Previous Part

0120 Hours
5 November 2012
Phalcon AWACS
Skies Over Laddakh

The incident caused a fair amount of heart burn inside Chinese military. In spite of being stretched to the limit by Uighur and Tibetan rebels, PLA still had formidable offensive firepower at it’s disposal and Mission Controller onboard Indian Phalcon AWACS was first to notice it when Chinese launched a large salvo of their much hyped DH-11 long range cruise missiles. Phalcon’s radar had detected the missiles while they were still 7-8 minutes away from Leh and the crew was sending out warnings frantically.

Mission controller aboard Indian Phalcon AWACS was shouting in to the mouthpiece, ” Lima this is Eagle Eye, we have 16 confirmed DH-11 inbound right at your position. I repeat, 16 DH-11 inbound at your position. Take cover immediately.”

In what could be considered a mixed bag, All of Chinese missiles were launched from a single location. Sabotage by Tibetan rebels, while not entirely successful had still affected Chinese military significantly. In ideal conditions, Chinese would have launched a larger number of missiles from a wide encircling arc, confusing the defenders and saturating their air defense assets. But owing to shortage of missiles and safe places from where to launch, they were forced to launch all missiles from a single location. Although it made the job of tracking these missiles somewhat easier, it also meant that the air defenses in that particular corridor will be overwhelmed and atleast some of the missiles will pass through unscathed.

Although important, such thoughts were hardly going through any body’s mind on the besieged base. Instead they were working furiously to meet the attack head on and save whatever they could before launching a counter attack. The base was operating at war level and all the civilian traffic was already stopped. The runway was being used exclusively by military transporters and fighter jets which immediately scrambled in to air within a minute of the warning. The planes which could not take to air were moved to underground bunkers and rest moved as far away from the base as possible. 6 more Mig 29s fully fuelled and armed joined 4 others which were already on CAP duty. All this while crews of air defence wing waited tensely for the Chinese missiles to come within their kill radius. Owing to it’s high strategic value, Leh airbase had received some serious defence upgrades consisting of multiple Akash and SPYDER SAMs placed all around as well as inside the base. It was going to be the first trial in combat for both of the systems.

An Akash battery placed in Chapo, nearly 110 Km forward of the base was first to acquire a lock on incoming bandits. 12 SAMs arose almost simultaneously to intercept first of DH-11 which were flying just 10s of metres above the mountain peaks
Of the 12 missiles launched at 7 different cruise missiles, 4 found their targets while the rest missed. Some failed as they lost lock on target amongst mountains, while the rest exploded harmlessly after their target was destroyed by another missile. By the time crews could reload the launchers, remaining DH-11s were already out of their kill zone or passed by without ever coming in range.

Another Akash battery placed in Arganglas took out another 5, but that still left out 7 DH-11s which moved on to their terminal phase as they neared their designated targets. People still left in the city now watched as 7 white streaks came in from the north. Short ranged SPYDER missiles rose to intercept these and managed to knock out 3 before first of the cruise missiles found it’s target and hit the runway. The warhead consisted of runway denial explosives and damaged it enough to stop all aircraft landings and takeoffs for hours if not days. Another missile probably targeted at the helicopter wing missed it’s aim and crashed in to the War Memorial just a few meters north of it. Although the helicopter hangars suffered some damage, losses were not high as most of the equipment and personnel were already away from the area. Third missile was hit by the radar guided AAA fire and crashed outside the airport in a civilian populated area causing dozens of causalities. Last of the missiles escaped all the last ditch AAA fire and hit the underground pens of Mig 29s. But the structures were made to handle exactly such kind of hits and the damage was minimal.

Considering the amount of firepower launched to take it out, the base had escaped virtually unscathed. Only serious damage was to the runway which was put out of order for a few hours. None of the aircrafts and other vital assets were damaged. Four Mig 29s which were on CAP duty earlier were starting to get a bit low on the fuel and were diverted to Srinagar.

