Shrinking fleet poses tough choices for IAF: light, medium or heavy fighters? - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Tuesday 3 January 2017

Shrinking fleet poses tough choices for IAF: light, medium or heavy fighters?

IAF demands more medium fighters, but shortfall is in light fighters, with MiG fleet soon retiring

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 4th Jan 2017

Last Wednesday, the retiring Indian Air Force (IAF) chief, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, declared in New Delhi that the IAF requires about 200-250 medium fighters in addition to 36 Rafale multi-role fighters that were contracted with French vendor, Dassault, earlier this year.

The 36-Rafale contract was signed for Euro 7.8 billion (Rs 55,600 crore). Another 200 Rafales, or comparable fighters, would require Euro 43.3 billion (Rs 310,000 crore), far beyond India’s means, given current defence spending.

But Raha did not hesitate to put the requirement on the table. “We have just ordered 36 aircraft and we require more aircraft in the medium weight category to give [the IAF an] entire spectrum of capability,” he said.

The IAF currently operates just 33 squadrons against an assessed requirement of 42 squadrons needed to tackle China and Pakistan together. Of these, 11 squadrons of MiG-21 and MiG-27s are operationally suspect, being long overdue for retirement.

Referring to this, Raha stated: “We have already used them for four decades plus. It is time to retire them and get new aircraft… Over the next 10 years, we must have 200-250 aircraft. It has to be balanced out. In the heavy weight spectrum, we have enough. But in the medium weight category, we need to have more. Yes, about 200 will be very good”.

An analysis of the IAF's "force mix" reveals that the shortfall in fighters is actually in the light fighter segment, not in medium fighters. By 2022, when 11 squadrons of MiG-21s and MiG-27s would have to be phased out, there would be a dire shortfall of light fighters. At best, 103 Tejas Light Combat Aircraft would have come in, leaving the light fighter segment with just 5 squadrons. In contrast, there would be 14 squadrons (266 aircraft) in the medium fighter segment and another 14 squadrons (272 aircraft) of heavy fighters.

“The IAF’s needs to replace 11 squadrons of obsolescent MiGs. The replacement, therefore, must be a cheap-to-buy, cheap-to-operate, light-to-medium fighter. Since we cannot afford 200 Rafale-class fighters, and the Tejas production line is building too slowly, the IAF is left with just one option: setting up a second fighter line to build fighters in the 20-tonne class in large numbers for the IAF”, says Pushpinder Singh, combat aviation analyst and the publisher of Vayu magazine.

The government is already moving down that path. On October 7, the IAF wrote to several global aerospace giants, including Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Saab, and Russia’s Rosoboronexport, soliciting interest in setting up a production line in India to build single-engine, medium fighters.

US firm, Lockheed Martin, which is offering the F-16 Block 70 and Saab, which is introducing a new fighter, the Gripen E, are the current front runners, with both being marketed aggressively in New Delhi.

Over the last 15 years, the IAF has been framing its fighter aircraft requirements in terms of light, medium and heavy fighters. In the year 2000, Air Headquarters stated that an ideal “force mix” would be 200 fighters each in the light, medium and heavy categories. The rationale for this was never made clear.

Traditionally an air force’s “force mix” has been based on aircraft’s roles, not their weight or size. Air forces have calculated their need for “air superiority fighters” that shot down enemy aircraft to gain ascendency in the air; “strike aircraft” that bombed enemy targets, including airfields, roads and railways and even strategic targets; and “close air support fighters” that struck enemy targets in the tactical battle area and carried out battlefield interdiction to prevents different components of the enemy’s fighting force from coming together. Separately, they calculate their need for specialist aircraft for photoreconnaissance and electronic warfare, or jamming enemy radars to facilitate a mission.

Large air forces like the US Air Force still have super-specialist aircraft for each role. The F-22 Raptor and the F-15 Eagle perform the air superiority role; while the strike role falls to the F-35 Lightning II (called the Joint Strike Fighter because it is a common strike aircraft for the USAF, navy and Marine Corps). The US Navy has a separate fighter aircraft for combat operations off aircraft carriers, the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, which operates in tandem with an electronic warfare fighter variant, the F/A-18G Growler.

