Does Indian Air Force need Rafale at all?

With the defence cuts, the outrageously visible and comprehensively debated Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) deal for 126 modern aircraft for the Indian Air Force (IAF) is all set to be delayed. Through a complex, comprehensive and conclusive competition Rafale fighter aircraft came out trumps last year. Although the aircraft has been selected, the deal has not been signed and we were told that negotiations are on. It has also been mentioned that by end of FY 2012 the deal would be signed. Given the cuts now, it is clear that IAF will have to wait for MMRCA for some more time. Considering this delay as a blessing in disguise, can we look at what the genesis of MMRCA and how much do we need a new MMRCA? Also if we acquire a new fighter aircraft, what are the implications?

The Variety of Aircraft with Indian Air Force

The last major aircraft acquired into IAF is the SU-30MKI. India today operates 8 squadrons of Su-30. Mirage-2000 is the next important aircraft, though, not in terms of numbers as IAF operates only 3 Squadrons of this multi-role aircraft, with which IAF is very happy. Besides the above, IAF has Mig-21s, Mig-27s, Jaguars and Mig-29s in its inventory. When the need for MMRCA came into picture it was for filling the gap – as Mig-21s – the real work horse of IAF for many decades – was coming to the end of its extended shelf-life. As is the case with so many varieties of Mig-23s, Mig-27s etc that IAF acquired in 1980s when US gave F-16s to Pakistan. The Mirage-2000 was also an acquisition in response to Pak F-16s. In 1990s, country hoped that LCA-Tejas would be ready in the first decade of 21st century for squadron level entry to replace Mig-21s. With the delay in LCA, IAF said we need to fill an immediate need quickly by getting a Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft in the force. The importance of Medium in contrast to LCA’s Light is easy to distinguish. What could be a medium combat aircraft – definitely which can carry heavier load – may be more “hard points” – better, longer range avionics etc. When it came to choice, we created the competition between the best “Medium” aircraft available.

India's Home grown LCA Tejas

India’s Home grown LCA Tejas

Is Su-30MKI a Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft?

Everyone agrees that Su-30 MKI is one of the most capable aircraft. It is already been improved and the new lot of 42 ordered last month will have better avionics etc. What is more, we would have our local Hindustan Aeronautics Limited able to absorb and built them as we get into future. Capability wise – will Su-30MKI fill up the role of MMRCA – May be yes, may be no. For one, it is not medium, it is heavy. But cost-wise and continuity-wise may be better if we look at an option of SU-30MKI and LCA for numbers this decade and next.

The Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft/Perspective Multi-Role Fighter (PMF) and Light Combat Aircraft (LCA)

By 2022 India will start receiving the FGFA or PMF being jointly developed with Russia. This is the logical evolution from SU-30MKI. Also IAF should start getting LCA and the LCA mark 2 as well. India will be working on three key aircraft streams FGFA, Su-30MKI and LCA and its variants.

The Unmanned Combat Aircraft Dimension

Many key operations performed by manned combat aircraft are rapidly being performed by Unmanned Air-borne Vehicles (UAVs) and the upcoming Unmanned Air Combat Vehicles (UCAVs). Indian Air Force will be well-served to increase more UAV/UCAV component in its inventory rapidly. Here, Indian Industry can be handy with our vast experience in software. The key to “Unmanned” is mission-critical software that makes these vehicles – unmanned.

Recommendations

Given the above factors and dimensions, it may be prudent for IAF to rethink its future order of battle and design itself on three key streams of Su-30MKI, LCA++ and FGFA. Also, IAF will be well-served with increasing and creating potent “Unmanned” capability – long-range, medium-range and short-range. The transitions will be well-served by the existing MIGs, Jaguars and Mirage-2000s. Rafale, although a fantastic aircraft, will not fit into the long-term requirements of the country. Unless it is being considered to include Rafale as the third leg of the IAF future thereby, making LCA still-born. If IAF take this as the key requirement – then in 2030 we should be giving may be Trillion Dollars for buying the latest Toys that French may create and our adversaries will be laughing continuously as China would have its own stealth fighters and bombers which China will gleefully share with Pakistan. Hope the defence budget cut proves to be a blessing in disguise and we stop this “Medium” search to focus on real future.

