Kaalkut. A military thriller story.

jamwal

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This is first draft of a chapter which comes a bit later. Is the combat described here realistic or interesting to read? I'd prefer honest feedback even if it seems offensive rather than polite platitudes. Thanks.

CHAPTER 31

WESTERN SECTOR

Pakistan Air Force had sent their total of fourteen Mirage-III and Mirage-V jets belonging to 15th and 25th squadrons from Rafiqui airbase to attack Indian ground targets. Eight F-16Cs of 5th squadron and six JF-17s of 2nd Squadron from Jacobabad airbase were flying with them to provide air cover. Mirages in Pakistani service were old on the verge of being completely obsolete and had been kept in service with huge efforts and multiple upgrades over the years. All other air forces had retired all such planes from their inventory, but PAF was forced to keep them to maintain squadron numbers. They were not completely useless though and could still attack undefended ground targets with dumb bombs and standoff ammunition which had been integrated with their fire control system with considerable expense and effort. But they lacked any good enough system for self-defence and needed protection on all but completely undefended airspace.

F-16s on other hand, although old, were still the most capable fighters in PAF inventory with AIM-120 AAMs and old but still fairly good radar. JF-17s were touted by Pakistan as highly lethal homegrown fighters and were a good cheap replacement of the ageing F-16s, Mirages and F-7s in Pakistan inventory. Yet they suffered from various weaknesses like intensive maintenance, smoky engine, average radar and avionics. Although introduced as a low-cost fighter meant for export to multiple nations, it had found no other customers except Nigeria and Myanmar.

Pakistani plan was to sneak in as the Indian tried to fight off the Chinese raid in the north-east, bomb a few Indian positions near the Uri and Punch border and destroy a few Indian aircraft with long range shots from AIM-120s on F-16s and PL-12s on JF-17s. A SAAB Erieye AEW plane assigned for support had noticed Indian aircraft getting into the air a bit sooner than expected but the pilots were ordered to go on with the mission nonetheless.

Nearly half of the Mirages were armed with H-4 and H-2 glide bombs with declared ranges of 120 km and 60 km. H-4 was a copy of South African Denel Raptor-II and H-2, its lighter version. Actual ranges and accuracy depended upon numerous factors altitude, velocity, wind and terrain and thus was only a fraction of the claimed range. So in theory, Pakistani Mirages could have hit an Indian Brigade HQ in Handwara from just east of Mangla dam. But in reality, they had to travel well past Muzaffarabad, acquire and feed the target data to bombs over the high mountains and then fire while trying to keep away from enemy air defences.

Phalcon AWACs acquired the formation on its huge radar from more than 300 km away and vectored all available aircraft to intercept. Six Mig-21s from Srinagar which were waiting on the tarmac scrambled to intercept the invaders along with Mig-29s and Rafale. The other four remained in the area just north of Srinagar to deal with incoming Chinese missiles. Satellite images and HUMINT sources had reported deployment of a single HQ-16 SAM battery near Mangla dam and all Indian aircraft were warned against rushing within its maximum range of 40 km. Although it was unlikely to hit any fast moving target at its maximum range, it was something to be wary of.

On Indian side, Mig-21s acquired the positions of Pakistani aircraft first via a datalink from Phalcon. But they were still far from the maximum firing range of R-77 AAMs. Although Indian Mig-21s were also pretty old, the latest BIS upgrade had made them capable of BVR combat. Combined with their small size and very low radar cross-section, they had the capability of sneaking up to the enemy and hitting before anyone knew what happened.

Erieye had a much weaker and less capable radar compared to Phalcon and even Netra and it struggled to get a proper reading on Mig-21s who were using the mountains to hide their approach. Pakistanis knew that the Indian aircraft were within a certain area, but couldn’t detect the exact position. It forced the F-16s and JF-17s to turn on their onboard radars which lit up radar consoles on the Indian side like a house covered with Diwali lights. By this time, the situation was pretty much clear on both sides. Indians noticed JF-17s and F-16s flying at higher altitudes while Mirages were trying to fly as low as possible trying to sneak by. Pakistanis on the other hand could see Mig-21s, but not Mig-29s and Rafales which were a bit further back and rushing in with their radars turned off.

Phalcon’s Flight Controller realised the Pakistani plan quickly and ordered Mig-21 flight to split up and attack different targets, “Shikra 1,2 break formation and engage F-16s and JF-17s. Shikra 3,4,5,6 fire at low flying bandits from maximum ranges. Stop them from coming within firing range. Break formation and disengage as soon as possible after firing. Leave the rest for Ranger and Baron”. Ranger was callsign for brand new Rafales and Baron for Mig-29s which were only minutes away from entering the fight. Mig-21s were outnumbered more than two-to-one just compared to interceptors and asking them to hold on for long was just suicide.

Mig-21s lit their radars and started onboard computers fed the target to R-77s which left their pylons seconds later. Pakistani interceptors also launched their BVR missiles at nearly the same time. A total of 12 R-77s and 16 AIM-120 and PL-12 missiles were in the air racing towards the general vicinity of their assigned targets guided by the host aircraft. With Radar Warning Receivers (RWR) beeping near continuously of radar locks, aircraft from both sides started to launch chaff and perform manoeuvres to break off the radar lock. Three of the R-77s fired at Mirages found their targets even as they manoeuvred frantically as much as was allowed by the terrain and their lower altitudes. They had no active jammers onboard and were easy targets for AAMs dropping on them from a higher altitude.

Indians were not so lucky with the interceptors and all Pakistani interceptors managed to escape the first BVR salvo without damage. Two Indian Mig-21s were lost in exchange and the rest were ordered to fly to Srinagar to engage the last salvo of Chinese cruise missiles with their remaining WVR missiles and guns. Although they had suffered losses, they had managed to break the cohesion and situational awareness of the Pakistani fleet. The Mirages were just beginning to align themselves to their assigned flight paths when their RWRs started ringing again.

