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PostPosted: 03 Jan 2015 20:18 
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MODERATOR NOTE:

- This is a temporary thread to discuss 'exclusively' the debate around re-equipment schedule of Indian Air Force.
- We also try and explore the questions around criticality of MMRCA, more numbers for Tejas Mk-1 and where Tejas Mk-2 fits in the overall scheme.
- This will also form basis to under the role AMCA and FGFA will play in the IAF force structure.
- Please restrict the discussion to force structure aspect.
- And keep the discussion realisitic - no flights of fancy. Please back-up your assertions with some data-points/analysis.
- And please, no whining or rants. Such posts will be summarily deleted.
- I will merge the thread with main Military Aviation thread after we've build up body of knowledge.


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PostPosted: 03 Jan 2015 20:22 
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The issue with respect to declining number of squadrons in Indian Air Force has gained prominence over last couple of years. Recently, we have had news about IAF having presented a scenario to GOI about squadron strength declining to a dangerously low number in mid-20s before the end of this decade. While the part about squadron strength reaching about 25 Squadrons by 2024 seems to be a wrong conclusion drawn from right information set, we do have an issue about IAF undergoing massive change, or requiring to undergo massive change, over 2015-2024 period.

I’ve tried to assess the situation basis whatever information is available in public domain and see where we stand. If anyone has contrary/additional information, please feel free to add. I will modify the analysis accordingly.

1. Current IAF strength:

We first take a look at current strength of IAF across various a/c type; this will serve as a basis for understanding the transition requirement. I’ve mentioned each squadron operating a particular a/c type along with total squadrons operating the type given in parenthesis.

a. Mig-29: 28, 47 and 223. (3)
b. Mirage-2000: 1, 7 and 9. (3)
c. Jaguar IS/IB: 5, 14, 16, 27 and 223. (5)
d. Jaguar IM: 6 (1)
e. Mig-27 UPG: 10 and 29 (2)
f. Mig-27ML: 18, 22 and 222 (3)
g. Mig-21 Bison: 3, 4 , 21, 23, 32 and 51 (6) - [ 23 Squadron is a tentative entry; confirmation either way would be helpful]
h. Mig-21bis: 26 (1)
i. Mig-21M/MF: 17, 37, 101 and 108 (4)
j. Su-30 MKI: 2, 8, 20, 24, 30, 31, 102 and 220 (8)

Total operational Squadrons: 36

2. Others:

This refers to Squadrons which are either partially operational, number plated or about which I don’t have full information.

a. 15 Squadron: Formerly, a Mig-21bis Squadron. Either the a/c have gone to other squadrons for upgrade to Mig-21 Bison standard or it is under conversion to Su-30MKI
b. 35 Squadron: The Squadron which had taken over the last set of Mig-25R after 102 ‘Trisonics’ Squadron was number-plated. It operates only 1 x flight of Mig-21 M/MF. Interestingly, it was the first EW Mig-21 Squadron. Formerly, operated the Canberra.
c. 45 Squadron: Earmarked as first Tejas Squadron. Formerly operated Mig-21 FL.
d. 221 Squadron: Last Mig-23BN squadron which was number plated in 2009.
e. 106 Squadron: Formerly operated Canberra in photo-reconnaissance role. An a/c from this squadron famously landed back with a sidewinder stuck in its wing in 1999. Supposed to operating HS 748 Avro now.
f. 52 Squadron – The ‘Suryakiran’ squadron. Which I think was earlier a fighter conversion unit cum combat squadron.

If we take only the first four entries above, IAF has on its ORBAT 40 fighter squadrons. And apart from active squadron, IAF needs to find a/c for these squadrons as well.

