The Kargil conflict was a "poor test" of India's air warfare capability, a prominent US think-tank has said, warning that with threats of future wars with Pakistan and China persisting, the Indian defence establishment has to prepare accordingly.
"Despite the happy ending of the Kargil experience for India, the IAF’s fighter pilots were restricted in their operations due to the myriad challenges specific to this campaign. They were thus consigned to do what they could rather than what they might have done if they had more room for maneuvering," said the think-tank in a report released yesterday.
The Kargil war, in which India emerged victorious over Pakistan, the 70-page report titled, "Airpower At 18,000: The Indian Air Force in the Kargil War," further brought to light the initial near-total lack of transparency and open communication between the Indian Army's top leaders and the IAF.
The report by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said that the covert Pakistani intrusion into Jammu and Kashmir had exposed a gaping hole in India's nationwide real-time intelligence.
"On a strategic level, the Kargil War vividly demonstrated that a stable bilateral nuclear deterrence relationship can markedly inhibit such regional conflicts in intensity and scale, if not preclude them altogether," it said.
"In the absence of the nuclear stabilizing factor, those flash points could erupt into open-ended conventional showdowns for the highest stakes. But the Kargil War also demonstrated that nuclear deterrence is not a panacea," the report said.
It said the possibility of future conventional wars of major consequence along India's borders with Pakistan and China persists, and the Indian defence establishment must plan and prepare accordingly.