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Wing Commander Abhinandan being shot down is the real Rafale scandal

PAF had outranged and outgunned India’s best fighter jets, and it’s only because of IAF’s training, awareness and some luck that Pakistan’s 27 February mission failed.

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Whether the Rafale deal is a scam or the best thing for India’s defence, people with greater eminence are fighting over. Let me, meanwhile, list four facts emerging from the 26-27 February air skirmishes to bring the story of what we can call the real Rafale scandal.

* In the Rajouri-Mendhar sector air skirmish a day after the IAF’s successful Balakot strikes, the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) was able to create surprise and local superiority—technological and numerical—in a chosen battlefield. It struck in daylight when least expected, and perfectly timed the changeover of IAF AWAC patrols. The outnumbered IAF pilots (12 aircraft of three vastly different types) scrambled from various bases showed the presence of mind not to walk into the ambush set for them. But they failed to deliver a deterrent punishment on PAF.

* Four Sukhoi Su-30s, the IAF’s most powerful air-superiority aircraft, were involved in the melee at beyond visual range (BVR). They were surprised by the PAF F-16s firing their American AMRAAM missiles from so far that the Sukhois’ own radar/computer/missiles were not able to give them a “firing solution”. Translated: India’s best fighter, which constitutes half of IAF’s combat force, was outranged and outgunned.

* Fortunately, two of the upgraded Mirage-2000s were on patrol. These have new French missiles (MICA, or Missile d’interception, de combat d’autodefense) which are the exact peers of the F-16/AMRAAM. They were able to lock-on to some of the PAF planes, which panicked into dropping their South African-origin stand-off weapons (SOWs) in a hurry, mostly missing the targets. Nevertheless, one fell in the middle of the Nowshera brigade headquarters compound. It was closer than we think.

* Surprised, and outnumbered, the IAF scrambled six MiG-21 Bisons from Srinagar and Awantipur. Since these climbed in the shadow of the Pir Panjal range, the PAF AWAC failed to detect them. Their sudden appearance at the battlefield upset the PAF plan. This was fortuitous.

It is only because of IAF’s good training, situational awareness, and some luck that this audacious PAF mission failed. No ground target was hit. Its larger objective of luring vastly outnumbered and outranged IAF jets into a pre-set “killing zone” was the bigger failure.

Which brings us to our central question: Should we have even been having this conversation today if we had the military capability to match our economy (eight times Pakistan’s) and strategic ambition? 27 February reminded us that we don’t.

Also read: Modi’s BJP is sliding down the Rafale slope. It must stop outraging and come clean

If we had a functional defence acquisition system, by now we would have built such a gap that Pakistan wouldn’t even dare a retaliation. Check out on a rarely-reported Mirage-2000 laser bomb raid to clear a Pakistani incursion across the LoC in the Machil sector in 2002. Forget retaliation, the Pakistanis pretended nothing had happened. Indian air-to-air missiles then, on both Mirage-2000s and MiG-29s, had better range than the PAF which ducked the challenge. Computers, radars and missiles decide the outcome in modern, mostly BVR, post-dogfight era air warfare.

How did India lose that edge?

This serial crime began under the Vajpayee government. In 2001, the IAF projected the need for a new fighter to replace the MiGs. Its choice was more Mirage-2000s. Dassault was willing to shift its production line to India, the IAF knew the plane and loved it. By this time, the IAF would have had 6-8 more squadrons of the upgraded, Made-in-India Mirages with new missiles. The Rafale would probably not even be needed so desperately. PAF wouldn’t have dared to carry out the 27 February raid, and if it did, it would have been mauled. But then, George Fernandes, smarting under Coffingate and Tehelka, refused to go with a ‘single-vendor’ deal. The full process for a new acquisition was launched.

We slept for a decade. The Pakistanis got their new F-16s and AMRAAM missiles from the US after 2010. Tactical balance in the air shifted. We, meanwhile, took until 2012 for a new fighter—Rafale—to be chosen. Except that wrapped-in-latex defence minister A.K. Antony wouldn’t take a decision. Three of his negotiation committee of 14 dissented, so he set up a committee above them. To ensure further delay, he set up another committee of three outside ‘monitors’ to supervise this committee. Like Sunny Deol’s “taareekh par taareekh”, Antony’s method was ‘committee par committee’. Finally, all inputs in, the choice was clear. Sure enough, Antony ducked again.

He has said three things at different times: Within the MoD, he then said, call fresh bids. To the media, he said he didn’t have headroom in the budget that year. And now, in a moment of self-serving pusillanimity, he told the media three weeks ago that he put off the deal in the “national interest” since two eminent persons, Subramanian Swamy and Yashwant Sinha, had written letters pointing out problems in the deal and he had ordered an inquiry. He has since refused to talk about these letters, even when chased by our reporter. The issue is too sensitive, he tells her. Chances are, his party knocked him on the head for nearly killing its Rafale story just to save his own neck. I would be pleasantly surprised if he talks about those letters again.

