Gutting the Tejas or Seventies’ fighter for 21st Century IAF zindabad!

The Narendra Modi-led BJP government has waxed “nationalistic” but almost every step and decision it has taken in the defence industrial sector to-date has not only regressed the possibility of India emerging as a military aviation and aerospace power but pretty much guaranteed India will remain the biggest importer of armaments in the world and an arms dependency.

In its continuing display of complete lack of faith and confidence in indigenous products, talent and capabilities, and wholly disregarding the quite extraordinary and proven operational qualities and world-wide market potential of the home-designed and built Tejas Light Combat Aircraft, the Modi regime has now put out that India is in the market for as many as 300 combat aircraft worth anything up to $13-15 billion — only the up-front cost, as long as all these planes are “made” physically in India. This is seen as being in line with Modi’s “Make in India” policy, but it is actually a simpletonish take on indigenous manufacture.

“Make in India” is different from the more significant “Made in India”, which GOI has not cottoned to, despite the fact that at the heart of the latter concept is the designing aspect. Designing the Tejas is of the greatest significance, not the fact that it has foreign-sourced components. No major aerial weapons platform in Indian use is, by this definition, “Made” in India. But a large number of them fit the category of “Make” in India involving the same old, same old — the Meccano level screwdriver technology of assembling aircraft, Bofors guns, whatever, as per the design blueprint and the SKD (semi knock down) kits and CKD (completely knocked down) kits given by the supplier, that HAL and our Ordnance factories are a cock-a-hoop about. This is the same old scheme of licensed manufacture dressed up in new “Make” in India rhetoric. Except, instead of the Defence Public Sector Units doing the assembling, private sector companies, such Tata, L&T, and Reliance Aerospace, will now also do it, with no more likelihood than in the past of these companies ingesting imported technologies to the point where they are able to innovate the technology. And India will be left marching in place.

In all such license manufacture deals, moreover, the really high value components and assemblies, such as the Fire Control System in the avionics suite, sensors, etc. will come as “black boxes” that the supplier companies will make money out of selling to India, for the duration of the production of the production run of that particular platform, piece of equipment. In fact, the Swedish firm Saab in competition with Lockheed Martin with its F-15 and Boeing’s F-18 to sell the Gripen NG as MiG-21 replacement has been more honest than the American majors in stating publicly that the final negotiated unit price of their aircraft will depend upon how much indigenization India wants, the higher the Indian content, the steeper the price. In other words, if like Rafale India buys the Gripen off the shelf, it’ll be a lower price than if GOI is intent on realizing the fiction of “Make” in India, when the price will go through the roof. Except Saab has promised help with the Tejas-1A, an interim plane preceding Tejas Mk-II. But the trend is that whatever the Tejas model, it will end up outfitting no more than 4-5 token air defence squadrons.

The talk is Modi is going American and buying the F-16, and soon Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar will sign an agreement with LM to produce the F-16 fighter aircraft involving a local partner, likely Tata (Dassault of France hoping the 38 aircraft deal will lead to buying another 90 Rafales, has chosen the politically well-connected Gujarati firm of Reliance Aerospace to advance this aim). LM and Boeing began shaping their offers around the time Modi visited the US and President Barack Obama for the first time in Oct 2014, when the US President is reported to have impressed on Modi the desirability of buying the F-16/F-18. That’s when Modi’s calculation firmed up that buying expensive military hardware would concurrently buy the goodwill of the Western country he was visiting at any time. A few months later in April 2015, he pulled the Rafale rabbit out of his metaphorical hat to the great delight and acclaim of President Francoise Hollande and his entourage in Paris.

Rafale was a phenomenally wasteful buy. The transaction for the F-16 will trump it. The problems attending on the latter are many and the Modi government has a lot of explaining to do to the country. For instance, how come the F-16/F-18, old, very old, combat aircraft dating their initial development to the late 1960s, which were rejected outright by the IAF (in the MMRCA race) because Air HQ had claimed it lacked any potential for “further development”, is now suddenly acceptable to the IAF brass as its bulk aircraft of the future? And is it the considered policy of the Modi government that India pay by beggaring itself for, and be armed with, junk? And, what about IAF’s fears that the Pakistan Air Force being intimately acquainted with the F-16 for over 35 years can, on the turn of a page, devise tactics to counter it?

