NEW DELHI. India will get the first lot of four Rafale combat jets in May 2020, and there are no plans as of now to order another 36 of these aircraft from France.
Four days after assuming charge as the Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria told at the customary pre-Air Force Day press conference on October 4th that the Air Headquarters was also looking at 80 to 90 percent of Made in India jets in the Indian skies in about two decades. That is indeed quite ambitious but it looks like the Ministry of Defence is encouraging the Indian Air Force (IAF) to plan in this direction as demands for finance from the armed forces are high, acquisition of global technology takes time besides higher costs, and it’s better anyway to develop and go in for high technology systems indigenously.
Development for the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) for instance is a priority, and IAF has already given Final Operational Clearance (FOC) to HAL, and an order for 83 aircraft is on the anvil.
IAF is also extending full support for the indigenous development of AMCA, or the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft, that should have all the contemporary and futuristic EW and stealth capabilities. There should be some visibility on this project by 2025.
The Air Chief indicated that IAF was giving due consideration to counter the “new threat” of drones, and although he did not say, it appears that a chunk of its allocation will go towards acquiring various types of unmanned aircraft.
IAF is in talks with US General Atomics for Avenger unmanned systems while DRDO sources told India Strategic that work is already on to develop small (about 6 inch) and big remotely piloted aircraft with varying capacities of staying in the air.
They could be used for surveillance and also to hit hostile targets.
IAF marks its 87th anniversary on October 8th. The Air Chief expressed “pride and satisfaction” over the achievements during these years, and said that emphasis now was on newer EW (Electronic Warfare) technologies and precision systems “to deter and punish the enemy as and when the need arises.” Even helicopters were now being upgraded with ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) and EW systems while the acquisition of potent heavy lift Chinooks and Apaches “have given a punch to our capability.”
The emphasis now is on indigenous development of these systems, and DRDO’s Netra aircraft, which will be in the Flypast, was performing very well.
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