Source : DefPro
News By : Deba R Mohanty, Senior Fellow in Security Studies
Observer Research Foundation (ORF)
With French Dassault Aviation’s Rafale now qualifying for the final round of negotiations with the government for its 126 fighter aircraft, most expect the final $10.3 billion deal to be clinched in a few months from now. The final cost will be decided through tough negotiations and once a figure is arrived at, this will be sent to the Cabinet Committee on Security for clearance.
It is useful to examine the deal on six parameters. First, the need for a large acquisition. It is now amply clear that the gap between a fast depleting (it could go down to 22 odd squadrons by 2018-18) fleet and what is required is increasing by the day-while the sanctioned fleet is 39.5 squadrons, successive air chiefs have hinted the ideal strength to be somewhere close to 45 squadrons. If the obsolescent quotient of the Indian Air Force (IAF) fleet strength crosses even 50 per cent (ideally, a typical fleet ought to possess 30 per cent state-of-the-art, 40 per cent current generation and 30 per cent ageing fleet), the capability of the air force will be severely hit.
One may cite enough reasons for numerical deficiencies, but the hard fact is that India needs about 180-200 fighters in the next 10 years, especially in the current generation category, in order to remain modern, robust and battle-worthy. The 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) deal with Dassault, thus, needs a prudent follow-on order by 2017 at the latest.
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