Not exactly a smoking Indian gun

Pak-says-Indian-weaps.jpg

First, let me be clear that I am not an expert on the weapons manufactured or used by the Indian Army or any other army. When a commenter posted a link to the photo above, which shows what the Pakistani military claims to be Indian mortars captured during operations in South Waziristan as evidence of Indian support for the Taliban, I knew that the readers of this site could shed some light on the issue. I wasn’t disappointed; several knowledgeable readers pointed out that the Indian Army doesn’t use 82mm mortars at all, not to mention those pictured. Here is one comment, from reader Render, explaining it (read the comments at this post, “Let’s blame India, again”):

1: The tank shell on the left is a Chinese 105mm armor piercing round. The Chinese lettering is a give away.

2: The Indian Army does not use 82mm mortars. Like the Pakistani Army, the Indian Army uses 81mm mortars on the UK/US pattern. Pakistani Ordnance Factories also does not produce 82mm mortar ammo. Those 82mm mortar rounds are fairly distinctive. Most Comblock/WARPAC 82mm mortar ammo has grooves around or just below the thickest part of the body, the rounds in the photo are smooth. 81mm mortar rounds manufactured by POF are smooth bodied and share the distinctive fuse and tail assemblies seen in those photos. As seen here

Apparently the Indians don’t even manufacture 81mm mortars, which are the type shown in the photos but labeled to appear as 82mm mortars.

Another important point: The discovery of weapons from a given country does not necessarily mean that country is supplying said weapons. The region is awash in weapons left over from a century of wars.

In the case of Iranian weapons found in Iraq, for example, no one should have been surprised that Iranian weapons dealers were selling arms in a neighboring country where a war is ongoing. The weapons alone weren’t convincing. What proved Iranian support was that Qods Force commanders and operatives, weapons smugglers, Mahdi Army and Special Groups trainers and operatives, and even a senior Hezbollah (the Lebanese version) commander were captured and confirmed that a directed operation was underway. The presence of large quantities of Iranian-made weapons, clearly marked with Iranian markings and with very recent lot dates, as well as sophisticated, machined EFPs, corroborated what was known from the interrogations of the Iranians.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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16 Comments

  • William Tucker says:

    Those rounds look like they might be of South African origin. South Africa does export to South Asia, but I’m not sure who’s buying what.

  • Tathagata Mukherjee says:

    These are mere propaganda tools in the hands of Pak Army/Intelligence/Political parties as they take on these handful Islamic terrorists who are attcking Pakistan state.
    Imagine, these photos with screaming headlines being printed by innumerable Urdu newspapers of Pakistan and its impact on average public. Its kind of worst slur on a Pakistani that he is an indian agent !
    Pakistan is not interested in dismantling terrorist infrastructure. Its now working only a small few who are attacking Pak state. Big, powerful groups like JuD, LeT are protected.
    Lets ask us a simple thing- Why didn’t Pak kill/handover Bin Laden to the USA, the sole super power? Not even a fool will believe that pak doesn’t know where Laden is. So, how can InDia force Pak to take action against LeT, JuD?
    (There is only way India force Pakistan to do that- if India takes visible action that affects Pak state, its economy. Only when Pak will understand the cost of this asymmetric war, only then it will stop.
    India will not do anything till US/NATO forces are in the western border of Pak as any movement of Indian forces in the east will give an allibi to pak forces to remove people from the Westrn border this helping terrorists even further
    Its a war going on for last 1000 years ! and it will not stop in another few centuries to say the least.)

  • Render says:

    – Except that South Africa makes and uses 81mm mortar ammo for its licensed Hotchkiss-Brandt 81mm mortars. Almost all 81mm mortar rounds look very similar – no matter where they’re made.
    //www.military.ie/army/equipment/weapons/inf/81mm/81mm.htm
    If those rounds seen in the photo are of South African origin from the late 1980’s then they’re mis-marked as 82mm and evidence that Pakistan was breaking the then enforced embargo on South Africa.
    =
    I stand by my claim that those are obsolete Pakistani made (POF) 81mm rounds with a fresh coat of paint and mis-markings for the photo op.
    THE
    ONLY,
    R

  • rational enquirer says:

    Is it not possible, and perhaps likely, that the Taliban may have intentionally left things behind in their deserted camps that might suggest Indian involvement and thus provoke further tensions between Pakistan and India? Such a move would help to divert the Pakistani military’s attention away from the Taliban and back toward India….