Smaller (and lower-budget) militaries increasingly use multirole fighters that are capable of performing most roles, albeit slightly less proficiently than specialist aircraft. Digital avionics allow pilots to switch from one role to another (e.g. anti-air to ground strike), while higher weapons payloads allow aircraft to carry air-to-air missiles as well as surface attack bombs. Consequently, equipping an air force with multi-role combat aircraft like the Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, F-16 and Gripen reduces the need for multiple types of aircraft in the fleet.

What does this mean in practical terms? In earlier days, a “mission package”, say for striking an oil refinery deep inside enemy territory might have required nine aircraft: four ground strike aircraft, another four air superiority fighters to protect them en route from enemy fighters, as well as an electronic warfare aircraft to jam enemy radars on the way. Now, with multirole aircraft carrying bombs, missiles as well as jammers, four to six multi-role fighters could bomb the refinery, tackle enemy fighters and jam radars en route.

What is catered for separately are “force multipliers” like air-to-air refuellers and airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft. These facilitate rapid turnaround of fighters, and greater airspace awareness, allowing air forces to do more with fewer fighters. While a Sukhoi-30MKI can do a three-and-a-half hour mission on internal fuel, the mission time can be doubled with air-to-air refuelling.

The IAF, however, is still transitioning from mission-specific to multirole fighters. Its vintage MiG-21 fleet consists of air superiority fighters, except for the MiG-21 BISON, which has been upgraded with multirole capability. The MiG-27 is a pure ground strike fighter, as is the Jaguar, though there are plans to upgrade Jaguars with air-to-air capability. The MiG-29 was an air superiority fighter, but its on-going upgrade is providing it ground strike capability, making it a multirole fighter for what remains of its service life. Meanwhile, the Sukhoi-30MKI, Mirage 2000 and Tejas Mark I are multirole fighters, as will be the Rafale.

With seven types of fighters already in the fleet (five types after the MiG-21 and MiG-27 retire), the IAF’s most worrying problem in a future war would be the logistics nightmare of maintaining and repairing all these different aircraft. This problem would be complicated further if the F-16 or Gripen are built in India.

Nor has there been a hardnosed reassessment of how many fighter squadrons the IAF really needs. The figure of 42 squadrons was arrived at years ago, but has not been revised after the advent of high-performance, multirole aircraft and a range of force multipliers. Given the cost of modern fighters and the existing pressures on India’s defence allocations, this issue will inevitably be revisited in the future.

Fighter mix in the IAF

Present numbers
Fighter type
Future strength

Light fighters
8 squadrons, 130 aircraft
MiG-21M, Bis, BISON
11 MiG squadrons retire by 2022, replaced by 5 Tejas squadrons (103 fighters)

5 squadrons, 103 fighters

3 squadrons, 35 aircraft

MiG-27 UPG

Medium fighters
3 squadrons, 50 aircraft
Mirage 2000

36 Rafale fighters being additionally inducted by 2021-22

14 squadrons, 266 fighters
3 squadrons, 60 aircraft
MiG-29 UPG
6 squadrons, 120 aircraft

Heavy fighters
11 squadrons, 210 aircraft
Total 272 Su-30 MKI by 2019-20
14 squadrons, 272 fighters


  1. Ajai Sir, here's a solution for the IAF's needs...

    The IAF should approach the global aviation majors for a 3-engined fighter aircraft. When all 3 engines are turned on, it becomes a heavy fighter.
    2 engines turned on, it is a medium fighter.
    1 engine turned on, it becomes a light fighter.
    The IAF gets what it wants and everybody goes home happy.

    --Diggy Raja.

  2. @ Diggy Raja

    Can't believe the IAF hasn't hired you as a full-time consultant yet.


  3. Who knew the proverb , lotuses bloom in mud , would be so true

  4. Why can't the Tejas production be increased by setting up a second production line? It can replace both MiG 21 and MiG 23BN/MiG 27.

    1. This is the most important point. What is takes to create multiple production lines

  5. Lay off the angry old man bit, and keep writing such wonderful & knowledgeable articles in 2017 !

  6. ^^ The name says it all.

    On topic- I believe IAF will go for Gripen E or NG. PAF operates F 16 plus its aircraft which was inducted in 1980s.

    I personally think we should have developed a medium weight single engined fighter along with LCA (MCA).

  7. @broadsword,

    A few points.

