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India will purchase 110 new fighter jets in staggered manner, says CDS Gen Bipin Rawat

Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, who is mandated with prioritising capital procurement, says India will likely buy more submarines for the Navy too.

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New Delhi: India will stagger the purchase of new foreign fighter jets for the Indian Air Force (IAF), General Bipin Rawat said as the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) looks to also boost the domestic manufacturing industry.

“You should not go in for large numbers. Staggered acquisitions are important because when small orders are placed, it gives us time to take care of their downtime and also allow modernisation of the three services simultaneously,” he said. The IAF is planning to acquire 110 new fighter jets.

However, a formal Request for Proposal (RFP) for the mega deal, valued at over USD 15 billion, is yet to be issued. The IAF has new budgetary constraints given that it saw a drop in its capital funds allocation in the latest Union Budget.

The IAF is considering proposals for Dassault Aviation’s Rafale, Boeing’s F/A 18, Lockheed Martin’s F-21, the Eurofighter Typhoon, SAAB’s Gripen E, and the Russian MiG-35 and Su-35.

Also read: IAF needs 200 new fighters but Modi govt has cut funds in Budget 2020

Make In India push

CDS Gen Rawat said that it is important for defence services to accept an indigenous product over a foreign-made one even if it meets only 70-80 per cent of the required parameters as contracts bind the forces for years.

“It is important to hand-hold the domestic industry. Upgrades can come like Mark 1, 2 or 3,” he said. The Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) have already begin work on Tejas Mark II.

The CDS explained that by placing large orders with foreign companies, forces can’t switch to the domestic industry that may be capable of making the same technology a few years after a contract is finalised.

“Why do you think only 36 Rafales were bought,” Gen Rawat said, citing the deal as an example. On whether this meant that more Rafales could be bought, the CDS said everything depended on what requirements need to be met at the time.

Gen Rawat’s comments come at a time the IAF is set to place an order with the state-run HAL for 83 Tejas Mark 1 Light Combat Aircraft (LCA).

There has been speculation that India will buy another 36 Rafales, which will be cheaper than the ones signed for in 2016, and depend on the LCA Mark IA and Mark II and the indigenous Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft to boost IAF’s strength.

India bought 270 Su-30 MKI from Russia in staggered contracts beginning in the late 90s, delivery of which is yet to be completed. The initial order was for 140 aircraft.

Also read: India gets modern Rafale, but is only major air force to fly these 6 outdated aircraft

Underwater capabilities 

Gen Rawat also spoke on acquisitions for the Navy, saying the focus right now is on procuring new submarines instead of adding a third aircraft carrier to the fleet.

“When we know that there would be two aircraft carriers and if the submarine strength is dwindling, then our priority should be for submarines,” he said.

The Indian Navy currently operates one aircraft carrier, the INS Vikramaditya. A second carrier, Vikrant, is currently under construction in Kochi.

He added that the Navy’s demand for a third aircraft carrier will be considered after “assessing performance” of the Vikrant, which is set to begin sea trials this month.

Also read: What is Project 75 India & what it means for Indian Navy


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  1. Our focus right now is on procuring new submarines instead of adding a third aircraft carrier to the fleet and buy latest version of sukai-35 from Russia. It will strength our air force and good relation with Russia also.

    • Su-35 would be as useful to IAF as Su-30MKI or MIG-29, or MIG-29K… Look at what was used for the Balakot air-strike as well at what was used in Kargil : the REAL backbone of the IAF until Rafale’s introduction, the Mirage-2000, and everybody knows this! What are needed : 15 squadrons of Rafales, 15 squadrons of “Rafalied” Tejas (M88/98kN engine, RBE2/AESA radar, OSF-IT 2nd gen QWIP, active stealth, Meteor + MICA-NG/IR missiles, reinforced airframe with 3200L fuel inside), not a Mk.2 patterned on Gripen-E (while Saab engineers lament not to have modified Gripen-C the way I explained!). All these mods are ready to be applied since 2017 or 2018, but no one cares!!!!

  2. India has lot of experience in using Russian , French , US and Israeli equipment. Slowly, they will bring all the best features from all the countries into Tejas .

