One extremely important role for Indian Air Force (IAF) will be the Close Air Support (CAS) to Indian Army. This is especially true for the decade old doctrine popularly called the cold start doctrine (CSD) extensively covered in press, although never publicly accepted by Indian Army. Ostensibly this was articulated and developed after the attack on Indian parliament when India could not mobilize its forces at the desired speed to make the counter attack, credible. ---------------------- The Cold Start Doctrine The CSD called for 8 Independent Battle Groups (IBGs) to move rapidly into Pakistan. Each IBG was to be composed of approximately an equivalent armored division in terms of number of armored vehicles (Tanks, Infantry combat vehicles, Self-propelled artillery, etc) constituting it. The Blitzkrieg envisaged that the 8 IBGs will rapidly move into Pakistan in response to any major terrorist or subversive attack carried out by Pakistan or launched from Pakistan â€“ such as 26/11 or attack on Indian parliament â€“ in 72 hours. With 30 km front and minimum 100 km inter IBG difference such massive and rapid incursions will thin spread Pakistani armored and air defense resources, thereby paving the way for Indian forces to go deep into Pakistan. The CSD looked menacing â€“ definitely a conventional deterrence to next Pakistani adventure. The feasibility, alas, was not very high. Pakistan used the Indian CSD to develop a counter in the form of the tactical nuclear option engineered into 60 KM range NASR missiles with low KT nukes â€“ which potentially can be launched from the multi-barrel rocket launchers. Many have rejected the Pak tactical nukes as not capable, read insignificant, yet one cannot discount the threat of NASR. Following the same train of thought India need to consider how to increase the feasibility and effectiveness of CSD â€“ or something similar to CSD â€“ if we need to communicate a credible conventional deterrence to Pak. ------------------------ The Total Air Superiority Problem One key problem with CSD is the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) Threat. Even if Indian army is able to mobilize 8 IBGs and start the inward movement across the Indo-Pak border, it will have to contend with the Pakistan Air force â€“ that can create a large impediment for the blitzkrieg. Let us assume that each IBG (assuming it to be an armored division equivalent) moves in what is called 2up formation â€“ where two armored brigade equivalents are ahead in parallel followed by the third armored brigade equivalent. IAF will have to ensure air superiority on all 8 attack routes. This is tough task â€“ despite IAF having 272 Su-30 MKI Air superiority fighters â€“ 40 of those India will keep for the nuke deterrence against Pak and China. Of the remaining 230, IAF needs to keep about 100 for the conventional war against China if China comes to join hands with Pakistan. IAF will be left with 100 odd SU30 against Pakistan to be utilized as Air Superiority missions including CAP and strike escorts to Jaguars/Mig27s for long range strike missions. For point defence and area defence Mig 21s and Mig 29s should be utilized along with Mirage 2000. Despite the above capability, IAF would still not be able to achieve total air superiority against PAF. India Pak War scenario â€“ we are more than two decades behind those high tech air war. We still have three main missions â€“ IAF calls them â€“ Long Range Strike Mission, Air Defence (AD) (including Combat Air Patrol and point AD), Close Air Support, Air Defence Escorts to LRSM. We still have not created 1991 air package concept that US used in Iraq. All said and done â€“ IAF will not be able to provide total air-superiority in Indo-Pak scenarios as our doctrine continues to be linear. We have to strive to achieve local air superiority for the time and space we chose. One of the key missions for IAF will continue to be CAS to Indian Army â€“ whether IAF like it or not. In fact, if it does not provide a new doctrinal shift for delivering CAS to Indian Army â€“ all the so called CSD type plans will remain low on credibility. Suppression of Enemy Air Defences (SEAD) plus CAS with AD Escorts package with SU30MKI CAP controlled by AWACS need to be delivered in support of IBGs. IA will not wait for 40 days of pure air operations before starting the ground operations, what US and allies did in 1991 Desert Storm. Indian Army and IAF need to evolve a new doctrine together â€“ especially against Pak. ------------------------ An Integrated Cold Start Doctrine is needed For the 8 IBG achieving their mission of deep penetration in Pakistan in 72 Hours will require local air superiority and heavy close air support. As is known, the blitzkrieg requires integrated high momentum penetration streams, which IA hopes will be provided by the IBGs. It is the high momentum close air support in terms of number of sorties that IAF can deliver to IBGs IAF will have issues with its strike aircraft like Jaguars/Mig27s â€“ which they will keep more for anti-airbase and deep strikes rather than close air support. Similarly, Su30MKI, Mirage 2000 or even Rafale with their multirole high end capabilities will be utilized for CAP, AD Escorts, or local Air Superiority missions. Even then number of sorties these high end aircraft can deliver cannot be more than 1 to 1.5 per day per aircraft. ------------------------ LCA-Tejas can provide the Close Air Support for Integrated CSD The integrated Cold Start will require about 100+ pure close air support sorties per day sustained for 3-5 days for the 8 IBGs. We need a light aircraft with rapid sortie generation capability which delivers load per sortie. With 40 Tejas IAF can provide 2.5 to 3 sorties per day per aircraft. 100+ sorties of LCA sustained for 5 days will be crucial component of the integrated CSD. This enables one dimension of making CSD feasible and hence credible. Today we simply cannot do CSD type pincer attack. Our MIGs and Jaguars simply cannot do this support. LCA can deliver 3 sorties per day for 3-5 days per day provided pilots are available to rotate the aircraft. Mirage 2000 and SU30 can deliver around 1 or max 1.5 sortie a day remaining Jaguars/Migs if we get 1 sortie per day â€“ it will be great. However for CAS for 8 IBGs we need 100+ LCA sorties per day which is potentially possible. But with current aircraft â€“ we cannot give air support. In the absence of Self Propelled Artillery, we will not have successful â€œCSD typeâ€ doctrine. The complete premise, on which IA has been creating its armored and mechanized force for last decade or so, will be futile. LCA is the real sortie maximization solution in air war.CAS mission the objectives are mostly singular ( A bridge, Rail junction, Artillery emplacement , Enemy fuel and ammunition dumps ) For such task an fighter need not to be a heavily loaded bomb truck, Employing a SU-30 for such role would only waste its combat potential..