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Featured IAF's Fanciful Ambitions Now Risk Exceeding India's Declining Defence Budget

Kabira

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Its not that big of a deal. India will just increase defence budget in expense of other development work despite low GDP growth rate.

Just like Pakistan.......
 

Bossman

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Not slow, negative growth. They way India handled its Covid, no manufacturing is going to relocate to India.
 

ziaulislam

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Representative image. Photo: Twitter/@IAF_MCC

Chandigarh: Air Chief Marshal R.K.S. Bhadhauria’s recent declaration that the Indian Air Force (IAF) would, over the next decade, concurrently design, manufacture and licence-build over 320 aircraft of three – if not four – combat types, worth lakhs of crores, appears somewhat incredible.


At his annual press conference, three days before Air Force Day on October 8, ACM Bhadauria detailed the IAF’s plans to make good its fast depleting fighter squadrons, whose numbers had dropped to a perilous 28-29, from a sanctioned strength of 42. Over the next two to three years, these are expected to decrease even further to around 25 squadrons, as the IAF retires 4-5 squadrons of its 100-odd legacy MiG2 ‘BIS’ ground-attack fighters, sharply reducing the force’s numerical platform superiority over Pakistan, leave alone China.

The air chief, however, conceded that the IAF would be unable meet its goal of operating 42 combat squadrons by 2030, but would manage 36-38 squadrons by then.

But he did not elaborate on how the colossal funds, technological input and industrial capability needed for these additional assets would be sourced. Bhaduria also tellingly admitted that the IAF would face budgetary constraints in ‘due course’, which under India’s enduring severe economic downturn due to the COVID-19 pandemic is, by all considerations, a gross understatement.



Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria. Photo: PTI

Besides, at a conservative estimate, the additional 320-odd fighter types that Bhadauria has planned for the IAF, would cost upwards of $ 45 billion, or around 68%, of the annual defence budget of $65.9 billion for the fiscal year 2020-21. And though, admittedly, this entire amount would not need to be discharged all at once – as it would be spread over several years – it still remains an inordinately large amount for a solitary weapon platform in a developing country’s military, especially one that badly needs a plethora of other assorted equipment.

This includes multi-role utility and attack helicopters, tanks, infantry combat vehicles, aircraft carriers, warships, submarines, minesweepers, armed and unarmed unmanned aerial vehicles and varied missiles and ammunition, amongst other critical materiel.

Also read: After Chinese Aggression, India Goes on Fast-Track Defence Equipment Import Spree

“The Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the IAF will desperately need to create additional financial, design and manufacturing capacities by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to achieve the goal of acquiring hundreds of new fighters,” said military analyst Air Marshal V.K. ‘Jimmy’ Bhatia (retired). There is no possible way this can be achieved under prevailing conditions, he added.

Other serving officers concurred, affirming that the IAF’s impecunious state militated against such ambitious future acquisition plans.

In late 2019, for instance, the IAF had sought an additional Rs 400 billion from the MoD to procure fighters and transport aircraft to upgrade its capabilities and defray payments for other previously acquired platforms. It stated that its capital allocation of Rs 393 billion in the annual budget for FY 2019-20 to acquire new platforms was ‘grossly inadequate’ to fund its long-deferred modernisation from a tactical to strategic force.

The IAF also claimed that it had a ‘committed liability’ of Rs 480 billion for FY 2019-20 for assorted equipment bought earlier, which was responsible for ‘severely depleting’ its allocation, leaving little or nothing for new programmes.


Midair refuelling of one of the five Rafale jets, which took off from France on Monday, on its way to India. The Rafale aircrafts are covering a distance of nearly 7,000 km from France to India with a single stop in UAE. Photo: PTI

It had to make advance payment for 36 Dassault Rafale fighters and five Almaz-Antei S-400 Triumf self-propelled surface-to-air missile systems, in addition to disbursing instalments for 22 Boeing AH-64(I) Apache Guardian helicopters and 15 CH-47 Chinook heavy lift rotary aircraft, acquired in 2015, along with two types of US transport aircraft procured earlier besides a host of additional kit.

In response, the MoD allocated the IAF some Rs 55 billion, or an eighth of what it had demanded. But to add to its woes a few months later in February 2020, the IAF was apportioned Rs 432.82 billion in FY 2020-21 as its capital outlay, some Rs 15.87 billion less than the Rs 448.69 it had received for the same purpose the previous year, further beggaring the force.

