Litigating Tejas LCA’s quality & utility

Image result for pics of air chief dhanoa with tejas lca

(Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa in the Tejas)

No pilot who has actually flown the indigenous Tejas light combat aircraft has had anything but the highest praise for the fighter plane. This includes two recent IAF chiefs. ACM Arup Raha called it “a wonderful aircraft” after a sortie in Bengaluru in 2016. The present CAS, ACM Dhanoa, after his LCA flight  on the first day of AeroIndia 2017 seemed very satisfied and left, a project a staffer told me, with “a very positive aura”. One can, moreover, imagine that, as a seat of the pants flier,  ACM Dhanoa couldn’t have resisted taking control from the back seat of the Tejas, with the National Flight Test Centre head AVM AP Singh in the lead cockpit. After all, Dhanoa is the first air chief to have flown solo — and that too a MiG-21 bis after becoming CAS, after ACM Anil Tipnis in the fin de siecle.

Considering the no-nonsense Dhanoa’s attitude to flying, it is puzzling and a little disappointing that Vayu Bhavan continues to feel the need to talk down the Tejas. Is it, perhaps, to justify the unjustifiable, namely, the import of combat aircraft at a time when the Modi government is becoming very antsy about aircraft purchases given the paucity of financial resources and the controversy fueled by the opposition Congress Party about the humungous costs entailed in the Rafale deal with France (something, incidentally, that I had warned would be raked up, in a post soon after the PM’s announcement of this transaction in Paris in April 2015) for just 36 of these planes?  In a recent series of articles in Indian Express (  ) no doubt prompted by IAF HQrs, some very incorrect impressions were sought to be conveyed to the Indian public about the quality of the home-grown Tejas. We’ll deconstruct some of these issues to show just how hollow the charges against this aircraft are, and leave it to the public to judge the intent behind the latest in the ongoing vilification campaign aimed at the LCA