    1. The IAF Chief never said he wanted 200 - 250 Rafales. He said medium fighters. So your multiplication by a factor of 5.55 to 43.3 billion is out of context. Secondly the economics of scale and reduction in exp on things already paid for in the 36 ac contract would further reduce the price. Enough on this though.

    2. A word on the light medium heavy mix. heavy fighters can do the job of both light and medium. mediums can do Heavy. While you can notch it up one notch higher with a bit of stretch and compromise two notches are a no go. Thus the emphasis on mediums. At least you will cover the spectrum better than going with more light. The other issue is about the changes in the magnitude of task and the capability that is required. Threat based planning is passe. Here again mediums fit better than light although somewhat more expensive.

    3. One last thing your requirement of nine ac is way way short for the mission that you describe. However the spirit of the arguement taken since you are not a specialist.

    4. Just my two cents. regards

  8. @ Anonymous 19:39

    Thanks for your observations.

    My multiplication is, if you re-read that para carefully, for the Rafale, or a comparable fighter.

    Second, even with scale manufacture, buying 200-plus Rafales is inconceivable, given our budgets.

    As for your observation that heavy can do the job of medium, which can in turn do the job of light... sure they can. And a battery of medium artillery can do the job that an infantry mortar platoon does, but there's a reason why you have cheaper, lighter, smaller systems. Even the Americans don't make the argument you are making. Why do they have F-16s?

    I've discussed the "nine-aircraft mission" with specialists. But, if I've been misled, I'd be very grateful if you could tell me what an appropriate force package would be.

    Thanks again.


  9. Mr.Ajai Shukla, represents the dying breed of soldier scholars. He being an army man has pointed out what IAF has been trying to gloss over.

    Fact is we don't need even one Rafale or MMRCA fighter. No air force in the world categorizes fighters on the basis of light, medium and heavy. Even the mighty USAF has been relying on two fighters i.e. F15 and F16 which will be replaced by F22 and F35.

    Both the Govt and the IAF need to stop telling yarns and lies for justifying needless arms imports which for some unknown reason always cost two to three times their actual value.

    We only need capable 4th gen single engine fighter to replace 165 odd Mig 21 and Mig27 fighters. Tejas is perfectly capable to replace both Mig 21 and Mig 27. We don't need anymore fighters.

    42 squadrons were fixed years ago and today they are not relevant. Today air forces across the world use drones, UCAVs, cruise missiles, IRBMs and ICBMs instead of manned jets. Those days of manned fighters are drawing to a close. The 200 fighter shortfall needs to be plugged by AURA UCAV and upgraded Tejas MKII.

    This move by the current Govt to import 200 4th gen vintage fighter jets to be manufactured by companies which have no background or expertise in aviation is another "demonetization" like move which has crippled the nation.

    How safe is the nation when the Govt and its armed forces are desperate to rob the nation instead of working for its interests?

  10. I think government has already decided to have single engine fighters. They probable went in for 36 Rafales just save face, after the messed up MMRCA contest and got us as nation out of the mess and bad reputation.
    Now they will begin with clean slate.
    You need to add billions spent on Mirage 2000 upgrades.
    Then force multipliers are not limited AWACS or air refuellers, there are new generation of smart weapons like SAAW, Brahmos, LGB, cruise missiles in the offing. We also are adding attack helicopter squadrons in the form of Ah-64 and HAL LCH.
    This has increased the fire power immensely.
    All these beasts will sure be expensive to maintain. Just look at USAF cutting down active squadrons to reduce operational costs.

  11. Hi Editor,

    After reading the article some comments.

    1. 42 Squadrons - The 42 Squadron figure must have been calculated keeping not only own air craft capabilities but also keeping in mind the enemy force levels. Even if we have more capable aircraft vis a vis 30 Years ago, so does the enemy. While there must be recounts or re estimations of the same but it may not be that we need less squadrons perhaps the modern figure would be higher but the IAF is making do with traditional 42.

    Please note with Rapid Infrastructure development, the number of surface targets needed to be struck as well as the number of enemy aircraft needed to be destroyed have also increased.

    A recent RAND Corporation Study states that while in 1996 US required only 2 Fighter Wings to have 24/7 Air dominance over Taiwan, today 2017 that figure is modeled at 29.9 Fighter wings. All thanks to increased PLAAF Capability.

