India, Pakistan: Another Aspect to the Military Race

India tested an indigenous anti-missile system along the coast of the eastern state of Orissa, on the Bay of Bengal, on Nov. 27, and made a public announcement about the atmospheric intercept system (AXO) later the same day. Little is known about the AXO program; the intercept was within the known scope of India’s Russian-built SA-10 and SA-12 surface-to-air missiles and patently beyond the scope of either of India’s domestic missile programs — the Akash and the failed Trishul. Lessons learned from the Trishul — and successful subsystems of the program — could figure into the AXO’s development.

Pakistan is at a fundamental strategic disadvantage to India. Not only has Islamabad been engaged in a game of catch-up since India detonated its first nuclear device in 1974, but the country lacks India’s strategic depth. All three versions of India’s short-range ballistic missile, the now two-decade-old Prithvi, could hit any target in Pakistan, and all three have been fielded in militarily significant numbers.

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