  1. An IAF fleet strength of 42 fighter squadrons is routinely held up as the standard the government has to somehow meet. The problem is that it is a figure the JRD Tata Committee came up with after the 1962 debacle in the Himalayas, when security insurance was sought in numbers —  more of anything is better. Except by the 1970s and the advent of the F-16 the whole concept  had changed to thinking about high-technology and commensurately high performance of combat aircraft as the decisive edge, and not numbers. Meaning, the F-16 generation of aircraft were often sold to host governments by saying one F-16 could take out 3 (or more) of the lesser tech fighter planes, so fewer of these were required. It was the time of the great quality vs  quantity air power debate. Had a new Committee been constituted then, it would have concluded, in the context of bare minimum expenditure, that with new-gen aircraft 35 squadrons would more than suffice. So the alarm sounded about the fleet strength declining to 31 squadrons seems entirely unwarranted.
  2. There’s the usual snide reference to the “long gestation” period of the LCA. Actually, the first Tejas prototype flew inside of 25 years not a bad show at all considering the Indian aircraft designers and engineers began from  zero baseline with the complete degradation of design skills and competencies after the cold-blooded killing of the Raj Mahindra-designed Marut Mk-II by the IAF in the early 1970s. The IAF then went ahead and bought the British Aerospace Jaguar that was just as under-powered as the original HF-24 and its Mk-II version. It came with the stigma of massive commission-corruption — the first major defence deal to be so tainted and which has become the norm, sullying almost every military import transaction ever since.   Ah, to get back to the “long gestation” issue — the US’ latest F-35 Lightning-II has taken over 20 years to get to where it is now and, despite Lockheed Martin’s history of designing hundreds of fighter aircraft and producing quite literally thousands of them, this F-35 by all accounts is a LEMON! It has proved to be  inferior  to the antiquated F-16 in straight fights; against the Russian Su-30 or MiG-35, what to talk of the FGFA PAK-FA, American aviation experts fear it stands not a spitball’s chance in hell.
  3. It is not clear why the idea of a majorly all Tejas and variants air force is pooh-poohed. Firstly, as regards numbers — other than the 2 lines at HAL, the TOT of the Tejas to 3 or 4 private sector companies each with an assured order of 80-100 LCAs will be sufficient incentive for the Tata, Mahindra, L&T, Reliance Defence, and Adani’s company whatever it may be called, to speedily invest in assembly lines, and begin producing the aircraft in less time than it will take the Gripen E — of the same 4.5 generation aircraft as the Tejas — to be inducted into IAF. Additional motivation would be the permission to these companies to export slightly derated versions of Tejas from Day One. Gripen E is only now undergoing speed taxi trials, and is some ways from even taking to the skies (Versus Tejas which has already clocked over 400 hours of flying without a single incident).  Quality wise: If, as is normally done with most aircraft with projected long runs, Tejas is developed in blocks, one block of aircraft followed by a newer, upgraded, variant of it, until the Tejas series goes from 1A to 2 to Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft with all the producers continuously getting TOT on upgrades the, the operational spectrum will be adequately covered at all times. More so because there will still be the upgraded Jaguars, MiG-29s, Mirage 2000s and, to top it all 272 air superiority Su-3MKI fighters — WITH ANOTHER 40 THAT HAVE BEEN NEWLY ORDERED — for a total of some 314 Su-30s — arguably the best fighter plane now flying anywhere in the world, per Dr Carlo Kopp, the renowned Australian combat aircraft specialist.
  4. Then there’s a certain worthy at the Air HQrs — a “test pilot” no less — who is quoted in the story. He claims to have flown the Tejas in its early days but pronounces, many years later during which time the LCA has been architecturally improved, enhancing its performance manifold in all its aspects, that “It doesn’t meet our expectations”. And where is it lacking, pray? “It needs to be escorted by more capable aircraft to come back alive”, this officer is reported as saying. This line of attack against Tejas is so silly it is surprising a stalwart flier has made it. He should know that the whole “buddy system” arose from multi-role aircraft tasked for strike missions being escorted in these missions with other aircraft of the same type  providing top cover. Of course, the top cover can be afforded by a different genus of aircraft flying combat air patrols, ensuring no enemy aircraft interferes with  the strike aircraft reaching its target preceded on its bombing run by EW aircraft clearing the path by suppressing air defence radar. This division of labour between strike/ground attack and top cover is routinely done by the MiG-21 bis as ACM Dhanoa (who as Wing Commander led the MiG-21 bis equipped  17 Squadron in the 1999 Kargil ops, and on May 28 this year flew the “missing man” formation to honour the martyrs of that conflict) well knows. So, yes, Tejas will require protective escort if it is on a strike mission into enemy territory. However, if as is more likely, the LCA is assigned short to medium range interception and air defence or interdiction, it will not require escort, and its 8 hard points can easily carry the necessary air-to-air and air-to-ground guided and dumb munitions.
  5. Then the blatant nonsense is repeated about endurance, range, etc., which I tackled in my Nov 13 “Stop the vilification campaign against Tejas” post ( ) and won’t repeat here.
  6. This raises the question whether Raha (a veteran of the MiG-29 squadron headed by a storied combat flier of the IAF, Air Vice Marshal Harish Masand, VrC)  knew what he was talking about when he thought Tejas was “wonderful” and  whether Dhanoa was being honest in praising the aircraft and the way it handled. If these IAF Chiefs were convinced about the merits of this aircraft, and impressed by the way it handles and maneuvers in the air, was’nt it/isn’t it incumbent on these CASs to champion the LCA and, given the kind of discretionary power they enjoy, have the Service takeover the Tejas program, and tell the government the IAF will not anymore depend on foreign aircraft? It will free India from being in hock to foreign countries whose aerospace sectors have prospered because of IAF custom, even as an Indian defence industry genuinely capable of design-to-delivery of capital weapons platforms is prevented from emerging in the country, and so deserving and astonishingly fine aircraft as the locally made Tejas is perennially on life support.
  7. If the “nationalist” Prime Minister Modi and his defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman still don’t see the runaround they are getting from the IAF, and another gargantuan mistake is made this time by buying obsolete F-16/F-18 aircraft just to please Trump or, even worse, to create a few hundred new jobs in the Tata/Ambani/Adani assembly line doing nothing more than what the DPSUs have  mindnumbingly done for the past 50 years — screwdrivering aircraft together from imported SKD/CKD kits, then ‘Make in India’ too will join the long series of farces past governments have perpetrated in the name of making  the country self-sufficient in arms.

