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HomeWorldDrones: An emerging threat on India-Pakistan border - World News Network

Drones: An emerging threat on India-Pakistan border – World News Network

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New Delhi [India], June 27 (ANI): Pakistan is using drones to flood India with narcotics and weapons and with the drone technology becoming more affordable and accessible, the threat is only going to intensify, according to the report.
Pakistan has been using drone technologies with a view to intensifying its proxy war with India. This process is currently focused on the infiltration of narcotics and weapons into the states of Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir.
This obviates the need to use humans to engage in such activity which is anyways inimical to India’s national interests.
For India, the increased use of drones by smuggling syndicates and terrorist groups on India’s western front has emerged as a new challenge. That this activity is being supported by the deep state in Pakistan only strengthens the Indian narrative of the continued proxy war being waged by Islamabad.
There is little doubt that drones have unequivocally changed the nature of warfare. Their rapid proliferation poses a new threat to international security and several countries have drones and used them for kinetic operations, including nations in the West led by the United States, as also Russia, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, and Azerbaijan.
Other countries, including, India, and China, also maintain armed drones in their arsenals.
The Turkish drones, which were used by Azerbaijan, are the ones that made a difference on the battlefield in the conflict with Armenia.
More recently, Iranian drones supplied to Russia in large numbers have given the Russian Army a tactical weapon to utilise in the positional war being fought with Ukraine. The use of drones in conflict is now a global phenomenon, with non-state actors such as Yemen’s Houthi rebels coordinating major drone attacks on Saudi Arabian and UAE oil facilities.
The use of armed drones has also been observed in major conflicts such as in the western Libyan conflict of 2019-2020, the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region in 2020, and the ongoing Ukraine conflict.
Drones are affordable and their relatively simple technology makes it easy for both state and non-state actors to acquire and deploy them. Their small size and technological features make them difficult to detect using modern radar and air-defence systems. In addition, drones make long-range precision strikes possible, thus reducing close combat on the battlefield and avoiding human losses.
Pakistan and Drones
Pakistan has been quick to acquire drones in its inventory. It is the fourth country in the world to successfully deploy a drone in an active operation. In 2015, the Pakistan military claimed to have eliminated three Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) terrorists using its indigenous Burraq combat drone during an operation in North Waziristan’s Shawal Valley.
More recently, in 2022 Pakistan Army targeted TTP cadres in the Khost and Kunar provinces of Afghanistan with drones. Apart from the indigenously manufactured Burraq, Falco and GIDS Shahpur, Pakistan also imports military drones from China and Turkey.
These include Caihong (CH) 4 and Wing Loong from China, and Bayraktar Akinci from Turkey. Drones being flown by Pakistan into India provide real-time intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and carry payloads of different kinds, thus proving to be a valuable tool for the Pakistan military and its non-state actors.
The increasing affordability of mini and micro-drones has led to their rapid proliferation, including among rogue non-state and proxy actors.
Pakistan’s use of drones against India
India witnessed a significant drone attack at Jammu Air Force Station on 27 June 2021 initiated by Pakistan. The airbase, 14 km away from the India-Pakistan border, was attacked by low-flying drones that dropped two Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
Terrorist groups operating from Pakistani soil and backed by the Pakistani Army have been using drones for the delivery of arms and ammunition. This was demonstrated in the June 2021 attack in Jammu, where drones were used to drop two IEDs in the technical area of the Jammu Air Force Station.
While drones and their components are available commercially off-the-shelf, the technical sophistication required to modify the drones to carry a certain payload shows the involvement of the Pakistani military. It is therefore reasonable to conclude that Pakistan stands to gain from combining terrorism with criminality, as this amplifies India’s threat canvas.
Sightings of drones have increased along the international border and the Line of Control (LOC) in Jammu and Kashmir. The Border Security Force (BSF), reported more than 268 drone sightings in 2022, compared to 109 in 2021 and 49 in 2020.
This trend clearly shows that drones are the new strategic tool in Pakistan’s armour in its proxy war with India. The objective is to use technology to provide weapons and narcotics for terrorists on our side of the border and to fan tensions inside India. Drones are being used for both kinetic and non-kinetic operations.
The latter is significantly being felt across the Punjab border, where narco-terrorism has intensified. The capture and occasional shooting down of drones carrying drugs and arms from Pakistan have now become a regular feature.
In the Poonch terror attack on 20 April 2023, it was reported that drones were used to drop weapons and cash on the militants who carried out the attack. On 21 May 2023, reports indicated that the BSF had intercepted four Pakistani drones and shot down three of them along the International Border in Punjab in four different incidents.
