IAF going for more Jaguars?

Image result for pics of the French sepecat jaguar aircraft

The other day a reporter for a foreign journal said he was checking out a story. It is a fantastic story not because it is improbable but because it would show up the Indian Air Force in very bad light. I do not believe the CAS, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa, would make so inapt a purchase. But here it is: Dhanoa was at the main Dassault facility in France last week, flew the Rafale, or was flown in it. On the side, the story goes, he was told by the French of a whole bunch of mothballed Sepecat Jaguars that were up for sale. He was taken to the base where they were all parked, having apparently been in storage there since 1982 or thereabouts. The CAS was supposedly asked if IAF wanted any of these planes.

Billed at the time in the late 1970s when it was being sold to India as a Deep Penetration & Strike Aircraft (DPSA), the Jaguar proved in service to be able, as I had written at the time of its selection by way of an assessment, to either penetrate deep or to strike hard, but not do both at the same time. The Jaguar buy killed off the indigenous HF-24 Mk-II, an upgraded and advanced version of the Kurt Tank-designed Marut, whose termination also killed off the infant Indian aerospace industry lovingly nursed by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

Given its limitations, the Jaguar DPSA saw service, exclusively deployed on the western front against Pakistan.  Dhanoa, it is said, showed interest in buying the whole lot of some 71-odd of these aircraft plus all spares stocks. Even if sold at metal junk value, it will fetch the French a pretty euro. As an actual combat equipment buy and at clearance value, its price will be in thousands of crores, even though the Jags are long past their sell-by date and obsolete to the core.

IAF already has 120 Jaguars, all equipped with the superb indigenously designed and developed DARIN navigation-attack system. The plan is for 60 of these to retain the DARIN -II, and an equal number upgraded to the DARIN-III standard and with a new engine, among other things. This is more than sufficient force to tackle Pakistan and for the low-level flight ops. It is likely the DARIN-III armed Jags are optimised for nuclear ordnance delivery over short distances in the plains/desert. In any case, why would IAF be in interested in acquiring another 70 of this aircraft from French storage that will have remained unchanged, technology-wise, from the time they were mothballed? Even if these are refurbished, what good will they do in the Indian air order-of-battle beyond their current usage plans?

It is not widely known just how seriously the Indian military is constrained by the extant scarcity of funds. To divert a huge big tranche of monies in this situation to bolster a capability that doesn’t need to be, especially not when there are other more serious competing demands on the air force rupee, is to be seriously spendthrift.

I trust that this is a wrong story, a bit of fluff, and there’s nothing to it.  Dhanoa seems too grounded a chief to allow his force to become a flying museum of antique aircraft.

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, DRDO, Geopolitics, Great Power imperatives, India's Pakistan Policy, India's strategic thinking and policy, Indian Air Force, Indian ecobomic situation, Military Acquisitions, Military/military advice, Nuclear Policy & Strategy, Nuclear Weapons, Pakistan, Pakistan military, society, South Asia, Strategic Forces Command, Western militaries. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to IAF going for more Jaguars?

  1. Raj_ryder says:

    Seems to be a BS story with no official media sources backing it up. Maybe they want to cannabilize the psrts. The navy apparently wanted some of the mig29s from malaysia. S

  2. Apna says:

    Induan elites arecagebts of anglisaxon pirates.
    Buying f16 and another junk jaguar shiws -even thinking of it-how low indians can go to please their masters that they are turning indian air force into a camel air force from jodhpur range.

  3. Apna says:

    Indian elites are agents of anglosaxon pirates.
    Buying f16 and another junk jaguar shows -even thinking of it-how low indians can go to please their anglo masters that they are turning indian air force into a camel air force from jodhpur range.

  4. Mahendra Singh says:

    The number involved is said to be 31, not 70. They are being given for free, according to reports, mainly to provide spares for Indian Jaguars.

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

    If these Jaguars are donated/bought:
    1) will they be used for spares for the current IAF fleet; and
    2) will the IAF back off from its quest for the foreign single engined fighter.

    If yes then may be this is a better bet till the LCA Mk-1A matures.

  6. Hope,this will not end up like the Agusta Westland VVIP chopper scam & the IAF didn’t had any space left to hide themselves from the shame,which they received worldwide,when a retired COAS had to appear before CBI & as you say, Dhanoa shouldn’t do a Tyagi feat while in service.

  7. Reasoned says:

    There is no desire in shedding the reputation of IAF as an Imported Air Force. Great powers do not import arms, they produce their own arms through iterative development ,for which IA and IAF have no patience or even understanding of.

  8. andy says:

    Re:”I trust that this is a wrong story, a bit of fluff, and there’s nothing to it. Dhanoa seems too grounded a chief to allow his force to become a flying museum of antique aircraft.”