3. Replacement requirement:

Basis the information shared above about active squadrons in IAF service, we try and understand the replacement requirement. It is my understanding that the replacement can be broken down in two phases. Phase 1 (2015-2020) deals with a/c which have not received any upgrade and will need to be phased out as they’re reaching end of their life. Phase 2 (2020-2025) will cover those legacy a/c which have received upgrades and can soldier on till 2025 period.

a. Phase 1 (2015-2022)

i. Mig-21bis: 1
ii. Mig-21M/MF: 4
iii. Mig-27ML: 3
Total: 8 squadrons.

b. Phase 2 (2022-2027)

i. Mig-21 Bison: 6
ii. Mig-27UPG: 2

Total: 8 squadrons.

• Apart from above, IAF needs a/c to resurrect four number-plated/partially equipped squadrons. Therefore, in all, IAF will require replacement for a total of 20 squadrons in next 10-12 years.
• However, in the immediate future, IAF will require replacement for at least 8 squadron worth of a/c.

4. Induction schedule:

Let’s look at the potential induction schedule which can help to arrest this decline and assist in conversion. This section also helps to understand the place which Tejas Mk-1 and Tejas Mk-2 along with MMRCA have in the entire scheme of things.

a. Phase 1 (2015-2022)

i. Su-30MKI: Till date 8 of the planned 14 squadrons have been converted to Su-30MKI. That leaves us with balance 6 squadrons which are to be inducted over 2015-2022 schedule. While the original induction schedule for 272 contracted Su-30MKI was till 2018, this is running behind schedule.

As per the latest CAG Report on HAL, as against 112 a/c (from contract of 140 a/c) which were to be delivered till 2013, only 81 have been delivered. So, there is a short-fall of 31 a/c in this contract itself. After accounting for these 31 a/c, HAL has to deliver 95 more Su-30MKI over next 3 years. Which is unlikely to happen unless some of local produced a/c are replaced with direct imports. So, this schedule is slated to go into 2020-2021 territory.

ii. Tejas Mk-1 : 2 x Squadrons

iii. MMRCA: 1 x Squadron

Total: 6+2+1 = 9 Squadrons.

The above should take care of Phase-1 of retirement in coming 2015-2022 period. However, what needs to be understood is that retirement and induction will not be in syn. While the Squadrons will be number-plated in groups (2 -3 squadrons per annum), the induction will not happen in the same manner. For example, HAL has a peak production rate for Su-30MKI at 16a/c per annum. Neither is MMRCA delivery timeline clear. And Tejas Mk-1 production is yet to get established.

Consequently, IAF will see a serious dip in Squadron strength over next 5-7 years. Especially in the 2017-2020 period when bulk of Mig-21 M/MF and Mig-27ML will be retired.

b. Phase 2 (2022-2027)

This is where the MMRCA and Tejas Mk-2 become absolutely important.

i. MMRCA: 5 x Squadrons
ii. Tejas Mk-2: 4 x Squadrons

Total: 5+4= 9 Squadrons.

5. Conclusion:

a. Even if above mentioned induction schedule happens with clock-work precision, IAF would have managed to reach a Squadron strength of only 38 Squadrons by 2027.
b. I think we now know how the 2+4 structure for Tejas Mk-1 and Tejas Mk-2 comes into play in the IAF scheme of things.
c. I expect to Tejas Mk-2 number to rise by a minimum of 2 more squadrons and more than likely to reach a total of 08 squadrons (from present four).
d. 2017-2022 is a very crucial period; don’t be surprised if we order more Su-30MKI off the shelf from Russia to make up for production short-fall. HAL has done that in the past for the 81 a/c which it has delivered.


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PostPosted: 03 Jan 2015 21:27 
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BRFite

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Rohitvats, didn't 102 sqn convert to Su-30MKI in 2011 ? Also, wasn't 15 sqn to be converted by 2013 ?


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PostPosted: 03 Jan 2015 21:47 
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Su 30mki reports say 81 were delivered by 2013(I am taking by March 31,2013). In next 2 years 30 more would have come from HAL production line @15/year.

That takes the total to 81+30=111. Plus 50 initial direct import from Russia for a total of 161.

