Geopolitics
Unfolding The Rafale Riddle Image Credit: Geopolitics
Unfolding The Rafale Riddle Image Credit: Geopolitics

Unfolding The Rafale Riddle

For the Modi government, or for that matter any government in its place, procuring the Rafale was not a matter of choice; it was a compulsion.

Abhijit Bhattacharyya

Analysing a subject like India's Air Force, it is important to rely on facts and avoid fiction. Else, a laughing stock an analyst is likely to be, in eyes of those who are in the actual business to fly high in the sky, to defend the nation. And, attack if need be. Thus the Indian Air Force, which is one of the top five forces in the world, today is afflicted with an ageing asset, a virtual block obsolescence, with "some 500 fixed-wing operational aircraft, significantly down from the total of 850 in 2006".

Printed open source information like that of (latest) Jane's, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) publications, and the annual Military Balance (of International Institute for Strategic Studies, London) show that India has nine types of combat aircraft, the breakup of which gives a rather dismal scenario as on date. Of the “original total of 29-year-old 70 MiG-29” (1986) only “55” are flying. The strength of 30-year-old (1985) "46 Mirage 2000H is down to 38". Also 30-year-old (1985) “165 MiG-27ML number has dwindled to 90”. 1979 inducted "125 Jaguar IS number stands at 79". And, “14 (original) maritime version Jaguar" (1986) strength too, has come down to 10 after 29 years. Upgraded since 1999, the strength of MiG-21 Bis stands at 114. The other version of MiG which has completed its golden jubilee in the IAF still flies with a fleet of less than 100


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