  • Solomon2 says:

    Except for one thing. When more than one type of weapon had the same caliber as another, it was the practice of the Soviet Army and its satellites to refer to them by invented calibers, rather than true ones. So those mortars might really be 81mm, but they may be called 82mm to distinguish them from like-caliber artillery shells.
    Just a thought…

  • manoj says:

    India has captured twenty to thirty thousand weapons of Pakistani origin in AK-47, RPGs and 60mm mortars etc in Kashmir.
    It would make far more sense– and provide a delicious irony– to pump those weapons back to the Taliban, were India involved.
    In any case, the Indian intelligence service would have to be remarkably foolish to send in weapons and equipment clearly marked “Made in India” to the Taliban.
    In 1989-90, when India wanted to arm a Tamil militia to take on the LTTE, it imported 100,000 Ak-47s from the former Yugoslavia. It is another matter that most of those weapons fell into the hands of the LTTE thereafter.
    The Pakistanis are however not stupid. There charges are not aimed at amusing the international community or riling India. The Gobbelsian technique is to distract the attention of their own people to the fact that the Taliban were a creation of the very Army that is now fighting them. Raising the Indian bogey can always be calculated to rouse nationalistic feelings among the average Pakistanis who are confused but who are also unlettered and simple folk.

  • ali says:

    Bill,
    I looked at the Indian Ordnance Factory website, and your commentators seem to be correct that the ammo shown doesn’t resemble what the Indians produce. The mortar shown on the Indian site is very different: //ofbindia.gov.in/products/data/ammunition/mb/9.htm
    However, neither does this look like what the Pakistan Ordnance Factory produces:
    //www.pof.gov.pk/products/images/LARGE/81mmhem57.jpg
    The closest shape I’ve found, interestingly, is from a cache ISAF claims to have found in Bamyan in May:
    //www.centcom.mil/ps/press-releases/insurgents-continue-white-phosphorus-attacks.html
    ISPR clearly needs to explain exactly why they’re convinced this stuff is Indian, or retract their claims.

  • ali says:

    Render: “If those rounds seen in the photo are of South African origin from the late 1980’s then they’re mis-marked as 82mm and evidence that Pakistan was breaking the then enforced embargo on South Africa.”
    Only if your hunch that these are repainted POF rounds is correct.
    I was just reading online that the 82mm is a Soviet-bloc weapon. If these are really 82mm and not wrongly marked 81mm, then it is highly unlikely that Pakistan made them, isn’t it? Conversely, doesn’t that make it more likely that they’re an obsolete Indian design?
    Before I get flamed by your Indian commentators again, let me just ask that they read this in the context of my other posts. I’m trying to understand the very serious claim made by ISPR, not reaching a knee-jerk conclusion about India.

  • Another point to be made here regarding the alleged Indian involvement in aiding and arming Islamic militants opposed (temporarily, I might add) to the military in Pakistan:
    India has no direct land access to Waziristan, Swat Valley or even Baluchistan. Any Indian shipment to the militants in these regions has to either go through NATO-controlled Afghanistan or through the Islamic republic of Iran (not exactly an ally of India).
    If this is happening at any substantial levels, we would have known.

  • Tathagata Mukherjee says:

    Manoj>>India has captured twenty to thirty thousand weapons of Pakistani origin in AK-47, RPGs and 60mm mortars etc in Kashmir. It would make far more sense– and provide a delicious irony– to pump those weapons back to the Taliban, were India involved.
    ——————–
    This is the right observation.
    Also, if you remember Beitullah Mesud, the Taliban leader (later killed by US drone) commented like this after Mumbai Nov 29, 2008 attack- “we will fight with Pakistani Army should India attacks Pakistan”.
    Most of these pathan tribes have a long history of hostility with India (specially with Sikhs). Pakistan used this hostility in Oct-Nov 1947 when many of these Lashkar forces were directed to attack Kashmir (then under its Hindu ruler). They were so busy in looting, raping people and lost 2 days during the process, thus allowing Indian Army to reach Sri Nagar. This is the primary reason why Pak could not capture Srinagar.
    So, its highly unlikely, almost impossible to think Talibans will work as agent of India.
    The hostility of Sikh and Pathans are legendary, part of folklore in Indian subcontinent and let me take few minute to explain this.
    When Mughal empire was crumbling in 18th century, Wahiullah (the Wahabi leader from Delhi who also inspired founding of Deoband in the next century) invited Ahmad Shah Abdali (the Afghan badit/ruler depending on who you are !) to invade India and protect Muslim rule.
    During his raid, Abdali sacked the Golden Templein Amritsar, the highest place of Sikhism, killed cows in its premises and filled the sacred water tank with cow blood (Sikhs like Hindus treat cow as scared).
    Sikhs took revenge in subsequent decades and sacked much of Afghan areas, once even ruled Kabul.
    Read more about one of the greatest military general in History- Hari Singh Nalwa to understand sikh-pathan rivalry.
    NFWP of Pak was never ruled from Punjab/Delhi prior to Sikhs. NWFP provinces came to Pakistan as they inherited from British empire who got it from Sikh kingdoms.
    So, in a sense, Sikhs are responsible for this mess :)- Pakistan would been probably better if its western frontier ended in the river Sindhu (Indus), the traditional western boundary of Indian Civilization.