The earlier 126-aircraft MMRCA deal was dead by the time the NDA came in. The first wake-up call came early enough, with the Pathankot raid. As usual, the air forces were first off the blocks, and during aggressive patrolling, IAF realised the PAF’s range superiority. It’s an unwritten story yet, but some MICA missiles were bought overnight, slung on Mirages, which flew deliberately close enough for PAF to observe them. In the four years since, how many of our 40+ Mirages can even carry that missile? Don’t ask me for the truth because, as Jack Nicholson’s Marine Col. Nathan R. Jessep said in A Few Good Men, “you can’t face the truth”. Be grateful that those two on patrol on the morning of 27 February did.

As I had promised, I am telling you about the real Rafale scandal without mentioning the Rafale deal. The Vajpayee government wouldn’t buy additional Mirages, scared of touching a single-vendor order. The MICA missile had first been sought by the IAF in 2001, the first only came in 2015 when Pathankot shocked the MoD to pull the file down from ‘orbit’. Existing Mirages then had to be upgraded. Two were upgraded by Dassault. HAL said it would do the rest. How many has it done yet? I warned you, you can’t face the truth.

Then it gets even more scandalous.

How did Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman cross the LoC? He was in visual pursuit of a PAF fighter for sure. But his controller was warning him to return. He didn’t. Because he couldn’t hear. As you’d expect in 2019, the battle zone had full radio-jamming. That’s why modern fighters have secure data links. Why didn’t that MiG have it? Ask the gallant Sir Humphrey of the MoD who blocked the purchase for three years claiming that a defence PSU would make it. Don’t ask me his name, find out. You might learn another truth you don’t want to face.

That order has lately been placed. With Israel. Soon enough, all IAF fighters will have this secure data link. And you’d die of shame, probably by jumping into the Yamuna’s stinking waters, when I tell you it is a purchase worth a mere Rs 630 crore, less than half the price of one Rafale. We were lucky to lose just one MiG that day.

Also read: Pulwama-Balakot helps Modi in polls — issues of farmers, jobs, Rafale don’t exist anymore


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  1. Very rightly brought out! We in the Armed Forces have suffered frustration for decades! But Sir what surprises me is that in the entire tragedy of errors, omissions and commissions, while Vajpayee, George and Antony find mention, the cream of the country, the ones who actually run the Nation – the bureaucrats are nameless!
    It is time that they be exposed and held accountable! Who were the Def Secretaries, JSs Air & JSs DP etc behind the scam must be known, as they are the ones who orchestrate the composition!

  2. OMG…..wasted my time by reading first 4 lines….is about to proceed and read the name of author…..that’s it…..
    Utterly nonsense it must be….I bet you guys….

  3. So SU-30MKI failed because is Russian? Wait a minute MKI have Indian, French and Israel avionics? Yet blame it on Russia it is easiest way to wash out terrible procurement and production of weapons in India, maybe try next time to buy Russian plane with complete Russian avionics and have good maintenance for such planes(pay for it-easy to say bad producer support while not paying for it) and on top of that train you crews on MKI good. Mirage 2000 and MiG-21 if you read article they seemed better than MKI but for 21 you don’t say bad Russian equipment and do not saying Bison. If India where smart then should by Su-35 and would not have walked away from PAK-FA. Even F-18 is better then Rafale and not to talk about some obsolete mirage-2000. Why in hell Egyptians after they bought Rafal did buy MiG-29M and now are opting for Su-35? If French aircraft was so good why they did not ordered more but opted for two other types of aircraft?

    • Poppycock. The EAF has always bought Russian ac and used the MiG-21 better than the IAF. That was not because they were better, but because the Israelis were fighting with almost zero fuel reserve. They lost 5 ac to flameout.
      They are suffering badly because they have a mix of Mirage III & V, Mirage 2000, Rafale, MiG-29, F-16 A, B, C & D. Like the IAF, they prefer the Mirage 2000 backed by the Rafale. They paid 07% more for their Rafale vis a vis India.
      The EAF is a confused lot. After the upgraded MiG-29, they are buying the SU 35. A total nightmare for the maintenance crew.

  4. Shekhar Gupta complies lot of half stories for his masters. He is neither here not there. He has been consistently been in desire for self elevation.
    The simple fact is UPA for ten years remained contended with Wigs. Their interest in Defense purchases was limited to fat kickbacks.
    The inadequacy of air power is because of zero action by Manmohan government.
    Even in Naval power we r behind because Pakistan has acquired more Scorpion class submarines.
    Congress is real root cause of our poverty n Ill equipped armed forces right from 1962.

  5. What a great article by ‘The (nonsense) Print’…lol … This shows IQ of you all ppl… So (worst) Intelligent people you are…haha…. This shows education esp Journalism level has gone down so much in last 60 yrs…lol haha… U made my day by such (3rd class) article…. Do one thing all messup you collect if u find it not sufficient then take from neighbouring countries also who are always ready to give and join them with Mr. Modi s name….lol .. I had heard in journalism many idiot moron C class achievers in academic/school/College life are present…. And thank god today you showed me the proof…. Lollolol….hahaha… You rightly said it all started with Some govt in 20 yrs back… Correct before that india was not independent na….haha… There were no govt before 1999 so how the poor IAF would have got what they want na…. Thing is that morons dont understand by showing their IQ they think all in this country are like them idiots and cant understand anything and will blindly have faith on The(idiot)Print…. So my dear Moron people dont think all are like you… Haha… U made my day with such funny and fake articles…. Keep going on and show more of your IQ(if you have) ….hahahahaha

    • No Govt is interested in the Armed Forces, except in the lead up to the elections. Today, Defence Forces personnel are placed below the police!!
      And who do you think is evacuating the marooned in the floods? The fuckin Defence Forces.

