Why is India willing to buy 2nd hand Mirage and MiG, but not 2nd hand Rafale fighter jets?

In an attempt to strengthen its fleet of fourth-generation fighters, the Indian Air Force (IAF) acquire a small no of second hand Mirage 2000 and Mig-29.

When it comes to the development of India’s national defense strategy, global buying and buying seems to have always been an important measure for India to enhance its national defense strength. However when the Modi Govt came to power, the PM focused on “Atmanirbhar Bharat” to strengthen the homemade products. Even so, India’s own defense industry is not so mature and still depends heavily on foreign products. For India, which is not short of money, although it purchases billions or even tens of billions of dollars in arms and equipment from other countries every year, it also buys many second-hand Mirage 2000 and MiG-29 fighters.

Many people may mistakenly believe that India buys second-hand Mirage 2000 and MiG 29 fighters in large quantities, and will incorporate them into active service to enhance its military strength. In fact, the reality is that India buys second-hand Mirage 2000 and MiG in large quantities every year. The second-hand fighter is not to expand the size of its fighter squadron, but to provide parts for these Mirage 2000 fighters and MiG 29s in active service. After all, these second-hand fighters are very cheap, and the parts removed from them are not only universal, but also of stable quality. It is more cost-effective, and more importantly, it is more convenient and quick to dismantle where it needs to be. 

Indian air force MiG-29 and Mirage 2000
Indian air force MiG-29 and Mirage 2000

Many people may find it inconceivable. Why doesn’t India just retire these Mirage 2000 and MiG 29 fighters, which require frequent replacement of parts, ahead of schedule? It’s not that India doesn’t want to, no country in the world really retires all models overnight. After all, after direct retirement, the number of new models has not yet reached the standard for complete replacement, and there will be a huge blank in national defense strategy. Moreover, in addition to the huge cost of purchasing hundreds or even thousands of fighters at one time, the more important thing is that the production capacity of fighters is only about 100 fighters per year.

Moreover, among the active fighters of the Indian Air Force, there are also a large number of models that are older than the Mirage 2000. For example, the Jaguars have been in service since 1978 for 43 years; the number of MiG-21 fighters is also quite large, at least still There are about 60 aircraft in three squadrons. These fighters have not been retired. How can the Mirage 2000, which has been in service later, dare to retreat to the second line in advance? So this is also the core reason why India insists on purchasing second-hand Mirage 2000 and MiG 29 in bulk every year.

That said, in recent years, France is exporting its own Rafale fighter jets to more countries in the form of early retirement. For example, Croatia and Greece have purchased second-hand Rafale fighter jets, so why doesn’t India buy second-hand Rafale fighter jets? , and also use it as a component supplement for the active Rafale fighter?

In fact, it is very simple for India not to buy second-hand Rafale fighters. The unit price of brand-new Rafale fighters is at least 100 million US dollars. Including logistical maintenance, ammunition, parts and training costs, but the $90 million price can be bought brand new if you purchase other fighters with the same positioning as the Rafale.

Indian air force Rafale F3R
Indian air force Rafale F3R

Therefore, for India, it seems too early to spend a high price to prepare parts in advance for the active Rafale fighter jets every two years. It is not realistic to directly incorporate these second-hand Rafale fighter jets into active service and expand the size of the air force, because these retired fighter jets are basically the models that France had previously used in overseas wars, and there are many gaps in their overall combat strength compared to brand new fighters.

In addition, many advanced fighters have been equipped around India in recent years, and even the fifth-generation stealth fighters have been equipped in batches for many years with PLAAF, so for India, in the reality of more and more advanced fighters and stealth fighters in the surrounding area, purchasing second-hand Rafale fighter does not conform to India’s current and future development plans, so this is the core reason why India is reluctant to buy second-hand Rafale fighters.

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