Defence News: Things move really slow when India buys weapons, it takes years just for the RFPs. Years in evaluation and then final trials. We know how we waited for the Rafale. Things are poised for a change with the single engine fighter buy. Either a Gripen or a F16 deal may come through really fast. Just like artillery is finally moving, the jets may scream ahead too. But would adding another type not create another logistic headache? Read on…
Why all the hope for a new fighter jet?
For one, IAF needs more fighter jets badly, it struggles with aged Mig21, Mig 27 and Jaguars. Besides its Mig 29 and Mirage fleet will also start staring in the face when it gets close to retirement. Those together are 3 types. Forget fifth generation, IAF needs new aircraft today! Even the Su-30 started rolling out in the 90s and is due for a major upgrade. Read Five upgrades that will make the SU-30MKI Invincible for that information. MMRCAs can replace a variety of different aircraft in the inventory while reducing the type. Adding new jets to IAF will widen the types though. Once the older jets retire though, the types will reduce. So if we were to just retire the Mig 27 and Mig 21 completely with Say an F16 or a Gripen. We are left with SU-30MKI(upgraded), Mirage, Mig 29, LCA Tejas, Jaguar, Rafale and a new single engine jet. So effectively we get rid of 1 type in the very near future. However if we were to expand the existing fleet like just more Tejas, we would reduce 2 types. IAF no doubt has a lot of AC types to worry about.
Why hope for a new jet now? Simply because the government has finally initiated defence program worth nearly ₹200,000 crore even as the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) gave in-principle approval to the ‘Strategic Partnership’ policy. It will now be rolled out in less than a month once the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) approves it, as per BusinessLine.
“The government is very keen that the process of selection of SPs is completed by March 2018 and the projects be rolled out quickly. With the general elections due in 2019 and the government’s focus on ‘Make in India’ and job creation, defence is seen as a big opportunity,” an official involved in the process said, while requesting anonymity said to BusinessLine
Some big ticket projects expected to get speed by next year are the ₹60,000-crore P-75I submarine program for six Scorpene-class submarines are currently being built. The foreign OEMs involved in this program are France’s DCNS and German defence major Thyssen Krupp. The partners that will be enlisted for this particular project are Reliance Defence and L&T.
For the fighter jets, its Swedish SAAB Gripen E or the general dynamics F16. Although the F16 is currently more capable than the Gripen with heavier payload, better engine, more range etc. The Gripen E is a more promising jet as it’s a new design and operating costs are lower. The level of technology absorption with SAAB is also expected to be better.
Tejas: The Tejas assembly is undergoing ramping up of production and we will start seeing more of them. Upgrades to Mark1A are underway and that will see a potent little jet rolling out pretty soon. Being quite under rated, I personally feel it will be a much more capable jet than anything the enemy has. Why? I will leave that to a new post for another day.
We will also compare F16 and Gripen jets in a new post soon. Stay connected!
What do you think? Which jet