  6. Thanks for sharing an insightful article. While it covered & named Former NDA PM and their drawbacks, it also covered the UPA Defense Minister’s attitude. Behind all the noise and chest thumping, its good to know where do we stand and why the need of the hour is a decisive government at centre with guts to take decisions.

  7. What a great pile of bullshit. The biased author desperately tries to put the blame of lack of latest jets on NDA government. While the clear responsibility of this job should be on the UPA government which ruled for two long terms (10 GODDAMN YEARS) and still didn’t procure the necessities of IAF. Author cleverly tries to start from the Vajpayee term just to give it an angle of an NDA failure.
    Its a shame on us Indians that we have so long tolerated such sold out journalists.

    • No bro its not shame on us ….
      This is The(nonsense) Print… they think all are morons like them… Haha… Take it as a funny comedy article…. Many such idiots you will find in all countries of world … They know no one pays attention to them hence they make such fake articles to gain controversy and to increase their own business…. Now they are jealous of Mr. Modi so doing this … Ignorance is best solution for such ‘The(3rd class) Print’….haha

  8. Dear Shekhar Gupta sir,

    Thanks for very informative article. But I have a few questions. It would be nice if you could answer them.

    1. If F-16s fired AMRAAM, were Su 30 MKIs hit? If yes, how many? If no, why? How could the evade these missiles?
    2. Were F-16s aided by AWACS or they caught Su 30 MKI with their own RADARs?

    tks in advance.

  9. AIM-120C-5 (AMRAAM) which the PAF uses on its F-16C/D Block 50/52+, has a range of around 100km; the IAF uses the RVV-AE (AA-12 ‘Adder’) as its primary BVR armament on the SU-30MKI, with a range of around 80km which is about the same as the MICA missiles used on its Mirage 2000I/TI (upgraded with RDY-2 radar)… so how is the Mirage 2000 upgrade more of a deterrent compared to the Su-30MKI (only factor perhaps is the much smaller RCS on the former)? And now COAS says Rafale with Meteor would have ensured that the PAF would have ducked just like 2002 in Machil sector. Lots of questions unanswered. The utter callousness, even indifference, concerning new military acquisitions and even upgradation of existing equipment by our successive governments over the past 20 is by now, legendary. Hope we wake up soon, or the latest stats of ‘just’ one MiG-21 Bison downed would go into multiple digits, should we get into another conflict with our neighbours.

  10. The unfortunate story of India is the fact that the Defense Secretary of India is constitutionally responsible for National Defense and not the Armed Forces! There is no one from the defense forces over all in charge even though the need has been projected many times for a Chief of Defense Staff!
    The beaurocracy and politicians put up a front suggesting that they know everything about matters military!
    Till this date we don’t have a documented national strategic directive , the Armed Forces are being treated in the shoddiest manner by the very ministry responsible for ensuring their morale, training, equipping and battle readiness!
    I have nothing more to say

  11. Bogus report. Even though PAF showed intent to strike Indian targets and managed to create surprise. it failed to do so and was made to back on its heels by an IAF package half of its size. Also, F-16 fired their missiles but all missed. What does it speak about Pakistani BVR training? Su-30 was not used as the Rules of Engagements and conditions at such a high altitude neither favoured Indian nor Pakistani side.

    Su-30s radar is much more powerful than the traditional APG-68 V(9) on the F-16s and had a missile (RVV-AE) that match AMRAAM in capabilities. They were waiting for the right time, unlike Pakistani counterparts who didn’t wait and lost their missiles. PAF pilots fired their missile out of NEZ and using countermeasures, Su-30s defeated F-16’s AMRAAM. This makes Su-30 victorious.

  12. Can political party be sued for inordinate delay in purchasing fighter jets on the cost of national security only defeat in election will not be sufficient

  13. Hogwash !!! It seems that the issue here is Narendra Modi and using words like Rafale is just to undermine the real intent of this biased , stupid and illogical analysis of concluding that wing commander Abhinandan was shot down because the government failed to procure proper upgrades . However my dear ignorant friend , your media referee will not tell you that in a dog fight it usually and always comes down to the pilot and not the aircraft. A f 16 being shot down by a mig 21 bison proves that even with sofisticated technology and jamming the IAF had an upper hand but that is not the case . The Tejas project was planned to clear the airforce of the ageing mugs yet the IAF academy traines their pilots to take on even the most technologically advanced adverseri using what they have at that it seems is something you will ignore because you don’t share the views that the NDA government toon the initiative to deliver hell to Pakistan and many other media houses dislike the same . Great biased one standard article that throws shit and questions the preparedness of the IAF . I guess wars are won by soldiers but they are condemned for their bravery by such slander

    • Aarav, our paper tigers in media, politics and industry will not understand the role of people, given technology. During the 71 war too, we had much worse hardware (let us blame Nehru, for my lack of specific knowledge) and we won the war. I do remember having read the news reports around some the conditions that our brave soldiers were fighting under. While I recognise that these were official accounts, but now it is hard to trust the private or public media in any case.