Navneet Bhushan (Navneet) is a founder director of CRAFITTI CONSULTING (www.crafitti.com) – an Innovation and Intellectual Property Consulting firm focused on co-crafting Innovation in global enterprises. He is the winner of Indira India Innovation award for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Leadership for 2012. He is the principal author of Strategic Decision Making- Applying the Analytic Hierarchy Process published by Springer-Verlag, UK, as part of the Decision Engineering Series. Read Navneet Bhushan Profile. Read Navneet Bhushan Columns.

Comments

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Comments

  1. A very well written article, only thing is that the MMRCA circus has become too big to fail and the IAFs support for the LCA, is lukewarm, with all the burden of bringing it to operational status firmly under ADA and HALs charter. Given this, its unlikely the IAF will reconsider and the Rafale deal will be signed later this year

  2. Dear Nitin,

    Thanks I agree that actual scenario will be that Indian Air Force will get its Rafale -ery but long term impacts will be very inefficient IAF – Holistic thinking is not a hall mark of our planners

  3. Comments by Mr. Ravi Rikhey – received via online chat

    Okay, I did read it. You are absolutely correct. We have Su-30 as the high end and the Tejas as the low end (F-15/F-16 type deal). We have a 5 Gen stealth in the cards for the early 2020s. Rafale has zero rationale behind it except for the IAF which must have every new type it sees. Next, you will know better, but I believe Finance is asking for a 5% cut. MOD doesn’t spend all its money. I think the “cut” will simply be money returned which when things straighten out will be given back. I think the chances of rethinking are zero. Indian defense procurement drives any rational person completely nuts. You know once upon a time US weapons were not so great – 1930s-1940s. They made do with what they had till they could do better. Same is true for the Russians and the Chinese. Why do we have to be so special and cute, I don’t see.
    Glad someone is using a systems approach to defense instead of the perpetual ad hoc approach.

  4. To Mr. Bhushan,

    you raise a question, based on the “claim” that the budget cut will effect the Rafale procurement and missing many important points!

    To start with, the cuts includes the overall defence budget of all three forces, not IAFs budget alone. Divided by three and compared to the total value of the possible MMRCA costs, the effect for IAF will only be marginal and could be balanced by delaying smaller, or less important procurements!

    Secondly, IAF reportedly preferred a fast induction of additional Mirage 2000-5s in the first MRCA competition, which was delayed by the government and later extended to M-MRCA. The new competition was not meant to offer a cost-effective stop gap fighter anymore, but had a higher focus on benefits for the Indian industry! That’s why the offsets and ToT requirements were increased, US and additional European vendors were allowed to the competition.
    For IAF that meant, they had to choose a new type of fighter anyway, but were able to choose one with good future potential and one that increase it’s capabilities with the growing threat from China in mind.

    You also left out the current threat potential for IAF in your article, which is an important though!
    Chinese and Pakistani air forces are modernising their fleets in a faster pace than IAF currently, while we are even forced to phase out more fighters than initially expected before 2017. At the same time only Su 30s and LCA MK1 will enter service, with the MK2 version only “expected” from 2017 onwards. All other alternatives you mentioned will be available only in the mid or even the end of the next decade, if at all, since most of these projects are only in the initial planning stages and not even fully funded yet.

    The Mig 29s are placed to counter Pakistani forces and the capability of LCA MK2, just like it’s induction remain uncertain, Jaguars are old generation strike fighters, with no air to air capability, which raises the question how would you counter China till 2022 when the FGFA arrives?