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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40 Responses to Litigating Tejas LCA’s quality & utility

  1. Aban says:

    Sir, assuming India begins to export LCAs made by the pvt sector, which countries will be our potential buyer? Will we sell to countries that are tilted towards China (Thailand, Duterte ruled Philippines etc) ?

  2. Atul says:

    Just a little change required. ‘Gripen-E has already done its first flight. Nevertheless, its testing has just begun and the flight will be certified not before 2020’.

    Otherwise, your arguments are quite sound !!
    Pity! A large section of international aviation enthusiasts admire the aircraft but the parochial perception of IAF damages its future in the force !!

  3. Raj-ryder says:

    Wow just incredible. One might agree with the procurement process done by the IAF. But you’re understanding of aerodynamics and avionics is so lacking. F35 is lemon? Jesus thats ridiculous even by arm chair analysts standard. Its hands down the most successful multirole fighter ever built. The f16 vs f35 claim is a joke. It was flying with none of its actual cabalities. It took LM a while to transcend from fourth generation to fifth generation. And yes it it has kinks. Maybe talk to the Israelis about the f35. And as far as russian aircraft go, the serviceability is laughable. If any idiot here wants to compare the USN f18s also remember they fly 49 times for every aircraft the indians fly. Its a constanst aar theatre. Dont lie. Admit that india is way behind the rest of the world when it comes to any development of high end machining and electronic engineering. Ur forty years behind the curve. I do agree that the LCA can be developed into highly capable platform but it is no where close to an f16 of for that matter a gripen. U dnt know what ur talking about. As with most technical stuff, u flubbed this one. Theres a difference between political defense analyst s and techies. Leave the latter to ppl who know. Wing loading on the tejas vs f16 is a nowhere close. Tejas is a platform. It needs time and money. So stip spewing non sense and make the case for an independent MIC which you used to do well.

    • I am not saying F-35 is a lemon, aircraft designers such as Pierre Sprey (who designed F-16) are saying it. Just google, also the reports of the results of F-35 flyoffs against F-16, and Kopp’s comparisons with Russian fighter planes. What’s most superior in F-35 is data fusion, and that’s all.

      • Raj-ryder says:

        Pierre sprey didnt design the f16. Hes has been debunked numerous times. The f35 is a totally new platform whose potential is still unclear. Its a technological marvel. One of the reasons USAF doesnt include f22 and the f35 in their exercises is becuase legacy aircraft cant track and detect them on their radar. There is NO russian aircraft which is close to the capabilities of the f35. Thats just a lie. Their version of a fifth generation jet is a joke. Its barely stealthy and it still doesnt have an engine. Tejas, if you compare to a block 52 falcon, is a sitting duck. It needs work, a lot of work. I agree that no major power imports armaments. Hence the broader point remains, the IAF should not import aircraft and it needs to invest more time and money into the LCA. That being said, the reality of the situation today, also needs to be addressed.

      • sanman says:

        Mr Karnad, it’s just been announced that China may be supplying its advanced J-20 stealth fighter to Pakistan. What will we be able to field against it? J-20 is already more production-ready than FGFA / Su-57.

    • Rupam says:

      Read this, the US departments themselves have pointed out the various faults in F-35, decide for yourself, don’t go by the publicity video made by National Geographic. Here is the link: –

      • Raj-ryder says:

        Dude the jet is at IOC. Hell yeah its over bugdet and technologically finicky. Its a next generation platform. What did u think was going to happen? It takes time to work the kinks out. But its capabilities are truly unique and our understanding of the aircraft is still limited because its isnt fully operational. Look at what the Israellis have said about their F35s.

      • sanman says:

        I don’t care if F-35 can even fly to orbit, that aircraft is far too expensive for India to waste money on. America itself can’t even afford F-35, let alone India. And of course India won’t be allowed to see its software code, Etc.

      • Raj-ryder@ — Sprey– “debunked” by whom, where?

    • Kya says:

      Yes f35 is lemon.
      No amount of pimping by you or anyine else wilk cgange the fact.
      The wirld kniws that.
      Usa bullues otgers to buy ger lemon.
      If corrupt shameless ibdians can buy old f16 then why not occupued japan be oersyaded to buy tgat lemon f35 ?