Pakistani interceptors noticed a single radar signature flying in their direction and a few of them surged forward to engage it, while the rest tried to acquire retreating Mig-21s and destroy them with BVR shots. In the heat of battle, they had made one mistake. The single radar signature they had detected was that of a single Rafale of Ranger flight. Certain fighters like Rafales and Sukhois are capable of painting a radar target for other aircraft and Pakistanis made the mistake of assuming that it was just another Mig-21. They realised that something was wrong when they detected 12 missiles heading towards them. The Meteors launched by Rafales cut through Pakistani aircraft like a hot knife through butter and two JF-17s , two F-16s and five Mirages crashed out of the sky in bright fireballs. Even before the Meteors had hit their targets, Mig-29s reached the area, turned on their radars and started acquiring their targets. Two more Mirages and one other JF-17 were lost in the next minute as R-77s fired by Mig-29s took their toll.

Mission controller onboard Erieye realised the pickle they were in just now and started ordering the remaining Mirages to disengage and head back. Two of the Mirage pilots had acquired their ground targets in the meanwhile and managed to fire off five glide bombs. As they started to turn back, they tried to turn too hard thereby slowing them and offered themselves to Indian aircraft on a platter. Two R-77s fired from a single Mig-29 took both of them down within seconds of each other.

A Mig-29 was lost to a F-16 which sneaked in from the north behind cover of mountain range and fired two AIM-9 Sidewinder heat seeking missiles. Two more JF-17s were lost to MICAs fired by Rafales even as they manoeuvred to regain the upper hand in this desperate air battle. Their ground attack was a failure for all intents and purposes and they wanted to have at least a few more kills than just three for their efforts. But the fight had not gone their way and instead of drawing Indian fighters out, Pakistanis were being forced to engage in WVR combat with vastly more manoeuvrable Mig-29 and Rafales. They had lost 14 out of 28 aircraft and were fast running out of missiles to fight with.

A complete withdrawal order was issued and they tried to disengage, some of them in panic. One JF-17 pilot paid the price of mistake and was shot down by a MICA as he tried to turn too quickly without bothering to check the position of enemies around him.



 

jamwal

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Chapter 26

Next Day
16:30 Hours IST
NTRO, Pune


“So, what do we know so far?”

“It has been pretty interesting to say the least. I am reading aloud a list of what we know for sure so far. American reports are saying that they damaged or destroyed multiple aircrafts which include three F-7s and two JF-17s at Peshawar, four F-7s near Quetta and at least two F-16s at Jacobabad. Additionally they claim to have seriously damaged Saab Erieye in on patrol near Rawalpindi.. Some geniuses from the area have already uploaded the pictures of these two planes claiming that those are wreckages of Indian planes.

Additionally, our air force is claiming that they downed five JF-17s near Pano Aqil, most likely based in Jacobabad and two Mirage-III or V roughly 40 KM south from there. Then there are three or four helicopters, two JL-8 trainers, two C-130 and three more yet unidentified wreckages on some of airbases we hit. “ the NTRO analyst barely took a breath while talking excitedly..

The other analyst whistled, ”That’s a lot of damage for one night! How sure are you about this?”

“Pretty sure! ” He laughed excitedly and continued, “Seems like Pakistanis tried to attack some more American planes in Afghanistan after shooting down their drone. It pissed them off so much that their commander sanctioned shooting down any Pakistani plane that took to the sky near their Area of Operations (AOR).”

“They did??”

“Yeah and they have supposedly downed a few more on the ground too. We haven’t received detailed information from them yet.”

“Don’t count on getting it anytime soon. Do we have any information or informed guesses of our own about that?”

“It is all so chaotic and there’s so much information from so many sources. We haven’t been able to process even the CartoSat data yet. So there may still be more to come. But we can assume atleast 8-14 more damaged or destroyed planes on ground, perhaps more when we analyse pictures of shelters that were hit. Some important radars and SAM systems were also targeted in a few locations like Sargodha. Someone here is going through latest RISAT (Radar Imaging Satellite) data for more details.“

Indian expertise in satellites is perhaps not as advanced as a few other countries like USA, Russia but it is fair to say that it is quite substantial. Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) had launched a number of dedicated spy satellites as well as those with dual use in the last few years. Real capabilities of many of these satellites are usually kept confidential but there are some sources which provide a glimpse into this secretive field. For example, CartoSat series of satellites is said to have an optical resolution of 80 cm, but some people believe it to be much higher. RISAT, another spy satellite which is listed as an earth observation satellite for disaster management during floods, cyclones etc is actually a high resolution Synthetic Aperture Radar technology based satellite which can see through all sorts of cloud cover to the ground in all kinds of weather conditions.

Additionally, there are a handful of geo-stationary satellites meant for secure communications for each of three services and a few very specialised satellites like EMISAT which is used for space based electronic intelligence gathering. Services of these satellites are utilised by military as well as intelligence agencies and there are some deliberate ambiguities about their exact roles.

“Hmm. And most of these aircraft were either flying or were in the open, right?

“Yes, I think that all aircraft apart from a few Mirage-III and F-7s were in flying condition. It’s not exactly a crippling blow, but it sure is very painful. With their economy, it’ll take them years to make up for the losses. Their F-16 fleet is not likely to get much support or spares from Americans for quite some time after this.”

“Let’s hope so. Send me the data after you finish. Dhumal sahib has called twice already.”

“I’ll send it In an hour.”


Defence Review Blog
23rd May 2020, 23:00 Hours IST


Unprecedented joint operation by Indian and American forces
More stunning details about the daring raid on Pakistani nuclear weapons storage site in Pano Aqil have started trickling in from various sources. Readers of this blog already know about the nuclear threat raised by a rogue Pakistani Major General Qasim Rizvi who was commanding officer in charge of the nuclear facility. He along with still unknown number of followers had taken control of the atleast 6 nuclear tipped Ghauri and 7-8 Nasr missiles with ranges 1200 km and 50-70 km respectively. The warheads on Ghauri used Uranium-235 and had a blast yield of around 35-50 KT, enough to destroy everything within a 2-2.5 km radius. Nasr warhead on the other hand is meant for tactical uses in a battlefield against the advancing enemy columns. If successfully detonated, it’s Plutonium based warhead is claimed to have a yield between 0.5 to 5 kt with a destruction radius of a few 100 meters to 1 km.

