“Rafale & S-400 Booster Dose” — ACM Dhanoa

The in­duc­tion of the 83 Mk-1A Te­jas and 36 Rafale and the up gra­da­tion of the ex­ist­ing air­crafts will ar­rest the drop in the fighter squadrons

SP's Aviation - - TABLE OF CONTENTS - —By Ro­hit Sri­vas­tava

While an­swer­ing a salvo of queries on the con­tro­ver­sial Rafale air­craft deals, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Mar­shal B.S. Dhanoa, in de­fence of the deal, said that Rafale, when in­ducted, will be a game changer in the sub-con­ti­nent. He was ad­dress­ing the an­nual press con­fer­ence ahead of the Oc­to­ber 8 Air Force Day.

Speak­ing on the over $5 bil­lion Rus­sian Long-range-sur­faceto-air S-400 mis­sile deal, Air Chief said that along with Rafale, S-400 will be the booster dose for the IAF which is fac­ing se­vere ero­sion in its fighter strength. Ac­cord­ing to him the first S-400 is ex­pected to ar­rive in two years from sign­ing of the deal.

CAS fur­ther added that the 83 Mk-1A Te­jas and 36 Rafale be­sides Sukhoi-30 MKI and the up gra­da­tion of the ex­ist­ing air­crafts will ar­rest the drop down from the ex­ist­ing 31 squadrons.

In­dia is cur­rently up­grad­ing its French Mi­rage-2000 and British-French Jaguar air­craft. IAF has a man­date for 42 squadrons.

While dis­cussing the op­er­a­tional im­pact of the de­plet­ing fighter squadron, he said that the ‘Ga­gan­shakti ex­er­cise’ aptly showed the op­er­a­tional ca­pa­bil­ity of the IAF.

Speak­ing on the MMRCA 2.0 or the 114 fighter air­craft deal, Dhanoa said that IAF is wait­ing for Ac­cep­tance of Ne­ces­sity and fol­low­ing that a Re­quest for Pro­posal (RFP) will be is­sued. Speak­ing fur­ther he said that the cur­rent ten­der will not take as much time as the pre­vi­ous MMRCA. IAF plans to test only those sys­tems which were not part of the air­craft that were put to tri­als.

On the off­set part­ner­ship of the Rafale, CAS de­nied any IAF role and said that it was Das­sault (man­u­fac­turer of Rafale air­craft) which selected its off­set part­ner.

Speak­ing on the Light Com­bat Air­craft (LCA) Te­jas, Dhanoa in­formed that IAF has a plan for in­duc­tion of 231 LCA which will in­cludes four squadron (83) LCA Mk-1A and six squadron (108) of Mk-II. LCA are be­ing man­u­fac­tured by HAL. IAF is ex­pect­ing de­liv­ery of the Mk-1A to be­gin around 2021/22. The de­vel­op­ment of the LCA Mk-II is un­der progress.

On the de­lays in de­liv­ery by HAL, he said, “There has been a de­lay in the de­liv­ery sched­ule in con­tracts al­ready ex­e­cuted to HAL. There is a three years de­lay in de­liv­ery of Sukhoi-30, 6 years de­lay in Jaguar, 5-year de­lay in LCA, and 2-year de­lay in de­liv­ery of Mi­rage 2000 up­grade.”

Re­fut­ing all al­le­ga­tion of over pay­ment for the Rafale, he said, “It’s not sim­ply pos­si­ble that the new cost would be higher than the cost fi­nalised ear­lier.”

On the ex­pan­sion of the avi­a­tion in­fra­struc­ture in Ti­bet, he said, “We’re watch­ing in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ments. They (China) have been say­ing that air­ports are com­ing up for re­gional con­nec­tiv­ity. We have a plan to counter that.. 50 air­craft in Ti­bet is no threat.”

Chief also an­nounced ‘Baba Me­har Singh Swarm Drone Com­pe­ti­tion’ for au­ton­o­mous UAV swarms. The win­ner of the com­pe­ti­tion will get INR 10 Lakh. IAF has pledged INR 10 crore for de­vel­op­ment and ad­di­tional funds for co-pro­duc­tion.

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