India is about to deploy almost 500 main battle tanks (MBTs) along its Western and Northern borders with Pakistan.
The move substantially increases a large tank force that is already there and according to analysts could be an indication that India is preparing to activate its ‘Cold Start’ doctrine if required.
Pakistan has already vowed that it would use all the weapons at its disposal to defend it’s country, including nuclear weapons.
“If ever our national security is threatened by advancing foreign forces, Pakistan will use all of its weapons — and I mean all of our weapons — to defend our country,” one of the officials told The Financial Times.
The MBTs have been specifically designed for export by Russia, at a cost of $2 billion, and will join the existing 900 or so T-90S Bhishma tanks currently deployed in the Indian states of Rajasthan and Punjab.
The T-90 is the main battle tank of the Indian Army, replacing the older variants of T-72 and T-55 tanks in the force.
The new tanks will come with new thermal imaging sights and will be divided up into ten new regiments. They will also include a “Make in India” element for integration at the Heavy Vehicles Factory in Avadi near Chennai, according to India Today.
However, the purchase has yet to be cleared by the Defense Acquisition Council, headed by Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar, according to Indian Defence News.
Analysts say the significant increase in tank capability at the border could indicate India is preparing to activate its ‘Cold Start’ doctrine if required.
The military doctrine was developed in the event of conflict with Pakistan and is a strategy that calls on India’s conventional forces to perform holding attacks before international intervention or before nuclear retaliation from Pakistan.
India has consistently denied having such a stance, but in 2011 Army chief General V K Singh admitted there was a ‘proactive strategy’ in place.
Earlier this month, India’s newly appointed Army chief, General Bipin Rawat, admitted in an interview with India Today, that the “Cold Start doctrine exists for conventional military operations.”
The deployment of Indian tanks would be key to the strategy as they are the key offensive assets to launch rapid attacks in Pakistani territory.
Pakistan threatened nuclear warfare on India last September, as the 70 year old tensions flared up following Indian armed forces strikes against alleged terrorists operating from Pakistani territory.
“We will destroy India if it dares to impose war on us,” Pakistan Defence Minister Khawaj Asif said.
“Pakistan army is fully prepared to answer any misadventure of India. We have not made atomic device to display in a showcase. If a such a situation arises we will use it (nuclear weapons) and eliminate India.”