While Indian personnel in the base worked to repair the damage, others elsewhere started on their missions to inflict at least equal if not more pain to Chinese for yet another attack. Work on a counter attack had begun as soon as the warnings of incoming missiles had come in. By the time last of the Chinese missiles had been cleared out of skies, Indian missile crews were ready with their own reply. Although Chinese had a seemingly overwhelming quantitative advantage over Indians, civil war inside two provinces and escalating conflict with Taiwan-US and tensions with Russia had stretched their resources to the limits. Thus providing Indians with a fighting chance if they planned their moves right.
India had already declared it’s willingness to go nuclear against China in face of any more provocations and thus replied back in a way that few people anywhere had ever expected.
Within minutes of Chinese attack, Indians had launched their own Shaurya hypersonic cruise missiles. Although Chinese too had fairly robust air defense systems in form of S300 ABM, sheer scale of attack overwhelmed their defenses, helped in no less deal by the uniqueness of a hypersonic cruise missile. Of 19 missiles launched, 13 found their targets. Unlike Chinese, Indians had spread their choice of targets on multiple bases and the effects on Chinese military capability in those areas were crippling. Most of their military bases north of J&K; in Tibet were hit with conventional explosive warheads, except for 4 which were annihilated with nuclear bunker busters. Those bases were suspected to be store Chinese nuclear weapons and their delivery systems.
Chinese military assets in Aksai Chin were given special attention. Two whole Chinese Rapid Reaction Force divisions had been mobilized in to the region to thwart any Indian offensive and these took brunt of the damage. Chinese edge in armoured part was more or less neutralised, first by three conventional missile strikes, then by bombing raids by Jaguars which followed minutes later.
The disproportionate response by Indians dealt a crippling blow on Chinese ability to wage war in Laddakh-Tibet sector and they needed to move fast in order to capitalize on it. Compared to Aksai Chin, Shaksgam Valley area was lightly defended. One reason was it’s previous border with ally Pakistan and another was it’s difficult mountainous terrain. Anything needed to maintain strong defensive positions in the area was prohibitively expensive and difficult like hell. For Indians, biggest hurdle in Shaksgam Valley was weather and terrain. On the other hand, comparatively flatter terrain of Aksai Chin was more conductive to troop movements and pitched battles both by armour as well as infantry. Both India and China had strong military presence along this border. Although Chinese had better roads and were numerically stronger, precision missile and air strikes had neutralized much of their offensive capability.
After near complete destruction of Pakistani military, Indian armed forces were feeling confident enough to move most of their Pakistan centric defenses towards the China border, thus strengthening their position vis-a-vis Chinese.It was only 2-3 hours after the Chinese cruise missile attack that the first of Indian soldiers entered the Indian territory illegally held by China.

Previous Part

1655 Hours
4 November 2012
Forward Army HQ
Turtok, 101 KM North East of Leh

Advancing Indian forces in Pak occupied Kashmir were facing logistical nightmares of highest magnitude possible. Except for occasional pot shots few left-over jihadis and defiant Paki army personnel, resistance they were facing was almost non-existent. But most of their problems were related to terrain and shortage of transports. Nobody had really planned for such operations and as such decisions that would require months if not weeks of careful planning and setting up of logistics chains were being made on the spot based upon vague assurances of speedy resupplies from distant HQs. There were very few operational roads connecting the two parts of divided state and those were swamped with panicked refugees trying to stream in to India. Relief camps had to be setup to help the civilians and in India which other organisations except army is expected to deal with the mess !

Civilian administration of J&K;, inspite of all it’s lofty talks of love between the divided people and porous border whines had simply washed it’s hands off the whole mess expecting army to do the dirty work. Thankfully for army commanders, DM had personally intervened and sent some stern messages to state’s CM to share the workload, thus freeing up resources desperately needed by army elsewhere. Even then, rush of refugees was hindering work as their miles long caravans clogged up few motorable roads, leaving army with little choice except helicopters to transport men and supplies. The fact that the bulk of fleet was busy strengthening defences against China was just another inconvenience.
The hectic work detail was taking it’s toll on helicopter crews. Ferrying men and precious cargo always has been their job and most claimed to enjoy it. But doing the same round the clock without rest in war like conditions in unfamiliar territory is enough to cause fatigue even in best of the lot. And fatigue causes mistakes which could prove disastrous. CO of Turtok base, Colonel Mudabar Chidambaram base was more than aware of the fact and was trying his level best to ease the workload. But his efforts were not proving enough. His small base was inundated with frantic requests of supplies from various quarters and he couldn’t do anything except send the pilots on one more sortie, one after another.
He knew for a fact that his luck wouldn’t hold out for long and the feeling was making him queasy. Although all the pilots under his command were highly trained professionals, there was a limit to which they could be pushed.