    Taiwan, a State smaller than Arunachal Pradesh in land area.

    Here is a link to the RAND corp Paper -

    2. ISR Cpabilities - In the firepower obsessed media coverage of defence, all we ever talk about are the front line assets Jets, Destroyers, Tanks, Missiles, Boots on ground with AKs and RLs. I would kindly request that in the spirit of learning that the editor do an article about India's ISR assets so we can understand capabilities. We dont want anything secret but we would like to know if the IAF requires more AWACS, Ground Radars, AEW and EC aircraft. If the Army needs more BFSRs, what is the state of TCS and Network Centricity, are better maps (digital maps) now available to our troops or are they relying on google maps or the traditional maps. What does the NAvy uses to keep an eye on vast swathes of the IOR does it need more surveillance than it actually has.

    An article about these data acquisition assets and its architecture would be nice.

    "If we have only two fists, we must have have 2 eyes,2 ears and a nose in the fight." - Said Jean Luc Picard the avid reader ; P

  12. Why should fighter requirement be in terms of weight and not mission requirement and range

    In order to reduce the type of aircrafts which in turn will reduce investment in maintenance , training and spares a second manufacturing line of LCA can be set up or
    a private sector company can be roped in to manufacture fighter based on the airframe of LCA with technology transfer for thrust vectoring engine , AESA radar and jamming technology

    Question is whether companies like Boeing , Lockheed Martin and SAAB will agree for the same
    Apart from the above once Dassault completes the order of 36 RAFALES from India , the manufacturing line will have to shut down it no other order is received . India should explore whether the same manufacturing line can be transferred to India

  13. I strongly believe a large number of tejas say about 500 with simultaneous development of AMCA would be a great idea. Small fighter has its own utility and more so if it carries a decent load of 5 tons and 6 thousand liters of fuel would be a great game changer as this option is affordable and clearly replaces migs for which this plane was desiegned. The T/W can be improved with GE 414 EPE engines which are more complete evolution of the leaky GE 404 engine.the material is better to withstand much higher temperatures to improve the performance. The range , speed and load capacity with good combat radius can be achieved. Those who feel tejas cannot do good dogfight , I believe in modern fighters if a plane is forced into a dogfight then it is command and control failure and a modern fighter should be able to hit planes a Bvr ranges and must carry four long range missiles and two intermediate range missiles. The single droptank should have also radar protective coating and should fall 60 - 80 miles after it is released with some electronic component which should flash after a minute of release so that enemy can lock on to it and waste one missile to shoot down the undercarriage external tank. F35 is getting ready for war and I had oppertunity to watch it do touch and go , it is very noisy due to powerful engine and has very classic light green led on its top which looks very unique. The plane F 35 would have unparalleled fighting capability and the designers don't Evan care for its dog fighting capability.


  14. NSR says ---

    Col. Shukla,

    Is there a real debate on which fighter would be good for India at all?

    My take is ...

    India needs engine technology badly for Teja IA, II, and AMCA...

    Kaveri with Safran is suspect as they dragged India through 5 years of negotiations and then dumped to get India into the situation where they have had to go through Rafale urgently...

    We are already buying GE F-404 engines and may need 2*100= 200 engines over the life of Tejas IA...
    We need GE F-414 engine for Tejas II...
    We need an uprated engine for AMCA...

    Sweden buys engine from GE...they may have some new engine but not much known about it...

    USA pushed India through NSG and India still needs its support...
    USA pushed India through MTCR...
    India still needs USA support in NSG, UNSC, multilateral forums, etc

    I do not see Gripen that superior to F-16 Block 70...
    All we need is a fighter bomber to replace single engine Migs...

    I hope India sits and bargains hard for highest possible TOT without strings and buy F-16 Block 70 as soon as possible with lowest possible cost terms...

    Defense News says it is again a 3 years process...that is too will create huge problems for security of India in short,, medium, and long term...

    This is my 2 bits worth advice to India and Indians...

    May God help India...

  15. Mirage 2000 has an empty weight of 8 tons and max take-off around 16 tons. Mig 27 is respectively 10 and 20 tons: it therefore doesn't qualify in the light category. Your table of lught/medium/heavy looks very convincing but is actually quite misleading.

