Alternate options, $9 billion for Rafale
It's better to invest such huge amount in other armed forces like army and existing air force projects to speed up and enhance the quality and reliability, rather than going for an expensive Rafale fighter deal, The Rafale is not a magic plane that can sneak and destroy Pakistani and Chinese positions, other IAF jets like Su 30 MKI and Jaguar too do the same.
Currently many of the air force fighter program is running slow due to lack of funds, since Ministry and IAF stocking money to seal the Rafale deal. on the other side IAF backbone fighter MKI waiting to get spare parts and ordinances. The Jaguar DARIN program delayed due to lack of funds, and the engine selections process too couldn't be resolved since ages.
The numbers won't make changes rather than technologically evolved fighters, There is no assessment that, authorized 45 squadron fighters can save India from coordinated attack by both China and Pakistan. although maintaining those 45 squadron of fighters also drain IAF's budget. So it's better to enhance the older fighters to keep them with upgrades.
There is no chance of using those older MiG 21 and MiG 27 in modern battles since they are not capable to survive in modern theater despite upgrades, It's better decommission those jets as soon as possible rather than scheduled decommission, this will consume more IAF's budget and also threats IAF pilots too who handles those vintage soviet fighters.
Air force recently started upgrading the Mirage 2000 with new avionics and sensor suites with modern weapons. It's reported that, HAL can roll out six modernized Mirage 2000 every year. the upgrade works scheduled to be completed before 2020. the new mirages are better in all terms, also shares few modern technologies with Rafale.
The new mirages comes with new sensor suites, modern air to air missiles and engines, which makes it one of the better and modern fighter in IAF, IAF always maintained the service availability of Mirage 2000 is by more than 75%. IAF operates three squad of Mirage 2000.
Jaguar is the other one who waiting for good upgrade with modern engines and missiles, The Jaguars are one of the better platform used to carryout precision ground attack and SEAD missions. Jaguars with his unique features like terrain hugging fly path and lack of radar, provide better survivability in modern battlefields too.
The maritime Jaguars are already upgraded with new avionics and missiles, US made new generation Harpoon missile added in place of older generation Sea Eagle missiles. Even though IAF plans to replace the older Agave radar with modern Israeli AESA radar. also IAF plans to integrate the US made AGM 88 HARM missile to replace older martel missile to conduct anti radar missions.
The IS version of Jaguars also carries cluster munitions like US made CBU 105 and modern precision guided munitions, All the IAF jaguars can carry a pair of ASRAAM IR guided missiles for self defense. IAF operates six squadron of Jaguars. upgrading them with all the above said system keeps Jaguar better till 2035.
Sukhoi Su 30 MKI is one of the primary air superiority platform, however the fighter shows many problems, which include engine issues and lack of spare parts. which makes half of the fleet on the ground. The Su 30 MKI can conduct all kind of missions include anti shipping, air to ground and air to air missions.
IAF looking to upgrade the Su 30 MKI into super sukhoi with new generation avionics and engines, However as per current scenario the Super Sukhoi upgrade may be pushed to 2030 or so. What IAF need is to improve the service availability of Su 30 MKI upto some 75%, By opening new over haul centers allowing to stock more spares.
Recent contract with Israel to equip the Su 30 with new gen litening pod with Spice glide bombs makes the Su 30 MKI gives better stand off capability, the same what Rafale do since years by impressing nations with pin point ground strike even bypassing dense air defense systems with the help of spectra, The Su 30 MKI can configurable such system. Su 30 MKI currently flies with Israeli EW system, which can be replaced with modern Israeli systems. adding those can even by pass Rafale's qualities too.
What the Rafale also have is long range stand off cruise missile, the SCLAP EG is better for air to ground strike with the range of more than some 200 kilometers. IAF also mulls for Brahmos in Su 30 MKI, however the Brahmos costs is too much, It's better DRDL can develop such air launched missiles similar like Pakistani Ra'ad and SCLAP EG for better stand off missile strike. IAF operates upto some 12 squad of Su 30 MKI. the numbers may increased by 15 in coming years.
MiG 29 is another platform that IAF currently doing upgrades, with new upgrades the MiG 29 is also act as a good company with Mirage and LCA. HAL can complete the upgrades before 2020. The new upgrades include modification in air frame to carry more fuel and carry heavy ordinances. IAF operates nearly three squad of MiG 29 UPG jets.
The above mentioned fighter jets alone comes nearly 27 squadrons, adding more number of Tejas can roughly give 30 squad fighters with service availability of more than 75%, That's what we call a real and better air power, rather than 45 squads with 50% service availability. Even it's a known concern that IAF lack of fighter pilots too.
By spending those $9 billion into above said fighters makes more than what 100+ Rafale's do in IAF. this money can speed up the upgradation works and gives more fund to buy spares and ammunition's. quarter of the amount can also been spend for modernizing the air fields and protection systems like base defense VSHORAD's and Radar jammer systems.
The late and costly Rafale fighter won't suit Indian economical needs, It will bankrupt the IAF. It's clear no other US, European and Sweden Jets won't makes sense, they too abolish the IAF.