  4. V.Ganesh says:

    Bharat sir, can you please share your thoughts on the below links?


    For point no. 1, don’t you think that LM are being practical about ToT and that the F-16 inspite of being old is combat-proven and in service in many AFs in the world and will also open the doors for another equally combat-proven and in service aircraft like the F/A-18 E/F for the Indian Navy?

    Secondly in view of the Russians acting pricey and unreliable especially when it comes to maintenance and spares like in SU-30 MKI, MiG-29K and FGFA to name some, doesn’t it make sense for GoI to buy F-16 and F/A-18 E/F which will open the doors to buy the F-35, a fifth-generation aircraft?



    W.r.t point numbers 2 and 3, don’t you think that GoI should be wary of Saab as they appear altruistic here, Saab too are a commercial entity and like LM they too must have kept their commercial considerations in mind and their offer of full ToT is hard to believe and demands further perusal?

    Also, unlike LM, don’t you think that Saab is more prone to get affected by US laws/sanctions, if any, in the future in view of the US parts in the Gripen and therefore, the F-16 and F/A-18 E/F are less risky in view of them being fully US-owned and should be bought by the GoI?

    • the thing is that HOLIER THAN THOU researchers like YOU SIR,forget that the Aeronautical architecture design for F16 is for that era of Cold War & 25 years ago,by the way, do you know that #HAL also have the same advisors on Aircraft designing from LM & Boeing ????

      • V.Ganesh says:

        @SecurityAnalystBlog: Let me make a few things crystal clear to you: 1. You don’t know who I’m. 2. Mind your own business and don’t poke your nose in my business. 3. It’s you who is acting “holier-than-thou” by making unwanted and unnecessary remarks on my comment which is directed at Bharat sir and not to you. 4. I don’t need to know anything from you.

      • no issue, Sir, i was just saying what has been said by Dr, Bharat Karnad ji as well

      • V.Ganesh says:

        @SecurityAnalystBlog aka Ishaan Sharma aka @SharmaIshaan89 aka Mr. Geostrategics: Your apologies and “no issue, sir…” are useless and worthless and definitely aren’t appreciated and condoned by me just like when your first comment where you poked your nose with your “holier-than-thou” comment. Like I told you earlier, I don’t need to know anything from you, so the same applies to what has been said by Bharat sir [in your own words, not mine]. As for your “saying”, it certainly wasn’t “saying”, but haughty behaviour on your part which I certainly am not forgetting and forgiving.

      • well i didn’t know that informing an indian brother of mine, who is also a Die Hard Nationalist (& perhaps that might be one of the reasons why he could be following our Indian Chanakya Dr. Bharat Karnadji) could be a situation that might be displeasing to you sir, anyways i will not poke my nose further & again i will apologise if i have displeased in you in any possible way,
        I Am Sorry
        that is all i can say sir

      • V.Ganesh says:

        @SecurityAnalystBlog aka Ishaan Sharma aka @SharmaIshaan89 aka Mr. Geostrategics: I’m not your brother and I’m not accepting your apologies for what you’ve done and nor am I forgetting this.

  5. Rahul(Kol) says:

    Mr Karnad, I don’t understand the logic you and your fellow comrades put forward when you say that in 1960’s with less capable aircrafts, IAF needed 45+ squadrons, now with 4.5 gen aircrafts, they need only 30-35…This logic is so absurd and bizzare that it looks like coming from novices…This logic assumes that while India has progressed from Canberra to Su 30 MKI, our enemies are still flying Mig 17/Mig 19. No sir, they have also progressed to 4.5 and 5th gen fighters…So are the air defence systems..In short, the multitude of threats has increased many a times…And it is the same one or two men concept in the cockpit, be it 1960 or 2020…Yes, the planes have become more advanced, they have more advanced sensors, they can multitask, they are multirole, but it is both way; India as well as the enemies….Imagine a 4.5 Gen Su 30 MKI of IAF getting surrounded by three 4.5 gen Su 30 MKK/J-10/J-11 of PLAAF.. We all know what will happen…So ideally, we would be needing around 50-55 squadrons to tackle this joint threat…I hope you will agree

    As for the number of Sukhois ordered, do you have a source when you say 42 more has been ordered just recently taking the total to 314? Is it credible? Because there is no official announcement on the same. Also different media reports and different defence portals are quoting different figures…So while you quoted 42, TOI quoted 36 and another defence portal quoted 40…It is all confusing….