And though the military emergency prompted by China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) occupying Indian territory in eastern Ladakh had galvanised the IAF into conducting air domination sorties over the region, greatly boosting its media profile, its future procurements outlined by Bhadauria remain hostage to a crippled economy and a problem-ridden HAL and ADA plagued by inefficiencies. “The services, including the IAF continue to reflect a disregard for fiscal reality in planning their equipment buys,” said Amit Cowshish, former defence ministry financial advisor on acquisitions.

No country in the world can possibly afford to acquire so many fighters, even over a prolonged 10-15 year period to the exclusion of all other defence equipment, he cautioned.

Also read: Will the Defence Acquisition Procedure 2020 Make India Self-Reliant in Defence Production?

In his presser, ACM Bhadauria declared that the force would operationalise the second No. 18 ‘Flying Bullets’ Tejas Mk1 light combat aircraft (LCA) squadron at Sulur in Tamil Nadu, equipped with full operational clearance (FoC) platforms by 2022.

This would supplement the earlier No. 45 ‘Flying Daggers’ squadron, established in 2016 with some 16 single-seat Tejas fighters, but only with Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) that was secured haltingly in two stages- IOC-1 in January 2011 and IOC-2 in December 2013 for an aircraft that had been under development since 1983 and remains little better than an advanced technology demonstrator. .

But these IOCs too were accorded with 53 waivers – of which 20 would be permanent even after the platform secured its FOC – with regard to the platforms drop tanks, airframe fatigue test and assorted weapon system configurations. Of the 40 MK1s, however, eight would be tandem-seat trainers that would subsequently join their two squadrons after all single-seat platforms had been delivered at the rate of around eight fighters per year. The IAF has been pressing HAL to double this output to 16 LCAs, but this remains a trying work in progress.

In the meantime, Bhadauria said the IAF would sign a deal with HAL for an additional 83 upgraded Tejas M1A fighters that remain under development and would not be ready for series production till 2022-23, as two prototypes have still to undertake some 200 test flights. The Mk1A is expected to feature several capability enhancements over the Mk1 model that include an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, modern electronic warfare systems and aerial refuelling capability.

Also read: IAF Lore: When Those Magnificent Men Took their Flying Machines to Delhi for ‘Jollies’

It would also be around 1,000-kg lighter than the Mk1, weighing 6,500 kg, and feature modified internal systems, under a ‘panel-in-panel’ arrangement, for easier maintainability. The 83 Mk1A deal- that includes 10 dual-set trainers-is costed at round Rs 390 billion, negotiated down over two years from Rs 500 billion that HAL had initially demanded for the tender.

But like the Mk1 model, the Mk1A variant too would be powered by USA’s General Electric F404-GE-IN20 engines that generate 80-85 kN (kilonewtons) thrust, which restricts the fighters angle of attack to around 21°, limits their range to 350-400km and weapons-carrying capability, to around three tonnes.

Meanwhile, to bridge the shortfall of fighters, till the indigenously Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) joins the fleet 2029 onwards, Bhadauria stated that the IAF would pursue its long awaited procurement of 114 Multi-role Fighter Aircraft (MRFA).


IAF fighter jet flies in the Ladakh region, amid the prolonged India-China face off, in Leh district, Wednesday, September 23, 2020. Photo: PTI

Under the long-pending proposal, one of seven shortlisted single or twin-engine fighters would be manufactured domestically under the Strategic Partnership (SP) model outlined in the newly released Defence Acquisition Procedure, 2020. Under the SP model, a domestic private sector company would partner an overseas original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to deliver the selected platform.

The IAFs April 2018 request for information or RFI for these fighters had elicited responses from seven OEMs: Eurofighter (Typhoon), France’s Dassault Aviation (Rafale F3R), Sweden’s Saab (Gripen-E), Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation and Sukhoi Corporation (MiG-35 and Su35) and USA’s Boeing and Lockheed Martin (F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and F-21).

The deadline for this programme, costing not less than $ 20 billion, is unspecified, as a not even a request for proposal or tender has yet been issued. This will be eventually succeeded by a technical evaluation of the responses, followed by user trials and complex price and technology transfer negotiations lasting, at a conservative estimate 3-5 years. This, in turn, would be followed by the domestic company creating manufacturing facilities and developing a product support system. Thereafter, all else being equal, the first of the 96 licence built fighters could roll out around 2029-30 at the earliest, said officials associated with the project, expressing little or optimism for the project’s future.

