India to expand scope of fighter aircraft order - Will it Suffice?
Indian Air Force requires 100 fighter jest to reduce the shortage of fighter jets (Photo Credit: PTI/File)

April 6: The Indian Air Force (IAF) is amongst the most powerful forces of the world, still there are shortages of fighter jets in the IAF. The Indian Air Force has current strength of 34 fight squadrons against the authorised strength of 42 squadrons. The problem doesn’t end here, out of 34 fighter squadrons, we have 17 fighter squadrons of MIGs which will retire soon over the period of time. According to the report published by Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses in November 2017, six squadrons of MiG 21 and two squadrons of MIG 27 will get retired by 2025, whereas one squadron of jaguar fighter jet is due to retire by 2027. The IAF will get three squadrons of Sukhoi MKI-30, two Rafale squadrons and two squadrons of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas. The Indian Air Force will have shortage of 12 fighter squadrons.

According to the report printed in DNA, by 2032 the IAF will have only 300 fighter Jets as all the MIG squadron will be retired. The Indian Air Force has ordered 40 LCA Tejas but only five have been delivered so far. According to the report published in Hindustan Times, The IAF is working towards inducting around 400 warplanes by 2030 to tackle combined threat from China and Pakistan.

To fulfill short requirement the IAF needs 100 single engine fighter jets. As per the report published in India Today, the IAF will initiate RS 1.25 Lakh Crore deal to procure 100 fighter jets. Lockheed Martin’s F-16 block 70 and SAAB’s Gripen are the two finalist in the race to get deal worth $15 billion. United States is ready to transfer production line of F-16 block 70 to India, which will make India the exporter of this fighter jet, where SAAB’s Gripen is ready to transfer technology. The Defence Ministry has asked Hindustan Aeronautical (HAL) to increase the production of indigenous LCA Tejas. It has been 35 years since Tejas was proposed but still it could not meet IAF’s requirement.

Now the Indian government wants IAF to also consider Boeing’s F-18 for procurement. Referring to a source in Defence ministry Reuters published a report that the Indian Government has asked the Indian Air Force to open up the competition to twin-engine aircraft and to evaluate Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet. US is pressing India to buy F-16 Block 70 or F-18.

As per economic times, Joe Felter Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for South and Southeast Asia said that A positive decision by India could be a precursor to advanced fighter technology the fifth generation. Felter further added that Trump administration would like a closer co-operation with India on fighter jets.

If we study the recent defence budget only Rs 2.95 Crore is allocated for Defence forces which forms only 1.58% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Only 99, 563 Crore is allocate for capital expenditure for the mordernisation, whereas Rs 1,95,947.55 for revenue expenditure.