    • andy says:

      @rahul kol,
      Comrades exist only in kol or kerala or your fertile imagination ,for whatever they are worth.

      India for all intents and purposes is a status quo power,we don’t want to change our borders,least of all through aggression our mindset is to have the barest minimum requirements for Deterrence,not for any aggressive intent.The aim of our defensive posture is to cause unacceptable damage to any aggressors in the event of conflicts.If our intention was to change the status quo then even more squadrons of fighter aircraft than the figure you quote would be required.

      Anyways the importance of fighter jets as potent aggressors is on the decline due to cruise missiles.The super sonic Brahmos that India possesses is a killer par excellence.

      The IAF probably fears the cruise missile more than it fears depleting squadrons. When you factor in zero risk to pilots, pinpoint accuracy and lower costs, then the cruise missile offers war planners a tantalising war fighting option that is almost surgical. The Air Force will not admit it, but it is true that cruise missiles are beginning to crowd out traditional jet fighters away from the combat zone.

      This was most spectacularly demonstrated during the ongoing war in Syria. On the night of 5 October 2015, the Russian Navy launched a withering missile attack on ISIS and US-backed terror groups. In three days of ceaseless cruise missile attacks, the Russians destroyed more terrorists – plus their communication and ammunition hubs – than a joint team of western and Arab air forces had done in 365 days.

      The Russian Air Force was sent in much later for the following missions: one, to mop up the remnants of the terror groups; two, to fly the flag and keep American jets out of Syria’s skies; and thirdly, as a means for Russian pilots to get battle experience. Another well justified reason was to showcase Russian jets for the global marketplace.

      In 1991, the Americans used Tomahawk cruise missiles to kick down the door in Iraq before sending in the air force and marines. Iraq’s command, control and communications infrastructure – built with considerable cost over decades – was reduced to rubble in just eight hours.

      India was the first country in the world to grasp the game changing nature of this new weapon. BrahMos Corp’s A Sivathanu Pillai writes in his fascinating book ‘The Path  Unexplored’ that it was after seeing the Tomahawk’s impact that India decided to acquire a precision attack cruise missile. “This was to be our magical first strike weapon,” he writes.

      The supersonic missile has given India the ability to launch strikes deep into Pakistan as well as against China’s military concentrations in Tibet. The missile’s defining characteristic is its speed of nearly 1 km per second. Twice as heavy and four times faster than the Tomahawk, the BrahMos has more than 32 times the kinetic energy of a Tomahawk.

      Heavily defended Pakistani sites such as the Kahuta nuclear weapons production plant, the strategic air base of Sargodha, and the army tank corps in Nowshera can be targeted with devastating accuracy by India’s Brahmos.Also the sucessful test of the Su30 launched Brahmos is a game changer,now the whole of Pakistan is covered within minutes of take off and the ability to launch airstrikes deep within the Chinese mainland,as also far into the IOR, is achieved with the Su30s 3000kms range plus 300 kms range of the Brahmos.

      And I haven’t even started about how armed drones impact manned fighter jets.

      So all the apologists of the import fetish driven IAF and their bleating about ‘depleting squadron strength’kindly look afresh and recognize how much this obsession with imported western aircraft costs the country.

      • Rahul(Kol) says:

        So cruise missile is only with India and not with Pakistan/China, correct? Oh ho, got it, maybe supersonic cruise missile, or maybe, Brahmos….Hmmm…But whereas they have got cruise missiles that can strike targets 3000+ kms away, we have only maxm 450kms at this point…..So for a ‘status quo pacifist’ (he BIGGEST criminal mental approach followed by India) power, an enemy striking from 3000+ kms away is better than we have the capability to strike them from 450 kms away…Anyway good to know that when hordes of PLAAF Su 30MKK’s J11’s, J10’s will enter through LAC aided by J-17 and F-16’s entering through LOC, we will be sending our Brahmos cruise missiles to take them out….

        ‘Your’ vision of war hold true when Russia/USA goes after terrorists or a country with obsolete/no airforce like Iraq/Libya..Unfortunately Pakistan, China and India does not fall into that category….