Another 40 were direct import from Russia which were assembled by HAL for a total of 201 of which 5 have crashed.

You can say presently 196 nos are in service of IAF which is worth 10 squadrons. 8sq are known. other 2sq may be in the process of being raised or in the process of up gradation to Super Sukhoi standard.


Last edited by sankum on 03 Jan 2015 22:28, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: 03 Jan 2015 21:55 
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Another 71 aircraft can come of HAL production line @16/year in 4.5 years i.e by 2019 and if 40 more Su30mki are ordered to take total to 312nos(16sq) than they can come by 2022 when the production line can shift to FGFA.


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PostPosted: 03 Jan 2015 22:54 
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Sanjay wrote:
Rohitvats, didn't 102 sqn convert to Su-30MKI in 2011 ? Also, wasn't 15 sqn to be converted by 2013 ?


Yes, 102 converted to Su-30MKI. It is based in Chabua, Upper Assam. I've mentioned the same against Su-30MKI squadrons.

And thanks for heads up on 15 Squadron. I ran a Google search search and there is a 2012 IAF Day conference report where NAK Browne spoke about it. As you said, conversion was to be complete by mid 2013.

Need to check more on the subject and modify the post.


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PostPosted: 03 Jan 2015 23:02 
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Now - didn't 17 sqn convert in 2012 to MKIs ?

I would suggest that realistically we can assume 21 ac / sqn inclusive of reserves. The 9 sqn supposedly operating the type would lead us to 189 aircraft. The remaining ac could be used to begin forming the 10th


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PostPosted: 03 Jan 2015 23:06 
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sankum wrote:
Su 30mki reports say 81 were delivered by 2013(I am taking by March 31,2013). In next 2 years 30 more would have come from HAL production line @15/year.

That takes the total to 81+30=111. Plus 50 initial direct import from Russia for a total of 161.

Another 40 were direct import from Russia which were assembled by HAL for a total of 201 of which 5 have crashed.

You can say presently 196 nos are in service of IAF which is worth 10 squadrons. 8sq are known. other 2sq may be in the process of being raised or in the process of up gradation to Super Sukhoi standard.


Thanks for pointing out the delivery for 2013-14 and 2014-15. I completely missed adding them.

The reworked number should be like this:

--Original import: 50
--HAL contract: 81 (till 2013)+ 16 (2013-14) + 12 (2014-15).
-- 2007 contract (direct import component): 36
-- 2012 contract (direct import component): 10

Total (including 2014-15 delivery): 205
Less: 5 crashes
Operational: ~200 a/c by end of current financial year.

Total a/c by March 2014 would've been (after accounting for 05 crashes): ~188

The above number would be in sync with 9 SU-30MKI squadrons. When combined with inputs from Sanjay about 15 Squadron, I think two data points match.

Will update my analysis.


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PostPosted: 03 Jan 2015 23:13 
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What about the 18 Su-30k that were returned? In 2007?


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PostPosted: 04 Jan 2015 00:32 
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Rafale timeline for induction according to reports is 11 years for 126 aircraft of which first 18 is direct purchase and 108 manufactured by HAL.

First 6 Rafale manufactured by HAL will roll out in the 4th year and the production will then be raised to peak 16/year.

If Rafale deal is signed by 31 March 2015 then by 2018-19 HAL will roll out first 6nos and by 2021-22 should produce 44 nos(in 6,10,12,16 per year) and by 2025-26 all 108nos (@16/year).

IAF will have a total of 62 nos along with 18 direct import for a total of 3 squadrons by 2022.

By 2027 Rafale numbers should be 142nos (7sq) if 64nos options are exercised and by 2030 full 190nos(9sq) i.e, 126+64 options.


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PostPosted: 04 Jan 2015 00:57 
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MIG 21 Bison have upgraded calendar life of 40 years or 4000hrs according to reports.

