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By 2030-31, the Indian Air Force (IAF) will begin the phased retirement of nearly 60 Jaguar aircraft configured with the DARIN-II avionics suite. This significant transition marks the beginning of the end for these aircraft, which have been in service since the late 1970s. The retirement process will commence in 2028 as the IAF starts phasing out older batches acquired through a historic deal signed in 1978. This $1 billion agreement with SEPECAT, an Anglo-French company, facilitated the procurement of 160 Jaguars, with the first 40 delivered in a flyaway condition.

Currently, the IAF is the only operator of the Jaguar aircraft in the world. The fleet is distributed across six squadrons, with 20 fighters each, stationed in Ambala, Jamnagar, and Gorakhpur. Known for their role as “deep penetration strike aircraft,” the Jaguars have been a cornerstone of the IAF’s strategic capabilities for decades.

As the IAF progresses towards modernizing its fleet, the focus is shifting towards the more advanced DARIN-III configuration. The upgraded Jaguars are equipped with the EL/M-2052 radar, supplied by the Israeli company Elta. This radar features an “active electronically scanned array” (AESA), significantly enhancing the aircraft’s combat capabilities. Additionally, the integration of the Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile (ASRAAM) provides a substantial boost to the aircraft’s close-combat effectiveness.

The Jaguars equipped with DARIN-III and the EL/M-2052 AESA radar are expected to remain operational until 2035-36. Currently, 60 Jaguars, representing half of the IAF’s fleet, are undergoing these upgrades. This modernization effort ensures that despite the phased retirement of older DARIN-II Jaguars, the IAF will maintain a formidable deep penetration strike capability with the advanced DARIN-III equipped aircraft.

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