What will be the next deal of Indian Air Force after Rafale?

In September 2016, India and France signed a €7.87 billion Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) for 36 Rafale multi-role fighter jets in fly-away condition. India chose Dassault over its traditional partner Russia’s MiG. The deal has a 50% offset clause to be executed by Dassault Aviation and its partners in partnership with Indian companies. The basic cost of the aircraft is about ₹680 crore. This deal is India’s biggest-ever procurement. Besides the missile systems, the Rafale jets will come with various India-specific modifications, including Israeli helmet-mounted displays, radar warning receivers, low band jammers, 10-hour flight data recording, infra-red search and tracking systems among others. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh received the first Rafale jet at an air base in France on October 8. The new five Rafale fighters arrived in India on july 28 and touched-down at the Ambala air base in Haryana after covering a journey of 7,000-km from France.

So what next ? what will be the next deal of Indian airforce after Rafale fighter aircraft ? here is the list –

IAF’s next major deal is actually for a set of two different aircraft and it is going to be signed in the next couple of weeks. Since these are not foreign aircraft, as expected from us, they are not getting due recognition & shout-out.

The first deal is to buy 83 units of LCA Tejas Mk1A from HALfor INR 39,000 Crore. This is going to be the third variant of the Tejas aircraft after IOC & FOC certifications.

The Tejas Mk1A is going to be built indigenously in the HAL bangalore complex in partnership with private players at the rate of 14 aircraft per year from 2023 & the deliveries for all aircraft will be concluded within a period of 6 years.

There is no noise for the Tejas Mk1A in general public because the name Tejas sounds familiar to them. On the contrary, the Mk1A variant which is going to be bought is a significantly different aircraft from the baseline Tejas Mk1 which has few shortcomings.

The Mk1A will have 40 minor & major improvements from the baseline variant which includes:

  • Indigenous Uttam AESA radar.
  • SMFD (smart multi-functional display) in the cockpit which will show better display quality & multiple modes.
  • An external Self Protection Jammer (SPJ) pod in the outermost pylon. This is the same Israeli pod carried by the Su-30MKI.
  • Improved Digital Flight Control Computer (DFCC),
  • Capability to fire the ASTRA missile
  • Maintainability improvement

This is a very capable aircraft & will reinforce the light aircraft category of the IAF by replacing the MiG-21 Bison aircraft whose retirement is long due now

The second deal is of the Light Combat Helicopter which is being made by the HAL Helicopter Division, Bangalore. The paperwork is complete and the deal is waiting for the customary approval of the Ministry of Finance.

The final assembly hangar was inaugurated in February this year (2020 BC – Before Corona period) by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.

The IAF has officially deployed the two armed prototypes in the Ladakh sector to gain confidence on the chopper before placing orders in just a few weeks. The HAL helicopter complex has already produced the first batch of 15 Limited Series Production aircraft after receiving a signal from the government earlier this year.

Now onwards the final assembly hangar will churn out 30 helicopters per year.

The IAF’s requirement is to have 65 LCH & the Army has planned 97 units of the attack chopper. The LCH will complement the Apache in both the forces but has a very specific role of providing combat air support to troops deployed in high altitude regions. Thus, unlike any other attack helicopter worldwide, the LCH can operate at altitudes as high as 21300ft.

This is possible due to the lightweight yet robust composite airframe which weighs only 2.3 tons but is powered by 2 of the Shakti turboshaft engines generating 2,800 shaft horsepower. This high power to weight ratio makes this aircraft the Ferrari of the choppers.

Unfortunately, there us not much hullabaloo in the general public about these fine machines because there is a lack of mainstream media coverage on HAL products.

1 comment

  1. Can you give a light on why India’s defense ministry is not showing much of interest in purchasing American F-35 fifth generation stealth fighter jets which are most advanced Aircraft as far as present situation is concerned? Aren’t those Aircrafts suitable in our situation when we are at the threshold of facing two front war in LAC/LOC? Do we not require fighter jets of F-35 gesture to combat Chinese J-20? Why are we delaying in arriving at a situation of making big deal with US?

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