After a rather droning (no pun intended) primer on the advantages/disadvantages of UCAVs, the paper goes on to recommend that UCAVs in Pakistani service are the only platforms that will be able to counter the “larger number of fifth generation fighters” India will have by 2025.
- India will begin to field PAKFA fighter jets from Russia and may also develop her own from technology bought from the Russians. While the latter may be discounted as another employment opportunity for DRDO and related third-rate Indian bureaucracies, PAKFA and any specific design built for India by the Russians will provide a challenge that would be wholly new to the subcontinent: a 5th generation fighter. Further, it may not be farfetched to imagine a JSF purchase for the IAF, given the blossoming long-term partnership developing between India and the United States. While the credentials for the JSF are still unclear and the jury may be out on its air-to-air combat capabilities, the PAKFA is a clear threat. The PAKFA was designed to counter the F-22 in air combat. The threat is perhaps best defined as reasonable stealth, super cruise, high altitude and high speed. The PAKFA takes BVR combat to a new level that the airframe of the JF-17, by design, cannot compete with. BVR missiles launched from a high-high profile aids missile range and speed, and reduces the threat, range and effectiveness of Pakistani BVR launches in response. With AWACs and refuelers in the sky, such threats would be a menace, particularly with longer ranged BVR missiles from Russia. By 2025, India could field PAKFAs and perhaps even JSFs in the hundreds, drastically changing the military balance in the Subcontinent. Pakistan can either go bankrupt attempting to counter this new threat or she can become obsolete, back to a decade similar to the 1990s. Or Pakistan can develop UCAVs.
The general approach has been to counter India’s provocative procurements on a largely symmetric basis. Increasing number of manned fighter jets have been reciprocated by increases in Pakistan’s inventory of manned jets. Purchase of AEW assets have been matched by an equivalent purchase. Nuclear tests were responded to with equivalent nuclear tests as were ballistic missile tests. However, this asymmetry is increasingly impractical because of differing size and economic developmentbetween the two countries.Meanwhile, India is now slated to acquire a large number of 5th generation planes in a 50-50partnership with the Russians. Instead of attempting to break the bank and procure increasingly complex (and expensive) 5th generation fighters with the added exponential increase in maintenance and other operational costs, a solution may be to respond asymmetrically. Evidence of responding with positive asymmetry can perhaps be found in the Quran: The good deed and the evil deed are not alike. Repel the evil deed with one which is better. Al Quran, 41:33