    Tejas is just a starting point as of now . In next 2 decades , India will have one of the best jets in the world

    • India already has the best with Rafale. Tejas can be “Rafalized” easily, it can be delivered this way within 2-3 years. Tejas is NIH (not invented here) : ADA bought a Dassault design in 1988 with 1 year assistance for $100 millions. Slowly, they’re bringing in the dumbest feature of the Gripen-E into Tejas by making the Mk2 by stretching the airframe to fit more fuel and one of the 99 GE F414 97.9kN engines they already purchased while a 98kN version of Rafale’M88 has been created on India’s request. The M88 ending as powerful as the F414, is way more advanced and takes much less room in the airframe, exactly 1.1m³ less, allowing to stuff as much fuel as Mrage-2000 without stretching the airframe, moreover, the engine has stealth exhaust, both for radar and IR.
      India has more experience at being at the receiving end of US equipment, thanks to Pakistan!
      If India goes on with the disastrous procurement decisionship it has now, in 2 decades, it will be half Pakistan, half China provinces! Within 3-4 years PAK will have more combat aircraft than IAF, and more with AESA radars.
      When it comes to have the best fighter around by 2040, well, since Dassault is now Franco-Indian, it will be feasible by participating the NGF program with France, Spain and Germany, and considering 2 specs Dassault CEO spoke about at Paris Air-Show 2019, the NGF will be much more than an aircraft : a supra-conductive skin 100x tougher than steel that melts at 3652°C with reaction control systems, these are NOT aircraft specs, such assets are for exoatmospheric manoeuvres and atmosphere re-entry!!!! As DM Parly told French AF cadets : “stop thinking about the airs, start thinking about space!”

    • Tejas can rapdly become the best single engine jet fighter on market, would the Dassault advise to mount the 98kN of the M88 engine be fit in, which will allow to stuff as much fuel as in Mirage-2000 or F-16 as well as more combat systems and carry a good 7-7.5 tons payload! The blue-prints for this as well as a reinforced airframe are ready since 2017!
      Moreover, the RBE2/AESA radar has been modified and flight tested on Tejas and approved by DRDO as well as a standalone active stealth system taken from SPECTRA. Add the OSF-IT 2nd gen QWIP that can lock-on stealth aircraft from VERY far and RBE2/AESA helping the cheap integration of Meteor and MICA-NG, for $45 million per unit, Tejas can club J-20 or F-35 like baby seals… Moreove, it could fly as much as Rafale (normal use : 5-6 mission pe 24h, intensive use : 10-11 missions) for an average annual cost of $3M (F-16 : $11M, MG-29 : $13M, F-35 : $20M)

      But HAL wants a less capable Tejas Mk2 on the Gripen-E recipe so it’ll take many years and cost more money to govt… The thing is that with such a cost of purchase+use, this super-Tejas could sell no less than 108 units per country f not 180 or 270, to Thailand, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Taiwan, Argentina and maybe even S-Korea, New-Zealand and Australia, as well as others… Even Israel could be interested. If done this way, HAL could EASILY sell a thousand units, as well as come with a Rafale+Tejas package as Dassault and Safran have really settled in India!

  3. Anyone with basic knowledge of advanced aircraft building knows that even nations like France do not have capacity to deliver more than 8-10 Rafale type jets a year. So there is no question of India wishing for big deliveries in one go in a short time frame. So, what Rawat is saying is self-evident and India does not have a choice of getting 110 fighters in short order.
    We have to wait for 7-8 years delivery time PLUS about 5 years decision making time involving bid evaluation etc.

    • Dassault actually delivers 24 Rafales a year, if necessary, the assembly line can be pushed to 36 and the dismantled Mirage-2000 assembly line can rapidly be restored and put back to production. Moreover, Dassault now has a factory in India… You’d surely be surprised at how a French factory like theirs is robotised and automated! Actually, the 1st country having started with cars automated assembly line was France…
      Thus, it takes 2 years to build a Rafale any way, so you have some reaction time to increase production, but, as Dassault CEO said, this is NOT a problem for them to do so: they could face much bigger building volumes in the past (1422 Mirage-III, 582 Mirage-5+61 Nesher, 720 Mirage-F1, 601 Mirage-2000) and… There are 5M people out of job in France… They’ve already trained 5000 techs and engineers in Mihan/Nagpur in the wake of the Rafale’s offset…

  4. India should burymore Tejas rather than making other countries rich…..what was the use of buying 270 SU 30…..when PAF entered into India on Feb 27th last year…all this investment turned out to be complete waste…..These SU 30 could not match PAF JF 17 & F 16….If India had focused on Tejas in last 10 years it would have been self sufficient by now !!!

    • SU 30 and LCA are entirely different aircraft , for different roles. Of course our SU 30s are very capable, but they had a missile with lower range compared to the Pak missiles on board the F 16s. India is now filling that gap with emergency purchase of longer range missiles from Russia. Then the true capability of the SU 30 will come to the fore The recent actions also exposed our AWACS weakness since we could not keep them in the air for 24 hrs.

      • India has integrated Israeli I-Derby-ER and French MICA-EM/IR on Su-30MKI. Russia doesn’t exports K-77M or K-77ME, only the 70km ranged RVV-AE (izdeliye 190) , the export model of the R-77. R-27 export versions are degraded too… KS-172 (or R-37M) are not fit to go against jet fighters. IAF would like to add the Meteor to both Su-30MKI and Tejas but the integration cost is deemed too high by Sitharaman who doesn’t wants to pay the bill, as well as mas puchasing €2M/unit missiles…

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