American commentators make the case that India could become the sole supplier in the world of Block 70 F-16s enhanced possibly to ‘Viper’ 5th-gen aircraft configuration with the Northrup Grumman SABAR (scalable agile beam radar)AESA radar, spares and services. But any F-16 cannot be advanced more than 4.5 gen w/o radical structural changes, which are not on. They also contend that India can extract the condition of sales stoppage to PAF. This would be small consolation considering Russia will most definitely and happily sell to PAF the Su-30s, which can run circles around most extant aircraft and certainly the F-16/F-18. So, PAF will be in the enviable position of working both the F-16 and the Su-30 to India’s aerial disadvantage. The strategic genius of the Modi govt and IAF never ceases to amaze. This will happen because Moscow will calculate it has nothing to lose with India increasingly imposing stiff new conditions on ongoing deals as an excuse to buying Western stuff. It was a belief that no doubt got a fillip by Parrikar telling the Russian defence minister Sergei Shoygu over the weekend that he needed Moscow to commit to 50% of R&D of the 5th generation fighter to be done in India when the aircraft is already in service with the Russian air force and there’s no more R&D to do! The fact that the Russians have incorporated three changes demanded by IAF — a more powerful engine derived from the 117 power plant as interim power plant before the new Saturn Izdeliye engine can be put in it, a 360 degree radar, and 2 IRSTs (Infra-Red Search and Track) systems, has apparently not impressed the Indian side.

Not that the spendthrift Modi regime cares, but let’s compare the costs involved. The aged and worn out F-16 assembly line from Fort Worth, Texas, will be moved to India. Factoring in the costs of setting up this antique production facility here and a maintenance infrastructure in India, will mean F-16 per plane cost of around $280 million, without weapons. This for an almost fifty year old aircraft! By the time, you factor the weapon cost, a “Make” in India F-16 unit cost will be upwards of $350 million — the price of the cost-prohibitive Rafale! Boeing, trying to be clever, has promised establishing an entirely new and more modern production line, except India will pay lots more for it. The unit cost of the F-18, in the event , is anyone’s guess. F-18’s selling point is it is also a carrier aircraft, yes, but requiring gigantic boats of 90,000+ tonnes of displacement, which can be blown out of the water by supersonic and the even more deadly hypersonic cruise missiles (homing in, broadsides, at seven times the speed of sound). But we Indians believe in afterlife and the Indian carrier hosting F-18s will have one too!

Modi is throwing around tens of billions of dollars of the country’s monies as if it were confetti — $20 billion for the Rafale (if only 36 are procured) and $35-40 billion for the upgraded (but without major architectural changes) and at most 4.5 generation F-16/F-18. Imagine what investing such amounts of money would do for the Tejas, a 4.5 generation fighter. Meanwhile, China has just flown its wholly, fully, completely indigenous 5th gen J-20 stealth fighter at the Zhuhai Air Show.

That such a great home grown aircraft as Tejas is thus being slowly, and with great deliberation, strangled by the Indian govt and IAF, just as these two entities had in the 1970s killed the other Indian MADE and extraordinary supersonic combat aircraft the Marut HF-24 Mk-II (also known as the HF-73), reveals just how devoid of strategic vision and will, of confidence and faith in India’s capabilities and in self-respect, the Modi govt is. That the imports-happy IAF never felt even a twinge of self-doubt when flying foreign aircraft when desi aircraft were there for its nurturing, is by now an old story. $30 billion in the Tejas programme would result in a 4.5-gen combat aircraft (more than equal of the ’70s vintage F-16] that would wipe the floor with the competition in the global market, especially in Africa and Latin America. But that would mean NO repeated pleasure trips to the IAF brass and MOD officials to the US and to oola la! – Paris, etc., no Green cards, no offshore accounts, no palatial residences for CASs after retirement, no, etc. etc.