  16. Is liye main kehta tha ki Mig-35 le lo. 10-12 dozen le lo garam garam. Lekin meri baat sunta koi nahin. Russia se bhi dosti bani rahegi, Medium fighter bhi mil jayega, logistics ka issue bhi nahin hoga kyuki Mig-29 to already hai aur Make in India bhi ho jayega just like Su-30MKI.

    Yeh salah hum muft main de rahen hai lekin sarkar woh suit-tie wale pachhis baras ke munne management consultant ko legi jo chashma pahen, do blog padhke, apne aap ko Defence expert kehlate hain.

  17. Aur agar Pakistan ne rada kiya to? Kya farak padta hai tu missile girayega heavy se ya light fighter se? Haan...... marega to wohi na? kya logic hai tum log ka. Saala woh thodi bolege ki agar light fighter hota to main bach jata. Usko Harana to hai hi na....

    kya tum log padha likha log jyada baat karta ...time khoti nahi karneka...'62 ka repeat honeka nahin. woh log ka economy dabbe main gaya to country ko distract karne ke vaste jhagda shuru karega...

  18. NSR says ---

    Col. Shukla,

    Sometimes, you must bang on your IAF colleagues heads so they will come to senses...

    For everything, IAF must not root for the most expensive and only high performance fighters...
    They must also look at tactical and strategic considerations...

    I would say that ---

    USA is the only country that did heavy lifting to get India NSG waiver ...
    It is still trying to get full membership through another committee route to overcome China opposition...
    No one else have that level of status to do this...

    USA helped to get into MTCR which allows India to get combat UAVs and import longer range cruise missiles...
    The MTCR also allows import of high technology civilian and defense systems...

    USA is the only country that has the strength to help India to get considered or to get into may be too wishful but there is no other country which has the pull to do so...

    UK under pressure from por-Pakistani MPs is trying to take India to task on supposed human rights if their record is/was any better...

    Putin trying to cozy up to Pakistan and Taliban...
    Not a major arms project actually fructified with Russia in a long time...all headlines only...

    So so so...

    It is time for you to unleash on your IAF fellows about some common wisdom of choosing a single engine fighter immediately...even if it is little less capable in lieu of complete TOT for the sake of Indian future fighters...

    Best wishes...

  19. You forget Kargil very easily. US did not share the GPS coordinates to locate the enemy. India must remember that if not in US's good books, then this is what can happen. You will be denied access to technology that will cause lives of Indian soldiers.

    And with Donald Trump today you may be best friend, tomorrow it may be Pakistan!

    Also, F-16 is a 40-year old design.

  20. We talk about 200+ LCAs by 2020. Have even one squadron completely become operationlised? What is reliability of LCA platform? How many snags does LCA have after every sortie? How much time it is taking to recover aircraft after snags? What is periodicity of servicing of LCA? How much time does activities like engine change take? Are IAF personnel gaining experience in LCA?
    When will we migrate from 300+ ADA experts maintaining 3 LCA aircraft to 150 airforce personnel maintaining 16 on tarmac?

    Issues affecting flight line availbilty of aircraft is equally important as combat potential of platform. We struggle with Russian aircraft because they are difficult to maintain. Is LCA going to be any different?

    We may build second line or third line of LCA production with private partnership, but will airforce personnel get aircraft which is easy to maintain, or they will keep struggling with these aircraft.

    Question is not whether one LCA in air is equal to one Rafale, Grippen or Eurofighter, it is whether 20 LCA would generate as many sorties with ease the way any other mentioned aircraft would generate.

    While airframe of LCA may be locally made, there is heavy dependency on abroad vendors for its components. This would directly affect flight line availability.

    Surprisingly we are so focused with production that we comfortably forget about maintenance. Else we may end up with 200 aircraft maintained by some 3000+ men ultimately generating 20 aircraft on tarmac, that translates to 2-3 serviceable aircraft per squadron.

  21. @ Anonymous 10:42

    Nobody except you is talking about 220+ LCAs by 2020. Before subjecting us to such lengthy rants, at least read the article that you are ranting about.

    1. My only contention is the reliability and maintainabilty of these aircraft. Since this aspect was never discussed, I thought it need to be highlighted at length. While you rant about Navy not buying LCA or Air Force putting cold feet, the real reason is the reliability of platform. Rather than getting sentiment about my quote of 200+ by 2020 or 2025, kindly study on other aspects brought out by me. LIKE WHAT IS SERVICEABILITY OF PRESENT LCA SQUADRON? HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE MAINTAING IT?