Rizvi had demanded complete withdrawal of Indian forces from Jammu & Kashmir, removal American bases from Afghanistan and handing over control of the Pakistan to a small committee of people chosen by him. It is reported that Pakistani authorities had refused all offers of assistance by NATO and India and had even shot down an American drone sent in for reconnaissance.

A joint raid was then executed by Indian and American units which then destroyed most of Pano Aqil’s military facilities. It’s being reported that Indian forces had fired 35-40 cruise missiles and sent a whole Jaguar squadron to pummel the base. Role played by US forces has not been disclosed yet. But some defence experts have speculated that one squadron each of F-16 and F-18 deployed in Afghanistan and Oman respectively could have been used along with support elements like AWACS, refuelers and Prowler EW aircraft along with some naval vessels.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Sartaj Sattar dismissed most of these claims in a press conference in Islamabad claiming that Pakistani special forces had brought the whole situation under control long before the aforementioned raid happened. He further claimed that Pano Aqil had only four Nasr missiles of which only two were armed with nuclear warheads. He condemned the Indo-American joint operation calling it an assault on sovereignty of Pakistan and Islamic brotherhood. Twitter account of Pakistan armed forces published a picture of two Nasr launchers which they claimed were recovered from the Pano Aqil nuclear bunkers on 22nd August.

Few other defence analysts on Twitter including AlNihiro and PennyDosa have claimed that Indian Air Force hit four other Pakistan Air Force bases in Sargodha, Sukkur, Peshawar and Chabbar. The exact damage to Pakistani defence infrastructure has not been confirmed by official resources, but Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) suggests that there have been considerable damage to Pakistani airbases in multiple sectors. Some local Pakistani accounts have uploaded pictures of what seems to be wreckages of Chinese built EriEye AWACS and of Chinese built JF-17 or American built F-16 mulit-role fighters. A lot of local news channels had reported sounds of loud explosions and fires in the four air bases mentioned but a PAF spokesman dismissed it as mere fiction.

It’s being reported by many Pakistani news sources that most of the Pakistani internet and communications had stopped working a few hours after the release of video by General Rizvi. As the connectivity is being restored, more images and videos from ground zero are coming online confirming some of the claims made by above-mentioned experts.

China has criticised this unilateral military action calling it an unwanton assault on sovereignty of a close ally and vowed to take strong actions. It is being reported that China is preparing to transfer certain military hardware like radars, SAMs and perhaps even fighter jets to make up for the losses sustained by Pakistani forces.
 

jamwal

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Chapter 27
19th May 2020
Zhanjiang Port, China


The heavy metal container shook a little in the strong wind as the crane lifted it from a multi-axle truck and moved it to the waiting cargo ship. The crane operator looked at the long line of trucks and groaned a little while trying to stretch his back in the cramped cabin. His shift was supposed to end an hour back but the trucks had been delayed and he was ordered by his foreman to finish the job before clocking out.

He looked at his superior below as he almost ran to a dark SUV with military markings which had just stopped a few meters away from the long line of waiting trucks. Even from a distance, he could see the fat foreman bowing repeatedly and acting deferential to the military men who had gotten off the SUV. He didn’t have much time to notice anything else as the next truck rolled up to transfer its cargo. By the time he had finished transferring the container, the SUV had driven away and the foreman was nowhere in sight.

“Colonel Gang, I must congratulate you on how fast you’ve managed to start shipping required hardware. No one else could have managed it but you.” Lieutenant General Yin Hongwen was uncharacteristically effusive in his praise for Senior Colonel Ren Gang.

“Thank you very much sir. I just followed my orders under your guidance.”

Hongwen smirked and shook his head. He was used to such deferential language from all his juniors, always looking to curry favour and extremely cautious about making any kind of mistake in front of senior officers. To be fair, a lot of PLA officers did need to have a servile attitude just to be able to survive, even the better ones like Gang. He idly considered asking the colonel to stop using such language but decided against it.

Hongwen had pulled a lot of strings in order for Gang to successfully do his job. They had to acquire a huge arsenal meant for a few other PLA units as well as some already under their command and get it transported to their ally Pakistan by any means possible. He had to call in multiple favours and even issue a few threats to get everything he wanted. He remembered the angry red face of his own immediate superior, General Xu Qiling as he refused to pay any heed to his reservations about shifting and deploying such a huge arsenal to Pakistan in such a short time

He understood the plans and the need for urgency, but he wanted to have a few more days in order to do it properly. Due to the angry fit thrown by Qiling, he had to acquire some hardware from other Theater Commands as well as own reserves and then use civilian as well as military resources to ship them to Pakistan. The CPEC road they had constructed to connect northern parts of Pakistan to Chinese National Highway-219 was nearly useless for such a massive undertaking. Not only was it under direct observation of Indians, it was also blocked more often than not to properly handle such sensitive military cargo traffic. So they had to use transport planes for stuff that couldn’t wait or was light enough and cargo ships for the rest. The ships would take 8-10 days, but that couldn’t be helped.

Another issue was with transfer of trained manpower overseas at such a short notice. Some of the hardware being transferred was not the usual export quality version and CMC had specifically asked that all such hardware be manned only by PLA troops at all times. Even though he had managed to get some of their weapons, the unit commanders were not willing to let go of trained manpower and had managed to pull in some of their influence as well. So Hongwen had to send some of his own troops, serving as well as reserves.

He was not that stuck up on this issue at least. He never trusted Pakistanis to properly use whatever they bought. His opinion was vindicated after seeing how easily India destroyed all the nuclear missiles in Pano Aqil along with a dozen plus Pakistani military aircraft and ground facilities. Indians did have some help from Americans, but even he didn’t expect Pakistanis to get mauled so badly in just one night. He was in the room with Qiling and a few other senior PLA officers when Pakistani Vice Chief of Army Lt General Khalid Mahmud had called up in panic after an American UAV was shot down. They had spent a lot of money on this man in the last two-three years, hoping that he could be a useful tool when needed. He was still a tool, but a panicky foolish one as the incident proved.

