Philip wrote:The principal stakeholders,services,GOI/MOD,Parliament,should agree upon a comprehensive strategy for the country's defence first, and the minimum standards/capabilities and inventory of each service and their critical shortcomings which must be met with acquisitions from anywhere on a war footing. Since our % of the GNP is barely 2.5%,a meager sum when compared with China's,the money IS there for contingencies.
Specifying 'minimum standards' is like specifying a poverty line. Its an aspirational concept. Meant to loosen the purse strings. And like the poverty line, it'll inevitably be revised upwards, as they start to approach the target.
The idea is workable (notwithstanding issues) in the MHRD, but has played havoc with the MoD's procurement system. Its gone from the equivalent of determined bargaining with the greengrocer to splurging with at the supermarket with a credit card, all within the span of just a decade.
Now if 45 sqds is the "holy grail" of the IAF,and we trust and believe that that figure is needed to deal with the Sino-Pak JV,then the most cost-effective way in which we can augment the inventory with a balance of heavy,med and light aircraft must be formulated.If for instance delays in any segment (H.M.L)is having a serious detrimental effect on the combat capability ,then the gap must be made up by extra acquisitions from aircraft already in service/being acquired.
That is the only sensible and logical decision to take. As for the JSF,from all available open info,a lot of money,time and agreement on key issues has been achieved with the FGFA.The sticking point is whether we wish/can afford to build it at home in sufficient numbers to recover the investment,acquire the etch or simply buy it as is being proposed for the Rafale. If you read Sweetman in AWST and other articles many of which have been posted on BRF,the T-50/FGFA will have a better strike capability than the JSF ,apart from A-2-A combat. Commonality of weapons/payload with our MKIs,etc.,is an added advantage.
We have an opportunity today in the 'light-medium' segment - to boost a domestic program, deliver an affordable aircraft to the IAF, increase the level of indigenisation in a domestic program and reduce the forex loss due to imports (perhaps even strive for exports). That doesn't happen if we kneecap ourselves with your prescription for a T-90 redux.
The FGFA has already proven to be a complete sham of a joint program. As far as the PAK FA is concerned, there are a total of only four prototypes flying today. When the final variant with the 'Izdeliye 30' engines and mature software/sub-systems, is available for delivery, a decade from now, we can take the decision to acquire it. Till then, there remains only
one VLO strike fighter available to us and that's the F-35.
One option also exists,adding another 120+ MKIs/35s/34s-Flanker variants for taking the heavy and demanding load of combat ops,so that we possess approx. 400 of the type (20 sqds) and ramp up LCA production asa much as poss (at least a total of 120 in 5-6 years time),with extra MIG-29/35s if need be just as Egypt is doing. With upgraded Jags,M2Ks,29UGs,etc.,and whatever Rafales/FGFAs join the bandwagon,this should give us around 800-900 aircraft .With the accelerated numbers being added to the PAF inventory and PLAAF expanding its Flanker inventory,plus its own stealth birds in the works,we have no choice but to add to both inventory and capability.
Egypt doesn't have a Tejas to invest in. We do
PAK FA is still a long way off. And despite its many strengths the Su-30MKI cannot replace a true stealth fighter in a first-day/door-kicker role, and in terms of ISTAR functionality.