Also read: It Is Time to Accept That India’s Defence Planning Is Crippled by Severe Financial Woes

In tandem, the IAF also aims to begin inducting the first of seven indigenously designed and built squadrons of 125 twin-engine AMCAs 2029-30 onwards. Of these, the IAF envisages the first two squadrons would be powered by the US General Electric GE-414 engine with a 98 kN thrust, and the remaining five by a locally designed engine with enhanced 125kN thrust developed in collaboration with a foreign OEM.

If that were not enough the ADA-HAL combine plans on simultaneously developing a twin-engine LCA Mk2 variant powered by the more powerful General Electric F414 GE-INS6. Envisaged as an eventual replacement for the IAFs upgraded Mirage-2000H fighters, HAL aims on series building some 200-odd LCA Mk2’s, making it eventually a grand total of some 324 LCA variants alone for IAF induction.

The IAF is also in advanced negotiations with Russia for 21 additional second-hand MiG 29 ‘Fulcrum’ fighters and 12 Sukhoi-“Flanker’ Su-30 MKI’s multi-role combat aircraft which HAL will licence build, once it has completed the 272 it is currently constructing. The twin engine MiG-29 fighters that were lying in an ‘unassembled and mothballed’ state in Russia were being acquired for around $850 million and would supplement three squadrons of 60 similar platforms inducted into the IAF 1986 onwards.

With such an embarrassment of combat aircraft riches proposed by ACM Bhadauria at such tremendous cost, it appears as if only the IAF has a monopoly on the lion’s share of India’s declining defence budget.

Perhaps, the army and navy too have an opinion.

IAF own fault

All they need was sigining on gripen NG..shelfing both tejas & rrafale

Getting 300 under liscene and then procuring some more su30 thats it

300 fighters would have cost around 60m a piece which would have been cost of rafale & failed tejas
 

paritosh

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I am very sorry to have caused 'confusion'; why that happened is confusing.

Let me quickly recap.: there was some very brief discussion about the macroeconomic facts, and one post, by @T90TankGuy, referred to a range of opinions held by government functionaries that all pointed in the same, rather dismal direction. As far as I could understand, he was not hinting at any access to secret information not known to the rest of us, he was referring to the general idea among responsible segments of government regarding the state of the economy and the direction it was heading.

Your assumption, that he was citing an insider view, does not seem particularly well-founded. He was merely refuting an implicit slur that he knew nothing about the situation. This is not to be confused with claiming an insider view.

My response to your post - two posts, as it is, but taking them together as a composite - was that we might as well ignore the hints and allusions about official positions and come to the point. Was there anything about the economic situation that made your view stand apart from others? Was there, to make things very clear, any ameliorative circumstance that you saw? If not, and I believe not, what are you objecting to, and why do you return repeatedly to some member stating that he is a very important person? Shades of Professor Jowett and his most important pupil!

If we are, after all, on the same plane of logic, can we just agree that Modi and his More-Or-Lesses are blowing it out of their collective backside - a rather entertaining envisioning - and go to bed?

Unless you have something to say of great consequence that has not been properly dealt with; my punctuation, for instance?


Ah, thank you, quite forgot that with the sinking of the economy, ink will be a valuable fluid. Quite right to point it out.


Couldn't agree with you more.

Mysterious.


My favourite activity, in these dreary days, is channeling Gagool, from King Solomon's Mines. Understandable, you may agree, considering the numbers rushing from one side of the boat to the other, but clearly, I owe you an apology for ever thinking that you voted for him.

I Never Voted For Him.

Is there a T-Shirt in there?
you may have missed the T90 guy’s post that I quoted,I quote it for your again (excuse my lack of sophistication in using the right quoting widget, I made a fool of myself in my last post while segmenting my response)

T90TankGuy said:
Buddy just chill. If you knew my designation you would not be saying that , stop whats app learning , start reading the news”

I took issue with him hiding behind a made up post when people asked him for authenticity.
Hope this helps.

And good idea about the T-shirt quote- an anti-maga apparel sure to get the wearer lynched!
 

T90TankGuy

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you may have missed the T90 guy’s post that I quoted,I quote it for your again (excuse my lack of sophistication in using the right quoting widget, I made a fool of myself in my last post while segmenting my response)

T90TankGuy said:
Buddy just chill. If you knew my designation you would not be saying that , stop whats app learning , start reading the news”

I took issue with him hiding behind a made up post when people asked him for authenticity.
Hope this helps.

