STRATEGY OF STEALTH IN WAR
By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM
Modern Age War has undergone a change and it is so different from the Dharm Yudh that was advocated in ancient India. Now when a nation goes to war against another nation, the aim is to win. Win by any means, use any weapons, employ any strategy but achieve the aim. Of course, the United Nations does prescribe some Do’s and Don’ts but they are observed more in breach than in living up to its spirit. In the Strategy of War, the weapon system plays an important role in raising the morale of the combat soldier besides man management, training and so on. No wonder every nation that wishes to be a super power designs and manufactures its weapon system, including nuclear warheads, or buys them at exorbitant cost by paying in hard currency.
Of late, the emphasis on the new weapon system in the Army, the Navy and the Air Force is to possess such weapon system that the enemy forces are unaware of until it hits them and they are hurt beyond repair and recuperation. Is it absolutely a modern concept? No, not exactly. Let us go back to battles of yore and see if the strategy of stealth was prevalent.
RAMAYAN AND MAHABHARAT
Maryada Purshottam Shri Ram fought against Ravan and annihilated him despite the fact that the Rakshasraj used the strategy of stealth and used to disappear from the battlefield using his Mayavi powers leaving Shri Ram and his captains bewildered. Meghnad Indrajit, son of Ravan, had used similar tricks while engaging Lakshaman in battle in Lanka. This was categorized as Adharm Yudh not keeping with the laid down rules of war. The outcome of the Lanka battles is too well known and there is no need to emphasise the obvious.
When the Great Battle of Mahabharat was joined in by the Pandavas with Yogeshwar Shri Krishna on their side and the Kauravas with Bhishma Pitamah as the Supreme Commander, it was envisaged that the two sides wough wage war as per rules. Dharm Yudh was the criterion. Yet in the closing days the Mahabharat had degenerated into a kind of Adharm Yudh.
The strategy of stealth was extensively used by Ghatotkach, a son of Hidimba and Bheem, to the advantage of the Pandavas. He would disappear in the sky every now and then after raining cluster bomb variety of weapons and munitions on the Kauravas causing havoc and untold misery to Duryodhan and his Commander-in-Chief, Karna. Stealth was so much telling on nerves of the Kauravas that it forced Karna to use the Use and Discard type of sure shot missile called Amogh Astra to destroy the prowess of Ghatotkach and eliminate him. Thus Karna was forced to use the rare weapon much against his will before time as he had kept it in reserve to kill the mighty Archer Arjuna.
Many a time the adversaries used strategy of stealth to quietly kill important warriors of the opposite camp at night, when the rules forbade any tactical engagement after sun down. Be that as it may, the aim was to win war and no holds were barred in achieving the aim.
MODERN AGE WARS
The strategy of stealth is continuing in the modern age with the fury that wars of today are known for. All major countries engaged in the business of manufacturing arms for self defence or for sale abroad are furiously working on science and technology that would give them an edge on the rivals in the arms industry and global domination. Indeed America is the leading player in the Game of War. Russia and China are closely following the United States. Indeed the American industry engaged in research, designing and manufacture of munitions of war is racing ahead of competitors. The fact is illustrated well by the incident where the Chinese lifted the burnt out pieces of an American Stealth helicopter from Abotabad in Pakistan where it had met with an accident in the highly secret and successful operation carried out by the Navy Seals of the United States of America to kill the terrorist Osama-bin-Laden. It had left the Pakistan Army Generals red faced as they slumbered in their bed rooms while the operation was being carried out.
The Chinese weapon industry studied the left out pieces of American chopper and devised a formula to manufacture their own Stealth Armaments successfully. The Chengdu J-20 Stealth Black Eagle Jet that flies at a speed of Mach 2.5 was showcased in the mammoth Victory Parade on 3rd September 2015 held at the T’ian An Men square in Beijing China. The PLA Air Force would have fully operational squadrons of Chengdu J-20 Stealth Black Eagle Jets by the year 2018. Another cause of worry to the western arm manufacturers is the Chinese made J-31 Stealth Fighter, flies at Mach 2, that would be fully operational by the year 2020. The number of stealth helicopters of China that have taken off the drawing boards reaching the assembly line is just mind boggling. The new Chinese tactical planning will be stealth helicopter based short hop Cold Start war to sort out problems of border skirmishes. Indeed it is a cause of anxiety to the Indian Army deployed on Line of Actual Control in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh. Bharat has no option but to come up with a matching tactical operational short hop stealth helicopter.
India is not sitting idle but is actively taking counter measures. NIRBHAY is our all weather low cost long range cruise missile with an element of Stealth thrown in that will be deployed on our sensitive borders at an appropriate time. The modern strategic planning and execution of war will be more missile based than on bombers or aircraft carriers. We will come to that aspect of strategy when we mention the Russian missiles, now with Chinese prototypes, that are giving sleepless nights to the American Admirals guiding the aircraft carriers in the Pacific Ocean.