      Eagerly awaiting for an article on reliability and maintainabilty of LCA.

  22. When world over air forces are reducing aircraft types in their inventory, the IAF is moving in the opposite direction. The proposal to have another single engine fighter when we already have Tejas makes no sense. Moreover, the two planes being considered were rejected by the same IAF after extensive trials. If IAF absolutely can't do without new medium fighters, the rational choice is Rafale, may be another 3-4 squadrons. I sincerely hope the deal doesn't materialize and the orders go to Tejas! Tejas mk 2 and AMCA must be worked upon with full seriousness.

  23. Your article , most experts and commentators in this column agrees India requires a light single engine fighter aircraft.

    It is crazy and bizarre to select F-16 BECAUSE USA has helped us in NSG. It is a 40 year old airframe and sub systems like engines , radars , ECM comes from sub vendors of Lock Heed Martin . They cannot transfer technology for the same , then what does India gain?

    The best solution is to set up a second manufacturing line of a single engine fighter aircraft based on the LCA Tejas platform wherein the pvt player (either Indian or foreign) can decide about engine , radar , avionics, ECM and weapons suite

  24. If a second manufacturing facility for LCA Tejas cannot be setup by a private company then the Make In India single engine fighter requirement should state that the air frame should be state of the art and not older than 2007-2008 origin . Let Lockheed Martin offer their FA-50 , In fact in this case KAI can participate with their T-50 TRAINER / FIGHTER aircraft

    Common radar , ECM suite , Rdar Warning System , armament suite can be evolved and developed for both the platforms

  25. To the anonymous gentleman at 7th January 10:42

    "While airframe of LCA may be locally made, there is heavy dependency on abroad vendors for its components. This would directly affect flight line availability."

    Versus getting all of it from abroad? And your argument which is the center piece of offensive capability still hold? What if the foreign country holds our spares. You will probably say neither Russia nor France has done it, but till now Russians hadn't sold aircrafts to Pakis and now they do. Future is not guaranteed, only way to ensure operation reliability is reduce dependence as much as possible, make as many spare parts at home and stock the rest of high use inventory at home. That is where LCA comes into play.

    If you want 10-20 extra squadrons, then yes, LCA is the only game in town even the IAF flyboys want new shiny toys. It's not their job to worry about spares gurantees/operational reliablity. They think thats the job of the govt and they are not held accountable if they lose the war if the spares don't come.

    So you better plan the risk-reward scenario really properly. USAF will not fly planes for eg the tanker fleet which had won or the EH101 which had won the contracts until everything is made in USA. Why you ask, because operational needs to ensure reliability of fighting with foreign weapons is not guaranteed. You cannot commit to action anywhere unless you are guaranteed that the weapons you fight with will fly with you.

    And nothing else comes at 25-30 million price point. We have a country to develop, roads to build, clean water and electricity to supply. We cannot buy fancy planes so that people can fulfill their thrill of flying planes is guranteed.

    I respect all of you in IAF for putting lives on the line everyday, but seriously IAF grow up and become men, take ownership in development of the country and learn to spend within budget. It's not infinite you know. Move on from Mig-21s and move onto LCA.

  26. The only we can get to 55 squadrons is to buy planes at 25-30 million dollars. Only thing that fits that budget is the LCA.

    I am sure the americans want us to buy more single engined fighters and are forcing the MOD to make silly tenders where the bulk of fighters are kept from competing. Buy American. Yeah, when the F-35 gets out of trouble and becomes useful in about 7-10 years from now, we will look at it.. For now no thank you should be our offer when either F-16 or F-35 are offered.

    FA-18 esp the growlers is mature enough and IAF should look at that over this whole get into bed with LM to pick up their need to get out of the supporting platform yet someone wanting to pay for them to quit supporting it. Make the last of line. Sell it on firesale and make more money. FA-18 is the only thing that makes sense. Common engine, good growth genesis. Takes out immediate requirements and stabilizes IAF with 5-7 squadron over short term and allows us to bring the light capability when it matures, without listening to windbags in IAF who claim the sky is falling.