      Mr Gupta seems to (hopefully unknowingly) creating the demand for military-industry lobby (domestic as well as international) when he highlights the need for upgrading hardware. He does not seem to believe that the public sector can contribute, which is consistent with the belief of our current masters (I am using the term masters, as we are not expected to think and challenge the ideas of the greatest man ever born). I am always amused that our masters have no problem in taking credit for the work done by public sector employees when it suits them (yesterday). At the same time, they stop wages (e.g., TIFR, BSNL, etc.) or force HAL to borrow money for wages but extract divided to balance the budget.
      Mr Gupta and other also forget that the private sector often goes to the public sector to hire people at the all levels. That is not called subsidy. We are now anyway forcing people out of services so that they can go and join the private sector. I have never seen a private sector employer who pays the fee for his/her employee to go and study and then not require them to come back and work with organisation. GOI encourages (let us say not force) people to go and join IIM courses (at the government cost), post which they run around to find jobs in the private sector. We blame the same public sector and its people for being good for nothing. My question – who is good for nothing here – our darbari media, politician, private sector subsidy-seeking fat cats or the poorly paid public sector employee, including those in armed forces?

  14. I really liked your detailed article.and if what wrote is true then we really need to worry about our pain in the ass neigbour(s).I just feel that you only went against bjp in the article when you could have also pointed out the lapses in congress government.I m not any party supporter.I have used nota in every election I have voted.but’we slept through a decade’ seems like a try to sweep it under the rug to defend or hide congress’s wrote in detail about bjp government in those years..that was good info.but what about congress ?there failure should be outlined too..from a logical indian to a factivist.

  15. The very fact the IAF could not carry out counterstrike on 27 to PAF broad daylight airstrike on 27th with 24F-16 fighters speaks itself of inability of IAF to stop PAF incursions. PAF targeted Six Indian military targets. One IAF helecopter went down taking down six lives with it and one MiG 21.

    India has failed to provide any conclusive evidence of either successful Balakot strike or claimed downing of F-16, despite having 48 satellites in space none can provide even single photograph or video of those claimed incidents.

    Modi bhakts like lambs or anonymous who doesn’t have guts to write with his identity are creeps who eat along with parasites like Modi. Modi is a person who has not earned a single rupee on his own through out his 72 years of life leave aside paying income tax. People who support an illiterate, lier, forgerer, Mafia Don are disgrace to Indian nation.

    • 72 years of life….lol…. Thanks i didn’t know Mr. modi was 72 yrs old… Thank you The(nonsense) Print by moderating such people’s comments… this comment not only shown the commentator’s intelligence but that of your moderators also….hahahhaahahah… So funny Mr. Brajesh… Padhai likhai kiya hai ya nahi… Lol

  16. I think it would be grate if media stopped pulling leg of defence forces and present government.
    Important thing is that the IAF was combat ready with it’s worst fighter in inventory. And truth is that if we would have better options in fighter jets PAF would not even dare to enter the border as the IAF chief said. So instead of telling that IAF was lucky to loose one mig you should support the IAF to win the dog fight with a dead fighter mig.

  17. AK Anthony was one gutless MOD, we wasted 10 years under him. Today we hv a gung-ho PM acting as MOD. Hope the 3 services can draw up a modernization plan that the MOD will stick to.

  18. btw if they are so technologically superior then why the hell did they disengage on the first sight of being locked onto by MICA as per your article?
    secondly how did Abhinandan’s last radio transmission was about getting a lock on by r73?
    thirdly how many mirages are upgraded? sadly for you all of them are upgraded
    fourthly why didn’t the su30mkis didn’t engage them? they were providing cover over vital military assets in Nowshera region to spoof off any intruder trying to creep in overcoming the defense by bisons and mirages..

  19. Are these revelations by Mr Shekhar Gupta of the same fictional fantasy when he had concluded when he was editor of Indian Express that an army column moving towards New Delhi when VK Singh was the army chief — indicated a coup was in the offing!!

  20. The question about Rafale was NEVER about its ability or India needed it but about corruption. How is Anil Ambani who is bankrupt part of India’s defence deal? Especially in an area he has no experience? IAF also keeps deffering the use of Tejas under some pretext for 30yrs. BJP govt has been in power for 5yrs still Tejas is not inducted properly. So what are they talking about?

  21. Sukhoi 30 MKI have R77 bvrm with greater range than MICA. Sukhoi have bigger RCS than f16, Mirage have smaller and amaram have greater range than R77 that’s why they locked on Sukhoi.