About Bharat Karnad

Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, he was Member of the (1st) National Security Advisory Board and the Nuclear Doctrine-drafting Group, and author, among other books of, 'Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security: The Realist Foundations of Strategy', 'India's Nuclear Policy' and most recently, 'Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)'. Educated at the University of California (undergrad and grad), he was Visiting Scholar at Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies, and Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, DC.
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26 Responses to Gutting the Tejas or Seventies’ fighter for 21st Century IAF zindabad!

  1. raja says:

    History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.

    • raja says:

      Dear Sir,
      I am extremely disappointed that the well meaning and highly educated RM and our great magician PM chose to sideline our homegrown LCA programme in favour of foreign wares.

      Evolution:
      Made in India
      Make in India
      Make my India
      and finally WE MADE IT!

      I request to kindly rewind to 2013 to note when the then FM’s reaction on TV when the chinese put up tents on our territory.Shameful. My country should not face such situations.

      We are not punished for our mistakes BUT by our own mistakes.

      • raja says:

        Respected Sir, kindly share your views on the following:

        S400/BUK purchase: How much bang for buck we can get from this system?
        probability of china attacking india in the next two years?
        why we make aircraft carriers? really any use is there in the modern day wars? AND not subs?
        Till new aircrafts arrive in IAF inventory, what we should do now for an imminent war?
        All countries are like India or ours any different?
        Can we produce LCA in aluminium alloy quickly?
        Can we convert our aircraft carriers into missile (long range) carriers and shift all the mig29K (with modifications) to frontline bases?
        present or future which is more tense?
        Kill the chicken to frighten the monkey. Are we chicken or monkey in our neighbours eyes?
        Hon.Airmarshall Arjan Singhji- Can you suggest any other marshall comparable to him?
        If we love french equipment why not acquire the old production line from the french govt.? for Mirage2000?
        Tank warfare relevance in today’s world and long range artillery- comparison.
        A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within.-Marcus Cicero

    • raja says:

      Dear sir,
      Setting up new aircraft line, then we have to produce and fight the enemy. Its like keeping butter on crane’s head to catch it! (lol). All our opinions, equipments, doctrines will be proved true or false only in actual situations. Now the chinese has come to Demchok canal!. Let the tests begin.We will know the results whether we exuded exuberance or hubris.

    • raja says:

      Dear Sir,
      From your article i sense that the aircraft should be good for practical purposes. Still if it is sidelined means i will blame only the manufacturer for its poor marketing.When we do business we should do it like others in the business. Else, evenif ranga does 10 somersaults with LCA also no use.You can’t impress others. WE SHOULD IMPRESS OTHERS!.Hope the message is well received!

  2. RK Anuj says:

    Do you ever have a tinge of regret about the way you canvassed for this Govt 2-3 years back?

  3. Venkat says:

    Every great nation fights with the arms it designs and manufactures. Russians and Americans have had their share of lemons e.g star fighters, rifles during Vietnam war. They stuck to,their weapons did not run to import. The same with chinese they made thousands of home made copies of AK-47s, MiG-19s & MiG-21s . Then they set a national goal of having of weapons in EVEVRY class from assault rifles , fifth generation fighters to large transport aircraft. All of them are there to be seen. Now they will emphasis of quality over quantity.
    We in contrast want to import rifles, carbines but cannot decide the caliber !
    BPJs, gloves are not even a part os std infantry kit , but talk of FINSAS.
    Make a tank do not buy it in sufficient numbers. Any other country would have setup base repair shop in Punjab/Rajasthan for Arjuns, not us. We should have made Arjuns in a new company not HVF. Then jobs would have expanded.
    One crash and Saras goes for a toss. No lessons learnt, no improvements.
    Tejas will have issues we need to stick to it. We should have inducted 2-3 squadrons for pure A2A role a few years back. Then proven A2G whatever. We need to start flying them and learn.
    The problem with such flip flops is no one in his right senses will invest defence business unless he is powerful enough to squeeze out money without delivering, so no local innovation can be expected either.