    If LM has to continue providing support, its gonna cost them a whole lot. if they quit, then no one will buy American as after sales sucked. They are in a quandry for sure. Lets not fall for it. If they want to move the line on their own to TaTas then do so on its own merits.I am sure if there is a business case then tatas/mahindras/reliance will do the needful. Asking Indian taxpayer under the guise of we are screwed if we don't order American is just plain as bs marketing that we shouldn't fall for.

    Kill growth and get us to do after sales/support, I guess we will remain call center of the world if we listen to the mandarins in LM.

  27. The Babur III SLCM test changed the picture yesterday. It explains why USA put sanctions against Pak companies before the new year. Pak media are saying that the test was from a mobile submerged platform aka submarine. If these are nuke armed does that mean that they have their triad, on the cheap? Four of the new 8 submarines that PN ordered from China will be built in Pakistan, are rumured to be cruise missile boats with vertical launch tubes. Unless there is a change in the situation in Kashmir, I do not see India ever being able to breakout of South Asia. The only winners are China. Every time India get an edge, the Paks find a cheap way of neutering the advantage.


  28. It appears policy and vision in the IAF in particular and armed forces in general except the Navy are formed by illiterate and confused jocks (kind explanation)or retiring Brass looking to feather their nest eggs (unkind explanation). Hope a panel or think tank is giving the forces hard headed realistic and sensible advice. But for Modi the Tejas would have languished too.

  29. Gripen is way better than F 16. Competition to Tejas is only minus point. If upgraded MIG 35 was coming we certainly did signed the Rafale deal early as we would definately negotiated a lesser price for Ambani sponsored Rafale .As both are twin engine MMRCA with both having airforce & naval versions, Twin engine MIG 35 K would directly compete with Rafale M in India too.Also New MIG 35 would have learnt lot about Indian requirements in Indian climatic conditions from MMRCA competition so it might have given a lot of renewed competition to Airforce version of Rafales too. But the man with 56 inch chest had to pay back his Gujrati masters who actually funded his election & would continue to do so for every other politician who would love to pawn nation's interest in favour of greed their crony financers.

  30. Yes MIG 35 is too late. But still not too late for Russia's own navy & airforce who just can not only have heavy fighters like Sukhoi but need light/ medium fighters like (MIG) too.Infact MIG 35 K is urgent need for Russian Navy. This was the role given to these two different aeronautical undertakings anyways in that country one dealing with heavy fighters & other producing light & medium ones.
    Single engine Tejas as first choice & then Gripen or if nothing else then the worst F16 is ideal replacement for MIG 21 in light fighter catagory & not Rafale or MIG 35. In medium catagory India already pawned the nation destiny with Ambani sponsored Rafale. Hope we can be compensated atleast slightly in the development of Kaveri engine by french. But both Know how & know why technologies ( & not just know how) for Single crystal blade jet technologies or ceramic blade technology is important.But few in policy making circles have such vision or negotiating skills.

  31. Russians must pay too for ditching a loyal customer. Inadequate spare supply, undervalued Gorshkov offer just to clinch the deal & thus postponing delevepment of Indian indegenous aircraft carrier, Overpromising capabilities of MIG 29 k while delivering an inferior product, Giving Sukhois developed on Indian money to Chinese even when they could make its cheap copies vis a vis India, botched up contracts with India, Indian made Sukhoi being costly then Russian made su30 MKI, still not providing Tot for many critical spares of Sukhoi & likes of barrel of T 90 tanks, Juicing out its most loyal customer at every other point, Squeezing the development budget of MIG corporation in favour of Sukhoi just because of whims & fancies of few Russian individuals when they themselves needed medium fighters more than heavy fighters like Sukhoi, killing Mig's fifth generation stealth design & worst influencing corrupt politicians in India like then defence minister Mulayam Singh Yadav just to sell its heavy fighter Sukhoi when India actually needed a light fighter in late 90's & french Mirage was considered the best choice for IAF & french desperately wanted to sell the closing line like F16 now ,which should be negotiated to the price of peanuts. Here we learn why french did not opposed Indian neuclear tests.Russians lost a decade & a half of aeronautical & other defence research work. India has to learn a lot from world experience about importance of R&D research work in every other feild. The killers of HF 24 Marut & more importantly people who destroyed research institutions due to lack of long term vision leading to The Lost Decade clearly earning the title for IAF being the Imported Air Force & not Indian air force have to open their eyes to this fact too.One must think why french insisted on preserving strategic independence at such huge cost developing Rafales rather than pawning their countries interest in favour of American naval platforms like UK, why a small country like Sweden protect its own domestic aeronautical industry rather then licking the toes of NATO, Why Chinese develop their indegenous products going to extent of hacking databases of biggest world power & not dumped it in favour of easily available Russian accounts, Why won't Americans have not dumped their hugely costly F35 programme ( both cost & time inefficient) to close it down in favour of easily available french Rafales or European Neuron. Why don't Russians go begging at doors of Chinese for fifth generation stealth technologies or to french for their so called efficient Rafale? Why all these stupid & surely less literate & poorer countries follow the policies of super power Macho state like India which is definately the richest state having most literate & healthy population & definately has world's best performancr in every other feild of human development index? Why would IAF commanders need to buy foreign only in search of only the best when even all rich superpowers want to live with in constraints of their own indegenous capabilities, if not for some dollar commissions & favourable postings as ambassador in some peaceful Nordic country. Alas such people would never be punished for greatest degree of treason they could ever commit because the psycological burden of being a 5000 year old civilization would never let us open our minds & think out of the box.

