National News Analysis

15 June 2024, 12:23 PM

The Indian Air Force Chief has warned political leaders of India that 36 Rafales are not enough to beat the Pakistan Air Force. What do you think about this?

NEW DELHI:The ACM was quite right when he said that 36 rafales are not enough to take on the PAF! But there is a context to what he said. Always remember that India is looking at a two-front war. India doesn’t need Rafales to knock down their JF17s or their vintage mirages and F16s…but the IAF certainly needs a advanced medium weight fighter to combatthe advanced J10Cs and J11s in the Tibetan Autonomous Region by the PLAAF. More specifically it needs advanced fighters to be armed with nuclear payload, either in the form of cruise missiles or something else. For that they need a highly survivable aircraft, and that’s exactly where Rafales come in, because even though the Sukhois can get that job done, they are highly maintenance, air dominance fighters with much bigger RCS(radar cross section) than Rafale!

Under such scenario, India must have a workhorse, that it can deploy fast and reliably with minimum maintenance and turnaround time, and that workhorse must be numerous in service! Given that the real fight will be with Chinese PLA, wasting our vanguard arsenal on PAF skirmishes is foolhardy. Thus though 36 Rafales will populate IAF to stem the depletion in the medium weight category of fighters in service, the Tejas Mk1A and MWF will form the bulk of the forces against the frontline Pakistanis whereas the Rafales and Sukhois will deal with the massively numerous but technologically less than or equal PLAAF combat fleet!

Lastly given that the Pakistani economy has basically collapsed, the strategy employed by them is to make as many cheaper and technologically inferior JF17s as they can churn out of their factories, so that even of the fighter cannot match the IAF onone to one basis, they can easily overwhelm and defending fighter formation , purely by their numerical advantage! In the face of such kamikaze like mentality, it is quite evident that technological superiority cannot be a deterrent to numerical advantage. In that light, 36 raffles, seems awfully short of expectations. I believe that is where the Tejas Project has come in…the 83 MK1A fighters will be a much potent fighter against their vintage F16s, and the upcoming MWF that will tentatively populate IAF anywhere upwards of 200 fighters in number, will be a workhorse for IAF…if all goes as planned, and the political leadership gets its act together, we might also see ORCS(Omni Role Combat Aircraft) which a twin-engined fighter derived from the Tejas…which has the potential to be an Indian equivalent of Rafale by 2030….GIVEN that the world has been truly gone for a spin thanks to the Wuhan-Virus…and the fact that unemployment is going to be a big headache for the Midi Govt hereon…bargaining for greater transfer of technology for defense purchases and acceleration of indigenous defense projects and productions, owing to their cost advantage, is more than likely!

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