  22. Shameful and typical of Shekhar. He can shamefully write .. started under Vajpayee (not once but twice) and while stating continued for decade — does not mention Congress, Manmohan or Sonia .. A Congress stooge at his heart!

    • Great bro… The (moron)Print … Thinks that all are dumb idiots like them who ll not understand biased nature of The(3rd class) Print… So lets celebrate their Intelligence….haha lol

  23. Great Biased article. Do you know that Indian Air force took 1 decade to decide what features they wanted in Tejas. Do you know the Tejas project was revived by the Vajpayee govt. Do you know Vajpayee govt. asked the companies involved in the project to launch LCA(Tejas) ASAP after which it was launched in the year 2001 and do you know during 2000s Dasault was going to shut down it’s mirage 2000 production facility but they tried to pulled one last trick by offering India more mirages and by then Mirage were very old and so the Vajpayee govt. said no no to this and who the hell told you that Indian Airforce wanted Mirage 2000? Did they made any official statement or it’s just another accusation on the Vajpayee govt. and no one expects anything authentic from you people. I don’t know about Vajpayee govt. but I did a blunder by reading this post.

  24. this is a great article but unbelievable………..but then what is unbelievable in great india…………

  25. The most difficult thing in Sub Continent is to accept the truth. Indians have the right to protect their bruised ego and try to get an ascending note. But with mere words you can’t erase the reality. I read the article of Shekar Gupta. At least, he accepted some thing. But he did not unearth the entire truth. There are few more things which are under the carpet. Did any one question him or his friend in MoD to ask as to how a second jet crashed at Budgam same day . What was the reason? The fact as far as my understanding was an SU 30 MK1. Then, why Indians were displaying an AMRAAM debris…. instead of any solid evidence of dowining an F-16 ,what was the point in showing a debri to the world. He should also tell that as to how on same day an Indian Chopper got down. To be honest PAF could hit all targets at will but it did not. The message was very clear, ” Do not do it again”. We have the will and resolve to do it. It was a day of PAF.

    • In Budgam MI7 was crashed. No sukhoi MKI was down. Pictures are all over internet. So how about Your ISPR claiming 2 pilots capture and they are taken to hospital. F-16 was shot down with 2 pilots.. Your ISPR already taken the stand that F-16 was not involved due to US agreement.
      So keep on lying.

    • Get your facts checked it was the chopper that crashed at Budgam😒 which is several kms away from whr the dogfight broke out n thr was no jet crash in IoK that day ,you can google it, only in pok Abhinandan’s jet n f16 your own Pakistani’s villagers claim they saw three parachutes landing in pok while your DG ISPR said the iaf other jet was down in iok(not possible to hide as local Kashmiri’s wld have leaked the news about any crash by now ) n also claimed the pilot was in Their custody getting treated , again not possible if the iaf jet was shot down in iok then hw can the pilot teleport to your airspace from iok

    • Your will will be tested soon, you did not accept Kasab as yours, you did not take care of bodies of your soldier died in Kargil, at least we have courage to say truth. Here you are trying to tell us truth……

  26. The problem with journalists is that they overnightly become subject matter experts by just reading few Wikipedia pages and news reports. This clown shekhar Gupta has zero knowledge of IAF capability and 27 Feb incidence.
    First of all few Pakistan jets entered Indian airspace and that though 3- 4 kilometres only. Most of their jets could not even dare to face Indian jets. Infact there was no dogfight since none of pakistani jets entered Indian airspace.
    Abhinandan despite warnings himself decided to follow F16 and ultimately shot it down.

  27. Very useful piece of article. Máster piece Ver rightly pointed out that if we IAF would have superiority and unmatched defence systems PAF would Not have dared to struck in broad Day light. Right introspection and critical review of 27Feb is extremely important as suggested in the article than Just going gung ho over IAF MIg repulsing the strike n shooting down one F16. While 26 Feb was a real show of IAF deception and striking deep into pak territory 27feb clearly belonged to PAF and took the thunder out of our previous night operation. we were Lucky to get away with Just one aircraft as casuality. We Indians cannot choose to look the other way in this regard . Battles r Not Just decided by country size n no of aircrafts or soldiers. Just being 3times the size of Pak does not gurrantee us decisive win .the commanders and the generals should be prepared to effectively thwart the surprise moves of the enemy with right equipments in this digital era. We would like to believe that the political brass and army Will take lessons and should deep dive on the whole scenario to avoid any harakiri in future conflicts particularly in air Warfare .

  28. Looks like a midnight dream Mr Gupta…no facts stated, no source revealed…just a lot of imagination and nothing else!

  29. AND The security forces are claiming for TWO FRONT CONFRONTATION- With both Pakistan and China!! How silly? Chinese manufacture their own planes, AND INDIA IMPORTS EVERYTHING FROM CHINA EXCEPT DEFENCE EQUIPMENTS. Indian’s God’s statues, the lights,diaas,shoes,watches computers, YOU NAME IT AND ITS IMPOTTED FROM CHINA!. The happiness quotent? We are somewhere 145 or 150! The war mongering people on TV, be it poets, Anchors, and participants, these must be sent to the front to fight OhR there must some law to penalise these people AND FAKE NEWS WALAS. Now most of the news are fake.