Now that the war was all but inevitable, they could not hope to replace men like him at such a short notice. Outwardly he smiled at Gang, “We do our best with what we have, Colonel. Any update about the status of shipments yet?”

“Yes, sir. Almost everything is going according to the plan. Only problem we are having is with more JF-17s which Pakistanis asked for. We can’t replace the airframe losses so quickly and can only spare our old J-7s in the meanwhile. Our men will start to deploy some of the systems including the radars and SAM batteries in coastal parts in two days.”

After the US placed an embargo on Pakistan putting a halt to supply of all spares and support to US supplied systems, PAF was worried about the condition of its F-16 fleet. They had requested Turkey, Oman and Indonesia for help with spares. But nearly all countries were spooked after seeing the Pano Aqil situation and were wary of getting themselves involved in something which could lead to something even worse. So Pakistanis had not received any favourable response yet and then had asked the Chinese for immediate reinforcements for their JF-17 fleet.

“They’ll have to do with what we can provide for now.” Hongwen frowned and grimaced, remembering the reports about the skirmish and how PAF rushed its pilots into certain death traps without bothering to wait for any backup or reconnaissance reports, “It is not like they can be trusted to use anything properly. I admit that JF-17s are not the best of planes, but the way Pakis misused them will dissuade even African warlords from ever buying them. 5 jets shot down in their own territory, imagine that!”

He paused reading the expression on his junior officer’s face, “Do you have something on your mind?”

Gang hesitated and spoke with some trepidation, “I am only concerned about the support our men deployed in Pakistan will need. Pakistanis didn’t seem very happy when we told them that our troops will operate the SAMs and radars.”

“Beggars can’t be choosers!” Hongwen chuckled lightly. “You need not worry about that. Even the F-7s will be flown by our own pilots, at least till we are confident about Pakistanis being able to handle them properly.”


20th May 2020
Western Theater Command Headquarters
Chengdu


Nearly all the walls in long corridor leading up to Qiling’s office were decorated with paintings and portraits of various events related to Chinese history and wars. He called himself an amaeture historian and had a fairly large number of books in his office’s bookshelf. Hongwen himself wasn’t that knowledgeable about most of the historical facts that Qiling was fond of quoting in his casual conversations apart from a few things related to military history. He gazed absently at a new painting in front of the chair he was sitting on as he waited for Qiling to finish his phone call. It depicted a scene of a battle between Chinese Communists and the Kuomintang led Republic of China forces. Where and when, he didn’t know or cared. He was called in a few moments later and found Qiling leaning back in his chair puffing idly on a cigar. He had picked up a taste for expensive imported cigars after he supposedly got bored of the local cigarettes. Hongwen knew that Qiling would be only too happy to talk about the details about his cigars or the new painting outside if he showed some interest.

But he knew that he’d not have been called for a personal meeting on such a short notice if it was not something important. So he saluted smartly and waited. Qiling exhaled the smoke leisurely and motioned him to take a seat. He picked up a file from his desk and passed it to Hongwen, “Read it.”

Hongwen noticed “TOP SECRET” marking on the file and stared at it for a second before opening it to read the three pages inside. Qiling looked at him keenly through the twirling cloud of cigar smoke and gave a slight smirk when Hongwen finished reading, “For your eyes, only, condensed minutes of the Central Military Commission (CMC) meeting held yesterday evening.”

Hongwen had tried to keep a neutral expression while reading, but he guessed that his facial expressions might have given a hint or two about what he thought about the contents of the document. He knew better than to ask who had proposed and passed the preposterous resolutions. A lot of it couldn’t have been done without feedback and approval of the commander of Western Theater Command (WTC) sitting before him. WTC was the military formation responsible for border security and military operations along with borders along India, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Kazakhstan. Total number of land troops in regular PLA WTC and comparatively lightly armed Border Defence Regiments (BDRs) was around 2.3 lakh plus more than four divisions of PLAAF and auxiliary units. It could also utilise assets of PLA Rocket Forces (PLARF) and the formidable Eastern Naval Fleet.

Hongwen closed the file and put it back on the table, “Seems like our orders are quite a bit different than what we had planned and anticipated.”

Qiling nodded as he exhaled more smoke, “Yes, they are a bit different in some aspects. You will command all our land forces in the Tibet sector. We are dispatching Senior Colonel Li Qiaoming to Pakistan as the commander of all our forces deployed there. He will also act as our direct liaison with Pakistanis.” He paused to snuff out the cigar in the ashtray and continued, “I’ll be commanding our air and naval assets directly with Major General Ma Xiaotian and Rear Admiral Ye Fir as liaison officers with respective branches. We also have a few PLARF units under my direct command to be used as and when required. “

Hongwen groaned inwardly, “Of course you have taken direct control of the air force, navy and missile forces, you pretentious megalomaniac. Who else would have guaranteed CMC that he could throw out Indians from their positions all over south-east Tibet. As if Indians are just waiting to hand over all that land so that you can become the first Chinese Field Marshal after 1965.”

His professional opinion of Fir and Xiatian was not very high. Xiaotian was a risk averse mediocre pilot when he started his career in late 80s and his rise in professional hierarchy was mostly due to family connections in CCP. Fir was slightly better but was widely hated by his subordinates who saw him as a credit hog and often a bootlicker who used every trick in his arsenal to gain favours. Hongwen had vainly hoped that the recent wide scale reforms in Chinese armed forces would have resulted in better officers being assigned to this crucial mission.He had no grand illusions about himself being a great military commander himself, but he knew the pulse of his men, terrain and most importantly, the enemy. Any Chinese ground assault over the Himalayas needed perfect coordination from air force and rocket forces to be successful. Perhaps even the navy if the war stretched on for longer. Unlike some of his colleagues, he harboured no illusions about weakness of Indians or invincibility of PLA. He remembered a line that was repeated often during his officer’s training program, “A well trained army under an able commander can achieve any goal.”