The base was first started as part of Operation Sadbhavna by Indian Army in it’s mission to help the locals by setting up much needed medical camps, schools and vocational training centers. The rugged area had little contact with rest of the world and the for ethnic Balti tribals of the area, work done by the army was the only thing that they could identify as governance. The base had first started off as a small helipad where helicopters from Leh landed carrying supplies to be distributed in surrounding areas. It was still exactly like that when hostilities broke out and as such, it’s meager resources and infrastructure were overwhelmed in a matter of hours.

Although it was only three days since the nature of work at base had changed, for Col Mudabar it seemed like another lifetime. A large portion of the local population had been evacuated except a few who stubbornly stayed back to for various reasons, mostly related to their livelihood. Right now, instead of friendly locals, base was swarming with tense armed forces personnel.

The first signal that some of his worst fears were coming true when the communications officer reported loss of contact with one of Mi 17 helicopters approximately 10 Km south of Shaksgam Valley, in control of China.
The area had always been one of the most difficult to operate in. It was covered with some of the highest and least accessible mountain peaks with little human habitation and sustaining infrastructure. Even Pakistan didn’t place any significant military resources there considering the high cost and the fact that they had gifted away surrounding areas to China. They lacked will and resources to control the area anyway.
In a war to capture the territory, this would most probably an advantage for the attackers, but not in this case. After near complete surrender and abandonment of posts by Pakistani Rangers and army, Indian army was obliged to fill up the gap. But lack of any dependable infrastructure, roads etc. was a major impediment to their efforts to establish control over the region. But the most worrying aspect of the situation was nearly certain war with China. The area needed massive influx of Indian forces in shortest time possible and the many choppers like the old workhorse Mi 17 were flying back to back missions, dropping men and supplies.
Loss of radio contact was not an uncommon phenomena in such areas. Not all of the machines had modern communication systems on board and thus were prone to communication blackouts under certain conditions. Although, most of the time it was some non-critical problem related to comms gear, it always increased the heartbeats of people involved. It didn’t happen very often, but whenever it happened, it sure subtracted a few minutes of life from everyone connected to the mission.
Currently the base was experiencing one similar situation. A Mi-17 transport helicopter with call sign Mike11 was on a sortie to drop some much needed supplies and ammunition for advancing Indian troops on an mission to consolidate their newly won positions in PoK, some 4 Km south of Chinese controlled Shaksgam Valley. Due to bad weather in area, pilot had lost his way and there had been no communication since last 15 minutes. As usual, Col Mudabar was personally coordinating the flights and the creases on his forehead were getting deeper with every passing second. Each passing moment brought the night closer and there were less than a hour before it became impossible for pilots to navigate without night vision devices.
Communication people on ground were frantically calling the lost helicopter without pause as other helicopters landed or took off with their crew and cargo. But there had been no response till now.

“Any luck contacting Major Kale yet ?” he asked one of the comms engineers. Missing chopper was on it’s way to drop the supplies for Major Kale’s team and there had been no contact with him either. The answer was negative and Col. Mudabar grimaced on hearing it. “What the hell is going on down there ?” he asked loudly to nobody in particular.
“Shall we send another chopper to search for them ?” the question was asked by a burly Jaat subedar, most of whose whose duties till date had been loading and unloading of helicopters.

“Do you have one lying spare for the job ?” Col snapped back annoyed. Subedar was slightly confused by the reply and was about to answer something when the voice of Major Kale came alive on radio. There was lots of static and the comms engineer had to fiddle quite a bit with the radio knobs to make the transmission audible. Col snatched the mouthpiece at once and asked Major Kale, “What’s going on out there Major ? Where are you guys and where is our Mi17 ?”