    The MMRCA will not only add numbers to India, but bridge also the technical and industrial capability of IAF and the Indian industry, till India might be capable of developing own fighters and drones at a competitive level to other countries.
    China don’t need to laugh about us in 2030, they could do it in 2015 if we don’t buy Rafale, because they will have an edge in numerical and technical terms, while their industrial advantage will increase even further!

  5. The problem with our country is people, who presumably do not have any knowledge of military and strategic matters is given so much media space. Our country is full of pacifist thinkers, politicians and articles and this article is no different. It defies all logic. It does not take into account that a ‘heavy’ Su 30 MKI and a ‘heavy’ FGFA will be at the upper end, LCA(if it ever comes into service) will be the ‘lighter’ end and ‘vaccum’ will be at the medium end. If Su 30 MKI can do the role of a ‘medium’ aircraft, then LCA can do the same as ‘heavy’ aircraft. In the end we will be building a top heavy airforce. As for the ridiculous argument Chinese stealth toys vs Indo-French non-stealth toys, the Chinese are continuously going on building their 4th gen fighters(J-10, J-11) and ordering more Su versions from Russia(Su 27, Su 35, Su 30 MKK). J-11/Su 30 MKK/Su 27 are all ‘heavy’ fighters and J-10 is a ‘medium’ fighter. They also have a joint project with Pakistan, JF-17 which is at the ‘light’ end. The Chinese strategic and military community is not arguing in media about continuous building of 4th gen Chinese fighters vs over the horizon USA 5th gen fighters(F-22, F-35). They are also working on their own 5th gen fighters(J-20, J-31 and many more)….So the situation if MMRCA deal is cancelled is, a handful of Su 30 MKI will be tasked to counter all the type of aircrafts the Chinese will throw at us in event of a future war…The SU 30 MKI must be a ‘demon’ to eat up all of them…..

    Also, the Su 30 MKI, FGFA and LCA all will be primarily air superiority fighters with ground attack as the secondary role. While Rafale will be used as a ground attack and maritime attack aircraft with air superiority as secondary role. Otherwise, the IAF would have gone for Typhoon, which is the best non-stealthy air superiority fighter of the present generation with highly doubtful ground attack capabilities…That has made the British choose the F-35 as their ground attack weapon once the existing Tornadoes are packed off to museums…

    I can understand the mentality and these viewpoints arising in the minds of our authors from Pakistan ‘fixation’ but the long term reality is “There is an increasingly assertive China looking over our shoulders” and the Sino-Pak all weather friendship.

  6. P Chacko Joseph says:

    Rahul,

    Your Eurofighter Typhoon argument does not hold good. It was selected along with Rafale and Rafale won because of the costs including life cycle cost. SU-30 MKI is multi role.

  7. Joseph, both the Typhoon and Rafale made it to the finals and I agree with you that Rafale won on costs, but if you search the internet and read ‘neutral’ articles, you will come to know that Typhoon, in the present form, has highly doubtful ground attack and maritime interdiction capabilities. That does not mean it will be remain like that forever. As we see new Tranches coming out, we will know that the ground attack capabilities have been improved over the previous Tranches.

    The French were part of the Typhoon programme in the early 80′s when it was at the conceptual stage but later backed off and started the parallel Rafale programme because the British were adamant in building an ‘air superiority’ fighter and the French wanted a multirole fighter which can replace all 7 aircrafts they have in their inventory….

    Not only Su 30 MKI but all modern fighters are multirole but they are developed keeping in mind one primary role and subsequent roles gets added to it. There is an age old debate in international aerospace community that ‘multirole’ is a myth; the laws of Physics do not allow you to design a ‘truly’ multirole fighter. There has to be a tradeoff…There is this other section who argues that with the advancement of technologies, this design tradeoff has been taken care off. I am not qualified to comment on any view but I believe that having dedicated squadrons for both roles is helpful because it increases your options incase of hostilities….