“Almost any goal within reason, that is.” he thought to himself.

CMC had asked for the moon, as far as the plan’s feasibility and timelines were concerned. They expected WTC to take control of Indian controlled territory between 2-20 km from their current positions. One of the requirements was taking full or partial control of a few cities or nearby territories of Kargil, Thoise and Dras with help from Pakistan. Capture of Dras and Kargil would give them Siachen and a much easier road route to Pakistan and Afghanistan. It could also enable them to capture the whole of Laddakh and possibly even Kashmir valley. From there, they could threaten New Delhi and all of the Indian heartland. Not to mention the control of a few major rivers vital for obvious reasons. All great plans in theory assuming that notoriously fickle Pakistanis will follow every order and that Indians will run away at the sound of the first bullet being fired.

Did no one tell them that it was a nearly impossible task even if they somehow managed to deploy all their WTC ground forces to the sector? A vast majority of the troops had little to no experience of fighting in such hostile terrain and the war had to be finished to their advantage before the first snowfall of the season, giving them no more than three months for the whole thing. They needed huge numerical superiority on land just to dislodge Indians from their fortified positions and even more to hold on to them against inevitable counter attacks. The artillery had very poor accuracy in mountains, aerial bombardment needed huge numbers of precision guided ammunition as dumb bombs hardly ever landed where they were needed and soldiers needed weeks of acclimitisation before they could even walk with full battle loadout. Even the much vaunted cruise missiles had trouble navigating the steep mountain ranges and most UAVs except the large ones which could fly over 5000 m were next to useless in strong winds and poor line of sight that the terrain imposed. Additionally, their tanks were nearly useless everywhere apart from one or two sectors. So that left them with infantry and air power and Indians had a slight edge in both

All of this had been discussed and simulated in the war games and simulations they had multiple times over the last few years. Yet the war plans had been made based on a wishlist rather than practicality. And they had not even considered that other countries like USA, France, Japan or even Russia could come to the aid of Indians. That too just after the Pano Aqil fiasco where USA had fired dozens of missiles and bombs destroying the very hardware that the Chinese were replacing in Pakistan. A disconcertingly large number of people in CCP and PLA saw the USA as a spent force and India among most other neighbours as mere pushovers. For all the history Qiling claimed to have read, he somehow ignored the lessons of 1967 and 1987 while never failing to gloat about 1962.

Hongwen sat quietly for a few seconds thinking of words to say, “Permission to speak freely, sir?”

“Yes, go on.”

“Do you think that this plan is feasible? Kargil and Dras too? We’ve war gamed this thing quite a few times and everyone here knows the results including CMC. What makes them think that we can achieve all this in just three months from now?”

Qiling chuckled lightly and spoke while playing with an unlit cigar, “Are you saying that you can’t win us these positions?”

Hongwen had anticipated such a loaded response and was unfazed. He had realised that he was going to be made one of the scapegoats if and when the plan failed. “Anything to keep the image of the Great Leader spotless.” He knew that he had to give his best and hope for a miracle to complete the mission as specified in the meeting. In a disturbingly likely case he failed, he vowed to take Qiling down with him. Outwardly he replied evenly, “The mission objectives are doable even if somewhat ambitious, sir. Although it’ll need quite a bit of luck and an exceptionally good performance from Pakistanis which we’ve never seen before.”.

“That’s true. I can go on about all the politics and other details which led to this decision yesterday. But to be succinct, just know that the Pano Aqil disaster has been a blessing as well as a curse. It has given us unmatched leverage over Pakistanis and a fleeting opportunity to strike India. We have to utilise this chance as soon as we can before things cool down and it’ll be foolish to let it go by waiting for something better. We have almost all the pieces in place and we need to make the most of it.”

“Yeah, exactly the answer I expected from you.” Hongfeng mused even as he spoke,”Understood sir!”
 

jamwal

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23rd May 2020
Rajauri Science College, Rajauri


The bell signaling the end of 4th period rang and students started pouring out of their classrooms for a break and lunchtime. Few of them ambled off towards the college canteen while a few relaxed in the grounds under the trees. It was a cloudy and cool day, good for enjoying a breeze and view of fleeting clouds. Ankur Sharma in 2nd year of his course was walking towards the canteen building when a gruff looking man brushed past him brusquely. He ignored that and unlocked his phone to check for any messages or notifications on his phone. Less than a minute later, he noticed the same man come out of the canteen’s dining area and walk off briskly and ignored it again. It was not uncommon to have visitors on the college campus. He entered the canteen, picked up his meal tray and looked around for an empty place to sit. A classmate already on a table waved his hand and called him to sit with him. Ankur grinned, walked up to the table and sat down. As they chatted and ate, his attention was drawn to an unattended bag under an empty table right next to them. It looked like just about any other bag used by the students to carry their books and other college stuff. But after having spent all his years living in a terrorist infested area, he was a bit wary of suspicious items in public places like unattended bags, toys, radios etc.

His friend though was not as cautious and just remarked, “It must belong to some student here gone to get something from the counter or just forgotten. Why bother?”

Ankur agreed and they finished their meal with an eye to the wall clock. They had a class led by a notoriously eccentric lecturer right after the lunch break and didn’t want to get late. Ankur glanced at the other table again to find the bag lying there still unattended. He walked to the counter and asked around but the staff had no idea who it belonged to. They asked him not to worry about it and the two classmates started to walk out of the canteen in order to reach the class a few minutes before it started. In the meanwhile, a worker walked to the table, nonchalantly picked up the bag and placed it on the table top, trying to open the zipper. Just seconds later, there was a powerful explosion which blew up the whole canteen building. 29 people died and 36 others were injured, some of them severely.


24th May 2020, New Delhi

“No, no , not at all Kamat ji. This is certainly not acceptable.” HM Sudarshan spoke as if someone had insulted his long dead ancestors.

“I never said it was. Whoever is behind must face the music. But we can’t just lob some bombs randomly at anyone for revenge now, can we?” Kamat Kamat replied evenly. Sudarshan had come straight to the meeting after visiting Amritsar where another IED explosion had killed 11 young police recruits and 5 civilians. He was still in a foul mood after seeing the destruction, dead bodies and the injured.