    Hope you’re right about this, more jaguars are not needed ,even for their spares.Free of cost?highly unlikely given that the French have a history of pricing their military kit exorbitantly,just the upgrades to Indias Mirage fleet is priced at more than $50million for each jet,this without new engines.For context a brand new Su30 costs around $ 75 million.If they were offering M2Ks it would have been a different matter and worth considering.

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

    When it comes to Modi Govt. I shoot first and don’t bother to ask questions. That should be a good enough track record to allow me a dissent vote here.

    The twenty nine Mig 29K that were acquired under the options clause had a contract value of USD 1466 million and that means a unit cost of approx. USD 50 million.

    The twenty four Su-35 that were to be acquired by the PLAAF was said to have a contract value of USD 2000 million and that means a unit cost of approx. USD 83 million.

    Su-30MKI and Su-30MKM are all priced in between somewhere.

    What this implies is that in the case of Russian supplies, the unit cost of the platform is usually not dependent on the buyers/suppliers understanding of the incremental capabilities of the platform. Instead, the buyer gets the product as some function of the kilograms of aviation being supplies (very commodtized pricing after the base capability is priced at say USD 50 million).

    This kind of trade would be very suitable for the buyer and the only real problem that the buyer can cite is the after-sales-support or the mis-representation in the capabilities of the product itself.

    For after-sales-support of both the Su-30MKI and the Mig-29K, the real requirement was to set up a spare parts buffer for the lead time. For Su-30MKI this was contracted for a mere USD 300 million for 5 years for 200 aircrafts, aimed at achieving 75% availability rate (incremental 16%). It is strange that this did not happen till the Rafale was signed and Single engined venture was seeded as an idea. Be that as it may, a similar spares buffer has been proposed for Mig-29K and it will be just as inexpensive. If history is any guide than I don’t see the spares buffer for Mig-29K getting contracted for till the 57 naval fighter contest is decided by the Indian Navy.

    Seeing the way the armed forces leadership acts and the way the GoI acts, I am sure the real strength of India will need a lot of spares. Since we already have a significant amount of sunk investment in the Jaguars and Mig-29s so it could be a good move to acquire old examples from other countries, for monetary consideration or for exchange contracts. Malaysia is hoping for lining up Su-30MKM spares from India and at the same time offloading its Mig-29s onto IAF.

    However, the real question to be asked is whether the Bureaucrats will have the diligence necessary to evaluate such opportunities in terms of their worth and subsequently to have the same promoted by the Neta-log. And further, whether the Neta-log will have the brains to actually act upon such duly evaluated options.

    Now the right upper cut. :). Does the following gives any confidence to you w.r.t. the above wishlist that I have mentioned as a dissent view.

    “Brand New MiG Jet Stuck At Goa Port, Customs Duty Not Paid
    All India | Written by Sudhi Ranajn Sen | Updated: May 12, 2016 08:43 IST

    Brand new MiG-29K held up in Goa port for 9 days
    Defence Ministry has to pay Rs. 160 crore in duty
    The ministry said it will get budget, clear equipment in 2 to 3 days
    For nine days, a brand new MiG-29K fighter plane acquired from Russia has been standing at the Goa port.

    It will not go anywhere for now, say sources, unless the defence ministry pays over Rs. 160 crore in customs duty.

    At airports and ports across the country, there is a growing collection of overhauled aircraft engines and military equipment worth crores.

    This year, the government said that the military will no longer be spared from customs duty for imports. The idea was to provide a level playing field to Indian defence manufacturers.

    But, in an apparent oversight, the finance ministry’s blanket order withdrawing duty exemption for all military hardware imports has brought all equipment belonging to the services in the tax net.

    Top sources told NDTV that apart from the MiG-29K that arrived from Russia on May 2, overhauled engines and spares of Mirage 2000 and overhauled engines of transporters like the Russian made IL- 76 are lying at various airports and ports.

    NDTV has accessed a letter from the Indian Air Force to the Customs and Excise department on April 27 requesting a duty write-off for gear boxes of the Russian made Mi-26 aircraft that have been brought to India after an overhaul. The equipment is “bonafide property of the Government of India,” and “needs to exempt from Customs duty,” the letter says.

    The Army, Air Force and Navy face a peculiar problem – although the customs duty will go the government, there is no provision for it in the defence ministry’s budget.

    Besides customs duty, according to rough estimates, the ministry also has to pay about Rs. 35 lakh per day to store the costly equipment in the warehouses of airports and ports.

    Calling the matter ‘teething trouble,” the Defence ministry said it will get the budget to pay for the customs duty. All the equipment stuck at the customs will be cleared in the next two to three days, the ministry said.”

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