Military Review

China versus India: not bring the situation to war


Indian paratroopers. Photo of Wikimedia Commons

A few days ago, another clash on the Indian-Chinese border ended in the bloodshed and death of soldiers of both countries. These events led to a sharp deterioration in the situation, and in addition, created the risk of a larger conflict starting with almost all types of armed forces. Beijing and New Delhi are now doing everything possible to resolve the situation, but at the same time preparations are underway for defense in the event of a new deterioration in the situation.

Big opponents

As you know, more than 35% of the world's population lives in China and India. Such human resources allowed the PRC to build an army of more than 2 million people; in India serve approx. 1,4 million. Two countries are among the five world leaders in terms of economy. SIPRI also includes them in the "top 5" in defense spending. The Global Firepower rating, which assesses military potential, placed China and India in 3rd and 4th places this year, respectively.

Indian infantry carrier Agni-3. Probably before applying this weapons will not reach. Photo by the Ministry of Defense of India /

The PRC and the Republic of India have developed armed forces, which include all the main components, including strategic nuclear forces. Outstanding quantitative indicators are ensured due to the systematic and continuous development, and qualitative ones are followed by them. In addition, both countries have a fairly developed defense industry. They are able to produce at least part of the necessary products - their own development or under license. At the same time, a significant dependence on imports remains.

The two states are divided by the so-called The actual control line is 4057 km long, divided into three main sections. Part of this line runs through the disputed territories, but the agreements of the past years allowed for the relatively peaceful coexistence of the two countries. However, skirmishes regularly take place, the last of which led to unexpected losses.

China versus India: not bring the situation to war

Chinese BRDS DF-26. Photo

It should be noted that the border of India and China passes in the mountainous regions, incl. in remote areas of the Himalayas. This imposes certain limitations on the planning and execution of military operations. So, many formations and associations of the two armies cannot work effectively in the mountains. Because of this, the two armies have to form and prepare specialized mountain units, as well as equip them with special equipment and weapons.

In addition, it is obvious that hypothetical clashes will do without the participation of naval forces as far removed from the theater of operations. To attract the Navy, a full-scale war is needed, in which the enemy’s bases and coastal targets will become the target.

Nuclear issue

China and India have long been part of the "nuclear club" and have multicomponent strategic nuclear forces. There are some limitations of a quantitative or qualitative nature, however, in general, the capabilities of such forces are sufficient to defeat targets on the territory of an unfriendly neighbor, including at strategic depth.

Indian Tanks T-90S. Using such equipment in the mountains can be difficult. Photo by the Ministry of Defense of India /

However, the use of nuclear weapons in a hypothetical border conflict is unlikely. Beijing and New Delhi declare a policy of giving up the first strike, but reserve the right to respond to attacks. This dramatically reduces the possibility of a negative scenario in which skirmishes at the border develop into a full-fledged nuclear missile conflict.

Army in the mountains

In a hypothetical war, the main combat work will fall on the formation of ground forces adapted to operations in the Himalayas. Both countries are taking measures to develop the possibilities of war in the mountains, however, only India has sufficient experience in such operations.

Chinese tank "Type 15" - designed specifically for work in Tibet and the Himalayas. Wikimedia Commons Photos

A number of corps and divisions of the Indian army are adapted for work in mountainous areas and should ensure security on the Line of actual control. In addition to them, in 2013 they formed the 17th Army Corps - the first specialized strike force to counter China in the Himalayas. The corps is designed to control the entire border. It includes two land divisions, two separate infantry and tank brigades, etc. The 17th Corps is seen as a rapid reaction force in the event of new problems on the Sino-Indian border.

In terms of equipment, the mountain units of India are slightly different from the "flat". They are armed with the same samples of small arms, armored vehicles, artillery, etc., however, preference is given to lighter systems suitable for normal operation in the mountains. At the same time, a substantial part of the material part does not differ in novelty.

The Su-30MKI fighter is the basis of the Indian Air Force. Photo of Irkut Corporation /

The Southern and Western military districts of the PRC, bordering India, have several brigades and regiments adapted to operate in the mountains. In recent years, special attention has been paid to their development. In particular, taking into account the special requirements, new models of armored vehicles and self-propelled artillery are being created. Products from mortars to howitzers, medium-sized “mountain” tanks, etc., were put into service.

There is reason to believe that the PLA is superior to the Indian forces in the disputed regions in terms of material part, its quantity and quality. However, India has the advantage of a great experience in mountain fighting with a sufficiently developed enemy in the person of Pakistan. On a complex theater, any factor can become decisive, both equipment and experience.

Fights in the air

In the context of a hypothetical conflict between the PRC and the Republic of India, the confrontation between the air forces of the two countries is of great interest. It is known that both countries began to pull down strike and fighter at border airfields Aviation, and in the event of the outbreak of war, it will become one of its main participants.