“So does it mean that we are preparing to whack some pakis as we speak?” He asked another question for an answer and spoke even before anyone else in the room had a chance to speak. “Look, the bomb at Rajauri had Pakistan all over it. Forensic investigations as well as local intelligence have proved that explosives were sourced from Pakistan. Preliminary inquiries at Amritsar are hinting the same and I am pretty sure that we’ll find the same culprits here too. This is their revenge for what we did at Pano Aqil.”

“Let me say it again Kamat ji, I am not disagreeing with you. But we can’t just do what we want without following due process. We haven’t even identified the preperators yet or their local associates for that matter. Even if we had, how do you think that we will catch or kill them? Please rest assured that we will have our revenge at a place and time of our own choosing. We are not going to send dossiers and “request” them to arrest the terrorists.”

Sudarshan calmed down a bit, “I’m sorry for my outburst. I’m still recovering from the destruction I had to see. My apologies for any offence caused.”

The two ministers and NSA Dhumal in the room were alerted to PM Bisht joining the meeting via a secure video link from Bhubaneswar where he was on a 2 days official trip. He came straight to the point after short greetings. “Dhumal ji, do we have any new updates on the blasts?”

“We don’t have anything concrete yet about the attack in Amritsar but initial investigations suggest that the modus operandi and the explosives used in both attacks were similar. We had caught three kg RDX explosives on two different occasions on Punjab border dropped from drones. We think that both attacks utilised sleeper cells who managed to collect another shipment which we couldn’t catch.

Apart from that, we may have a lead on the the prime suspect in Rajauri attack. According to J&K police and intelligence agencies, he is supposedly a resident of Mirpur in PoK working for Tehreek-e-Islam (TEI) who had infiltrated into India via Bangladesh few months back. We haven’t been able to locate him since.”

Sudarshan spoke again as soon as Dhumal stopped, “I personally believe that Pakistanis are involved in both these attacks in one way or the other. They may use Indian muslims or khalistani sikhs as their proxy, but the fact remains that neither of both can do anything without training and logistical support from Pakistan. We whacked them twice publically for such attacks and things remained peaceful after that. Now we had to hit them again after the Pano Aqil threat and they feel the need to have some revenge or for whatever reason. The only topic we should be discussing is how hard we should hit them and where.”

Bisht nodded thoughtfully, “Quick retaliation?” and addressed the room again, “Do we have any information about any other possible motive for these attacks except revenge for Pano Aqil?”

Kamat started hesitantly, “They could be trying to do an equal equal thing. Like they can say India is just as unsafe as Pakistan, just see how many terrorist attacks they have on a daily basis. Their security agencies can’t defend their children nor themselves.”

“Or they could be egging us to perform another hit giving them an excuse to start a war or atleast a limited conflict. Then they can launch some fake bombs and claim moral victory in the eyes of their dumbass citizens. They certainly need that after that beatdown.” Dhumal observed.

Bisht agreed, “We can’t discount either possibility yet. I think we should wait for the results of Amritsar’s investigations to come in before taking any decision.” He took a sip of water before continuing, “Apart from that, do we have any update about Chinese activities in Pakistan?”

“Yes, we do.” Dhumal put some pictures on the shared screen for everyone to see. “Replacements for certain radars and SAMs have already started to land in Pakistan with an unusually high number of Chinese people accompanying them. Our analysts think that these could be crews to operate these systems.

Additionally our intelligence suggests that their WTC is up to something in addition to these transfers. A number of ground units are being mobilised or are at least seeing more than usual activity. In peacetime, it could indicate a military exercise. But there is none planned on this scale that we know of.”

“Could they be preparing for a possible war with us?” Kamat asked with some incredulity.

“They could be. Situation in Laddakh is already tense, they are poking around in Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh again. Or they could be preparing to enter Afghanistan for all that we know right now.”

“What is the opinion of our military?” Sudarshan asked with a deep frown on his face.

“Same as mine. They are wary and taking precautions but we simply don’t have much information to go by for now.”

“So are we prepared if China or Pakistan or maybe both attack us without a warning?”

Bisht answered for the Dhumal, “That depends upon the scale of attack. It is not possible to answer such questions yet. Anyhow, I apologise that I can’t stay for long due to prior commitments. We’ll meet again once we have more information ”





25th Sep 20201
139th Azad Kashmir Battalion Headquarters
Dhani, Pakistani Occupied J&K


Three army trucks rolled out of the battalion HQs towards the forest area towards Treri. Their simple mission was to transport some weapons, food, medicine and communication equipment to Tehreek-E-Islam recruits awaiting supplies before they crossed Line of Control (LoC) into India in a few days. 20 terrorists were staying in the training camp along with a handful of handlers and trainers from ISI and the 5th AK Brigade. The brigade was tasked with securing LoC, but a large percentage of its resources and labour like this 139th battalion was dedicated to the training of terrorists and their exfiltration into India.
Along with the supplies, the trucks were carrying two senior clerics from TEI who had travelled from Muzaffarabad. Their mission was to give a pep talk to the inexperienced recruits before the big day.

The movement of trucks was noticed and tracked by a Nishant UAV flying unnoticed over the area and the live video feed was being monitored in 104th Infantry Brigade HQ near Tangdhar. HUMINT had reported the presence of a large group of terrorists and unusual activities in the area and few drones had been assigned for round the clock surveillance of Pakistani battalion HQ and the training camp.

A lot of people criticise the Indian army saying that they should hit Pakistani terrorist training camps. But real life is not as simple. First thing is that the so-called training camps are hardly more than an empty patch of land with some tents or huts on it. There is no logic to hit them with anything unless there are terrorists in it. Additionally, Pakistani army as well as terrorists take great care to avoid being spotted even in areas under their control and keep on changing their locations and training area often. Even those are usually too far for a strike by regular artillery or infantry. Also, the mountainous terrain of the place makes accurate artillery strikes extremely difficult.

