Proxy war between India and Pakistan is broadly classified as border exchanges of small medium and occasionally heavy caliber for various purposes. Small and Medium caliber of support fire is often employed to provide either cover or create diversion for Pakistani infiltration to cross the line of actual control. The border echanges between the two nations has seen different levels of escalation, for purpose of classification
Level 1 Engagement: can be defined as exchange of small caliber between two posts, along with patrol party engagements with infiltrators. During infiltration bids it is common for Indian army to use 84mm Carl Gustav Recoilless Rifles with HEDP round in bunker buster or anti personnel role.
Level 2 Engagement : is primarily is to cause post level damage and send a message of escalation, Level 1 systems are aided by fire support from medium to large caliber Mortars, Grenade Launchers.
Level 3 Engagement: Level 3 Engagements are when Artillery fires is employed not just to target individual posts but an entire area. Light to medium artillery is employed with the intent to inflict maximum casualty on the opposition.
Level 1 Engagement: Current state
The usual cover fire from pakistani army for infiltration consists of sustained fire using G3A3 Rifles, and MG3 Machine guns. Pakistani army on the line of control also extensively uses the Steyr SSG 69 bolt action rifle in a sniper role to target Indian posts. One of the notable aspects for this Platoon level engagement is the 7.62x51 Nato cartridge used G3A3, MG3 and the SSG 69 Bolt action rifle.
H&K G3 — Standard Issue Battle Rifle:
H&K MG3 standard Issue Machine Gun:
Steyr SSG 69:
Now the Indian side of reaction to this small arms fire take a different approach, the battle rifle utilized by the Indian Army is the mix of AKM/VZ58’s and the Insas 1B1 chambered in the 7.62x39 and 5.56x45 nato respectively, Bren LMG chambered in 7.62 x51 nato and in some instances the PKM chambered in 7.62x54R. Indian platoons instead of a dedicated sniper rifle utilizes a semi automatic Dragonuv SVD in the designated marksman role also chambered in 7.62x54R. Four different calibers in the platoon level mix, also not worthy is PKM are belt fed machine guns, and AKM’s and VZ58’s although chambered in the same caliber use distinctly different magazines.
AKM’s and Insas:
Carl Gustavs and VZ58's
Consolidation of the cartridge caliber among the Battle rifle, Precision Rifle and the machine gun, is a big advantage from logistical and operational stand point. Every Pakistani soldier can share ammunition among each other when it mounts an attack or retaliate when it comes under attack. With a single battle rifle system, it is easy for all users to share magazines among each other. Precision Rifle system SSG 69 with it’s Kahles ZF 84 10 x 40 scope, is an extremely accurate system which boasts a consistent 0.5 MOA level accuracy. With the consolidated 7.62 x 51 nato platform, the Pakistani contingent has the ability to work as a single system.Indian Side is predominantly armed to engage two modes of level 1 engagements, the direct fire from Pakistani posts and the patrol engagement with the insurgents. The permeation of 7.62x39 platforms has been primarily due to it’s exceptional performance in close range engagements as the IA experiences in multiple occasions patrolling duties. Carl Gustav with the HEDP rounds being a prominent fixture in most of the LOC posts is a huge force multiplier for the Indian Army.
Battle Rifle: Pakistani G3’s will out shoot a Insas 1B1/AKM/VZ58’s due to it;s inherent ballistic nature,
Precision Rifle: The Steyr SSG 69 has better accuracy than the SVD Dragunov, but SVD being Semi autu rifle has an advantage of followup shots. Another advantage that the SSG 69 hold over the Dragunov is the optics. 10x40 scopes on the SSG 69 have better sight picture than the PSO-1 on SVD’s.
Machine guns: MG3 is equivalent in performance to the belt fed PKM, but holds the advantage over the IA’s Magazine fed Bren Light Machine gun.
Logistics: Although the 7.62x 39 systems (akm and VZ58) have extremely good performance in close range engagement during patrols, the fact that Indian army posts tend to operate AKM alongside Insas can be frustrating during engagements. Brens and PKM’s differ in caliber from the battle rifles. Only PKM’s share caliber with SVD’s.
Indian Army must select the infantry rifle systems to function seamlessly in both the Level 1 Post exchanges as well as patrol engagements. The battle rifle systems and precision rifle system need to have the ballistic capability that can outgun the 7.62x51nato systems. The Machine gun system needs to be a system would have the capability to engage Pakistani Posts to inflict higher damage that the 7.62x51nato system have been able to.
Indian army has been looking at different battle rifle systems to replace the the Insas System. but the need is to not just change one system in the mix but all three system on platoon level. As Indian army is challenged with the medium to long range system for Post exchange and short range performance for patrol ambushes, it needs a 6.8 SPC or a 6.5 Grendel, caliber weapon that can discharge both of the roles. This would remove the need for two dissimilar infantry battle rifles in the post.
Precision system: Either of the 6.8 SPC or the 6.5 grendel with a precision barrel and variable scope system on a AR15 Platform can be used to replace the SVD Dragunov DMR rifle.
For the machine gun solution, a system like the Kord 12.7×108mm would be a leap forward compared to the Bren and PKM systems used by the Indian Army, the ballistic trajectory and terminal ballistics are substantially superior to 7.6251 and 7.62x54R traditionally used by the Indian Army in past. With Kord as the main machine gun system for Indian posts, an auxiliary OFB Vidhwansak can be fielded in post as it shares the 12.7x108mm cartridge. Another option is the GAU-19/A chambered in .50 Bmg. The proposition of three Barrel Gatling gun at the Machine gun posts would be terrifying proposition for the both the opposing Pakistani posts as well as insurgents trying to break through.
The gaps in the ballistic nature and logistical differences of dissimilar systems may not seem like an issue, but might became a life and death situation when the first shots are fired. The mishmash of system in the Indian posts can hinder it from seamlessly performing as one unit. Inducting calibers which can provide the best possible ballistic performance, and superior firepower can not only deter Level 1 engagements but also affect the morale of the opposition forcing them to change tactics. Given that ample opportunities to field-test such systems in real time, The Indian Army can start rapid experiments for observe the impact of these systems in the LOC to see it’s effect on the ground situation. With a semi-active battlefield, it gives the Indian army tremendous opportunity to combat test the small arm systems to evaluate the efficacy of different systems that can fit in as the replacement for aging systems and get a substantial tactical advantage against the Pakistani forces.