    • Venkat says:

      As far as Rafale is concerned I think our PM and RM did a great job to gracefully exit the original number. That would have made us bankrupt. The new single engined fighter is a much deal and what IAF wanted in the first place after Kargil. So the MoD babudom mindset needs to change , it will when pressure is applied long enough right now they are too busy making documents on civil-uniform equivalence !

      The current govt has also forced IAF say good things on HTT and buy them by cutting Pilatus orders. Then agree to order 120 Tejas mk 1 (even if called 1A). Now if HAL ramps quickly enough on LCA, HTT, LCH there will be no shortage of orders.
      The govt has also ordered or placed LOI for some 60 IJT, they are no where to be seen. HAL needs to answerable.

  4. Chanakya says:

    Bharat,

    I fully understand your sentiments about Tejas.

    Here is a counter argument, why should fighter aircraft not folllow a similar route to manufacturing like hero honda bikes & maruti cars..let the private industry learn the production techniques and then have full Indigenization?

    The Tejas & AMC programs should benefit from this excercise?

    As the indian economy grows we can leap frog to the

  5. Commoner says:

    So if ur point is that lca tejas 1A is as good or even nearly as good, as a F16 or a F18, then I take ur point that we should surely go for the lca1A, an indegineous product which will be ready by 2018, hopefully.But then please prove it to a commoner, by giving cold comparative stats.But if the fact emerges, that F16/F18 are far superior to lca 1A, only the stats will derermine that, in that case I am really not convinced .Becouse defence prepredness cannot, indefinitely be held hostage to anything, even indeginisation.

    • Shaurya says:

      Dear Commoner: Defense acquisition is unlike commodities or simple artifacts, easily replaced to do a simple 1:1 compare. An F16 is used and differently abled when the US, UAE or PAF flies the fighter, in their supporting systems and doctrine.

      The question is not at all if the F16 is a capable aircraft compared to the LCA. The question is if the threats and opportunities faced by the IAF warrant the purchase of an American fighter aircraft, purchased or assembled – threatening the indigenous eco-system and severely mortgaging strategic options to a foreign power?

  6. ~!@#$%^&*()_+ says:

    I had canvassed for Modi in 2014. And that was because Congress had messed up every single thing that was not much difficult to run by the way. The problem with Modi is not that he is wrong. His problem is that he refuses to own his failures and then ups the wager like a good loser making ever bigger promises. Or worse still forcing ever trivial issues via I&B ministry into the Indian mind-scape in the hope that the main issues never get recognized.

    Holding out a promise and that promise being suspected even when the facts speak otherwise is a gooh-rahasya that only antaryamis can profess to have. For normal people it is a must that a person holding out a promise be given at least some chance. Even Kejriwal has been give his chance by the people.

    Last 2 years Modi govt has released contracts worth 35 billion USD approx. (some say 65) for imports (M-777, Chinooks, Apache, Rafales, P-8I, S-400). Every single one of these items being imported with have its own Mid Life Upgrade and if the Mirages example are any indication then we will be paying like 2-3 times more for the MLU so that these items can remain in service for next 30-50 years and ruin all chances for the real indigenization – the one where the control of system and deployment remains with India.

    Refer – bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-01-27/india-s-3-billion-arms-export-goal-puts-china-in-modi-s-sights
    “January 28, 2016 – Modi’s policy changes include fewer curbs on foreign investment in defense, looser export controls and a reworked procurement policy that’s set to encourage domestic output. His government has authorized about $65 billion of arms purchases since taking power in May 2014 and is targeting a major naval expansion with locally made ships.
    The administration is also sharing the blueprints of state equipment — such as the Rustom drone — with the private sector for the first time, to spur technological development and possible overseas sales.”