The intelligence agencies were under tremendous pressure after the Pano Aqil incident and the two bomb blasts in India and had tapped all their resources to show something for their efforts. After the presence of terrorists was confirmed, it took only a few minutes to get the approval for a hit. Colonel Natraj had a battery of Pinaka MBRL under his command for this mission and he wanted to make full use of its firepower. The screens in the drone operator’s cabin displayed 24 men standing in the open like in a parade formation and 5 men standing in front of them as if addressing them.

As the trucks rolled into the training camp, three men alighted and walked straight to join the five men in front. A few other people from the truck got busy unloading them. It was at that time when Natraj gave firing orders to two Pinaka launchers. The target coordinates were already programmed in by the crews. The onboard sensors detected outside factors like wind speed and humidity and adjusted the launcher bearing automatically. As the fire button was pressed 8 rockets left the launchers in a cloud of smoke and dust and quickly disappeared beyond the hills.

The rockets reached their assigned targets in less than a minute releasing their pre-fragmented high explosive warheads with high accuracy. The salvo of rockets hit its targets exactly as intended, killing every single person in the training camp. By the time smoke cleared from both spots, Pakistani units had already started mortar and heavy machine gun firing on multiple sectors across LoC.




National News
26th May 2020, Jammu

Border firing continues for the third consecutive day in J&K, spreading to Punjab border sparking fears of a larger conflict.

Seven civilians were killed and at least eleven others injured on the third day of sustained shelling by Pakistani army and Rangers on the International Border (IB) and Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir. Two of the casualties were from Rajpur Chib village in Punjab (India) With these casualties, the total death toll has reached 22 in just three days with close to 70 injured. Seven Indian soldiers belonging to army and Border Security Force have been killed and 17 others injured.

Pakistani forces started shelling Indian border posts as well as civilian settlements close to the border after suffering 25-30 casualties in an artillery strike by Indian army. Indians had claimed that they had launched a pre-emptive strike on a terrorist training camp housing terrorists belonging to banned organisation Tehreek-e-Islam trying to infiltrate into Indian territory. Indian government had blamed TEI for two bomb blasts in Indian cities Rajauri and Jammu which had killed 49 civilians which included young college students and police recruits under training. Thousands of people have been forced to either leave their villages or shift to underground shelters constructed by the Indian government over the last three days..

A spokesman of the Pakistani army said that the people killed in the Indian strike were innocent daily wagers who were hired for the army’s forestation work and a few of their army supervisors. He also claimed that Indian shelling had killed 28 civilians, injured 86 and damaged hundreds of houses, schools and even hospitals tending to the wounded. Local Pakistani papers have reported deaths of 19 soldiers and 3 policemen in the Indian firing.

Tensions between the two countries have been very high after India attacked a Pakistani nuclear missile base after it was taken over by a rogue Pakistani commander. The two bomb explosions in India and the incidents after that have raised the possibility of a much more serious and wide scale conflict between the two nuclear armed nations. Notably, China has come to Pakistan’s aid asking India to desist from any further rash actions. CCP’s mouthpiece The Global Times published an editorial yesterday with a thinly veiled threat as a headline, “Indian belligerence against Pakistan will backfire.”

A source in the Indian MEA dismissed Pakistani and Chinese statements saying that Indian actions are well within her rights to defend its citizens and boundaries.
 

jamwal

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I've managed to complete the whole story which, format it to be readable on ebook readers and uploaded it on Amazon. Total length is 1.43 lakh words spread across 37 chapters. Last 7-8 chapters have around 64 k words which cover the two front war with India on one side and China, Pakistan on the other. A lot of stuff posted in this thread previously has been edited, modified and 3 chapters deleted. I originally wanted to extend those storylines further, but decided against it.

Paperback should be around 340 words, but it should available only from Amazon US and UK for now.

This link has the first 10 chapters plus small excerpts from last few pages describing combat on land, air and sea: https://jjamwal.in/yayavar/kaalkut-military-thriller-story-index-post

Amazon India link: https://amzn.to/3AZzX2q

Contents
Foreword 3
Nomenclature 5
Important characters 8
MAPS 10
Chapter 1 12
Chapter 2 16
Chapter 3 24
Chapter 4 33
Chapter 5 37
Chapter 6 41
Chapter 7 45
Chapter 8 55
Chapter 9 62
Chapter 10 65
Chapter 11 70
Chapter 12 74
Chapter 13 77
Chapter 14 85
Chapter 15 88
Chapter 16 95
Chapter 17 98
Chapter 18 101
Chapter 19 107
Chapter 20 113
Chapter 21 115
Chapter 22 126
Chapter 23 136
Chapter 24 148
Chapter 25 154
Chapter 26 161
Chapter 27 169
Chapter 28 177
Chapter 29 185
Chapter 30 189
Northern Arabian Sea. 189
Defence Image Processing and Analysis Centre, Chandigarh 190
Joint Operations Command Centre 192
Leh Airfield 194
Skies over Laddakh 195
Skies Over PoJK 201
Skies Over Arunachal 204
West Coast 205
Chapter 31 206
Northern Himachal. 206
Skies over Lhasa 208
Arabian Sea 210
Chapter 32 215
Somewhere in Central India 215
Eastern Laddakh 219
Fuk Che and Demchok 221
Chushul 229
Skies Over Laddakh 229
Kaurik, Himachal Pradesh 232
Gemupa, Tibet 233
Rajauri 240
Chapter 33 - Day 2 243
Rawalpindi 243
Arabian Sea 248
Gujarat Coast 251
Vikramaditya Carrier Group 252
Tigershark Flight 255
Chapter 34 255
Mawa, Shakargarh 255
Bohgan 257
Near Ravi-Bedian Canal 261
PLA WTC HQ 263
Chak Shivo 267
Shakargarh Airspace 268
Chakrali 271
Fort Abbas 273
Chapter 35 276
Rawalpindi 276
Fort Abbas 278
Skies over Ngari 279
South-East Laddakh 281
Arabian Sea 285
Northern Bhutan 287
Shakargarh 289
Karachi Coast 291
DBO 294
Chapter 36 297
Rawalpindi 297
Bhuj 301
Arabian Sea 303
Fort Abbas 307
WTC HQ, China 308
Chapter 37 312
Aksai Chin 312
North-East Laddakh 315
Spanggur Tso 320
India 322
World Defence Review 327
EPILOGUE 328

Foreword

A two-front war between India on one side and China and Pakistan on the other, has been a hot topic for discussions for strategy makers, think tanks, internet forums and many other platforms for a long time. India has fought several wars and limited conflicts with Pakistan, China and Portugal, in addition to bloody warfare against various groups like against LTTE in Sri Lanka. We are also fighting against several Islamic and communist groups, most of them sponsored by our enemy nations.