50 Mig 21 bis were direct purchase in 1977-78 while 245nos were manufactured in 1980-88 timeframe @30/year.

By 2022 only 70 to 80 nos will be below 40years say forming 4 squadrons.


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PostPosted: 04 Jan 2015 06:36 
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My estimate that IAF projection of 25 squadron taking attrition into account in 2024 is as follows.

Su30 mki- 14sq (260nos of 272nos inducted)

Mirage 2000- 2sq( 45nos of present 49nos)

Mig 29 upg- 3sq (55nos of present 60 nos)

Jaguar upg- 6sq (110nos of present 123nos)

Total- 25sq (470 fighters)

This will be only when:
- no more Su30 mki are inducted.
-no Rafale is bought.
-no tejas is inducted.
-no FGFA is inducted.
-all mig21 bison and mig27upg are retired.

Mirage 2000 upg and Jaguar upg fighters have calendar life of 50 years while mig 29upg 40 years.


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PostPosted: 04 Jan 2015 08:01 
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Mod gurus, as a Mango man working with moneybags, i feel we also need to take avaliability of capital investement for IAF into serious considaration. Budgets are already under strain. So there is a need to look into cost factor for each set of options avaliable.

Production capability is also a factor for finalizing the option. While retiring happen as we know it, the induction is not clear for each option. In the above posts Gurus has posting based of Rafale getting selected. What if it does not for what ever reason.

Secondly can we scale up in a big way the LCA production by 2020 if we start now? It will be a great option if we can. If numbers, cost etc are problems then LCA production scale up will be the answer.

GOI under Make in India and under thin budget may most likely to opt for it. If it does, then how it can go about it. I very strongly feel that cost factor may be a serious considaration in any decision by this GOI. Any any Gurus post if and can it be done and how it can be done?


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PostPosted: 04 Jan 2015 23:02 
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My estimate that to maintain minimum 36sq by 2024 IAF will require addition of;

94 Rafale(5sq)
40 Sukhoi mki (2sq)
56 Tejas mk1 (3sq) [40mk1+16 trainer mk1]
20 Tejas mk2 (1sq)

210 fighters (11sq)

for a total of

680 fighters (36sq)

- 56 Tejas mk1 by 2022( I am giving a delay of one year over present induction plan)
-20 Tejas mk2 by 2024 ( @10/year from production line of 16/year rest 6/year going to Indian Navy)


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PostPosted: 04 Jan 2015 23:10 
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If IAF goes in for increased induction of Tejas mk2 and production is enhanced to @32/year with the second production line of @16/year going to private sector from 2022 onwards.

IAF induction plan will be @25/year with rest @7/year to IN.

By 2030 200nos(10sq) to IAF and 56nos (3sq) to IN.

By 2027 125nos (6sq) to IAF.


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PostPosted: 04 Jan 2015 23:34 
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If RAFALE deal falls through than IAF can go for direct purchase of 50 Su30mki + enhanced induction of Tejas mk2 @25 /year to maintain numbers.

By 2030 IAF will be

FGFA- 4sq (80nos)
Su30mki- 18sq (340nos)
Tejas mk2- 10sq (195nos)
Tejas mk1- 2sq (50 nos)
Mirage 2000-2sq (40 nos)
Jaguar upg- 5sq (100 nos)

Total-41 sq (805 fighters)

This will be in the absence of Rafale deal with mirage and jaguar fleet to retire by 2035 i.e, 7sq (140nos ) to be replaced by FGFA and AMCA (if it is on by 2030) both @16/year each for a total @32 fighters/year.


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PostPosted: 05 Jan 2015 03:18 
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Start of 2030:

(+ indicates an increase in numbers from 2030)
(- indicates a decline in numbers from 2030)

AMCA: 4 sqds (80 #) (+)
FGFA: 6 sqds (120 #) (done)
Su-30 MKI - MLU: 10 sqds (200 #) (done)
LCA MK-II: 10 sqds (200) (done)

Su-30 MKI: 10 sqds (200 #) (-)
LCA MK-I: 2 sqds (40) (-)
Mirage 2000: 2 sqds (40) (-)
Jaguar: 5 sqds (100) (-)

49 sqds, with the quantity declining, but quality increasing.