  30. The article has been well dressed and so seems correct at first glance. But the author would do well to reflect on some ignored realities.
    First two aircrafts went down that day, a fact that was acknowledged by Pakistani spokeperson in early part of that day, but was subsequently denied after they came to know that the other aircraft was their own.
    Second if the air to air shooting capabilities of PAF are so superior to that of IAF, then why did the PAF jets head back at the very first sight of an engagement. That too given the fact that the element of surprise was with them and Indian ground based Air Defense System is hardly anything to speak about (which will change in the next two years after we induct S 400 system) . So PAF fighters could have stayed longer in Indian Air Space and could have shot down more Indian jets.
    Third, the author says there was no communication with Abhinandan and he could not be told that he was entering Pakistani Air Space, as his radio signals were jammed. If so then how did his last radio signal that R73 had been locked was radioed back, that is if there was no radio communication with him. Or was it the case that he was so enthused with the prospect of shooting down F 16 with Mig 21 that he ignored all warnings and went for the kill.
    This all shows how daring India pilots are vis a vis their Pakistani counterparts.
    But none the less IAF does suffer from some glaring deficiencies that can no longer be overlooked.

  31. The real lesson is that we need locally made aircraft and not the totally imported planes. Many western companies are willing to establish their factories in India. Why don’t we encourage them?

  32. The real fight don’t last 10sec and with two fighters shot down (one IAF & one PAF) only. In Kargil war several hundred sorties were done by IAF. In 1971 war several hundred sorties were taken by IAF and PAF before IAF secured total air superiority.

    It is ridiculous to draw conclusions with only 5 sec air penetration by PAF.

    What had been the Indian response if PAF would have damaged some military installations is anybody’s guess.

    • If PAF bomb had fallen in middle of Indian army’s brigade headquarters then they have already hit a military target. We don’t have to wait for soldiers death to consider a military target was hit. The fact is the standoff fell cold as soon as our pilot was in their hands and the situation went in different direction and finally to a closure.

  33. These politicians have weakened us. We toil to guard our Indian borders but lack sophisticated weapons due to the corrupt politicians.

  34. Once again Shekhar Gupta doesn’t mince words or take sides when it comes to discussing issues. Look at this incident purely from strategy and power-play perspective (Ref. . Robert Greene’s “48 rules of Power”). India is dealing with an enemy that’s formless and lawless (if we ignore the covert institutional support of Pakistan’s deep state). Assuming that the premise for Balakot was to “recreate” India’s response to terrorism by “stirring up the waters to catch fish”, was the plan realised “all the way to the end”. The answer is NO. The capture and release of Wing Cdr Abhinandan hugely diluted the advantage that the Indian establishment was seeking, because the Western Media’s (including BBC) headlines were “Pakistan releases captured Indian pilot”. It all seemed like a joke when that ‘Machiavellian’ video was also played out.

    The fact that both Pakistan and China are playing aggressive cat-and-mouse game (especially since 2014), it is high time Indians either acknowledge that they are incapable of building high-tech weapons and therefore shed their squeamishness in buying from the best OR build up the capability. Is latter an option in current circumstances? Perhaps the helpless citizens of India understand this truth, and that’s why Congress has suddenly shifted gears from Rafale to this income for poor tactic.

  35. Vintage Shekhar Gupta. 2. When the decision to hit Balakot was taken, was the Pakistani response, within 24 hours, factored in ? As events unfolded, with inadequacies in our aircraft / capabilities known to both sides, perhaps these issues needed to be thought through more carefully. It is providential that the PAF munitions did no damage. Else, notwithstanding external mediation and pressure, escalation was inevitable. 3. In India’s long standing standoff with Pakistan, there is no low hanging fruit earlier governments were too diffident to pluck.

  36. Finally, you press where it goes wrong. Bravo. And in addition you mention incidentally the issue of pollution of the Ganges! What more can be said?

  37. You are such a lackey for BJP that you are dedicating full energy to support & circumvent Rafael deal.

    You are dishonset crooked media person.

  38. Shekarji has safely ignored that BJP in opposition had major roles creating hurdles everything when different government were taking positive action. Rafael the then BJP raised strong possibility of kick backs so how can he be solely responsible. In every issue starting from aadhaar, GST etc BJP was roadblock. Even serial blast they claimed Congress conspiracy, was it not then good TRP for Pak channels. BJP double standards never get highlighted by scared media