  8. P Chacko Joseph says:

    Rahul,

    We can only thank you for calling us “Non – Neutral.” Anyway, If you read internet bit more, your neutral’s and we have reported that Eurofighter has credibly demonstrated all requirements of Indian Air force selection criteria and hence stood on par with Rafale in the finals. It includes working AESA, ground attack and other parameters which you mention does not exist and will be in future. For your kind information, all aircraft’s had to demonstrate IAF evaluation points to get through. Both EF and Rafale got through the evaluation with merits. All manufacturers promised the features while delivery. For your information, Rafale demonstrated AESA to the word much after its selection for the final negotiations in IAF. What you have to say about that? Disclaimer: I am not batting for any aircraft’s.

    Your second point is history. If EF passed the technical evaluations of IAF, then it doesn’t matter.

    Your myth that Su-27 – MK’s were built for air superiority is what matters here. SU-30 MKI is a variation of SU-27′s that has a very good ground attack capability.

    On Multi role, let us not debate as it is academic. You are also contributing you wrong information as you accuse the author off. You wrote”I am not qualified to comment on any view but I believe that having dedicated squadrons for both roles is helpful because it increases your options incase of hostilities….” This you are making up. IAF wants Multi Role medium Combat aircraft and not independent roles. In reality, they just wanted some upgraded Mirage 2000′s so that they can have a multi role with squadron filling numbers.

  9. Joseph,

    Never did I accuse you or anyone of being ‘non neutral’, I just asked you to read more about Typhoon from ‘neutral’ articles, i.e., articles which does not have the blessing in disguise of Typhoon partner countries and their governments, or of the opposite camp out to mallign the Typhoon…Answer my simple question: If the current Typhoons have great ground attack capabilities, why did the Brits sent Tornadoes to accompany Typhoon during Libya campaign? Also why are they selecting F-35(the world knows it will be used for ground attack role) to accompany the Typhoon in the future? The French are not doing it with their Rafales….

    There is a significant portion in IAF, as in most modern airforces, which believes ‘air superiority’ is the key…And they are correct by most accounts. In a football match, if you can knock out 10 players of the opposition, then your 1 player will be able to score all the goals….Not different in dogfight and BVR scenario. The Typhoon made the shortlist because it is one of the best air superiority fighter availaible as well as with maturing ground attack capabilities. Also these two were the best compared to the other four on most parameters which were eliminated..But that does not mean Typhoon beat the Rafale on all the parameters. I believe if the results are ever made public in future, you will probably be surprised. Just read about the comparative analysis done by Netherlands Airforce and Switzerland Airforce when they were evaluating the Typhoon and Rafale for their new fighter requirements. Both of them said “Rafale came out on top”. The rankings were Rafale > Typhoon > F-16(Netherlands)/Gripen(Swiss). But Netherlands selected F-16 because of US pressure and Swiss selected Gripen because of lowest costs. If the IAF goes for the Typhoon, I will be more than happy. But let us not debate here about Rafale vs Typhoon. I came here to discuss “Necessity of MMRCA deal for IAF” on which the author has written a bogus article….

    Again, never did I say that Su 30 MKI does not have any ground attack capabilities but it was designed primarily as an air superiority fighter. With inclusion of French, Israeli and Indian avionics, it has gained competent ground attack capabilities…

    As for the multirole thing, dude, plz understand that if that was the case, then probably we would have needed fewer squadrons compared to 60′s and 70′s to protect our borders. If a single Su 30 MKI can do the job of 4 Mig 21′s, dude, then why do we require 42 squadrons to protect our borders and win war? We can do it with 11 squadrons….Just imagine this simple thing. If you are asked to solve a mathematics problem and answer a history question at the same time, you are competent to do both of them but you will feel uncomfortable and stressed out. That’s why we need dedicated squadrons of different aircraft types for both roles, because at the end of the day, it will be human beings like you and me who will fly the same.