        Have you ever heard about the word ‘Asymmetry’? More the asymmetry in any sector, more the chances of deterrence failing…And who is talking about importing foreign jets from abroad? Did I ever say so? If dogfight/BVR is becoming obsolete, then all major leading powers(by the way except USA, China and Russia, all are pacifists) would not have spend billions researching on Meteors and AIM’s….By the way IAF strength is down to 31 squadrons and expected to go down further, how much money have you saved and bought cruise missiles with that? Get a life and logic dude…Don’t waste your time trying to lecture others about ‘your’ vision of war….

      • andy says:

        So what are the 300plus Su30s for Rahul kol,they are Indias Air Dominance fighters.The hordes of F16s and other PLAAF fighters you list will be taken out by Indias Su30,MIG29,M2k and very soon Tejas and Rafale.

        This whole 42 squadrons business is based on a two front war scenario,so is a two-front war likely? Yes, but only in warped heads.Islamabad’s fantasy is that the Chinese will roll across the Himalayas into the Indian plains and New Delhi will accept defeat. However, if past wars are any indication, this will remain a fantasy.

        In the 1965 War, when Indian regiments crossed the Ichhogil Canal in Pakistan and were on the outskirts of Lahore, the Chinese sent India a strongly worded note accusing India of aggression in Tibet. After India denied it was acting aggressively on the China border, the Chinese said they were satisfied with the answer. End of story.

        During the 1971 War, China didn’t even move a truck despite US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s repeated requests to launch some kind of attack on India. The Chinese sat on the sidelines mutely watching India humiliate their client.Even during the Kargil war when India was hammering the pakistanis there was not a peep out of Biejing.

        Today India is a far bigger economy and has a much improved war fighting capacity. Defence analyst J.A.Khan writes in ‘Air Power and Challengers to IAF’ that in the event of a flashpoint with Pakistan, “its air power will be obliterated by the quality and quantity of air weapons India possesses”.

        “With the present air power preparedness, India will have the capability to hit every single important military and economic target in Pakistan. And given Pakistan’s size, each target there is ten times as valuable as an equivalent target in India. As far as Pakistani attack capability, it can only be minuscule. Pakistani air power will have an extremely difficult time protecting Pakistan skies. The token numbers available for attack can, if at all, get to targets only in western India.”

        So 35 squadrons of fighters are enough deterrence.If the IAF must have more fighters then their only choice should be the Tejas.

        “Your’ vision of war hold true when Russia/USA goes after terrorists or a country with obsolete/no airforce like Iraq/Libya..Unfortunately Pakistan, China and India does not fall into that category….”

        Please refrain from making such funny statements, what protection are the PAf and PLAAF going to afford against the Brahmos? at least get some logic into the argument.

    • both of YOU STOP & LISTEN NOW, the thing is that this kind of Bourgeois Pacifism is long gone from the pc world now & we want to become a World-Power,then we need to take Beijing Head on,in terms of Economy & Millitary, once we can provide a counter of India, then only the world will respect US (Indians) & that is why we need to increase our Defence Production, but we don’t want F16 JUNK from USA , we can create our own Defence Manufacturing HUB in INDIA,WITHOUT ANY OUTSIDE SUPPORT, now here is the Problem, some corrupt People in the to brass will not let that happen , but we need to call their bluff & oust them

      • andy says:

        How is inducting the Tejas in LARGE NUMBERS against what you advocate?

      • no, i am all for Inducting #Tejas & its new variants coming & AMCA ONLY, we don’t even need Su PAK-FA FGFA,because they are not going to give us the source codes, Nirbhay Cruise Missile is a thing which i would like to succeed & that is how we can work on our own, the only people opposing Nirbhay ,Arihant Class Submarines, Brahmos & TEJAS are the Top-Brass of the Forces & their Chandigarh Lobby

  6. Seems like a single vendor situation is developing in the foreign single engine fighter space. My guess is that a compromise will be reached for more Su30’s & Rafales, and augmenting the Tejas programme. That said its going to be a roller coaster ride over the coming years. So far the govt has refrained from saying, “lump-it” to the airforce. they may need to strike a bargain. Additional Rafales+Su30’s, in exchange for Tejas for single engine.

