The Indian Air Force (IAF) has decided to reduce units of Russia-built advanced stealth fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) to a few numbers it had planned initilayy.
IAF is currently considering only 65 aircraft for three of its squadrons with 18 each. FGFA is based on the T-50 aircraft under the Russian PAK-FA (Prospective Airborne Complex of Frontline Aviation) programme that will challenge American built F-22 Raptor. PAK-FA T-50 is the first aircraft post the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Change in plan tells that the IAF wants to trim its military imports and reduce expenditure. Each aircraft is likely to cost $100 million (Rs 650 crore). As per recent report, New Delhi was pushing for an off-the-shelf deal with Moscow to get the aircraft quickly.
The research to improve the aircraft is expected to run in parallel for which a long-term development R&D contract for the jets, worth $11billion is pending for approval.
India’s defence minister Manohar Parrikar had recently clarified that the preliminary design stage of the FGFA programme had been completed in 2013 and Rs 1,483.15 crore had been spent on it.
The Indian government had mandated a 750 fighter jet fleet in the eventuality of two attacks from Pakistan and China. At present, the inventory count is 576.
The Modi-led government is looking for ways to cut down military exports and boost local production of military hardware via his “Make in India” campaign.
Earlier this year, New Delhi announced that it would be getting 36 Dassault Rafales as part of a deal struck between Modi and Francois Hollande, who was France’s President when the Indian PM visited Paris in April.
The government has officially withdrawn the MMRCA tender for 126 combat aircraft. There are reports, which suggest that the BAE Systems is still willing to provide New Delhi with its Eurofighter Typhoon and is also ready to slash its price. SAAB, the company behind Gripen fighter jets, is also keen to come onboard.
The local project of HAL LCA Tejas MK 1 is also facing delay and awaits Final Operational Clearance (FOC).