A Bold Defence Procurement Decision Required
Dated : 22 Jan 2021 (IST)
IAF’s requirement for 126 medium multi-role aircrafts (MMRA), was initiated back in 2001 and a request for proposal (RFP) floated in 2007. After thorough evaluation amongst the six competitors, selection of French Rafale was declared in 2012.
However the Government of the day just took no further decision. This adversely affected our defence preparedness.This was a grand repeat of BOFORS Drama which had already badly reduced the Army’s fire power.
The MoD has once again restarted the entire process of issuing a request for information (RFI) for the multi-role fighter aircraft (MRFA). Though all original contestants of MMRCA are still the only participants! This process is once again going to prolong the procurement for more than a decade. Merely to appear to be politically correct, this is a heavy price in security terms. Why India is doing this may be guessed.
In the 34th India-France strategic dialogue that took place recently in Delhi with the diplomatic advisor to the French President representing his country, France offered to transfer seventy percent of the Rafale assembly line to India, promoting local vendor development, helping DRDO in development of engine for the indigenous Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA), as well as making Rafale fighter engines in India.
France also accepted the Indian request that defence technologies shared with the Indian military will not be given to New Delhi’s adversaries. The IAF has had close relations with the French aerospace industry, through combat aircraft systems Ouragan, Mystere, Jaguar (an Anglo-French project), Mirage 2000 and now the Rafale.
The procurement procedure for the military has been made for defence of India and not to please others ….individual, Corporate establishments, Political parties or arms market of other countries..
Defence procurement must meet the military requirements and is not meant to satisfy political, commercial, personal or indeed inimical interests that hold no positions of accountability to national security. National security execution cannot become a subject of open debate.
Just like April 2015, when during his visit to France, the PM announced a superdecision of his government to meet the critical operational needs of the air force, he must a similar one now. He must once again request the French President for another 72 Rafale jets but this time to be supplied through make in India. Vested interests, who act against the security of the country can keep shouting.
This additional direct purchase should lead to a strategic partnership between the Indian aeronautics sector, public and private, and the French aeronautical industry, towards not just fulfilling the IAF’s immediate requirement, but towards future military and civil aeronautics projects for both indigenous and export markets.
With India and China now braced On The LAC and full possibility of a two front war in the future, one should be aware that IAF should have 54 fighter squadrons as of yesterday and full 63 squadrons at the earliest feasible.
National security, one can only hope that like the bold decision to go ahead with the initial Rafale order at the inter-government level, the Cabinet Committee on Security now gives its stamp of approval to the latest French government offer. By 2035, IAF must have :
*15× SU30MKI squadrons
*06x Tejas MK1A squadrons
*15× Tejas Mk2 Squadrons
*06× AMCA Squadrons
*02×Mirage 2000 squadrons
*04× Jaguar squadrons
*06× SU57 MKI squadrons
Thereafter AMCA will replace all the remaining MiG29, Mirage and Jaguar. The SU30s should then get replaced with our own Advanced Heavy Combat Aircraft.