    If the case is that HAL or DRDO were standing in the way of indigenization of MIC then there can be no argument against that. Trenchant beliefs cannot be reasoned with/against. A belief system is above rationale. But even belief systems have to ultimately walk up the path of reality. With DRDO kept at a scale smaller than even Thales and HAL saddled with leadership from the same incestuous school that governs IAF there really could not have been any different a result than what was ultimately obtained. Otherwise what was the point in offering 12 billiion USD to Indian Private Sector when the private sector knows that a few honey traps in Sainik Farms can ruin all investments for them. It was this that needed to be corrected. Modi did in fact increase the DRDO interim budget by 25% in 2014 which is when he looked like keen to actually make things better. But since then the govt. has gone back into the “India Shining Mode”, full 5 years of which are probably expected to give another 5 years.

    To me this looks exactly like the VSNL sale to Tatas only several orders of magnitude bigger and insidious. The same Tatas don’t seem so kool today – am I wrong?

    And all this was done under the garb of nationalism – ek teer do nishane. In a few yeas somebody in govt. would be saying we should not be too nationlist. PM Abe of Japan said that recently and the claim is that the Japanese nationalists are with him. Some nationalists.

    Modi is out to change India. India will surely change – it will become like VSNL – all the cash flows sucked out and existing only as a forgettable subsidiary of a large holding corporate entity – there will be progress for a lot of people sure. But just a few more years and the absence of a clue today will exhibit itself in the fires and fire-sales tomorrow. As said, Make In India is not Made In India. Made In India was what was Sold Out In India – Arjun, Tejas, Bhim, Akash Radars, BMD, Nirbhays, Arihant. These represented Control by a civilization on its fate. With FDI based MII we will end up losing all control to foreigners for a little bit of extra cash directed into companies of business groups that have already messed up their own business cash flows and useless stuff like AyeFFFF-Solah Viman and Talgo trains. We may also get some weapons exports that have climbed from under a billion to 2 billion or so. But compare that to what we lose –
    1) every USD put into DRDO yields 5 USD in direct orders; and
    2) saves 15-20 USD in imports;
    3) the strategic independence of deployment and development comes as a bonus; and
    4) mind you this system has worked during sanctions and tech denials; and
    5) sub-optimum staffing and funding of projects; and
    6) withstood the sabotages and shenanigans of a unique type of user group.

    Modi ji and Parrikar ji, you people are lucky that you are not a Chinese. May be Chinese are also lucky in that respect :D. From the same spot in 1978 there have been two completely different trajectories for the two countries. While India is struggling with Maldives, the Chinese may well bag the Philippines this year. Stark. The Chinese focused on controlling whatever they owned. We make a song and dance about giving up control we already have, to outsiders.

    • raja says:

      “These represented Control by a civilization on its fate.” Very powerful sentence indeed.Alas no control can be exercised on fate.

      • ~!@#$%^&*()_+ says:

        Don’t think of control in the western sense. Think of it in Indian sense, as Niyantran.

        You have asked for a lot of things. I would like to answer about one – Re. “Can we produce LCA in aluminium alloy quickly?”

        No, LCA cannot be made with anything other than CFC, except if you want to severely degrade its performance. Part of the reason why LCA sports such a massive wing and a huge radome and a very tight proportions is that it is made of CFC instead of Aluminium/Titanium. Should you still ask for an all metal LCA without having to compromise on operational capabilities then you should be willing to get 2 different designs – one will look like an F-16 or Mig-21 and another one like a Su-25 or A-10.

        CFC manufacturing of LCA is also not very time consuming and there is still a lot to be learnt in this field esp. IMO w.r.t designing the line replaceable units and shop replacement units and overall packaging in terms of designing. Also w.r.t. esoteric frequency select materials which will have major spin offs. Also the CFC manufacturing itself is undergoing major advancements and simplifications. We should not give up on this line of manufacturing technology since in future all manufacturing will be like this only.

        However I would ask you to question yourself a few more questions regarding LCA:

        1) If LCA had to be light in the first place? There is a line of thought that LCA had to be Mig-21 sized because of limitations imposed by Hardened Aircraft Shelters. But then ask yourself again how long and how much has IAF really invested in or committed towards HAS facilities? Ask yourself why were the HAS facility so limited when they had signed the Su-30MKI contract in 1996 and everybody knew that the aircrafts have begun ballooning in dimensions.