Major Kale had to shout to get himself heard, “We were attacked. lost the chopper and ….” rest of the transmission was lost as his voice was overcome by the static.
But it was enough to give a pause to everybody within earshot. Only Col Mudabar seemed unaffected and he took control of the radio himself, shouting in to the mouthpiece , trying to contact Major again. He seemed slightly relieved when Kale came back on air again. His story was just as bad as his first line. Major Kale’s team was at an unnamed location, simply known as Point 4677, nearly 3 KM south of Shaksgam Valley awaiting the chopper to drop supplies. The Mi17 had come in almost right at time and was hovering and dropping supply crates when a MANPAD was launched from a hill in north taking down the copper like a brick. Only the co-pilot had survived, that too with broken legs and crushed ribs. The army team rushed to the stricken helicopter to rescue any survivors when they came under heavy machine gun and grenade fire. Two soldiers were immediately killed and 3 more injured before they were able to take cover and fire back. But the attackers had advantage of surprise and better positions. Indians had lost 5 more soldiers before they could disengage and find better positions.

Survivors had to fall back and had nothing to help them with reinforcements or extraction for quite some time to come in a unfamiliar and hostile territory. Col Mudabar slammed the mouthpiece down on the table in frustration and looked around to worried faces around him. Gesturing with his eyes and hands he ordered everybody else to get on with their work while he took up the radio again to contact his seniors.

Help for ambushed Indian team came in an unexpected way. It just happened that three prototypes of indigenous Light Combat Helicopter were finishing their high altitude weapon trials in Leh when hostilities broke out. LCH was supposed to provide heavy mobile firepower in scenarios just like this one. All the trials had went on well to match or even exceed the expectations. So, the proposal of the senior test pilot to perform the ultimate trial by fire in combat received a guarded go ahead. Within minutes of receiving the distress call two of the LCHs, armed to the teeth with 20mm canon and 35mm rockets were rushing to aid the ambushed Indian infantry team.
Even while carrying near full loads, they could fly at altitudes nearing 6500m which provided them considerable protection from most of portable MANPADS and small arms fire. Thermal sights cued to the weapon controls allowed the pilots to locate and destroy man sized targets from any height. Rushing at speeds in excess of 300 kmph, the two choppers were in the area within minutes and started scouring the area for hostiles. Although the area in which people could disperse was large, the actual area navigable by foot was quite small owing to high mountains, glaciers and mountainous ravines. Therefore the Indian chopper team had little difficulty in locating the hostiles, who were marching towards northern border along the borders of one such mountain river.

Lead chopper, piloted by Squadron Leader Mayur located the 15 men hostile team first at a really vulnerable moment when they were trying to cross a small glacial river a few Km from the ambush site. Even flying at extreme altitudes, Indian helicopters had no difficulty in following the suspects owing to superb avionics on board. They kept watch waiting to provide Chinese a taste of their own medicine. They didn’t have to wait too long as the Chinese men reached an icy ledge on banks of the river. The point was one of very few in region that could be used to cross the river by infantry. Even then, they needed ropes to pass over.
Unfortunately for Chinese, they had chosen wrong time to do so. Their orders had been to make life difficult for Indians in any way possible. Young PLA Captain leading the platoon had followed the orders enthusiastically that had resulted in deaths of 7 Indian soldiers and destruction of an Mi17, spreading panic within Indian camp. Unfortunately neither him nor his superiors had foreseen the consequences.
Currently the Chinese soldiers marched back to their base inside Shaksgam valley on a route that passed through hostile territory interspersed by mountains, glaciers, ice and rivers. The group was standing on a ledge on the bank of one such river, trying to cross it using a temporary rope bridge, when first of the LCH located them. Chinese were blissfully unaware of their impending doom as it hovered thousands of feet above, hidden by clouds and it’s rotor noise masked by winds.
First of the Chinese soldiers to die didn’t even knew what killed them as a salvo of 3 rockets fired from first chopper landed smack in between them as they stood on ledge trying to keep the rope-way stable.
The explosions blew them away to pieces and broke the ropes on which 2 other soldiers were trying to cross over. Both fell in to the icy glacial river and drowned within a minute. Rest of their companions fared only marginally better. A couple of them managed to pull up their guns to eyes but that was the maximum that they could do. Another salvo of rockets, this time fired from 2nd chopper obliterated the confused group they could gather any idea of what was going on . Only two Chinese soldiers survived the carnage, who were cut down by canon fire immediately after.
By picking a place and time favouring them, Indian chopper pilots had executed the ambush flawlessly. Chinese MANPADS crew had no chance of acquiring the helicopters and firing off any missile before being annihilated.
The incident didn’t go unnoticed on either side which were already rushing reinforcements in to the battle. But the two LCH didn’t stay to check as they turned back to their base at maximum speed.
 

