-At-sea deterrence: SSBNs(for a great purpose of staying useless);
-Whole support fleet;
-Remaining coastal combatants(Abhay, Veer, Khukri, Koras, and their replacements) and probably part of frigate fleet(Brahmaputras?) - tied down by Pakistani navy; Western force;
-Remaining conventional submarines(type 209s. Ensuring at least 2 on patrol in Arabian sea) - tied down by Pakistani navy; Western force;
-Indian western theater AF units(aircraft, SAMs) and army artillery(ASM, LACM batteries) - tied down by Pakistani armed forces overall.
Task: ensuring this whole pipe dreammental construct somehow works.
p.s. note, that even when excluded, the Pakistani navy really ties a significant part of the IN Navy down; China isn't the only one who can't concentrate. And precisely because in this scenario Indian navy loses its typical massive material overmatch - it finds itself in a very inconvenient position. To be fair - the current Pakistani navy isn't in a good position to exploit such vulnerability - but it's working precisely on that right now.

Some conclusions:
1. Overall
-Playing its strengths(Andamans, chokepoints, ability to deliver massive long-range ASCM salvo, extreme inconvenience of theater for normal Chinese reconnaissance assets) IN can hope to deliver one or several massive coordinated long-range missile salvos, with unpredictable consequences.
-Missile navy is a navy of an attempt. If the strike isn't successful, there is little surface strike ships can contribute before rearming. Carriers, however, can.
-Andamans are the key, but w/o huge effort and boost in capability - taking them is very difficult.
-Headcount of ships doesn't match as much as it is often understood for the missile navy in a defending position. What matters is the salvo and relative number of CSGs(In the Indian case - not even because of their strike power).
-this defending position puts IN into position to bring about as much harm to the export part of the Chinese economy as India can even hope to achieve;
-Where headcount actually does matter a lot is not even PLAN itself(no matter its numerical and qualitative superiority, at least, for now), but in the need to keep an eye on the Pakistani navy.
-I probably won't write this wall of text for the other side(China) - it took more time than I originally planned.
-Needs carriers, and particularly needs strike carriers with AEW planes. The whole calculation is based on an assumption of being sneaky enough, and strike carrier largely solves that (003);
-Fleet solutions for chokepoints(?);
-Expeditionary landing capability against a peer opponent is a must(075, 071&co).
-Next generation of nuclear submarines and maritime patrol planes is a must as well(095? ?).
-Stealthy HALE drones(preferably able to operate together with MPAs).


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Fact is no Indian fighter has the range to go from Indian mainland to MS. They can have 1,000,000 airfields and still not the range to project power to MS.
They have Andamans and Nicobars. Which are actually quite large (~10'000 km^2 overall). And those airfields are there.
The range from Great Nicobar to Singapore is 1279km. I.e. not even troublesome.
Andamans airfields require PLARF. They cannot resupply and rearm those airfields without IN being able to defeat PLAN. So again IAF is not even a factor in such a MS blockade.
Andamans/Nicobars can be supplied by default - unless they're fully isolated. There is nothing between them and India, and Chinese forces can only reach this area by...somehow dealing with Andamans. This breaks the whole point. Submarine warfare&mining may (and likely will) be attempted - but in a body of water patrolled by uninterrupted P-8Is, it isn't going to be pretty.

PLARF can degrade the capability of islands - but it can't shut them down - if conventional, of course. Too many targets over too far of a range(shutting down fighters from operating is really difficult). Furthermore - as we're talking about islands with a large civilian population and large military garrison - expect swift repairs.

Finally and importantly - PLARF arsenal isn't meant to be used as some sort of artillery, trying to shut down the whole region. Those missiles aren't that fast to replace, and are needed in all theaters.


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China could simply stop the flow of three main rivers (Indus, Ganges, and Brahmaputra) to India .. or put something in the water before flowing to India ;)
Why would China commit such atrocities when the PLAAF could shoot the entire Indian air force out of the sky and impose a no-fly zone over the entirety of India, a trivial portion of the PLAN could destroy the entire Indian navy, and China could simply annex every island in the Indian Ocean that India is squatting on.

The likeliest scenario is what plawolf pointed, that the US would mobilize and smash India first and seize those islands before China could get to them.