IAF already has an order for 22 Apache Attack Helicopters with Boeing । Apaches for the Army are to have the same configuration । There will no more field and firing trials । Army has projected a requirement of 39 helicopters । MoD sanctions combat helicopters for the Army for the first time । Six Apache AH 64E to be given to the Indian Army as a beginning । India Marks 70th Anniversary of Independence Day August 15 । India Strategic Congratulates All Indians Everywhere । HAL Successfully Installs Israeli AESA Radar on a Jaguar aircraft । IAF Bases at Pathankot and Jorhat Upgrading Infrastructure to Receive Boeing Apache Attack Helicopters in 2018 । Dinesh Keskar, Boeing Sr VP Sales for India and Asia Pacific for Civil Aviation, says the region will account for 40% of aircraft sales । China will be the biggest market and India after that । India remembers its heroic martyrs on Kargil Vijay Diwas July 26 । Ram Nath Kovind sworn-in as 14th President and Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces । Iraq Foreign Minister Dr Ibrahim al-Jaafari visits India July 24-28 । He called on Vice President Hamid Ansari, EAM Sushma Swaraj and discussed host of bilateral issues । Indian NSA Ajit Doval visits China to take part in BRICS NSA meet । Indian NSA’s visit comes amid India-China Dokalam stand-off । G20 should collectively oppose terrorism financing, franchises, safe havens, support and sponsors: PM Modi at Informal BRICS leaders meeting in Hamburg, Germany । He appreciated momentum in BRICS under the Chairmanship of President Xi and extended full cooperation and best wishes for the BRICS Xiamen Summit in Sep, 2017 । President Xi appreciated India’s strong resolve against terrorism । The Chinese President also appreciated India’s success in economic and social development and wished India even bigger success । US lifts personal electronics ban on Emirates, Etihad and Qatar airlines । Passengers on these three carriers can now carry their laptops and tablets along with them for flights to all destinations in the US । India, Israel sign 7 agreements including on space technology, agriculture and water conservation । Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives in Tel Aviv for his 3-day visit to Israel from July 4-6 । The visit, termed as ‘historic,’ is the first ever by an Indian PM to Israel । Israeli PM Netanyahu breaks protocol to receive PM Modi at the airport and accompany him on his engagements । PM Modi visits Holocaust Memorial Museum at Yad Vashem । PM Modi’s visit comes at a time when the two nations are celebrating the establishment of 25 years of their diplomatic relations । Happy 4th of July to all our friends in the U.S । India launches communication satellite GSAT-17 June 29 । GSAT-17 was launched using European Ariane 5 launch vehicle from Kourou, French Guiana । Government gives ‘in principle’ approval for disinvestment of Air India, 5 of its subsidiaries । Prime Minister Modi-headed CCEA gave its approval to fourth tranche recommendations of NITI Aayog on strategic disinvestment of CPSE June 28 । Possible sale of one more Boeing C-17 aircraft to India approved – Pentagon।brating 70 years of Diplomatic Relationship ।
August 18, 2017
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IAF Needs 200 to 250 MMRCAs, says outgoing Air Chief Raha

Requirement is for 400 though
By Gulshan Luthra January 2017


New Delhi. The Indian Air Force (IAF) urgently needs to finalize acquisition of 200 to 250 Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCAs), preferably twin-engine due to the bird-infested skies in the region.

Outgoing Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha mentioned the figures at his farewell press conference on December 28, pointing out also that the number of Rafale aircraft being acquired from France, 36, was too small, and that IAF needed to fully equip its sanctioned strength of 42 combat jet squadrons.

Air Chief Marshal Raha’s statement indicates the beginning of a second round of MMRCA competition, single or twin-engine, but for a larger number of aircraft than in the 2007 RFP.

In an interaction with this writer on the sidelines of the conference, he observed that the number required was actually about 400 – as calculated by the India Strategic team and published in the December edition – but that IAF was unlikely to get approval for that many combat jets due to budget constraints. “We will be happy to get 200 to 250 Medium aircraft.”

Notably, IAF has about 700 aircraft in existing 33 squadrons, and 11 of them, comprising Mig 21s and Mig 27s are alread due for replacement.

IAF is losing two squadrons every year due to obsolescence for the last several years, and despite upgrades and induction of most of the 272 Su 30 MKIs ordered from Russia, the combat air power is much less than desired both in numbers and modern capabilities. Both the factors have to be kept in mind while planning for replacements, which should actually have happened in the previous decade.

The Air Chief had told this writer in an earlier interaction on the occasion of the Air Force Day in October that IAF wanted only MMRCA capability-plus aircraft due to the technological innovations since 2007 when the tender for 126 (plus 63 options) was floated. They can be single engine, but the preference would be for twin-engine machines.

Air Chief Marshal Raha introduced his successor, Vice Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal BS Dhanoa, on the occasion.
Air Chief Marshal Raha introduced his successor, Vice Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal BS Dhanoa, on the occasion.

In the fray are new variants of US Lockheed Martin F 16 Falcon and Swedish Gripen (both single engine) and US Boeing F/A 18 Super Hornet and French Rafale. Make in India is the key condition, and according to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, price and technology transfer would determine the choice. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) was considering single engine jets already, he had said while releasing Brig Gurmeet Kanwal’s book, The New Arthshastra, on November 10 at a function here.

The Minister also said that the Government was aware of the long-pending requirements of the armed forces and had taken action to clear quite a few of them. The procedural bottlenecks were also being addressed.

Single engine aircraft are much cheaper than those with twin engines. As a thumb rule, about 25 percent of the cost of an aircraft is that of its engine/s although there can be many variables relating to onboard technologies. Then, an aircraft which has already been produced in numbers, should be much cheaper than a newly produced one as the development costs have t be recovered over many years.

All these four companies have offered to set up factories in India, and there are indications that Russia, which had offered its Mig 35 in the MMRCA competition might join the competition. In fact, an updated version this twin-engine jet, is likely to be unveiled end-January in Moscow.

There is no word yet from Eurofighter which had made to the finals but then lost to Rafale in aborted competition. Air Chief Marshal Raha had stated that the global manufacturers had made ‘unsolicited’ offers and Eurofighter could do the same. It would be up to the Government to do the selection.

Notably, IAF is also looking at 123 Tejas, which has been described as Mig 21 ++ even after it is equipped with an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, a tender for which has been floated. But the timeline for its acquisition is also 10 years from now, from development to manufacture, testing, certification and supplies in required numbers and getting operational.


Mr T Suvarna Raju, Chairman and Managing Director of HAL which is making the aircraft, is hopeful of speeding the process. A plug will be added to the basic LCA to make it MCA Mk 1, and that will house the AESA, a crucial fast air and ground environment scanning equipment which can locate and discern multiple hostile targets and help the pilots home onto them for attack. An RfP has recently been sent to Israeli ELTA, Airbus, Saab and posibly some other companiess.

ELTA however is already supplying many of the onboard electronics.

Understandably, all the foreign majors have offered to help develop not only the LCA but possibly also India’s nextgen Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA).

Air Force officials say indigenous development and production is a must to ensure secure and steady supplies. But so are the timelines; development cannot go on and on.




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