In the mid of the October, Pakistan Army inducted HQ-9/P air defence systems to make Pakistan’s air defence impenetrable. HQ-9/P is state of the art High to medium-range air defence system (HIMADS), which is also considered to be strategic long-range SAM (Surface to Air Missile). The missile system is capable of a great degree of flexibility and precision in intercepting multiple targets including air crafts, cruise missiles and BVRW (beyond visual
range weapons) at the range of 100 km. HQ-9/P HIMADS also has a single-shot kill probability. Probability to kill refers to the ability of successful engagement between target and weapon. At the commissioning ceremony of the air defence system, COAS of Pakistan said that weapons will significantly contribute in (CLIAD) Comprehensive Layered Integrated Air Defence of Pakistan. This news holds importance for Pakistan because in recent year’s airborne/based threats are increasing due to technological innovations. Today, Pakistan is facing an amalgamation of high to low air threats, especially on its eastern border, where these threats are not only increasing in numbers but also have a degree of variation in their intensity.
Therefore, impenetrable-able integrated air defence systems are becoming a necessity for Pakistan, especially in evolving regional geopolitical and security systems. Comprehensive layered Integrated Air defence system or Modern Integrated air defence systems consists of personals, systems, equipment, weapons, radars, batteries and most important structure to counter adversaries attempts or desires to penetrate one’s air space through any airborne means. This amalgamation of different systems has to perform three critical functions which include: “air surveillance, battle management and air control”. A single air defence system does not explain the entirety of integrated air defence, rather systems like HQ-9/P are part of larger systems or in other words “systems of systems”, which include many other systems. For the effectiveness of the “Comprehensive Layered Integrated Air Defence” synchronization and integration among the air defence systems is necessary.
Thus, currently other than HQ-9/P high to medium-range air defence system with Surface to air missiles Pakistan army has also inducted LY 80 air defence system, HQ16A medium-range air defence system and short-range FM 90 air defence system. To further enhance the integration Pakistan is also conduction Air defence exercises, “Al-Bayza”. This year during Al-Bayza-II Air Defence exercises at Army Air Defence Test ranges in Karachi Pakistan tested various weapon systems that have the capability to launch surface to air missiles. In Pakistan, air defence systems and their integration for the development of the comprehensive layered integrated air defence system are not newly formed. At the end of the 1980s, Pakistan realized the need for an integrated and state-of-the-art air defense system, since then Pakistan has established a separate arm is the Pakistan army, which is going through selective induction and modernization of equipment and weapons not only in the army but also in the air force. According to open sources, Pakistan Air Force is using MBDA Spada 2000 low to medium, all-weather air defence system with the capability to simultaneously engage 4 targets. In air defence systems Pakistan has the capability to indigenously produce MANPADs (Man-Portable Air Defence Systems) that provide significant coverage of at low-level air defense.
Today Pakistan is just carrying on with modernization plans with inductions of these new air defence systems because the threat environment has become versatile and challenging. Moreover, Pakistan’s adversary at its eastern border is also more inclined towards risk-taking behavior. India’s quad copters frequently crossed LOC and in most instances are shot down, in 2019 India vertically escalate the crisis when its air force infiltrated into Pakistan’s air space and in response, Pakistan shot down Indian planes the next day. Moreover, India’s inventory of different missile systems, UAVs, helicopters, and aircraft (including recently inducted Rafael) is growing which puts the burden to maintain strategic stability and peace on Pakistan by maintaining deterrence vis-à-vis its adversary.
Therefore, air defence systems deny the adversary to launch an air-borne strike against one’s air space without fear of being intercepted and destroyed. Thus, in the case of India’s changing strategic thinking where is believes that escalations at certain levels are possible will be countered. Hence, to summarize, the nuclear aggressive designs of India create a security dilemma for Pakistan, provoking it to go for the conventional and unconventional military preparedness. This continuous modernization has become essential for preventing the enemy to go for any misadventure for the maintenance of strategic stability in the volatile South Asian region. The strong conventional deterrence creates anxiety and fear in the heart of the adversary, that waging a war in such a scenario could potentially cause a humiliating defeat and could potentially supersede the desired benefits. The conventional deterrence in South Asia is aptly controllable by Pakistan, and military modernization is the essential tool for catering to any future threat matrix.