    • During the last few days, the Print editorial team seems to be very keen on finding faults with UPA (of today and yesterday) and NDA (of yesterday) so that the NDA of today can be presented in good light. I was hoping that someone with Mr Gupta’s stature would also mention about cronyism of today’s NDA (read HAL vs. @@@) controversy). I only recently got to know that IANS is owned by the $$$ and editorial team was under pressure to present a pro-owner perspective. Yes, the public sector will be inefficient – that is known for centuries. But we all know that some work has to be done in the public sector, as the private sector will rarely have to money to invest in some areas or be willing to invest in some areas. US private sector defence firms as inefficient as the Indian public sector firms. We all know that. How many of the large research projects have had cost and time overrun or have failed to achieve the initially set objectives. That is the nature of the beast. Decision making in public sector or public-private partnership (serious and honest ones) will take time. Abusing people for being honest, but not speedy enough – makes sense? Thieves, by the very nature of their work, have to make quick decisions, otherwise they will get caught – the owner may just get up and catch the thief. What do we really want? Domestic capability to fight a ware in the short run (that may not happen, unless we are also itching for one, a deterrence (as Mr Gupta has argued elsewhere), ability to start a war and win it (over how many days or weeks), peace around us so that we can feed our own people and give them a quality of life that they deserve, honest decisions makers or crony defence producers or lobbyists who will promote private sector interests over everything else? We have to make a choice. Do we really have to keep finding faults with people who are dead or without knowing (or knowing only through sources) the circumstances in which decisions were made or keep guessing about the decisions that are lying in sealed envelopes in the name of national security? Democracy is about people (creating an environment where people can put their ability to the best use) and not power hungry, war mongering TV Studios or their masters. Is it not?

  39. So I have 2 questions

    1. Why were Su-30s deployed to face off against the f-16s when it is known that they won’t be able to fire a single missile against the f 16s? Also how/why is the Mig bison Superior to the latest Su-30s mki even though the sukhoi is a newer aircraft system ?

    2. What about our air defense systems? Do we have none in forward sectors in Kashmir? Or none which detected the paf fighters across LoC?

  40. Poor article!we don’t need journalism like that of yours worst article ive read in years
    Where the hell did luck come from!? Shame shame shame hope all blinded people open their eyes about such garbage

    • Bro The (nonsense) Print thinks all are morons like them who dont understand for whom this has been pointed towards so .. for showing such biased journalism (?) And their “IQ” haha… 3 cheers for them….lololol

  41. You are equating indecision to corruption. Why don’t you constitute JPC to dig all the dirt. The truth will be that UPA delayed the decision and Modi hurried the decision just to favour a company.
    Modi cronies have become so shameless to accuse a person for non corruption

  42. To prevent timidity or bias or buck passing in decision making regarding defence purchases referred in this article, standing committee comprising defence minister, defence chiefs, leader of opposition and C&AG for major defence purchases should be written into law.

  43. Very lucid, well analysed & thought provoking article. I wish Mr S’har Gupta had concluded the article by suggesting some solutions to the unwinding decision making process. If the essence of this article (learning a lesson from past failures, especially if it has a direct bearing on national security) were to be extrapolated, it would invariably point to two distinct outcomes in the near future (i) Decisive say by the uniformed fraternity in procurement and policy matters.
    (ii) Faster decision making by the military-politico-bureaucratic machinery.

    More such though provoking, unbiased articles please.

  44. Sir one more thing that is clear is that the su 30s much larger RCA is also a problem…and most of all it needs upgrades…
    There is also one more problem….the PAF was desperately trying to get a shot ..and which probably explains why so many amraams missed…the an/apg radar is the game changer…

  45. Mr. Shekhar Gupta, one of the finest articles from you. Many thanks. The indecisiveness on the part of A.K.Antony is very painful and has caused all the trouble. All he wanted was to keep his own shirt clean and didn’t bother about the country’s defence preparedness. Yes, Yeshawant Sinha & Swami were the habitual trouble makers, but why did Antony heed to them? Had he not any conviction and assertiveness? In spite of this dismal attitude of A.K.Antony, the acquisition process was left in the most corrupt state during his tenure. At the cost of repetition, I quote below form the CAG Report on Rafale:
    “HAL did not agree with the man-hours required for the proposed production and raised it to 2.7 times of the French estimates. (This, obviously, made DA’s position as L-1 s untenable). The NDA government referred this to a team/panel to examine the matter .
    “The team in its report submitted on 27 March 2015 concluded as follows :
    • At the stage of TEC, the proposal M/s DA was not compliant to the RFP with respect to the ASQR, Warrant clause and option clause. The proposal of vendor should have been rejected at the TEC stage itself.
    • The acceptance of additional commercial proposal after bid submission date for capabilities, which were already prescribed in the RFP, was unprecedented and against the cannons of financial propriety.
    • The final bid of M/s DA, was non-compliant as it was incomplete and not in the prescribed format.
    • The L-1 sub-committee had filled up the incomplete entries by culling out figures given elsewhere under different headings of the price bid. While doing so, the members of the committee made certain assumptions. Calculation of L-1 based on incomplete commercial proposal and based on assumptions was incorrect and as such determination of L-1 was faulty and not as per laid down procedure.
    Therefore, the committee recommended in March 2015 that the RFP for procurement of MMCRA may be withdrawn. As a result the procurement which started in 2000 had made no progress after lapse of 15 years and in fact failed on twin issues of manpower costs and n-n-guarantee for aircrafts to be manufactured by M/s HAL , as brought out in paras 7(i) and 7(ii) above. “
    I may add that bid of makers of Eurofighter Planes was also non-compliant of RFP ! Thus in the end, there was an absurd scenario that no bid was eligible!!!The critics of the Rafale deal want Modi to be arrested for the alleged irregularities. But the damage caused by Manmohan Singh –A.K.Antony duo is far much more than what has been alleged against Modi. India’s bargaining strength was weakened due to unexplained delay on the part of the UPA government and its failure to conclude the contract in 2012. In the interregnum period from 2012 to 2015, Dassualt Aviation (DA) received orders from Egypt and Qatar, whereas India’s need to buy these aircraft aggravated. The dissent note submitted by three members of Indian Negotiating Team (INT) highlights the fact that DA had a very tight production schedule. The inactive and passive tenure of A.K. Antony has cost India very dearly. It caused loss of opportunity, loss of defence preparedness, though it cannot be quantified in monetary terms.