        2) If LCA could not have been de-risked diligently. For example designed with some other engine sourced from Russia/Europe or even with multiple different engines? F-16 and Mig-21 variants have flown with several different types of engines, with very reasonable cost differences.

        3) If the discovery made by IAF in the SOP-18 could have been made earlier.

        4) If the funding released for LCA could have been put on fast track?

        5) If the Modi-Parrikar duo could have removed a few IAF officers from the decision hierarchy to get the LCA privatized properly? May be sent a few of the rotten ones to Andaman command or UNO duties or Kingdom of Far Far Away Land or may be promoted to SFC duties beyond the LCA decision circuit. Private sector does not care if they make the F-16 or Gripen or LCA. All the private sector needs is seriousness of orders which they do not get with LCA but do with F-16 or Gripen. If Modi can keep the Supreme Court waiting on appointment of judges then surely he holds better sway over parts of executive arms.

        6) if the F-16 is merely another tribute that Modi PMO must pay to USA for the privilege they get or hope to get? Something that will not be available with merely ordering more LCAs from a CAG audited entity with established regulatory environment.

        7) Why couldn’t LCA itself have been privatized from the get go? The component manufacturing level itself could have achieved significant privatization which at present hovers around 20%. Why is it that no private entity shows interest in partnering on putting up a bunch of autoclaves even if run by HAL engineers. Job working invariably involves engineers from the outsourcing party.

        8) Last but not the least why is indigenization not a priority with large parts of our establishment. What have we achieved with 70+ years of weapons imports or ToTs. Look at the achievements of the Chinese establishment. Why are they so successful compared to our establishment? Yes one could also compare our establishment with that of Pakis and feel good about it but then why do our people then talk of China as a competitor/enemy. They should simply admit that they are not upto it.

        Simple question – Subedar Ram Kishen Grewal committed suicide allegedly because he was not happy with OROP. Would it have been different if Modi had some extra cash in hand to rationalize OROP. There is only so much money to go around – spend it on your people or spend it on imports. Imports will not give any leverage in terms of ‘permanent national interests’ that our people love to cite. Only leverage they will give will be in terms of Sanctions consequent upon violation of EULA or dilution of Logistics arrangements. Unless that is the plan.

  7. Mr Karnad,

    Agree with every word(almost). F16 will be bought. Period. Tejas’s space and golden opportunity(with F16 closing) to be sold around the world will be shrunk/killed.

    Questions
    1) Why does HAL/ADA Indian scientists lack leadership to stand-up and oppose such a move by GOI?
    2) What is the time frame for new production line to be setup? 2 years for selection. 5 years for setup and first batch production, + 5-7years for 200 aircraft production. I.E. 14-17 years for 200?
    3) Won’t HAL be able to ramp up and produce 200+ Tejas MK1A/2 in that time frame?

    This talk by Ashley Tellis is revealing. Notice how he mentions Tejas is not coming up satisfactority. He does mention TOT offer by USG though.

    • ~!@#$%^&*()_+ says:

      Re. “1) Why does HAL/ADA Indian scientists lack leadership to stand-up and oppose such a move by GOI?”

      Probably because some of the leadership in these organizations too have been co-opted with promises of ToT that they can then label as indigenous. Short cut for a few is always going to be cheaper for the other few who are willing to finance the former’s rise through the ranks. Not unlike the scores who sacrifice their lives and times to make Indian Army a great organization and then a few just skim off the cream for personal glorification/justification.

      My gut feel is that F-16 is not going to happen.

      I think this is all a ruse for buying the F-35 in a few years.

      • The RFI is for single engine fighter. I think they are serious. USG was pissed at MMRCA going to France. Kicked its India Amb out for it.

        All indications are this deal will go to US. Lockheed wants to close F16 production to make F35. Meanwhile it wants to continue to make money out of F16 by making this producation shop in India.

        GOI buys its own Make In India pitch too much to fall for this bait. Politicians don’t know that SU30 is already being Made in India. Don’t know that MIG21 was also made in India the same way this F16 will be. Had the Russians not been smart after seeing MIG21 parts being indigenized they would not have made a better SU30 contract by requiring part import.