INS Visakhapatnam is a new Stealth Destroyer launched by India for its Navy and it will raise the morale of the Indian sailors sky high. Coupled with the AURA – the Indian unmanned Stealth Bomber the scheme should put the fear of God in the minds of India’s potential enemies. The Indian Navy may be looking forward to receiving the INS TRIKAND – a Stealth Destroyer – when she becomes fully operational.
The international analysts have a lot on their plates to dissect and analyse when they take a look at the inventory of the American Stealth technology in the firmament of armaments. A short while ago, a mention was made of the Chinese, with the help of all-weather ally Pakistan, lifted bits and pieces of an American stealth chopper that the US Navy Seals had bombed and destroyed as they could not carry it back after it had met with an accident on the Paki soil, and made Stealth choppers and fixed wing aircraft. They displayed these showpieces on their massive Victory Parade in Beijing on 3 September 2015. The moral of the story is that USA is the Leader in the science and technology of Stealth Warfare in the world.
Of course, the Stealth strategy was devised by the Caveman when he hid a piece of rock in his left hand to be used by the right hand to kill a deer for food for self and the family. In successive ages, Man kept on improving on the basic concept of Stealth Strategy as we saw in the battles of the Ramayan and the Mahabharat. The American manufacturers of armaments have made stealth weapon systems par excellence. The rest of the world is trying to keep pace with them and excel wherever possible. Let us take a look at the American inventory that overshadows inventories of other competing nations.
The Lockheed of USA has stolen a march over other international competitors. It has designed and manufactured F 117 Nighthawk Stealth Fighter. Of course, what walks away with the cake is a Stealth Fighter SR – 71 Blackbird, the fastest plane known in the global aerial sectors. It flies at a speed of Mach 3.2 – believe it or not but it is true.
We come to B – 2 Bomber Spirit. It is a Stealth bomber. The taste of pudding lies in eating it. Here is a record performance of this bird in 2011 in the Libyan crisis.The Stealth Bomber flew from the CONUS ( Continental United States) struck airfields in Libya and returned to base undetected by any friend or adversary.
F-22 Rapter is a Fifth generation fighter aircraft of the US Air Force that has established a record of flying undetected by friend or foe.
We talk of Missiles and remember the Russians and now even the Chinese. Before going over to them, we part with the Americans by listing their Ohio class Nuclear Missile fired from a submarine. The missile is said to be a combination of Stealth and Lethality.
Russian scientists and Artillery specialists walk away with the cake when it comes to discussing the Stealth and Killing power of S-400 Missile of the Russian Federation. It tracks its targets up to 600 Km and kills any target located at a distance of 400 Km. Its speed is 17,000 Km an hour. Each S-400 Missile Battalion has eight launchers, a Control Centre, A Radar and a reserve of 16 missiles as Reserve for replacement on the spot. It is this Missile system that has made the latest US made F 35 Stealth Fighter almost obsolete.
When it comes to discussing the Aircraft Carriers, the Stealth Strategy is not yet in the reliable public domain. It is quite true that the Carrier Strategy in War is a subject of debate in the global military circles. The Chinese PLA Navy has acquired an aircraft carrier and is in the process of having a Group of three but their hard thinkers do not subscribe to this theory. Many Chinese strategists are of the firm opinion that the floating airfield in an ocean is like a sitting duck to be targeted by the precision missiles like S – 400. Of course, the Chinese Navy or the Air Force do not have it but they have Russian made missile S – 300 and that meets their requirement so far.
When the Chinese missile experts had demonstrated the capabilities of their missile DUNG FENG – 10 the US aircraft carriers in the nid-Pacific Ocean were like sitting ducks that could be blasted out of existence any time. The US Admirals on board were losing their sleep on the issue and it has not yet been fully ironed out.
The evergreen subject of debate on acquiring an aircraft carrier or a precision long distance ballistic missile will go on endlessly. The middle roaders are of the opinion that it would be strategically safe to have both in a proportion that serves well the size, money bag and the threat perception of the country concerned at a given time.
I have deliberately not brought in Pakistan to the round table to discuss and dissect the issue of Stealth as Strategy in War because that failed State prefers to sit in the lap of China or North Korea to cater to its requirements. When it came to keep up with the Joneses in making an atom bomb, Pakistan chose to go to China with a begging bowl. It was North Korea, at the instance of China, that dropped a penny or two in the bowl. Over a period of time the strategic situation has not undergone any material change.
It is our considered opinion that there is not likely to be a shooting war in the near future wherein the major military powers of the world would test their Stealth Strategy or their Will Power to stand facing an adversary eye ball to eye ball waiting for the other gentleman to blink.
We in India have to speed up acquisition of latest technology for manufacturing defence equipment and armaments at home keeping the Stealth Strategy in mind so that no adversary musters courage to browbeat our citizenry.
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