Previous Part

1155 Hours
4 November 2012
PPC International News

In a further body blow to Pakistan, senior most leader of Baloch Nationalist Liberation Front, Gaffar Khan has declared Balochistan as an independent country. Appearing in a televised press conference in Switzerland, he declared Pakistan as a dead entity and while proclaiming Balochistan province as an independent country. We are quoting parts of the statement that he read out to media,
“ Pakistan was never a real nation. Unlike other nations, it was based on nothing but an ideology of hatred and bigotry. We the proud Baloch people have been suffering under the unjust and unwanted rule of Pakistani military which comprises almost exclusively of Punjabis. Our voices have been brutally trampled upon and silenced for decades. Thousands of innocent Baloch civilians have died in excesses perpetrated by Pakistanis. My own son and his pregnant wife were tortured and killed by these barbarians. Pakistani military which fancies itself as champions of Islam by bombing and killing unarmed civilians, but no more. Today along with blessings of all of Balochi leaders we are going to end this unjust occupation of our land. From now on Balochistan is an independent sovereign country free of Paki tyranny. Governments of India and Afghanistan have already given recognition to our nation and I urge heads of all the other nations to follow their lead.”

There has been no reaction from Pakistan as yet as the country is without any semblance of governance after retaliatory Indian nuclear strikes. It’s powerful military which called the shots earlier is broken and scattered, first after the infighting between two powerful Generals and Indian attack that followed. There has been absolutely no opposition to Indian advance in Pak occupied Kashmir either where locals have been largely supportive of Indian troops till now. We are still waiting for reactions from other nations to come in.

1400 Hours
4 November 2012
Taiwan News

Major cities in Chinese mainland were rocked by violence after rumours of death of Admiral Xedong leaked out. He was arrested on charges of masterminding a conspiracy to smuggle nuclear tipped ballistic missiles to Pakistan, one of which destroyed a small western Indian town killing more than 25000 people. India had then release audio recordings of Adm Xedong conversing with a Chinese intelligence officer in Pakistan, where he had ordered the launching of missiles. An investigation team organised by Chinese President Lin had arrested Xedong and whisked him away to an unknown location for interrogations. Absolute secrecy was maintained so as to prevent his co-conspirators from influencing the investigations.
But today as rumours of his death started appearing on internet, people started appearing in streets of his birth place Guanzhou carrying placards condemning President Lin. Within hours there were reports of protesters taking to streets in Nanjing, Wuhan and Gulyang. A small group of protesters in Beijing trying to march towards Tiananmen Square was forced to break up by Chinese riot police. Some of the protest marches got out of control as people started arson and pelted stones and Molotov cocktails at official buildings and police forcing authorities to enlist help of army in dealing with protesters. Internet access in most parts of China has been severely curtailed as almost all sites and forums not sanctioned by Chinese authorities have been blocked.
An official from the home security department, however claimed that Admiral Xedong is alive and well in protective custody. Terming the unrest as a result of malicious rumour mongering, he denied all reports of Xedong’s death as an attempt to disrupt peace in China.

Taiwanese parliament has expressed serious concern over the situation in China as relations between the two neighbours are at an all time low following a shoot down of a Taiwanese fighter plane by a Chinese warship. Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior law maker from the ruling party expressed concerns that China might use the excuse of spreading civil unrest and tensions with India to launch a surprise attack on Taiwan in an attempt to capture it. Echoing his sentiments, official spokesperson of Taiwanese government issued a warning to China cautioning it against further misadventure. Taiwanese defence forces are already on full battle alert to guard against any such attack. United States too has come in support of Taiwan and dispatched two carrier battle groups as an warning against any Chinese misadventure in the region. 

