SOURCE: SATYAJEET KUMAR/ FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari has pointed out ‘critical deficiencies’ being faced by the Indian Air Force (IAF), such as the shortage of fighter squadrons and force multipliers. Whether it is fighter jet procurement or procurement of force multipliers, IAF has been not only lagged but has unable to fix its procurement policies that no files seem to be moving in any direction even after years of knowing that squadrons numbers are down and need to be brought up in desired period or it will play catch up to its arch rivals China and Pakistan for decades to come.
The IAF currently has 31 fighter squadrons, while the authorized strength is 42. As some squadrons have been phased out in recent years, the number has decreased. There is an urgent need to accelerate inductions to close the gap, especially since China is actively bolstering its air power.
IAF needs to fast-track its Multi-Role Fighter Aircraft (MRFA) Programme for which it needs to start sending Request for Proposal (RFP) that has been pending for the last 4 years and soon will be entering its 5th year. MRFA that was previously known as MMRCA has completed nearly 23 years since the Kargil war and the circus seems to be not coming to end anytime soon as Government doesn’t want to admit that it simply doesn’t have $25-30 Billion to fund procurement of 114 jets and IAF doesn’t want to admit that any cheaper or local produced fighter jet will be good enough in a combat zone.
Modi government promised to kick start Made in India program has been sitting on the MRFA requirements for 8 years now with a deal for 36 Dassault Rafale only coming as its biggest achievement. IAF and Modi government needs to sit down and see how they can decrease these ‘critical deficiencies’ in the shortest possible time it needs to come up with out of box ideas, either they procure 60 Rafale directly from Dassault and procure more Tejas with more upgraded technologies either as Mk1B or fast track Mk2 program to bridge this ‘critical deficiencies’
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