  32. People are commenting on the reliability of LCA . Reliability of an aircraft is decided by the reliability of sub systems and components. LCA has on of the most proven engines . Further HAL can be asked to ensure 75% fleet availability as has been done in the RAFALE deal .

    Fleet availability of russian aircrafts in IAF is 55%

    With fleet availability of 75% , it will be 12=13 aircrafts per squadron of 18 aircrafts

    The figure of 2 serviceable aircraft per squadron is nothing but a campaign to keep the LCA out and let a foreign aircraft in , why can't IAF have faith in indigineous products.

    Last reliability is not subjective , it can be calculated and if need be can be improved. Reliability of LCA Tejas will be much higher than MIG-21s which it is supposed to replace

  33. In response to unknown @20 January 2017 at 10:19

    It is not only

    'if not for some dollar commissions & favourable postings as ambassador in some peaceful Nordic country'

    One should also esquire numerous inconsequential trusts which mushroom to provide scholarships to average students and vanish once these average students somehow pass out

  34. People who are questioning reliability of LCA , SHOULD CLARIFY HOW THEY ARE CLACULATING RELIABILITY OF LCA , and based on which parameters

  35. Apart from competition to both airforce & naval LCA Mk2 , Gripen is the best choice available to IAF.It is to be noted why Brazil with light fighter requirements never look at closing F16 fighter line & chose Gripen. No other Middle-Eastern nation like Egypt, Iraq, UAE, Turkey, Taiwan, Eastern Europe countries ,any African country or even Latin america is not interested in F16 production line. Also inspite of UK going for F35, when it comes to trainers it chooses Gripen. Choosing F16 would eventually bond us with F35,& that is when Lockheed Martin would ask for the real pound of flesh. Choosing Gripen would give a fighter with lowest operating cost, a plane with potential to upgrade, not outdated till early or late 2040's that is when AMCA would be operationalized. Gripen with its potential for naval version,TOT for AESA radar, help with AMCA is the best choice since both LCA engine Ge 404 & Gripen GE 414 would have comman spare parts. Also it would be a insurance to any failed GTRE Scecma venture on Kaveri.It would truely complement LCA mk1A & we must negotiate Gripen export rights with SABB.Gripen would also add extra insurance to perceived problems for AMCA which could be mitigated to some extent by partnership in FGFA or else it's much less likely that AMCA is produced on time. Less political clout of Sweden is an irrelevant objection as India is too important a customer for US in many other spheres. Even when UPA govt chose Rafale US didn't stop supporting us. Also many parts of Gripen coming from US it would also compliment US industry in many ways. F16 would be irrelevant from 2030 onward. IAF was keen on closing Mirage 2000 line because of logistical necessity as we were already operating Mirage 2000 but that is not the case with India. Even Pakistan never showed any interest in closing F16 line. Nikhil Agarwal.

  36. Sir, unknown @20 January 2017 at 10:18, 10:19 & on 22 January is the same person. Regards. Nikhil Agarwal


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