Fifth generation Chinese fighter J-20. Wikimedia Commons Photos

The basis of Indian tactical aviation is the Su-30MKI fighters of Russian and local production. There are also other types of aircraft, both modern and outdated. The operation of combat aircraft should be provided by a few AWACS, reconnaissance aircraft, tankers, etc. Dozens of Mi-24 and AH-64 attack helicopters are in service, but their combat value in the mountains may be limited.

The PLA air forces are distinguished by a greater total number, and at the same time, a large number of types of equipment. The most popular in tactical aviation are the Su-27 family fighters - Russian and licensed aircraft, as well as local development and modernization options. Unlike India, China already supplies 5th generation Chengdu J-20 fighters to its troops, although their numbers are still not very large. There is also a developed fleet of AWACS aircraft, reconnaissance, refueling, etc. Army aviation has a significant number of attack helicopters of various types.

Indian gunners demonstrate their skills. Wikimedia Commons Photos

The Chinese Air Force has an advantage in numbers, and in some cases as an equipment. However, Indian air bases are located closer to the potential theater of operations, which simplifies the planning and conduct of hostilities. What is more important, the distance or the amount of equipment is a big question.

The possible confrontation between Chinese and Indian aviation is of great interest because of the specifics of their equipment. In some cases, we can talk about battles between Russian-designed aircraft and their copies / revised versions. Fights of this kind can demonstrate the potential of modern fighters, as well as show the role of the pilot, contours of command and control, etc.

Likely scenario

The subject of controversy and the reason for regular clashes are rather large sections of the Himalayas, which so far have not been able to be completely divided between the two countries. They should be the main theater of action for a hypothetical conflict. Fighting beyond limited mountainous areas is unlikely. At the same time, the specificity of the terrain allows us to accurately predict the course of battles.

Chinese tanks in the mountains. Photo by the Ministry of Defense of the People's Republic of China /

The most likely scenario involves a clash of ground forces, border guards and other structures - with minimal involvement of army aviation or the air force. Features of the mountain theater of war will not allow the rapid deployment of large groups, which will complicate the escalation of the conflict. He will not be able to move to new stages, enter other territories or reach the use of all the combat arms, up to the strategic nuclear forces.

It is important that such a development of events is disadvantageous to both parties. The benefits of the conflict do not justify the possible risks and losses. Recent events confirm that China and India, despite differences and a strategic confrontation, do not want to escalate, although they are preparing to repel possible aggression.

Given the position of the two countries and their attitude towards an open confrontation, it can be expected that in the near future the lines of actual control will restore order and the troops disperse without fighting. Thus, the recent skirmish with the dead and wounded will remain an isolated case, unique to the entire observed situation.

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  1. Nikolay R-PM
    Nikolay R-PM 29 June 2020 05: 48
    both countries are armed with Mi-17s that can supply their forces at NUM altitudes up to 3000-3500 m (I do not consider the basing border at 3980 m, since achieving these altitudes directly depends on the individual technical condition of the engines, the state of the blades and the mass of the empty helicopter). In addition, the Indians (with all the shortcomings from the Armed Forces) have a remarkable experience in the use of Mi-8 family helicopters in high altitude conditions, including for strike operations, obtained during the Indo-Pakistani conflicts.
    hypothetical conflict will not do without helicopters
    1. Civil
      Civil 29 June 2020 10: 27
      China decided to clearly draw the border, set up pillars, the Indians believed that uncertainty would last forever.
      1. Nosgoth
        Nosgoth 2 July 2020 12: 26
        They thought ... but the hamlo came and began to post everything for themselves.
    2. Private-K
      Private-K 29 June 2020 10: 59
      Quote: Nikolay R-PM
      both countries are armed with Mi-17s, which can provide their forces at NUM altitudes up to 3000-3500 m (I do not consider the basing border at 3980 m,