  10. P Chacko Joseph says:

    Rahul,

    Can you point out some neutral articles? I can see only news copying and brochure copying.

    I think you are misinformed about Libya campaign. Please check facts. Eurofighter was deployed in Italy and there is a lot Royal Air force has to say about EF Libya campaign.

    F-35 Lightning II buy from US is because it is a stealth aircraft.

    IAF wants a Multi Mode combat aircraft. its MMRCA.

    EF came along with Rafale in IAF evaluations. Other countries results don’t matter. EF was run through all technical points like Rafale and both were selected. Ground attack was demonstrated and so was AESA.

    SU-30 MKI: I have addressed in previous reply based on your statement that its air superiority.

    On squadron number filling role, we have recommended Mirage-2000 with required upgrades. It is a cheaper and faster option. Read what has been recommended. Even IAF had wanted that before it became International dog fight over Indian skies. Even we are saying that squadrons have to be filled. By the time Rafale arrives, we would have already started moving on with UCAV’s and 5th Gen fighters.

  11. Eurofighter Typhoon Tranche 3 is due 2015. Meteor air-to-air missile, Paveway IV, Storm Shadow, Brimstone and Small Diameter Bomb and Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) would have made it in time for the Indian Air force deliveries.

    If you look at RAF logic, EF + F-35 combo
    Indian Air force logic should have been SU-30 MKI + PAK FA.

    The challenge is to fill the numbers. Ex Mirage 2000 from Armée de l’Air with upgrades should have given us a lot of potent capability.

  12. Joseph,

    Plz rectify whatever misconceptions you have over Libya campaign by reading this article http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2800844/posts. If you can provide me a counter article depicting the superiority of Typhoons over Rafale in Libya, it will be helpful.

    The Typhoon is such a brilliant bird that the makers, i.e., the British are planning to buy Rafales for their future aircraft carriers….I don’t know what to do but only laugh at Typhoon…

    Never be too sure that Typhoon scored over Rafale in IAF evaluations…IAF is not a idiotic organization.

    F-35 may be a stealth aircraft but the French have chosen to ignore it…They believe their Rafales can take care of such stealthy birds…The Brits do not have such confidence though in their Typhoons….

    Again, the Rafales can carry nuclear cruise missiles and nuclear bombs which are still a daydream for Typhoons….

    Also as we knew from day 1 the rules of MMRCA, there is no point in saying “The Typhoons lost because of high price”….Why have you built an aircraft with such high price? What is the point in crying now? Accept that you have lost and get lost from here….On the ground and off the ground(in air) the Typhoons don’t stand a chance against the Rafales….

    As for filling squadron numbers, yes, we wanted Mirage 2000 upgraded in 2000 but the situation has changed now….Which country which faces any substantial threats flies any Mirage version today? The costly deal to upgrade the Mirage was not needed in 2012…Instead IAF should have replaced the Mirages with more Rafales….

  13. P Chacko Joseph says:

    Rahul,

    I think you are now wavering from your points. It is you who claimed that EF was not used in Libya. We just pointed out that it was. Can you explain your comment “Plz rectify whatever misconceptions you have over Libya campaign..”. That link is a news. It says that Dassault revealed what they used and Eurofighter did not reveal but briefed the Indian Air force. For your information, two Raytheon Enhanced Paveway II 454kg (1,000lb) precision-guided bombs were delivered by Eurofighter Typhoons on 12 April 2011 against two main battle tanks being operated by forces loyal to Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi to the south of Misrata. If you would have said that EF did not see any major air to ground action in Libya, then I would have agreed.

    British buy of Rafale (if ever) for Aircraft carrier has no direct bearing on MMRCA tender.

    We are not talking if “You are sure or not.” Probably you don’t understand what transpires in an evaluation. They go through the required evaluation points. If they clear, the final aircraft’s are chosen and then it goes for other evaluations which is price/method etc. As long as IAF has selected EF and Rafale, no one can argue that EF or Rafale have different scores in Libya or Switzerland or somewhere else.

