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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled Kadakin’s death calling him a “great friend of India.” । India Strategic wishes everyone Happy Republic Day । President Pranab Mukherjee takes salute at the beautiful Republic Day Parade in New Delhi । UAE Crown Prince Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed is the Chief Guest at India’s R-Day celebrations । A highlight of the Parade is also the participation of a UAE armed forces contingent । Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid a wreath at Amar Jawan Jyoti to pay tributes to martyrs । The impressive Parade began with a 21-gun salute to the President, the Supreme Commander of the Indian armed forces । India’s anti-terror force, National Security Guard (NSG) made its debut in the Parade । Dressed in their patent black, NSG commandos jogged passed the saluting base with their faces covered । US President Donald Trump called Prime Minister Narendra Modi late on January 24 । The telephone call is indicative of the vital nature of the India-US strategic partnership between the two countries । Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan arrives in New Delhi । Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who is also the Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, was received by PM Modi । Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed is the Chief Guest of Republic Day 2017 । Government extends Foreign Secretary Dr S Jaishankar’s tenure by one year । The extension to be effective between Jan 29, 2017 and Jan 28, 2018 । Pravind Kumar Jugnauth takes over as Mauritius Prime Minister । Prime Minister Modi congratulated the newly-appointed Mauritian PM । Donald Trump takes over as US President । Promises transfer of power to people । Turkish Boeing 747 cargo plane crashes in Kyrgyzstan with 37 onboard; all killed । Astronaut Gene Cernan, 82, the last man to walk on moon, passes away । India marks Army Day । President, Prime Minister and Defence Minister greet the Army । Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat takes salute at the impressive Army Day Parade । Gen Rawat says India wants peace but if attempts are made to disrupt it, then “we will display our power” । He says emphasis is on newer technology weapons and systems for the Army । Space connectivity is also high on Army’s agenda । This is the 69th Army Day, marking the time when an Indian Chief, Gen KM Cariappa took over the command after Independence । Indian Navy launches its second Kalvari class submarine INS Khanderi in Mumbai । India Strategic wishes all its readers and viewers a very Happy New Year । India successfully test fires Agni 5 long range missile | IAF gets Government approval for one more C 17 strategic Lift aircraft | IAF has got 10 C 17s, but had initially planned for more than 20 | Lack of timely approval made IAF slash figure to three but by then Boeing closed factory | IAF will get the last one in production | Syrian government of President Assad takes full control of Aleppo | Lt Gen Bipin Rawat appointed the next Army Chief and Air Marshal BS Dhanoa the Air Chief | The appointments are effective December 31 afternoon | Both are Vice Chiefs of Staff at present in their respective Services | 48 killed in a PIA ATR-42 aircraft crash in Pakistan | The twin-engine propellor aircraft was on way from Chitral to Islamabad | India marks Navy Day | Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets all Navy personnel, and salutes their bravery on Indian Navy annual day | PM Modi, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani jointly inaugurate Heart of Asia Ministerial Conference at Amritsar (India) Dec 4 | Need of the hour is to identify terrorism and bring stability in the region, says PM Modi | India’s commitment to Afghan is absolute, Mr Modi said addressing 6th HoA Ministerial Conf | Afgan Prez accused Pakistan of sheltering terror, and thanked India of financial aid | HoA Conf began at Amritsar Dec 3 | INS Vikrant likely to be operational in 2018 | Vikrant to operate both Russian MiG-29K and Western origin Aircraft | Indian Navy to mark 2017 as the year of submarine: Adm Lanba class=”gap”>| Gujarat-cadre officer Rakesh Asthana to take over as CBI Director after Anil Sinha, who retires Dec 2 | Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa is Pakistan’s new army chief | Gen Bajwa took over from Gen Raheel Sharif Nov 29 | The outgoing chief stressed all should work together “against external and internathreats” | Plane carrying Brazilian football team crashes in Colombia | Cuba’s revolutionary leader Fidel Castro dies. He was 90. | Castro had challenged the US might and invited Soviet presence next door to the US | US-Cuban relations have normalized now after half a century | Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar Commissions INS Chennai into Indian Navy Nov 21 | INS Chennai is a Project 15A Guided Missile Destroyer | This is the 3rd and last ‘Kolkata’ class destroyer indigenously designed by DND and constructed by MDL, Mumbai | India successfully tests nuclear capable Prithvi-II missile in Odisha | India becomes associate member of European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), Geneva | Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar inducts four Indigenous Naval Systems | The 4 Indigenous Naval Systems – ABHAY, HUMSA UG, NACS and AIDSS – were indigenously developed by DRDO | These Indigenous Naval Systems will boost underwater surveillance capability of the Indian Navy | India, Japan sign Civil Nuclear Deal | The Deal signed during PM Narendra Modi’s visit to Japan Nov 10-11 | With this Deal, Japan is able to export N-technology to India for peaceful uses | PM Modi calls the Deal “a historic step to build a clean energy partnership between India, Japan” |
March 25, 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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