Notably, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has been supporting smuggling syndicates in their objective to get narcotics into India. Statistics reveal that smugglers route only about 5 per cent of the finished narcotics products through the land route into India. Yet it offers them enormous profits as the product’s price increases manifold once it crosses into Punjab, India.
For example, the price of one kg of heroin is approximately USD 6,000 in Pakistan, which increases to USD 120,811 when sold in India. The commercial value of the consignment rises to as much as USD 604,043, in cities like New Delhi or Mumbai.
Analysts had noted the possibility (2018) of Pakistan-based drug cartels using drones on the India-Pakistan border, in a similar pattern to the US-Mexico border. However, the first recorded drone delivery of arms and ammunition was in August 2019.
The threat has only expanded since then. According to the BSF, instances of drones bringing drugs, arms, and ammunition across the border more than doubled from 2021 to 2022 alone. Analysis of drones used in these smuggling missions indicates that the devices are mostly commercially available, assembled and modified by the saboteur elements.
Many of these drones have chips, like those used in computers and smartphones. Custom-built drones have also been used in some cases, where criminal entities assembled the drones from locally available components.
Past experience suggests that certain areas along the India-Pakistan border have long served as corridors for the smuggling of narcotics, counterfeit Indian currency, arms and ammunition, and other contraband. These corridors have proved to be resilient and criminal networks have employed multiple tactics to sneak contraband into India. These include getting the contraband over or under the fence and using the local population as couriers.
There have been instances of pipes being used to pass contraband through the fence and where settled populations straddle the border, by making cavities inside farming vehicles and appliances, as these are allowed to cross the fence for farming activities.
Punjab is the most active among the three Indian border states and one UT with Pakistan, witnessing more than a four-fold increase in cross-border drone activity between 2020 and 2022.
In 2022, 267 drones detected in Punjab accounted for 83 per cent of all drone activities reported along the India-Pakistan border; these are detected, and not necessarily intercepted.
Punjab has become the hub of smuggling, with border points such as Fazilka, Firozpur, Tarn Taran, Pathankot, Gurdaspur and Amritsar serving as entry points.
Today, the threat is spreading to the states of Jammu and Kashmir and Rajasthan. Security forces have also noted that increased use of counter-drone technologies and resources in Punjab has made smuggling syndicates and terrorist groups have shifted focus to Jammu and Kashmir as well as Rajasthan.
Increased drone sightings have recently been reported in places such as Gurdaspur (bordering Jammu) and Abhor (bordering Rajasthan).
Chinese Technology in use
Pertinently, recoveries of Pakistan-operated drones sent into Indian territory provide physical evidence of Chinese technology, equipment, and weaponry being used for narco-terror and related terrorist activities. A significant proportion of drones that Pakistan uses for cross-border operations are supplied by the Chinese firm, SZ DJI Technology Co. Ltd, Shenzhen commonly referred to as DJI.
Of the five drones intercepted in May 2023 in Punjab, two were Chinese-made DJI Matrix 300 RTK. In December 2020, the US government put DJI on a trade-restricted list. Some of the batteries used to power these drones are manufactured by a company based in Karachi, Pakistan. Most remote-controlled drones operate at frequencies between 900 MHz and 5.8 GHz, with the most common being 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz.
Many of these also feature Near Field Communication (NFC) capabilities, which allow the users to control the drone remotely. NFC enables the drone to perform various functions such as taking pictures and streaming video.
NFC can also provide secure authentication and authorisation, allowing users to securely access the drone and its data. Drones use the Global Positioning System to navigate accurately and fly autonomously.
For applications that require increased accuracy, some drones may also be equipped with a multi-constellation Global Navigation Satellite System, which combines signals from multiple satellite constellations for increased accuracy. The threat of drones used for criminal and terrorist activity across the India-Pakistan border will only grow.
Pakistan is investing in developing its domestic drone capability and has recently procured Chinese CH-4B drones. As drone technology advances in terms of endurance and range, this would enable their deployment in terrains like mountainous and maritime zones, as is now being seen in the sighting of drones in Jammu and Kashmir UT.
The development of swarming drones can also be a game changer. Loitering systems, which can stay in the air for extended periods of time are another potent threat.
This expansion in the application of drones by criminal and terrorist elements in other terrains and circumstances will be significantly determined by their cost-effectiveness in delivery. (ANI)


Disclaimer: This story is auto-generated from a syndicated feed of ANI; only the image & headline may have been reworked by News Services Division of World News Network Inc Ltd and Palghar News and Pune News and World News


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