Work on single and dual engined next-gen planes will commence around 2023 and prototypes out in 2035 time frame.


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PostPosted: 05 Jan 2015 08:23 
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BRFite

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LCA Mark-1 should be given orders for another 40 aircraft so that HAL will have its production line busy till 2050 at the express speed of incompetence which is it's hallmark. Import/Manufacture more Su-30MKI to make up for shortfall. Ask Pvt sector to set up production lines for LCA MK-2 with an order of 250 aircrafts and AMCA order of another 250 aircraft. If we can offer USD 50 Billion to France for Rafale then why not to Pvt sector.


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PostPosted: 07 Jan 2015 10:19 
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Since the jaguar re-engine schedule has gone for a toss, will we have the requisite number of squadrons mentioned here? There is no news about the same now. I am apprehensive that 1-2 squadrons of Jaguar would be retired by 2022 timeframe.

This shortfall can only be remedied by induction of Tejas mk1 in higher numbers.


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PostPosted: 07 Jan 2015 14:31 
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Could we also have similar data and discussions about IAF's weapons like the SAMS, AAMs, ASMs, AshMs, LGB, LPDs, Recce pods (never discussed on BRF), dumnb bombs, rocket pods etc ?
Kersi


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PostPosted: 09 Jan 2015 14:08 
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NRao wrote:
Start of 2030:

(+ indicates an increase in numbers from 2030)
(- indicates a decline in numbers from 2030)

AMCA: 4 sqds (80 #) (+)

[For an a/c whose first prototype is 'expected' to fly by 2021, having 80 production a/c by 2030 seems a stretch.]

FGFA: 6 sqds (120 #) (done)
Su-30 MKI - MLU: 10 sqds (200 #) (done)
LCA MK-II: 10 sqds (200) (done)
[Again, with FOC in the range of 2022, 200 aircraft by 2030 assumed a production rate of 25 a/c per year.

Su-30 MKI: 10 sqds (200 #) (-)
LCA MK-I: 2 sqds (40) (-)
Mirage 2000: 2 sqds (40) (-)
Jaguar: 5 sqds (100) (-)

49 sqds, with the quantity declining, but quality increasing.

Work on single and dual engined next-gen planes will commence around 2023 and prototypes out in 2035 time frame.


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PostPosted: 25 Jan 2015 20:47 
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BRFite -Trainee

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If one were to consider a specific squadrons war fighting capability instead of just plain squadron nos, the scenario wouldn't look that alarming ..

Going by the Rohits detailed phase wise break up in the first post, The Phase 1 retirement and induction shows a massive leap in capability.

So much so that its just not comparable. Mig-21 Vs MKI squadrons for ex.

While the IAF getting sharper capabilities is always a good thing, but a 1:1 ratio for induction/replacement of MIGs vs Rafale/MKIs might be over kill vis a vis the threats which will be eventually faced. ( atleast on the paki side :mrgreen: )

IMO the calculations should be based and analyzed on a capability metric rather than simply talking n number of squadrons.


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PostPosted: 25 Jan 2015 21:28 
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We need to have better power projection capabilities with time. For example, we should be more interested in influence near Indian ocean region than either USA or China. Right now, the squadron numbers are down however.


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PostPosted: 26 Jan 2015 16:15 
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No of squadrons and fighters will matter as in future if china has 2000 fighter and Pakistan has 400 fighter air force India will need to have minimum 50% of the combined 2400 fighter enemy fleet in a two front war scenario. IAF can have 1000 fighters(50sq) and IN 200 fighters(10sq) for a total of 1200 fighters with superior technology.


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