  • Render says:

    Ali: If those mortar rounds were actually Soviet pattern 82mm they would have very distinctive grooves around or near the thickest part of the body.
    Sometime in the last decade or so (and I cannot pin down an exact date) POF switched from using steel tail sections on their 81mm mortar rounds to using aluminum tail sections (so did just about everybody else that makes 81mm mortar ammo).
    The rounds shown in the ISPR photo op either have steel tail sections or the tail sections have been painted to match the warhead. (I haven’t even gotten to the fusing yet…)
    Ali, you should also note that the row of mortar ammo seen in that single photo is not the only row of mortar rounds visible in that photo op.
    And Ali, I’m not Indian…
    =
    Somebody looked at that row of Martini-Henrys and Lee-Enfields and realized that wasn’t going to be acceptable as proof of anything to anybody. So ISPR spiced up the photo op with obsolete Pakistani Army heavy weapons and ammo.
    That row looks like some small time tribal milita got over-run. It also looks like the typical results of a gun buy-back or turn-in program, where only the trash gets sold or turned in.
    =
    The Chinese made tank ammo presents an interesting question.
    Did the Talib steal that from abandoned Pak Army tanks? Or was it given to them by somebody on the inside of the Pak Army/Intel community? Or was it too added to the photo-op by ISPR to spice things up?
    If they stole it, then the Pak Army has lost a lot more tanks then they’ve admitted too…
    TORAH
    TORAH
    TORAH,
    R

  • Ahmad Tariq says:

    Moorthy,
    I think bringing arms into Afghanistan or Waziristan is too easy with the porous borders of Afghanistan with every other nation. Even neighbors of Afghanistan are too porous to prevent smuggled goods go to Europe (how does heroin leave Afghanistan to reach European markets?).
    Provided India has consulates in Jalalabad and Kandahar close to Pak-Afghan border where they are not even required (considering the fact India has no common border with Afghanistan), there is ample opportunity to allege and support evidence through such ammunition and arms of suspected supply of arms by India to the Taliban.

  • T Ruth says:

    “there is ample opportunity to allege and support evidence through such ammunition and arms of suspected supply of arms by India to the Taliban.”
    ———
    !!!!!!!!!!!!!! Another confused Pakistani !!!!!!!!!
    If the educated ones who visit this site believe in the rhetoric about indian support for the Taleban, how can one blame the poor illiterate folk….
    BTW Ahmed tariq, india had a border with Afghanistan for centuries–it is now called Pakistan. Really not sure for how long though???

  • ali says:

    Render:
    “the row of mortar ammo seen in that single photo is not the only row of mortar rounds visible in that photo op.”
    “Somebody looked at that row of Martini-Henrys and Lee-Enfields and realized that wasn’t going to be acceptable as proof of anything to anybody. So ISPR spiced up the photo op with obsolete Pakistani Army heavy weapons and ammo.”
    There’s a lot of material there that the Army didn’t allege to be Indian. The Taliban have recovered a lot of weaponry when they’ve overrun Pakistani forts, and pushed them back in Bajaur etc. That Pakistani equipment is going to be recovered isn’t surprising. They also have weaponry more sophisticated than Lee-Enfields from the Afghan war, and from what they can buy with Drug money.
    I haven’t seen how many tanks the Army has admitted to losing in this war, but from videos shown in news reports and documentaries, it is clearly a significant number. However, the tanks shown are usually gutted out, and I’m not sure I understand how the ammo was recovered, unless the Taliban knocked the tracks out, or a tank ran out of fuel, and they captured it when the soldiers were forced out.
    Finally, I never thought you were Indian.

  • ali says:

    Render:
    “the row of mortar ammo seen in that single photo is not the only row of mortar rounds visible in that photo op.”
    “Somebody looked at that row of Martini-Henrys and Lee-Enfields and realized that wasn’t going to be acceptable as proof of anything to anybody. So ISPR spiced up the photo op with obsolete Pakistani Army heavy weapons and ammo.”
    There’s a lot of material there that the Army didn’t allege to be Indian. The Taliban have recovered a lot of weaponry when they’ve overrun Pakistani forts, and pushed them back in Bajaur etc. That Pakistani equipment is going to be recovered isn’t surprising. They also have weaponry more sophisticated than Lee-Enfields from the Afghan war, and from what they can buy with Drug money.
    I haven’t seen how many tanks the Army has admitted to losing in this war, but from videos shown in news reports and documentaries, it is clearly a significant number. However, the tanks shown are usually gutted out, and I’m not sure I understand how the ammo was recovered, unless the Taliban knocked the tracks out, or a tank ran out of fuel, and they captured it when the soldiers were forced out.
    Finally, I never thought you were Indian.

  • Peter Wells says:

    Just bumped into this threas since my home country came under scrutiny.
    I can confirm from South Africa that the row of rounds shown are nowhere close to the 81mm M57 and M61 rounds produced here for local consumption and export.
    The shape is wrong, the primary charge is wrong, the fuse is wrong and obviously the paint job (overall end stencilled) is completely wrong as we conform to NATO standard for marking ammunition – none of which is khaki.
    Please accept that my credential are such that I KNOW what I am talking about.

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