Previous Part

0500 Hours
4th November 2011
Somewhere in India

Defence Secretary Pillai had 24 hour access to Indian Defence Minister who was also looking over tasks of Prime Minister. PM had been operated upon to correct his heart condition and was still in ICU. Although the work load and responsibilities were enormous, DM seemed to be thriving and egging on his colleagues and subordinates to perform even better. DS Pillai didn’t mind it at all and had been involved in hectic parleys with Chinese himself. He called DM with a new message from his counterpart in Chinese ministry,
“Sir, Chinese want to negotiate. They’ve agreed to some of our demands.”

If he was affected by the news, DM gave no outer sign of it, “Some of them ?”

“Yes sir. They’ve agreed to allow us access to Admiral Xedong in prison. We can dispatch a team to interrogate him this evening itself.”

“They are not deporting him ? What about rest of his co-conspirators ?”

“According to them, investigations are still going on and they haven’t arrested anybody else yet pending further developments. Access to other suspects will be on case by case basis.”

DM nodded warily, “Sure. What else ?”

“They are ready to consider our claim on PoK, pending further high level talks of course.”

DM showed first sign of real interest, “ That’s interesting. Anything about Shaksgam Valley and Aksai Chin ? “

“According to them, those areas are Chinese territory. Concessions if any will be given on areas held by Pakistan only.”

“We’ll see to that. What are their demands ?”

“Unconditional release of all of their civilians, sailors and soldiers that we have in our custody. Giving back their submarine and nuclear missiles, an official apology for attack on Chinese positions inside POK and sympathy on Xinjiang and Tibet civil unrest issue.”

DM snorted in amusement, “That’s interesting. You’ve done a good job Shri Pillai. Let me think on this or a while.”

Call was disconnected and everybody in room shared glances. Apparently, Chinese had been facing their worst nightmares, isolation and condemnation from rest of the world, rebellion in two provinces, covert attacks by multiple parties on overseas assets and worst of all, loss of face.
NSA chief Angad spoke first, “That’s quite generous of our peaceful neighbours !”

DM raised his eyebrows questioningly to which Angad replied, “They have given up nothing while asking for everything. POK was never theirs to begin with, it was between us and Pakis. Aksai Chin and Shaksgam Valley don’t even figure in negotiations.
We get to interrogate Xedong but no extradition. We can’t prosecute him in our courts, almost all of other big fish will wiggle free and we’ll never get one single extradition. Fat lot of good it’ll do to us.

Now, look at their demands. They’ve asked for all of our bargaining chips and then some more. Sympathy on Xinjiang and Tibet ! What the hell they are smoking ? Asking for release of prisoners is one thing but what’s the deal with their unconditional release ? I say, let every single one of them rot in our jails till the guilty Chinese are extradited and executed. “

DM sighed and spoke, “You said it yourself that a lot of highest ranks were involved in whole conspiracy. Do you think either of them will get punished ? Even Xedong has been arrested only because Peng probably sees him as a threat and thus he is the most convenient scape-goat.

If I had my own way, I’d have launched those Gilgit missiles on these idiots the moment we had captured them. Would have saved us the hassle of negotiating with these retards.”

“I’d have shrunken in horror if anybody had said this a week earlier, but right now, I can’t say that I disagree After what they’ve done to us since the last 50 years, I feel like obliterating them myself..” Angad paused for a while while looking absently at the bunch of papers lying before him. “Anyway, what do you think we should do right now ? Send a team to interrogate Xedong right now ?”

“I don’t suppose that’s going to mean anything. Maybe Xedong is just a smoke screen. I am reasonably sure that he will say exactly what he will be taught to say by his masters. A bloody sacrificial goat if anything at all.” DM shook his head in anger then spoke again, “ But we don’t have any good information on rest of his companions ourselves. So we can’t put any pressure on them. Let’s take the bait for now. See what we come up with. Assemble a team and coordinate with Chinese over this offer. Regarding POK and Aksai Chin, I’ll pick up a team for negotiations myself. Nobody makes any public statements right now and everything is strictly on need to know basis unless I specify otherwise. Now let’s get busy.”