And good idea about the T-shirt quote- an anti-maga apparel sure to get the wearer lynched!
Next time you are in India look me up . PM or message @Joe Shearer , will meet you , you can then judge who i am :)
 

Yasser76

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Its not that big of a deal. India will just increase defence budget in expense of other development work despite low GDP growth rate.

Just like Pakistan.......
In real terms Pak defence budget been decreasing, learn facts before shooting off mouth.
 

paritosh

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Next time you are in India look me up . PM or message @Joe Shearer , will meet you , you can then judge who i am :)
Highly unlikely that we will ever meet, only because we live in different cities in India.
I am not sure what hidden knowledge your office of power (has no material value here) provides you to give you a more wholesome understanding of our economic performance. Economic performance is easy to assess as a snapshot in time, even though forward-looking fiscal and monetary policies and the economy in general are the most complex aspect humans indulge in. Say for example even if you’d know of a million MoUs being signed in secret with say international FDI sources, the probability of success would be hard to determine. FDI is good for two reasons - in the short-term It provides liquidity and in the long term (the more impactful outcome) it helps set up virtuous multiplier effects. The probability of the latter happening is dependent on good governance and a conducive ecosystem - which are things very complex to predict let alone manage. Take the case of GM (https://www.wsj.com/amp/articles/general-motors-will-stop-selling-cars-in-india-1495092601), it got us liquidity, but only marginal multiplier effects by GM not investing in a sales and distribution network which would have offered massive employment. This was because they were not happy with the market conditions and sector regulations ( market forces and governance).
So, going back to my skepticism about the value any insider information can have on assured economic growth and recovery- it’s wishful thinking and nothing more.
P.s- I do hope that we remove a lot of red tape through, to free up large businesses and digital entrepreneurs (don’t care about the “economic backbone SMEs”) and also more robust auditing of lenders.
 

T90TankGuy

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Highly unlikely that we will ever meet, only because we live in different cities in India.
I am not sure what hidden knowledge your office of power (has no material value here) provides you to give you a more wholesome understanding of our economic performance. Economic performance is easy to assess as a snapshot in time, even though forward-looking fiscal and monetary policies and the economy in general are the most complex aspect humans indulge in. Say for example even if you’d know of a million MoUs being signed in secret with say international FDI sources, the probability of success would be hard to determine. FDI is good for two reasons - in the short-term It provides liquidity and in the long term (the more impactful outcome) it helps set up virtuous multiplier effects. The probability of the latter happening is dependent on good governance and a conducive ecosystem - which are things very complex to predict let alone manage. Take the case of GM (https://www.wsj.com/amp/articles/general-motors-will-stop-selling-cars-in-india-1495092601), it got us liquidity, but only marginal multiplier effects by GM not investing in a sales and distribution network which would have offered massive employment. This was because they were not happy with the market conditions and sector regulations ( market forces and governance).
So, going back to my skepticism about the value any insider information can have on assured economic growth and recovery- it’s wishful thinking and nothing more.
P.s- I do hope that we remove a lot of red tape through, to free up large businesses and digital entrepreneurs (don’t care about the “economic backbone SMEs”) and also more robust auditing of lenders.
You do realize i was saying that the economy is in a bad shape and will not recover In the immediate future, also these fanciful dreams of 30% budget growth is BS . Have you read my posts?
PS if i want to find you its not hard. And our department exists in ever city . :)

@Joe Shearer is it just me or is this different from what we were saying?
 

paritosh

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You do realize i was saying that the economy is in a bad shape and will not recover In the immediate future, also these fanciful dreams of 30% budget growth is BS . Have you read my posts?
PS if i want to find you its not hard. And our department exists in ever city . :)
Your post that I quoted gave me the impression that you were saying the opposite of what you just wrote. Nevermind.
Could have never guessed that you were with the postal service. Good on ya!
 

Joe Shearer

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Your post that I quoted gave me the impression that you were saying the opposite of what you just wrote. Nevermind.
Could have never guessed that you were with the postal service. Good on ya!

LOL.

