If Pakistan’s nuclear weapons fall into the hands of Islamic extremists, India might try to take them out. But how? Air power, of course. But Pakistan has prepared for this contingency, according to the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center:
One effect of Pakistan’s decades-old fears of preventive strikes against its nuclear complex has been a very high priority placed on the survivability of all nuclear production facilities, weapons and missile storage complexes, and potential launch facilities. Because of operational security concerns, no details have been revealed about the measures taken to ensure survivability, but presumably they involve an emphasis on mobile systems, camouflage, hardened and deeply buried facilities, and strict compartmentalization of information about the plans, locations, and standard operating procedures governing the movement, deployment, and possible employment of strategic forces.
That means India will have to locate and kill the mobile launchers … and drop deep-penetrating bombs on the buried facilities. Both are huge challenges. But the Indian air force is working the problems. According to India Daily, the air force has developed non-nuclear penetrating bombs that can seal off buried sites:
It is the most vital secret kept as the strategic defense initiative in India. … The secret lies in stealth non-nuclear precision deep penetration bombs that will devastate Pakistani or Chinese nuclear capabilities in minutes. Israel and America have similar capabilities. … A computer simulated coordinated series of deep penetration can isolate the target and generate enough harmonic tremor to automatically seal the site for ever.
U.S. deep penetrators are delivered by F-15Es or B-2s – airplanes with big payloads and long ranges. India doesn’t have heavy bombers, but its new Su-30MKI fighters are pretty similar to F-15s. The Su-30s – assisted by new tankers, satellites and electronic warfare planes — can also hit pop-up targets such as mobile missile launchers, according to The Times of India, which surveyed the air force’s new strategic doctrine:
The already considerable 3,200-km range of the Sukhois can be more than doubled with in-flight refuelling by IL-78 tankers, configuring “awesome” strategic capabilities. Then, of course, India is going to progressively induct three Israeli Phalcon AWACS (airborne warning and control systems), contracted in a $1.1-billion project, from July 2008 onwards. Moreover, the new doctrine will also factor in the valuable experience gained, especially in BVR (beyond visual range) combat, during joint exercises conducted with more technologically-advanced forces like the U.S. and French air forces in recent years. The utilisation of space for “real-time” military communications and reconnaissance missions, ballistic missile defences and delivery of precision-guided munitions through satellite signals will also figure in the new doctrine.