All time low, Air force struggles with low squadron
Indian air force once again raises its concern of depleting squadron numbers and strength, expressing no steps taken to control the attrition. and yet they need to wait couple more years to induct new fighter jets. Since rival forces already massing up their fighter jets numbers. The air force also keens to buy newer fighter jets under the new DPP policy which will be unveiled by coming 28th March.
Reports circulated earlier that the air force officials shows concerns of the very low number of fighter jets in the air force. The air force has only twenty-two squadrons of fighter jets, which are combat capable. another eleven squadron fighters are not combat capable during war time. The older MiG 21 and MiG 27 comprises eleven squadrons in the existing operational 33 squadrons.
The air force has to maintain the same 22 squadrons till 2019. Which is 50% less than the sanctioned fighter jets to confront against both China and Pakistan simultaneously. The air force has not placed new orders so far. The ordered LCA comes in later 2019 only, which will form his first operational squadron. The proposed MMRCA yet to be signed, FGFA contract nose-dived, AMCA still on the drawing board.
MMRCA is one of the major reason behind this low number of the squadron. That the air force keen to induct along with the homemade LCA Tejas. The politics played the bigger role in the MMRCA acquisition program. which is known as one of the biggest military deal in the Indian history? The Government earlier allocated some $8 billion to buy 126 fighter jets from France. which estimated some $60+ millions per fighter jet.
The selection process completed in early 2012 and Air force plans to rolls out first Rafale squadron from Indian assembly line by 2016, Even till now the government didn't sign the MRCA contract with France.
Airforce selected the Rafale for many reasons, from the experience gathered from Mirage 2000 to its small size which can fit in existing MiG 21 shelters. The politics played on the other side providing alternate options to the air force. However, IAF won't ready to accept the proposals made by the politicians.
They were offered more Su 30, later allowed the SAAB to propose the Gripen, proposing F 18 E/F, and the current F 16 offer. Air force completely rejected all such offers and insisted the government buy the Rafale only. and allows building AMCA and LCA in parallel.
This is the only option that IAF can sustain from the depleting squadrons. The Americans pushing the F 16 to the IAF with the government support. those fighter jets will not suit for Indian requirements, who also kills the Tejas project too.
The ministry all set to clear the new defense procurement policy to speed up the procurement's. The new DPP allows faster defense procurement same like during in wartime, said defense minister.
Anyway, The IAF loves the Rafale and wants the fighter just like how the MMRCA drafted by the air force officials, If Defense Minister gives up the F 16 to the IAF, there is no chance IAF has to work with F 16 and forget the MMRCA.