Cain Marko wrote:The above is not the kicker, in fact it is not even an issue.
Anyways, moving on....
srai wrote:Good points!
To add, every new plane (i.e. LCA, Rafale, MKI) that's replacing retiring aircraft (i.e. MiG-21/27) are a huge capability jump from its predecessor. Plus, upgrades are underway for other legacy jets--MiG-29, Mirage-2000 and Jaguar. Together these, even with fewer squadrons, add up to way more capability than what the IAF had with its 39.5 squadrons.
not to count Drone strength will go up, add more AARs and AWACS and EW will multiply capability too
Surya wrote:might make more sense to have higher pilot ratio, turnaround time and serviceability to pure numbers
Well said surya and srai. +100 to you both!
I am not even going to talk about Paper NG, because it is pointless. This is onlee about F-Solah.
This 'sanctioned' squadron strength - 42, 39.5 or whatever - is erroneous. Vested interests put those numbers out there to justify importing. I am not against imports per se, but I am against imports that have no viablilty. More on that later. This theory - put forward by the import team - that LM is going to replicate the success at Forth Worth, Texas in India has been debunked on BRF on a number of occassions. But just to summarize --> we are in the RFI stage, there is the RFP stage which has to be evaluated, then there are trials (neither prototype exists), negotiations and finally contract signature. LM themselves have said that it usually takes three years from contract signature to before the first plane is delivered to the customer.
Assuming all the above are completed in two years (
) from now, that would mean a contract signature date of ~ March 2019. From that date, the line has to be transferred from Fort Worth, Texas to somewhere in India and production to begin. So now the first plane arrives in March 2022
. How low is the IAF's squadron strength going to be at that point?
Now on to some minor, but important, details.
1) On the issue of budgets. Setting aside issues of technology transfer (because that is not happening), how much is the GoI willing to invest each year in procuring large numbers of fighters? Assuming that the Indian line (and that is a BIG IF...will explain in the next point) manages to replicate LM's success of 30 aircraft per month, is the GOI willing to pay the entire contract value
in less than four months? The most recent Rafale purchase from Sept 2016 has resulted in only just the first payment to Dassault. But each and everyone of those 36 Rafales have to be paid for, before they can be delivered. This is not Russia of the 60s and 70s, where we had the luxury of a protracted payment schedule. As a side note, 30 aircraft per month x 3.5 months = 105 aircraft. The IAF can get 105 aircraft in 3.5 months guys!
No more squadron shortage!
2) On to the issue of the Indian line itself. Assuming the global supplier chain keeps flying in the parts from all over to India, where are you going to find the people - who are competent and knowledgeable - to build these 100 planes? The only people who have any
experience in building combat aircraft in India is HAL. So much for the "yarns" on long term employment...because they will be out of a job in 3.5 months!
Remember, no training on F-Solah assembly can occur until contract signature - which as illustrated above - occurs. So from March 2019 till the line gets transferred to India and is up & running, can training on F-Solah assembly actually occur. When exactly is that supposed to happen?
3) On to the issue of pilots. In addition to a squadron shortage, the IAF has a pilot shortage as well.The Indian Air Force's Big Problem: Not Enough Pilots!http://thediplomat.com/2015/04/the-indi ... gh-pilots/
The committee takes serious view of the fact that our squadron strength is already short of what has been authorised by the Government and moreover, insufficiency in number of available pilots in the Air Force further deteriorates our operational capabilities.
From where in heaven's name are you going to find qualified pilots to fly these 100 odd phoren planes, when they arrive in 3.5 months, without moving them from current squadrons and hamper the operational capabilities of those squadrons?
4) On to the issue of viability. Assuming 100 F-Solahs are in service by 2022. How long is the IAF planning to use these platforms for? 20 years? 30 years? 40 years? The M2Ks the IAF is upgrading is expected to remain in service for another 15 years or so. That puts a retirement date in the early 2030s. Remember, they were inducted in 1985. That is ~ 47 years of service for the M2K. How viable are these 100 F-Solahs going to be in 2062...just 40 years from 2022? What is their survivability against the Chinese stealth platforms of that time?
5) On to the issue of squadron shortage. What surya said above makes far better sense. Focus on increasing the pilot ratio, turnaround time and serviceability. Secondly, as surya stated again, induction of drones, adding more AARs and AWACS and EW platforms will multiply capability. Also as srai rightfully said, every new plane that's replacing retiring aircraft are a huge capability jump from its predecessor. Even with fewer squadrons, they add up to way more capability than what the IAF had with its 39.5 squadrons.
Hammering on this "42 squadron strength" theory reminds me of the third 2012 US Presidential debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. In it, President Obama responded to Mitt Romney's statement of the US Navy having fewer ships in 2012 vs 1917. In response to that, President Obama said, "You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1917. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets because the nature of our military's changed
. We have these things called aircraft carriers where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines. So the question is not a game of battleship where we're counting ships. It is what are our capabilities?
What President Obama said about capabilites ties in so beautifully with what srai said about capabilites. At the end of the day, having 42 squadrons is no use if they are impotent.
The above - what srai and surya advocated - are far better strategies to focus on, than importing 100 F-Solahs which the IAF will have to reinvent the wheel again.