    The ;Adani’ angle is what makes me a little nervous wrt Gripen.

  7. V.Ganesh says:

    Sir, if IAF doesn’t want F-16 and wants Gripen, but Gripen doesn’t impress then what will IAF and GoI do?

  8. Kya says:

    The whole point of delaying the acquisition of desperetely needed squadrans ( really should be 55 squadrans) was to favour the americans as a bribe so that the induan elutes not only earn cut and bribes but also get to deposit their money in british miney laundering tax haven for black money..
    This was possible not with roubles or govt. To givt. Transaction as in 70s but with foreign hard currency.
    Ofcourse tgere is small matter of visa for the wards of cirrupt indians.
    That us why you see many indian dogs barking for even obsolete f16 so much pimping they are used to.

    • sanman says:

      You haven’t given us your solution, genius – only criticism of everyone else. I don’t like F-35 either, but we definitely need to get something – especially when Pakistan is getting J-20 from China.

  9. India is always a 2 step fwd 1.5 step back process. expecting it to go fwd 2 steps fwd at a time is not happening. people too slow, and too not ready for that. That said, i belive Tejas will make a comeback due to political will. however the compromise with the forces will be more Su-30s and more Rafales. Basically F-16/Gripen get nixed, India fixates on Tejas, Su-30s, Rafales…..all others phase out over coming 13 years.

    We will be woefully short of planes in the 2020-2025 period. No two ways around that.

  10. WarriorSayz says:

    Nice Article sir…The one line that stuck in mind when I read this is the all caps statement “WITH ANOTHER 40 THAT HAVE BEEN NEWLY ORDERED”…really ? I also tried to do some digging about this a while before but I never saw anything substantial about it…can you throw some light into it sir ?

    • It is to meet “urgent” requirement that IAF keeps going on about. The Su-30 Option was what I had long ago suggested, and Parrikar picked it up but didn’t have the gumption to ram it down IAF’s throat ‘coz of Modi’s impromptu 2015 Rafale announcement.

    • The reason IAF does not want to make much of this Su-30 augmentation is it doesn’t want to give GOI ideas about how best and quickly to make up the numbers of the supposedly declining fighter force!

  11. Harpreet Singh says:

    So much of the argument in favor of LCA is based on it being better than Mig 21 and cheaper than foreign jets but none of this matters if LCA cant satisfy IAF’s operational requirement, Requirements that have changed since LCA was originally conceived.
    In the current scenario the IAF recognizes that the only way it can face off against PLAAF in war is by striking at the limited number of airbases the Chinese have in Tibet. This is the Achilles heel of our enemy and exploiting it is the highest priority for the IAF. Unfortunately the limit reach and bite of LCA does not fit into this plan. Even the Su30 were originally designed for air defense and lack low RCS capability needed to penetrate a heavily defended Chinese airspace. A few stand off missile strikes cant do this job since air strips are easily reparable. It requires sustained air strikes to keep them in-operational throughout a campaign. Hence the IAF’s obsession with Rafale and to some extend the JSF.
    The LCA still has a role at the lower end but the IAF cant be blamed for everything wrong with that program. They had approved the MK2 program in 2009. The first MK2 prototype was supposed to fly in 2015. Last they reviewed in 2016 it was still a paper plane hence they approved SOP2018 aka Mk1a. Its almost 2018 and it too is nothing more than a paper plane and so is MK2(still).

  12. indiaaditya says:

    To belittle F35 as being inferior to F-16 and SU-30 is absolutely wrong. It feels good to say these things and also reaffirms our faith that we have long been on Russian Aircrafts.
    F-35 represents a modified warfare theory to which the Russians are yet to catch up.
    It is supposed to be an extension of the war theater. It is not designed for dog fights. Because it does not expect anyone coming remotely close to it.
    The pilot of F-35 can be compared to a CEO of a company while the pilot of F16 can be termed as a manual laborer. The differences are so stark.
    The plane is a comprehensive combination of avionics and Electronics and Software.
    It is a comprehensive communication platform, and will be eyes and ears where satellites cannot perform.
    Fact of the matter is with this we can skip a couple of chapters of avionics and bring up our LCA closer to F35.
    This is possible.

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