Here’s What You Need to Remember: Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, especially tactical nuclear weapons, are seen as an asymmetrical way to offset India’s superiority in conventional power. Even if the Pakistani forces’ attack on India fails and the Strike Corps counterattacks, tactical nuclear weapons can blunt their spearhead, ideally stopping them in their path.
Of all the countries in the world, only nine are believed to have developed nuclear weapons. One member of this exclusive club is Pakistan, a country that occupies a unique strategic position in the Indian subcontinent. Allies of the United States and China and India’s main enemy, Pakistan has developed a nuclear arsenal to meet its special needs. Uncharacteristically among smaller forces, Islamabad has developed a tactical nuclear arsenal designed to destroy enemy forces on the battlefield.
Pakistan began developing nuclear weapons in the 1950s, but the country’s nuclear program accelerated in the mid-1970s after the explosion of “Smiling Buddha”, the first in India nuclear weapons test. Enemies since the end of the British Raj in 1947, India and Pakistan fought again in 1965 and 1971. In Pakistan’s view, as long as India was the sole possessor of nuclear power, the country could engage in nuclear unrest and have the highest profit.
Experts believe that Pakistan has between 150 and 180 nuclear bombs. It is not clear when the country first had weapons that could be used and could be used, but in the mid-1990s it had weapons to spare. On May 28, 1998, in response to a series of Indian nuclear tests, Pakistan blew up five tools in one day, with the sixth two days later. Four of the devices detonated on the 28th were tactical nuclear weapons, with the result of an explosion in sub-kilotons (less than 1,000 tons of TNT) to a range of 2-3 kilotons.
Tactical nuclear weapons, also called non-strategic nuclear weapons, are nuclear weapons with low yields (ten kilotons or less) that are designed for use on the battlefield. Unlike larger and stronger strategic nuclear weapons, tactical nuclear weapons are intended to destroy military targets on the battlefield. Tactical nuclear weapons are intended to be used against troop formations, headquarters units, supply dumps, and other high-value targets.
Tactical nuclear weapons are important for Pakistan’s defense posture. Pakistan has a gross domestic product of only $ 305 billion, about the size of the state of Indiana. Pakistan has an active duty force of 767,000. Although most troops are infantry, most are fully mechanized with tanks, infantry vehicles, self-propelled artillery, attack helicopters, and anti-tank missiles.
India has a GDP of $ 2.597 billion, an active army of 1.2 million, and a greater amount of equipment in each category. Indian Army greater than each metric, and in many cases include more qualitatively superior equipment – specifically tanks. In an all-out ground war, the Indian Army is almost certain to win. Indian Army was big enough until 2004 imagined fend off Pakistani ground attacks and then launch a counterattack with three “Strike Corps” from three divisions, all very mechanical and each including at least one armored division.
Pakistan nuclear weapons, especially tactical nuclear weapons, is seen as an asymmetrical way to balance India’s superiority in conventional forces. Even if the Pakistani forces’ attack on India fails and the Strike Corps counterattacks, tactical nuclear weapons can blunt their spearhead, ideally stopping them in their path.
Pakistan has an unknown number of tactical nuclear weapons, but we can find out how many there are by counting the delivery system. A report by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists claiming that the country has around 20-30 transporter-erector-launcher (TEL) vehicles designed to carry NASR / Hatf-9 short-range ballistic missiles. TEL is a four-axle vehicle that can carry two or more NASR missiles. Assuming each TEL is armed with two NASR missiles with each warhead, Pakistan has 60 percent of tactical nuclear weapons, or about one third of its weapons.
NASR is a solid rocket fuel missile with an operational range of only 43 miles. As the Bulletin report shows, the use of weapons in the short term is aimed at meaningful targets in India, which means they are likely to be used against Indian Army units in Pakistani territory. This can also imply that these weapons have very small explosive results, because no country wants a large nuclear explosion on its own territory.
One interesting question is that, given the fast-moving and slow nature of modern warfare in modern political decision-making, Pakistan has chosen a target zone to launch if Indian tanks advance into it and will delegate launch authority to the Army. in wartime. If the political debate starts after the tank arrives, TEL can be controlled when the decision is made. A very small warhead will also have a very small area effect, and a delay of just a few minutes can cause even a nuclear explosion to lose a battalion or more tanks to move.
Pakistan’s tactical nuclear weapons, although basically not bad, are at least defensive. Unfortunately, given the number of times India and Pakistan have fought over the last eighty years, their use is theoretically compared to most countries. The use of nuclear weapons on the one hand can quickly escalate into the use of larger strategic weapons on inhabited areas by both parties.
Can Pakistan and India both surrender their nuclear weapons? Pakistan’s reliance on tactical nuclear weapons to compensate for weaknesses in conventional weapons will make it difficult for Islamabad to break away from its nuclear weapons. Once nuclear weapons are acquired, it is very difficult not to get them, and Pakistan is no exception.
Kyle Mizokami is a San Francisco-based writer who has appeared in The Diplomat, Foreign Policy, War is Boring and The Daily Beast. In 2009 he founded the Japan Security Watch defense and security blog. This article first appeared in April and was republished because of reader interest.
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