  46. Past is not important. Now we have to purchase 2000 fighter jets in a single year. Or we can manufacture these fighter jets in our own country. No darty politics of Congress is allowed.

  47. 100% agree with what you have said…during pathankot the PAF was locking on to sukhois at immense ranges and that is why India backed down….its such a shame

  48. Why can’t public companies,such as HAL or BSNL,stand unto competitions.thats bcoz governments are incapable.r&d is lagging bcoz no funds are available ,that also should be taken into consideration

  49. Thanks for bringing the critical gaps in the procurement systems for even the most urgently needed defence items. This is due to the fact that there is absolutely no calling to account of individuals deliberately delaying defence purchases.
    MoD and the defence ministers who have presided over the MOD are responsible for the sorry plight of the defence forces and their emasculation.

  50. Why such articles are not discussed on news channels?
    All those involved in delaying the acquisition of necessary hardware must be prosecuted for endangering national security and to set an example.

  51. This article is the most straight forward, believable and unbiased analysis of the recent IAF vs PAF aerial skirmish. We were lucky to have got away relatively unscathed from a well planned and heavily armoured aerial ambush. The IAF is technologically an inferior of the PAF and our numerical advantage is only marginal and notional. We desperately need to upgrade our aerial platforms and weaponry. Another factor that has come to the fore is the superiority of Western origin weapon electronics vis a vis the Russian. That our frontline Su 30s could not get a BVR lock on to fire their missiles, is a telling comment on this short coming. At least this Govt is alive to the IAF’s critical requirements.
    I hope someone in the higher echelons of the IAF and the MOD also reads this article.

  52. Great Article.
    For the author
    Go to HAL and see the state of will learn another truth you might not want to face.everybody interested in 9 to 5.30 job no sense of responsibility and they are not even awake for whole of the time.

    • You are absolutely right. Even in late 1980’s when I used to visit HAL B’lore facilities on behalf of a reputed firm, I was shocked to see lazy, sleeping workers and corrupt executives, not all of them but a significant number. I’m surprised that Indian government has kept this failing PSU still alive and draining crores of tax payer money every year. Ordnance Factories are another shameful story and wish SG comes out with a OpEd on the state of shameful affairs at Ordinance Factories.

  53. Shame!!!
    Then again, do our powers that be even know and understand the meaning of this five letter word?

  54. Well the problem with a democracy is the civilian government. China is not a democracy. and pakistan- army controls everything. In india the problem is the civilian government. Anthony was possibly the worst defence minister ever. Sometimes you need a kick in the ass to learn these things.

    • Thank you for your correct observation. Normally, I have seen South Indian specially Women speak against Mr.Modi and his Government and spread malicious and fake news so that they sideline his development and bring bad name for him.

  55. How come your incisive analysis
    overlooked the fact that IAF shot down a paki F-16
    that fell in PoK?

      • Guys … The(nonsense) Print is a great site to read and enjoy funny comedy biased articles… Three cheers for them….hahahha

    • Lol No F16 was shot down. That’s just a story the IAF gave to cover up the embarrassment. Not a single piece of concrete evidence exists to support this claim there are just stories and more stories.

  56. Great article! Hope all these blind Indians who live in an imaginary world pretending that everything can be made by HAL and PSUs open their eyes. We need hard-hitting journalisms like yours. Not the biased media persons who answer to their political masters.

    • You people are speaking whatever you feel now but, none of you so called intellectual spoke during Congress governance. Feeling bad to read your news. I will never look into your painted news

      • You are absolutely right. One thing should immediately come to mind when you hear the famous names of Anti-Modi and Anti-Hindu are Shekhar Gupta, Barqa Dutt, Rajdeep Sardesai, Sagrika Gose. You will see them speaking in favour of our Enemy No.1 Islamic pakistan.

      • Yes bro this is The(nonsense)Print…
        They think all are idiots like them and will not understand how partial this article is…ignore such things…they just want controversy and TRP…. Thank you The(idiot)Print for showing us your IQ….hahahah

    • I can’t comment much on IAF vs PAF which at all suits to some media houses and political parties. But the matter of the fact should be if we shift our paradigm to a precise view of IAF vs PLAAF every thing will automatically fall in place with PAF itself. And by the the way Mr Sekher Gupta “Mama’s choppers from Rome are more necessary and immediate requirement than Rafaels”. Would welcome a move for that.

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