SOURCE: Satyajeet Kumar/ FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
India’s Single Engine Fighter requirement is facing rather unexpected questioning, Ministry of Defence which first formulated purchase of single and twin-engine fighter aircraft on the backdrop of collapsed MMRCA tender is now questioning IAF’s requirement after Lockheed Martin refused to oblige to carry out full Transfer of Technology of its F-16 to India which could lead to awkward single vendor situation .
MOD officials are also worried the new deal could cost over $ 20 Billion for the purchase of 114 units of aircrafts and will also face an allegation of irregularities in their procurement since only two vendors have responded and there is growing realisation that both F-16 and Gripen-E were rejected by IAF under Technical rounds of MMRCA evaluations.
Since this was supposed to be the first instance where Private aerospace companies were to tie up with the winning vendor to produce this jets locally under Make in India obligation their is also concern that the facilities of government-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited Aerospace company will lie underutilised if the deal is awarded to the Private company.
Recent media reports suggest that government is also fiddling with the idea of procuring locally developed LCA-Tejas instead of importing single-engined fighter jet to reduce its import bill. In recent years development of Mark-2 LCA-Tejas had taken back seat after the collapse of MMRCA Tender and emergence of upgraded Tejas MK-1A but LCA-Tejas Mark-2 is clearly a match to the Gripen-E and can outgrow F-16 Block 70.
An additional order for LCA-Tejas Mark-2 will keep HAL facilities occupied till India’s 5th generation AMCA is cleared for mass production post-2030 and for IAF’s cooperation Government can offer to expand Dassault Rafale orders from current 36 aircrafts to 60-80 aircrafts in long-term local production in India with Private defence partner company.
With the Retirement of Mig-21 and Mig-27 fleet been planned by end of 2020, Government of India and Indian air force should work to reduce types of aircrafts to maintain a common fleet of aircrafts which will improve serviceability of the aircrafts.