India is years behind the Chinese military with the Communist neighbour currently outnumbering the country’s combat power by a 3:1 ratio, a defence ministry document has revealed.
India hopes to bridge the gap in the next 15 years by improving its fighting capacity with new stealth jets, aircraft carriers, nuclear-powered submarines, warships and land-based strike formations.
The document, accessed by Hindustan Times, predicts the picture will change by the end of the 14th Plan period (2022-27), with India narrowing the gap in combat power with China to a “desirable ratio” of 1.5:1.
The dynamics of combat power encompass elements such as a military’s firepower, mobility, logistic capability, manpower and sustainability — factors that ultimately determine the outcome of a war.
Strategic affairs expert air vice Marshal Kapil Kak (retd) said the “desirable combat ratio” appeared to be achievable.
Steps taken by India to counter China’s military build-up have led to a marginal improvement in the relative-force ratio, the document shows.
The setting up of two new infantry divisions in 2010 in the northeast has lowered China’s combat advantage to a “2.7:1 ratio”. Odds, however, are still stacked against the army.
“In a land battle, an army can only defend against an attacking force three times its strength,” a former chief said.
The raising of a new mountain strike corps — with 85,000 soldiers — to defend Arunachal Pradesh is expected to further reduce the Chinese military advantage to a ratio of 2.1:1 by end of the 13th Plan Period (2022).
The new strike formation will give the army the capability to mount offensive action into the Tibet Autonomous Region.
Experts warn China is expected to step up efforts to transform its military to retain an edge over India. China’s official defence budget for 2013-14 stands at Rs. 5,94,000 crore, compared to India’s Rs. 2,03,672 crore.
However, China’s actual military spending may be higher, with experts suspecting dramatic under reporting of its defence expenditure.