        If make in India was the issue SU 30 contract should have been renewed with better terms for India.

        The same Lockheed where LCA software and equipment for testing was impounded and scientists sent back is going to now take up Tejas++ space in its own home turf.

        I am sure people in GOI are not foolish. GOI is just made to look foolish by special interest groups in places of influence. This is how a resourceful country the size of a continent(in terms of population) is controlled from inside and top.Mighty elephant is controlled by controlling it from the top. Not by fist fight, not by lasso.

        Watch the IAF chief and his wife watching GC Rangachari taking Tejas through the loops on IAF day. Watch the solemn facial expressions compare to the relaxed expression during other displays.

        Tejas is serious stuff for Bharat.

      • Here is the Tejas display by GC Madhav Rangachari on Air force day.

        This footage is surprisingly missing from DD coverage footage on Doordarshan YouTube upload.

        Anyways good display.

  8. andy says:

    If things move fast then a new aircraft manufacturing unit could be set up by 2022 at best(2025?).If the new line can produce 20 aircraft per year then by 2032 or 2035 the production run would end for 200 jets.Given that the service life of an fighter ac is between 30 to 40 years,then IAF would fly these ac till 2075.By which time the F16 would be a 100 odd year old design.

    This would be almost like flying a Spitfire,firing new age missiles and with an AESA radar in 2016.

    Full marks to GOI for showing a lot of foresight. Wonder if they will induct the Patton tank into the Indian army’s cavalry, better still why not go back to horses?

    Pah,its disgusting to say the least.

    • andy says:

      Google search ‘ Will Super Hornets bridge IAFs 200 aircraft gap’

      With arch rival Lockheed Martin set to make the F16 in India ,can Boeing be far behind?

      200 F16s and 200 FA18 Super Hornets,now thats what I call a State of the art fighter aircraft fleet for the IAF till 2075 & beyond.Wonder why the Tejas and FGFA are even being discussed? When we can have such fine antiques made by ummreeka for the IAF(Imported Aircraft Fetish?).

      Hello ,has everyone lost their marbles in GOI and MoD?The Chinks will probably be flying 6th gen fighters in 2075 & working on the 7th gen,but of course these would be no match for the made in India F16s and FA18s, afterall they are umreeki and even the taxi driver in Timbuktu knows that umreekan planes can kick China’s butt,so what if they were designed 100 years ago.

      • Venkat says:

        If you look at the current fleet of IAF we have about 200 MiG-23/MiG-27 and about 125 MiG-21. Looks like LCA will replace MiG-21. While a single engined strike aircraft with fighter capability will replace MiG-23/27. We also have 100+ jaguars though 2 engines, they really are small in power rating compared to the MiG-27, maybe they too can be replaced by Single engined light fighter/strike aircraft, unless the re-engine program goes ahead.
        Grippen/F-16 and Su-30 should be sufficient to take whatever PAF and PLAAF have.

        Just my guess. But let us not assume the policy makers are incompetent.

        So we should have an airforce balanced between single/twin engines, heavy/medium/light aircraft, west/russian/indian aircraft.

  9. ~!@#$%^&*()_+ says:

    @Primeargument says: “The RFI is for single engine fighter. I think they are serious. USG was pissed at MMRCA going to France. Kicked its India Amb out for it.

    All indications are this deal will go to US. Lockheed wants to close F16 production to make F35. Meanwhile it wants to continue to make money out of F16 by making this producation shop in India.”

    You are right about the American fighter having the upper hand but the ultimately goal would be the F-35 which is also a single engined fighter. As against 2 engines of FGFA and AMCA both of which have already been delayed for several years – I would presume delibrately. In fact I would presume that IAF has now decided to come into AMCA only to delay it further to get its way on the final billboard.

    Since Ashley Tellis is proving to be India’s General Rani these days, so we cannot avoid his views. Here’s what he as peddling a few years earlier. And the subsequent facts have turned out or are being lined up, the way he voices his wishlist, regardless of Congress or BJP being in government.

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