    I have no idea why you claim British have no confidence on Typhoons. May be you can explain it better.

    Why French did not participate in F-35 program is also irrelevant to IAF selections. But as a general point, you are appearing to claim that Rafale is better than EF or F-35 is bit rich. Its your opinion.

    Germany is planning to make its EF nuclear capable. The point to be made is that Europe is planning a tactical nuclear weapon delivery like Air-Sol Moyenne Portée (ASMP; medium-range air to surface missile) for 300 KT nuclear warhead. The Indian doctrine does not require nuclear missiles to be delivered in such a role. To say that entire fleet should be capable of nuclear missile delivery is ridiculous. It is a very remote chance we will deliver nuclear weapons and if at all, it may be via different means. SU-30MKI is more potent for nuclear weapon delivery, why we require MMRCA to do that?

    Your theory on EF vs Rafale price is also incorrect. EF is willing to undercut Rafale post tender. Tendering process is legal and that is why tenders are there for. By the way, EF was delivering both technology and partnership and Rafale was delivering only technology and production rights in the tender. So it is not an apple to apple comparison. However, MoD had two choices on commercial terms and they chose Rafale.

    The last point of yours shows that you are missing the entire point. What is being said is that Mirage-2000s with upgrade would have been in IAF by now when it is most needed. When Rafale deliveries come, we will again have options like 5th gen, UCAV etc. We are not arguing the merits of Rafale’s goodness, which we think is good. India’s Mirage-2000H upgrade deal brings it very close to Rafale standards. Rafale, when inducted appears to be too late.

  14. I really think this MMRCA deal for dassault Rafael fighter is another huge scam of our country politician and IAF personnel’s considering the fact thet Russia is offering advanced Su-35 to INDIA even then our IAF people think Rafael is better than Su-35. Su-35 will be only fighter that even can come in the vicinity of F-22 Raptor when considering performance, and in an dog fight with F-22, Su-35 has got some chance with its advance ESAR technology. and if chinese by Su-35 from Russia then our 126/189 Rafael jets will be target pratice for chinese in the air.

  15. I think this MMRCA deal for Rafale is another huge scam in making by our politicians and IAF personnels involved.why we are opting Rafale over Su-35 which is far better and advanced than Rafale. Only existing fighter that has chance infront of F-22 Raptor is Su-47 berkut and Su-35 and in an possible dog fight with F-22 only Su-35(which is offered to india and not Su-47) has got a chance with its advanced ESAR technology in VR area.and considering the fact that chinese is going to buy Su-35 from Russia then our Rafale will be sitting duck for them.Su-35 can detect our Rafale in BVR and destroy them even before IAF can detect the Su-35.I think one of us has to challenge this deal in supreme court of india before its too late.

  16. I fully agree with this article.
    Folks like Rahul are adept at creating smoke screens: medium aircraft to fill vacuum, EF as an option, Air superiority, top heavy air force, laws of physics….The aggressiveness smells like you are on Dassault payroll. F-16, F-18 did not start as multi-role fighter, but they evolved in to very capable ground attack platforms.
    If Rafale costs 20 billion the how much will EF cost 25 or 30 billion?
    How will 100 Rafales hold up against 500 plus Chinese Su-30, 35 and so on?
    The Chinese built up numerical superiority by localizing production not by throwing away hard earned FOREX. Our only hope of matching them is through large scale induction of LCA MK1, II and so on. Otherwise IAF will never be able to defend India….anything else is empty bravado which will be punctured in less than a week of actual war.
    Bombing Shanghai or Beijing using airplanes is day dreaming. Only US can do it using stealth planes….One will have to cover long distance, multiple S-300 air defense systems,…It will be very costly. Using UAV will be the only feasible option for countries like India. Better focus our energy and resources on UAV development over anything else.