It strikes me that we are spending an awful lot of time explaining to each other that we are saying the same thing. Two or three points:
  1. We are all saying that the economy is in bad shape and an early recovery is unlikely;
  2. From what I can figure out, @T90TankGuy was trying to quell a kid who was jumping up and down, and just didn't want to accept facts that are already in the public domain and are no longer in dispute in any serious way. Quoting his situation was a reminder that as a responsible person, he holds responsible views. It would surprise me if that was meant to quell opposition by implying that the position carries deep insider information that is overwhelming, but cannot be revealed. Far from that; we all seem to share a deep scepticism about fanciful notions of growth that are being bruited around (always wanted to use that word!).
  3. Don't see anything here for anyone to cavil about
    Economic performance is easy to assess as a snapshot in time, even though forward-looking fiscal and monetary policies and the economy in general are the most complex aspect humans indulge in. Say for example even if you’d know of a million MoUs being signed in secret with say international FDI sources, the probability of success would be hard to determine. FDI is good for two reasons - in the short-term It provides liquidity and in the long term (the more impactful outcome) it helps set up virtuous multiplier effects. The probability of the latter happening is dependent on good governance and a conducive ecosystem - which are things very complex to predict let alone manage. Take the case of GM (https://www.wsj.com/amp/articles/general-motors-will-stop-selling-cars-in-india-1495092601), it got us liquidity, but only marginal multiplier effects by GM not investing in a sales and distribution network which would have offered massive employment. This was because they were not happy with the market conditions and sector regulations ( market forces and governance).
    So, going back to my skepticism about the value any insider information can have on assured economic growth and recovery- it’s wishful thinking and nothing more.
    P.s- I do hope that we remove a lot of red tape through, to free up large businesses and digital entrepreneurs (don’t care about the “economic backbone SMEs”) and also more robust auditing of lenders.
  4. His department does knock on people's doors - sometimes. Their timings are a little nocturnal on occasion. It's @meghdut who'll take care of your envelope/ parcel. He, the Tank Guy, follows up on the last thing quoted above.
Can we move on? I don't think anyone was 'pulling rank'; I think we agree that there is an awful lot that has to be done before there is any substantial improvement in the economy.

@T90TankGuy
 

HalfMoon

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I am very confused, just what are you responding to? Some bloke mentioned having ‘insider information’ on the true state of India’s economy which seems bull to me. If you are going by the range of consensus based on verifiable published data, then we live on the same plane of logic. Save your ink Joe.


Bit late for that, although quite understandable, considering current political trends in India.


India’s problems are manifold, Modi has always had the will never the smarts. Unfortunately the lost decades of abysmally poor investment in education are coming back to bite the democratic machine now. Your quote made me sound like a turncoat but I have never voted for him.
You need to understand one thing.

This @Joe Shearer guy seems to be in restaurant business. Most of his posts are about chow mein and other recipes.

His sidekick @T90TankGuy is his delivery boy.

Both of them masquerade as some high level officials with all the insider information.

One day the become NSA another day EAM and another day MOD and another day FM.

Just ignore their theatrics and attention seeking posts.
 

T90TankGuy

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LOL.

It strikes me that we are spending an awful lot of time explaining to each other that we are saying the same thing. Two or three points:
  1. We are all saying that the economy is in bad shape and an early recovery is unlikely;
  2. From what I can figure out, @T90TankGuy was trying to quell a kid who was jumping up and down, and just didn't want to accept facts that are already in the public domain and are no longer in dispute in any serious way. Quoting his situation was a reminder that as a responsible person, he holds responsible views. It would surprise me if that was meant to quell opposition by implying that the position carries deep insider information that is overwhelming, but cannot be revealed. Far from that; we all seem to share a deep scepticism about fanciful notions of growth that are being bruited around (always wanted to use that word!).
  3. Don't see anything here for anyone to cavil about
  4. His department does knock on people's doors - sometimes. Their timings are a little nocturnal on occasion. It's @meghdut who'll take care of your envelope/ parcel. He follows up on the last thing quoted above.
Can we move on? I don't think anyone was 'pulling rank'; I think we agree that there is an awful lot that has to be done before there is any substantial improvement in the economy.

@T90TankGuy
This kid really has no idea who he is dealing with .
You need to understand one thing.

This @Joe Shearer guy seems to be in restaurant business. Most of his posts are about chow mein and other recipes.

His sidekick @T90TankGuy is his delivery boy.

Both of them masquerade as some high level officials with all the insider information.

One day the become NSA another day EAM and another day MOD and another day FM.

Just ignore their theatrics and attention seeking posts.
You did not come to my office for tea? i invited you so many times :)
I forgot you need to be in India to do that. :lol:
 

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