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SOURCE: VISHAL KARPE / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG

In 2019, IAF has deficient of nearly 240 jets but the purchase of an additional 18 Sukhoi-Su-30MKI, 21 Mig-29, 36 Dassault Rafale and induction of LCA-Tejas will act as stop act measure but by 2025 the gap will only widen to the shortage of fighter jets to 300.

By 2025, IAF fighter Squadron fleet will be hovering around 27 Squadrons after a host of retirements of Mig-21 and Mig-27 fleet post-2020. Shortage of nearly 300 fighter aircraft will have crippling effects on the operational readiness of the Indian air force. Even with emergency procurement of 36 Dassault Rafale and an additional squadron of Sukhoi-Su-30MKI will have little effect on operational availability of the air force.

While IAf has floated a tender for procurement of 114 fighter aircraft from a foreign vendor, due to the mandatory condition of Make in India clause, it will take nearly 5 years for the winning bidder to set up a local production unit in the country before it can start manufacturing fighter aircraft in India.

Procurement of foreign fighters in a multi-vendor deal has been frustrating and complex that, IAF is finally started focusing on local industries to develop fighter jets to bridge the gap. Tejas Mk1A and Medium Weight Fighter (MWF) are two promising local fighter jet programs which need to be handled with the utmost attention and multiple aerospace laboratories in the country should come together so has to make sure they stay focussed and the programs don’t face many delays.

Just 3 Tejas Mk1A, MWF, and AMCA fighter jet programs coming from India will be able to restart the IAF fighter fleet modernization and procurement from 2025 onwards and by 2030 recovery and expansion will start but only if all these programs are able to stay on course as per current timelines .

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