  17. Nikhil,

    The problem with you hopeless folks is misguided patriotism….You have argued for large scale induction of LCA , I am fine with it as patriotism teaches us indigenization but misguided patriotism teaches us to belive in something which even after 30 years of making has more than 40% foreign component 100 technical deficiencies, solving which requires, unfortunately, foreign(Dassault, Boeing) help….So what does the IAF do? When the Chinese are continously building up their military strength, yes, through indigenization, but that level of indigenization has taken 5 decades of reverse engineering and now cyber malpractice, IAF goes on in swing role training; i.e. Su 30 MKI deployed in Asaam given the task to bomb Karachi come back and defend Arunachal in the worst case scenario of 2 front war…. Read LiveWire exercise recently conducted by IAF. Why? Becoz intellectual moroons like you and Joseph and writer of this article is debating the need for Rafale/Typhoon even when the squadron strength is at a all time low….

  18. Abhiman says:

    The MMRCA is a wasteful and ill-minded purchase by the IAF. All across the world, be it F-16, or the Typhoon, these jets were inducted with basic capabilities, and improved later in tranches / blocks. Even next door Pakistan has inducting 42 JF-17s within few years, even though it has basic capabilities.

    But the bufoons at IAF don’t do that vis-a-vis Tejas.

    Fact 1: Tejas even in its CURRENT form is miles better than the best MiG-21 / 23 / 29 fleets in the IAF. Then why does IAF insist on nonsense like IoC-2, FoC etc ? What Babu-giri is this ?

    Fact 2: No Air Force inducts “perfect” jets in its first block. Typhoon’s first block had only A2A abilities. JF-17 also didn’t have many desired features — thy’ve proposed a Mk2 version with European avionics. So, why can’t IAF induct Tejas even though it has good A2G capabilities ? It can easily replace the MiG-27 fleets, today !

    Unless attitudes at the IAF change, the Tejas is in danger of becoming another Arjun.

  19. My dear Rahul,
    Let me extend your reasoning: Every baby is born defective as it cannot walk, talk sensibly and needs diapers…..So does everyone stop having babies which in due time grow up to be reliable, independent, smart citizens?
    Our days of depending on foreign sourced second tier dumbed down equipment are over. We have grown up to build our planes and should continue doing this henceforth. It will take time but we can make do with quantity until we reach required quality.
    And 100 technical defects for a plane as complex and hi tech as Tejas is an achievement. 40 % foreign components which can be lowered when made in 100′s of units is far better than 100 % foreign components which we will never be able to make well (may be the bolts and nuts).
    And SU30 MKI is the only aircraft with endurance to go in to china’s main eastern regions and back. Rafale cannot do it, so having it will not change IAF’s swing role plan.

    Again, Are you really thinking through at all ? or are you just scared stiff of Panda?

  20. Nikhil,
    Let me point out the vagueness of your reasoning. A child when born is not able to speak sensibly or walk does not mean that the child is defective. It is part of nature’s lifecycle. Same with the Tejas…When the Tejas was born and was probably 9 months 10 days old, back in 1984, I would have understood if it was not able to speak or fly. But if a 30 year old man is still not able to walk without help from his parents( incase of Tejas, it is ground technicians, this came to light recently), then that man is a defective man and seriously needs some treatment.

    As I told you, hopeless guys like u live in a world of misplaced patriotism which gives birth to illogical ideas and sensibilities, go and research any product developed by our indigeneous industries(DRDO and tech savvy defense PSU’s), you will realise the amount of indigenization that those product contains….How many Tejas have come out of your indigenious HAL stable post restricted IOC in Jan 2010? The answer is 2 in 3 years….What a production rate!!!! And regarding your logic of ‘we can make do with quantity till we reach required quality’, the simple thinking that the enemy is going to wait till you have reached the desired level of indigenization before launching an attack is laughable and can come only from the diaspora of intellectually bankrupt people like u, which unfortunately, has a major presence in our MOD. Maybe people like u did not learn anything from the recent Chinese incursion in Ladakh.