We are surrounded by two belligerent nuclear powers, both of which lay claims over vast tracts of Indian territory. Yet Indian military issues hardly ever receive much attention unless there is a televised war or small conflict going on. The fact of the matter remains that India may be forced to fight a war at any time with little or no warning. The scale, timeline, reasons and events may be different from what is written in this book, but it is very much possible.

I first wrote something similar in 2011 titled Flames & Arrows, which was roughly 70 thousand words long and then a shorter story titled Pinaka describing a cross-border raid three years later. At the time, it was just something I did for fun, writing a few hundred words daily for 2-3 posts a week on Bharat Rakshak Forum. I had read a few similar stories from a few other members and thought of it as a way to contribute something of my own.

Fast forward to 2020, I had quite a bit of time due to lockdown and I wanted to write something again. Then I realised the shortcomings in my knowledge of military units and tactics which led me to spend months reading about the topic. It resulted in a series of long posts with information about the Order of Battle (ORBAT) of Pakistan and China. I wanted to add all that information in this book, but it’d have made it a lot longer and most casual readers wouldn’t pay any attention to it anyway. The articles are linked at the end of this section for interested readers. The details on the website are not complete and if I have time and energy, I may collate and process them for a proper e-book sometime in the future.

Coming back to the topic, I have tried to explain major details about military units, their weapons, usage and deployment without making it too technical. Some of the more popular authors like Tom Clancy and Frederick Forsyth write very interesting books which have minute details about certain weapon systems and how one or two exceptionally clever people manage to win the whole war using very innovative tactics. It makes for great fiction and entertaining books and movies but doesn’t work well if you are trying to be realistic.

War is a lot more complicated, bloody and unglamorous business fought by lakhs or even crores of people in their own ways. I am certainly not a better writer than these two and not everything I wrote is 100% realistic. All that I’ve done is to write a fictional war story that can seem reasonably realistic to a layperson with details about events leading up to it, the thought process of the people involved and how it could be fought with the resources available to each side. The details about the Indian armed forces are all available from official sources only and I’ve not used anything more detailed than what is absolutely required. Some of the air and naval battles written here have been simulated in Command Modern Operations (a wargaming software/game) and I’ve uploaded a few videos on YouTube.

Yet there will inevitably be some mistakes due to my ignorance and laziness. I hope that the readers will be able to ignore them and enjoy the story.

People who’re reading it as a sample, you can read a few more chapters at before you decide to get the whole book: https://jjamwal.in/yayavar/kaalkut-military-thriller-story-index-post/

Chinese ORBAT: http://jjamwal.in/yayavar/order-of-battle-of-chinese-armed-forces/
Pakistani ORBAT: http://jjamwal.in/yayavar/pakistani-armed-forces-order-of-battle-orbat/

Important characters

INDIA
Angad Bisht, Prime Minister. Good at managing people and tough situations. Resolute politician.
General Mohit Sharma, Chief of Defence Staff. A former Para SF commando. Cerebral soldier and strategist.
Ajay Dhumal, National Security Advisor. Formerly worked in RAW in numerous overseas assignments. Highly intelligent and thinks outside the box.
Maadhvan Kamat, Defence Minister. Soft spoken, knowledgeable and competent at his job.
Piyush Vajpayee, External Affairs Minister Charismatic and scholarly.
Rajat Sudarshan, Home Minister. Hard working, sincere and short tempered.
General Gopal Gurunath. Chief of Army Staff. Great commander and dedicated professional.
Air Chief Marshal Laxman Mathur. Chief of Air Staff. Resourceful planner and quick thinker.
Admiral Jayant Suman. Chief of Naval Staff. Aggressive sailor, likes a challenge.


CHINA
Yang Wix, President. Ruthless, cunning and willing to do anything to achieve his objectives.
Gen Lin Duo. A powerful PLA officer with contacts and stake in high tech communications industry
Lt General Yin Hongwen. Competent and pragmatic commander of Chinese Western Theater Command land forces.
General Xu Qiling. Commander of Chinese Western Theater Command. Clever and ambitious.
Senior Colonel Li Qiaoming. Assigned as Chinese liaison officer with Pakistani armed forces. Close to Qiling.
Major General Ma Xiaotian. Commander of Chinese air offensive
Rear Admiral Ye Fir. Commander of Chinese naval offensive

PAKISTAN
General Abid Sohail, Chief of Army Staff, Pakistan. Corrupt yet clever enough to know when to wage wars and when to avoid them.
Lt Gen Khalid Iqbal. CO of Pak Army X Corps. Ambitious, ruthless and scheming.
Lt General Khalid Mahmud. Vice Chief of Army, Pakistan. Dangerous when pushed against the wall.
Maj Gen Qasim Rizvi, Senior officer in Pakistani nuclear command. Honest career soldier.

NEPAL
Uttam Maharaj, Prime Minister. Canny politician, quick to change sides and open to ideological compromises for power.
Padam Giri, Cunning politician & middleman who likes to play all sides.

VIETNAM
Rear Admiral Phạm Van, Navy. Highly intelligent officer, good with warfare as well as strategy.
Le Minh Huong, Defence Minister.
 

jamwal

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Latest version of Kaalkut with most errors removed is online. Just remove & download again on your e-reader software or device. Whoever has bought physical copies, please email me to get PDF or epub format. It'll also be free for 2-3 days from today evening or tomorrow.

 

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