dhiraj wrote:<SNIP> So Tejas MK.2, 4 to 4.5 gen makes first flight in 2018 and then a true blue 5th gen fighter with all aspect stealth flies in 2021 or even 2024, i.e with next 3-6 years. Bring in the Sukhoi/HAL FGFA in the picture between 2020-25 and we have 3 fighter aircrafts in development phase which will supposedly be the backbone of IAF.
Questions that still remain :
- What is the current state of FGFA, future visibility and timelines. Its 2015 and nothing concrete yet. Is IAF happy with the current T-50 ? and how much time will it take to adapt the plane for IAF requirement.
- Will ADA-HAL be able to develop two advanced fighter in Tejas MK.2 and AMCA around 5-6 years of each other.Plus dedicating resources for FGFA around the same time.
- IAF being dependent for fleet augmentation on platforms which are currently either in design phase or feasibility study phase.
Objectively speaking I am not sure how the product delivery will happen to actual users while meeting the quality and timelines. Yes, R&D is activities are important for the country, but how it is prioritized and mapped to product delivery to meet user's requirement should also be taken into consideration.
Thank you bringing out the issue in detail.
When did the IAF re-equipment challenge exercise, I had realized that a bigger challenge still faced the IAF post MMRCA/Tejas Mk-1/Tejas Mk-2.
Broadly, IAF is faced with two challenges over next 16 years till 2030 (2015 included):
- Re-equipment dealing with phasing out of old aircraft type and induction of new a/c.
- Raising Squadron strength.
(a) The re-equipment challenge is in two phases:
(i) Phase 1:
Deals with Mig-21/Mig-27 replacement and this will continue till 2023-24 time frame. This is where MMRCA numbers (at they stand today), Su-30, Tejas Mk-1 and Tejas Mk-2 are important. Because of two very important factors - delay in Tejas induction and MMRCA negotiation - we've reached a stage that there will be next reduction in Squadron numbers as induction and phasing out is out of synchronization.
This Phase is likely to be taken care of by induction of Su-30MKI, Tejas Mk-1, Tejas Mk-2 and MMRCA/Equivalent. We’ll see phasing out of ~12 squadron worth of aircraft and induction of ~14 Squadron worth of a/c between the types listed above.
However, it is important to understand that except Su-30MKI production schedule, everything else is on shaky grounds so far. Tejas Mk-1 production will take time to stabilize and first two squadrons will be used more to sort out the issues between IAF, DRDO and HAL. Tejas Mk-2 development is still out in the future with production likely to start by 2022. And we all know where we stand on MMRCA.
I think when looking at the above scenario, one can understand why IAF is so desperate to get on with MMRCA – it has far lesser risks than a new project like Tejas Mk-2 and is more likely to be available on time, even with accepted delay levels like in Su-30 MKI program. Though, I think we’re trying to rectify short-falls in our contract negotiations and documentation. HAL has a much better chance of delivering a project under ‘ToT’ given the past record in this segment.
(ii) Phase 2:
This is when Jaguar DARIN III, Mirage-2000-5 and Mig-29 UPG will start getting long in the tooth. IAF will need at least 5+3+3 = ~12 squadron worth of aircraft at minimum. And this will happen towards latter part of coming decade. This is where AMCA becomes extremely important. The neighborhood would’ve gone drastic change over next 15 years as would have the technology. IMO, Chinese would start transitioning to next level technology on mass scale in another ten-years time and by 2030, we’d in midst of higher threat levels.
(b) Increase in squadron strength
The induction of Su-30MKI, Tejas Mk-1, Tejas Mk-2 and MMRCA/Equivalent will allow IAF to simply maintain 39-40 squadrons.
For the IAF to reach 45 squadrons force for two front wars, it will need 5-6 fresh squadrons. This is going to be a toss-up between Tejas Mk-2 and MMRCA/equivalent to fill these numbers.
The talk of another ~60 MMRCA over 126 number points to MMRCA filling up at least three squadrons. So, further 03 squadron worth of a/c is more than likely to come from Tejas Mk-2.
However, whatever be the case, IAF will NOT reach 45 squadron mark before 2028-2030 timeframe. If everything goes OK, it will simply stabilize the Squadron numbers by 2026-27.
Therefore, when people talk about timelines or discuss about IAF not having Plan B, please do keep these ground realities in mind. R&D projects are important but important still is the security of the country. Unless we manage the operational requirement and imperatives of R&D, we will continue to face such challenges.