    It is not about the number of technical defects but how significant they are and what is the remedial process for the same. Stopping the AMCA project so that ADA and HAL can utilize its full energy in Tejas, 30 years after it was born, is certainly not going to help our indigenization dream….So dude, lets not debate this Made in India vs Imported from Foreign debate while debating whether we need Rafale or not…

    We need both Rafale and Tejas, in significant numbers, Tejas much more in numbers(minm 250-300, especially Mk II and Mk III), but atleast 126 Rafales is also a necessity…..

  21. sanjay sukhadia says:

    ITS clear that Tejas is matured platform and above all its open architecture allow us to intigrate any weapon to it including indian Nuke we need to develop Existing Tejas in to twin engine aircraft it will be as good as capable of SU 30 MKI no doubt think twice before you comment any country cannot produce indegenious aircraft some components always need to import.

  22. I am no expert, just an avid reader of geo-politics. A very insightful article that primarily focuses on replacement options for the Indian airforce. By “replacement options” I mean the highlight is on capabilities but not on the actual role in the combat formation.

    The most versatile fighter of the Indian airforce – Su 30 MKI is a multirole fighter jet. It can definitely fill the medium/heavy combat category. Then the argument suggests that Rafale is just another addition to the inventory is justified and the only reason seen is to replace existing fleet of IAF.
    However, it is very important to consider what role each fighter aircraft plays.

    Su-30 mki is an air-superiority fighter – meaning capabilities like restricting enemy fighter from gaining advantage, AWACS destroyer, as well as air support (Read second degree of air domination). It is a killer fighter in defensive formation.

    Now, the Rafale is a medium combat aircraft but its main role is air supremacy, meaning it is primarily an attack aircraft that has complete control of skies and can perform air interdiction. In fact they call the Rafale an omnirole fighter. Rafale procurement can really change the IAF capability from “defending the skies” to “airborne deterrent”.

    From what I read, the LCA will be used to fill these gaps and replace the Mig-21s in the real sense.

  23. How about we get the MMRCA and shelve the FGFA project. Why would we put money on a project that is on the drawing board versus the Rafale which in my mind is a 4.5 Generation multi role aircraft? Ideally I believe we should have worked with the Americans and gotten the F-35 instead but then that is me. That is the only reason I would cancel the Rafale and not for the FGFA project

    Basically the two other changes that need to happen are

    1) Creating a strong Army Aviation wing with the LCA and the Jaguars. This should be enough deterrence for the bulk of the Chinese and Pakistani front line aircraft. A good CAS strategy is essential and will also allow the Air Force to evolve into a offensive arm over a period of time with the sole objective of gaining control / defending airspace.

    2) Invest in UAVs all around and allow the Indian private sector to evolve here with foreign collaboration

    3)Consolidate on logistics but streamlining munitions.

    That should do it!!

  24. Navneet Bhushan says:

    Dear Sam,

    Shelving joint FGFA will be regressive. In fact going for Rafale and shelving FGFA is playing into the hands of the defence companies and other nations again. With FGFA and LCA we retain potential capability to develop our own next generation aircraft etc.
    Now it is increasingly becoming clear that India may be better off with developing our own LCA and FGFA in collaboration. Further, it will be prudent to develop UAV leading to UCAV etc.

    On CAS for IA, Jaguar is not the CAS aircraft of choice for IAF. LCA in my opinion with its high sorie generation ability will be good choice. I still believe IA and IAF have to evolve a new integrated doctrine for CAS to IA.
    My two cents!

  25. Navneet Bhushan says:
  26. navneet bhushan says:

    http://frontierindia.net/lca-tejas-equip-14-combat-squadrons-replace-mig-21-mig-27#axzz2t1tgufGY

    The link shows IAF will be going for 14 squadrons of LCA.

    Rafale/MMRCA actually is not needed!

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