      So that's the problem: the heights of the NUM on the northern section of the Indo-Chinese border (just the controversial enclaves) just start with numbers of 3 km or more. Moreover, these are "lowlands" and "valleys". At such altitudes, the engines of ground vehicles lose 30-40% of their power, and they wrote about the helicopters themselves. In fact, there are no roads; which means that logistics are extremely limited.
      In general, at such heights, any military operations are, in principle, not just difficult, but extremely complicated by a decrease in literally all technical and technical characteristics of weapons and military equipment, as well as a decrease in the working capacity of the human body.
      IMHO, if an armed conflict begins, then after the first sharp movements will quickly slide into sluggish "skirmishes" and "operations" from one stone to another.
      1. Nikolay R-PM
        Nikolay R-PM 29 June 2020 14: 50
        correct clarification, thanks.
  2. The comment was deleted.
  3. Asad
    Asad 29 June 2020 06: 30
    It won’t reach a full-scale war, there’s nothing to divide in the mountains! The question is more about prestige!
  4. Samara_63
    Samara_63 29 June 2020 06: 32
    The PLA is so much stronger, but India has some parts well equipped, Apache helicopters, and if Rafali comes up ... UAV is interesting from India in the USA?
    1. Flamberg
      Flamberg 29 June 2020 06: 39
      China has an economic war with the United States, they do not need a second front. Ring the eggs and calm down.
      1. Samara_63
        Samara_63 29 June 2020 06: 56
        There may not be a full-scale war, but a good conflict like this is real as China had with Vietnam at one time ... It would be nice to see the results of air battles.
        1. Flamberg
          Flamberg 29 June 2020 07: 12
          Do you mean the events of 1979-1990? It is possible that something like this will happen.
        2. l7yzo
          l7yzo 29 June 2020 09: 39
          Well, this one began in early May, on the night of May 5-6, in Pangong Tso, and then on May 9 in Naku La Sikkim there were clashes between the soldiers.
          And so it is noteworthy that - China is dragging to the border with India exclusively new equipment: new MLRS, new howitzers, new types of armored personnel carriers / infantry fighting vehicles and more.
          1. Pereira
            Pereira 29 June 2020 10: 06
            If it drags, then it is going to run in. This makes a collision highly likely.
            1. Flamberg
              Flamberg 29 June 2020 18: 07
              Or just trying to blow his cheeks as hard as possible. Americans drove to the shores of Korea, too, aug, and what's the point?
      2. jekasimf
        jekasimf 29 June 2020 15: 41
        The fact of the matter is that the US really needs this conflict ...
  5. Doccor18
    Doccor18 29 June 2020 07: 03
    The Indian military is more experienced in the "mountain war". Artillery duels with Pakistanis have been arranged for over 40 years. However, the Chinese learn everything very quickly. And the biggest advantage of the PRC is that almost everything is produced in its own country. India buys almost everything. In the event of a full-scale conflict, the Indian army will very quickly run into shortages. Of course, the US and the vassals will rush to supply anything. But modern conflicts are painfully fleeting. Time may not be enough ...
    1. NDR-791
      NDR-791 29 June 2020 07: 47
      There’s nothing to fight for there. So perhaps agree as with Pakistan. L / s will be taken away, border guards will be left as observers, and if they try to violate, they will be clogged with art. Very effective in the mountains.
    2. Herman 4223
      Herman 4223 29 June 2020 14: 55
      Very fleeting, especially in Libya and Syria. Everything depends on various factors. China has more chances, since everything it needs is produced at home, India has a lot of foreign, in the heavy weapons industry it is mainly a screwdriver assembly. To provide everything necessary for India will be much more expensive and will be limited by the availability of currency in the treasury.
  6. parusnik
    parusnik 29 June 2020 07: 51
    And what is there in the disputed territories? Minerals? Or bickering, so out of principle?
    1. Boris55
      Boris55 29 June 2020 10: 33
      Quote: parusnik
      And what is there in the disputed territories?

      As elsewhere - terrorists controlled from outside and trying to quarrel two peoples.
    2. Normal ok
      Normal ok 29 June 2020 11: 26
      Quote: parusnik
      And what is there in the disputed territories? Minerals? Or bickering, so out of principle?

      The borders of India, China and Pakistan converge on the disputed territory (the divided state of Kashmir for which India and Pakistan have long been bickering). That is, by occupying this territory, China will secure for itself and its ally Pakistan the best positions in the event of a serious cut with India.
  7. xomaNN
    xomaNN 29 June 2020 12: 50
    Sides of several regiments on each side "push in", using small arms and art up to 152 mm, no more (IMHO). It is unlikely that the escalation will move towards the missiles.
  8. Chever
    Chever 29 June 2020 15: 37
    There will be no war ... We disagree ...
  9. CommanderDIVA
    CommanderDIVA 29 June 2020 15: 44
    "The most likely scenario implies clashes between ground forces, border guards and other structures - with minimal participation of army aviation or air force" - an incorrect forecast, just in the conflict border guards and mountain infantry units will participate on both sides with maximum use of the air force
  10. akims
    akims 29 June 2020 21: 53
    China has just brought to mind its GNSS BeiDou. And immediately kneading with turkey lovers. Coincidence? I don’t think so, we’ll rather see the running-in of a new strategy, technology and the creation of the Chinese aerospace forces under this business. In the latter case, I would bet on China.
  11. Dmitry Leontiev
    Dmitry Leontiev 5 July 2020 14: 13
    Why do they need the war they are trying to create from across the ocean? Combining potentials in mutually beneficial cooperation is better than nullifying them in oppositions to the joy of ill-wishers. Must agree! Eurasia must unite. Any war in Eurasia is only beneficial for the United States, which is afraid of its unification (since in this case Eurasia will simply become incomparably stronger than the United States and American rulers will lose their obsessive dream of world hegemony). And until Eurasia understands this, the United States will flood its territory with all the strife and swarms that are possible.