Tejas & the single-engined fighter aircraft debate

Perhaps, of interest: A video debate on the merits of sticking with Tejas vis a vis producing the Swedish Gripen E or the American F-16 Blk 70, featuring RK Tyagi, former Chairman, HAL, AVM Kapil Kak (Retd), R Rajagopalan ORF, and yours truly. Also included are the commercial pitches made by Saab and Lockheed Martin reps at AeroIndia 2017. Judge for yourself what makes more sense. It is at:


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.
This entry was posted in arms exports, Asian geopolitics, civil-military relations, Decision-making, Defence Industry, Europe, Geopolitics, Great Power imperatives, India's Pakistan Policy, India's strategic thinking and policy, Indian Air Force, Indian Navy, MEA/foreign policy, Military Acquisitions, Military/military advice, Pakistan, South Asia, South East Asia, United States, US., West Asia, Western militaries. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Tejas & the single-engined fighter aircraft debate

  1. raja says:

    The chinese buy advanced german companies. Why we are not doing so?

    • Had proposed in one of my articles that Indian firms, such as Reliance, with the resources should buy the Swizz Pilatus trainer aircraft company, may be even Dassault.

      • &^%$#@! says:

        Bharat, and you think that the French Govt. will allow Dassault to be sold to Indians? The VERY maximum that will be allowed is that Indian money will be used and a token “house trained” Indian presence will be included on the management board. However, access to technology will be forbidden. BTW, it is “Swiss” and not “Swizz”.

  2. &^%$#@! says:

    These are two very fine and relevant Youtube clips on the LCA Tejas:

    Some of the many advantages of having a home grown design are highlighted.

  3. Socho says:

    India should go for Tejas and grippen
    Indians must rearm their defence forces rather than thinking of bribing Americans with purchase of American junk like old f16 or defective f35 .
    You do not compromise defence for inadequate diplomacy .

    • ~!@#$%^&*()_+ says:

      Hain ji, Gripen!

      Did not take long for you to show your colours.

    • &^%$#@! says:

      India should just go in for the Tejas and forget about the F-16 and Gripen. Tejas isn’t just an a/c, it’s the re-birth of the Indian aerospace industry. The amount that has been learned, for example in the design and implementation of the FCS, composites, etc… could never have been possible had it not been for the Tejas. All these technologies have serious ramifications in other areas. But then, there is no point in talking sense to a bunch of coolies who were owned by a company, and are strenuously working towards re-living those “Acche Din”.

  4. Socho says:

    That woman does not feel shame in pushing for f16 an old late 60s design -are we IbdiNs that corrupt and sold out?

  5. &^%$#@! says:

    Here’s some latest news of the “wonderful success” of the Digital India initiative:

    India is one of the, if not the, least cyber secure countries in the world, and yet the GoI actively promotes social media like Facebook and WhatsApp as part of official policy. Most politicians and civil servants communicate through gmail. With this level of security and awareness, what can one expect?

  6. Venkat says:

    I thnk this whole debate has to change. Simple planes do not matter, they need to be platforms that ideally in the modern age,
    1. all aircraft need to be able to carry stand off weapons chosen by india. This integration will ne expensive and maybe some may not be allowed.
    2. The large number of attack helicopters (LCH, Apaches, Rudras) integrated into strike corps will possibly make aircraft like MiG-27 redundant. Maybe it would be better to buy a few Su-25 for ground attack roles (if at all) why should f-16 or Grippen replace MiG-27 that are being retired ?
    3. Point defence : maybe Tejas is good enough .
    4. Have lowest life Cycle cost. Tejas triumphs here.

    So maybe we need re visit our Orbat and then have 2 more tejas productions lines.
    Get improved versions quickly.

    • andy says:

      Re:”The large number of attack helicopters (LCH, Apaches, Rudras) integrated into strike corps will possibly make aircraft like MiG-27 redundant. Maybe it would be better to buy a few Su-25 for ground attack roles (if at all) why should f-16 or Grippen replace MiG-27 that are being retired ?
      3. Point defence : maybe Tejas is good enough .”

      With most modern aircraft being multirole the need for ground attack specific aircraft is pretty limited,in fact the Rafale was pitched as being a better ground attack aircraft than its other rivals in the MMRCA shoot out,as if anyone in their right minds would vector a plane costing $250 million against low value targets like truck convoys,tanks or infantry, for high value targets India doesnt need to look beyond the Brahmos armed SU30MKI which can destroy targets from stand off distances (295kms presently, soon to be doubled).

      About attack helicopters,the case for these systems is not very strong,especially the exorbitant Apache,would be better to induct the Rudra or LCH in larger numbers.The problem with attack helos is they are very vulnerable to even shoulder fired SAMs,as evidenced by the downing of the MI17 during the opening days of the Kargil air campaign(operation Safed Sagar)leading to the cessation of anymore helo attacks.

      If the IAF must have more dedicated ground attack aircraft aside from the Jaguars that will fly in IAF colours for another 15 or 20 years,they should consider the old ground attack war horse of the USAF the A10 warthog,given the IAFs fetish for western systems this one should find favour.At around$18 to 20 million a click(around the same cost as an Apache) these battle proven and hardy flying tanks will surely be a cost effective solution,the USAF pilots swear by the A10s efficacy and vehemently opposed its retirement recently,leading to an extension,the Marines too batted for the A10 because its a most reassuring sight when the situation demands a robust respose to a sticky situation on the ground.

      India needs to nurture the Tejas and ram it down the unwilling throats of the naysayers,there is no question of ‘maybe’ regarding its capabilities,read numerous accolades that the test pilots have showered on this bird that has the potential to transform the Indian aerospace industry forever.A twin engined Tejas should follow to address the IAFs craving for a medium fighter,that would really set the cat among the pigeons.

  7. andy says:

    The best solution to the bogey of falling squadron strengths being raised by the IAF is to buy more, maybe 7 squadrons or 140 SU30MKI,at the same time cranking up the production of the Tejas mark 1A to 30 pieces per annum upto 2021, which should be enough time for developing the mark 2 varient with the uprated GE F414 jet engine, then using the 1A production lines for the mark 2 which should give the IAF about 300 Tejas and about 460 SU30MKI by 2027(discounting the FGFA since its pretty much in a limbo)This would create a force of 38 squadrons of these two very potent aircraft.With 2 squadrons of Rafale,3 of MIG29,2 of M2K and 6 squadrons of Jaguars (the latter 3 due for retirement between 2035 and 2040)means the IAF would operate around 50 squadrons by 2027,which would come down to 40 by 2040 by which time the AMCA should be ready for induction. IMHO that such a force structure would be the best bet in the long term for any war fighting scenarios including but not limited to a two front war.This would not only be a cost effective solution but also reduce the logistics nightmare caused by multiple types of aircraft in the IAFs fleet.

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