The intensity of ops during the initial stages of any spat put the most intense pressure upon men and machine.It's when the max effort is required.Possessing enough heavyweight transports at that crucial time is essential given the huge payload, 50t+ that a refurbished IL-76 can carry, instead of 2 or more sorties by smaller aircraft.Logistics help win wars.
The Q is do we want to win wars or grumble about fuel efficiency which from the foll. details pose a Q mark about the argument.We already operate 3 AWACS based upon the old IL-76 /A-50 platform which was built in Uzbekistan.The new IL-476s with new fuel-efficient engines are built totally in Russia and all 16+ IL-76s in service plus IL-78 tankers and existing AWACS birds hopefully too in time will be upgraded to the new std., with new engines, etc., making over 20-25 of these heavy platforms of new performance stds. It therefore is asinine to look for a new AWACS platform for a measly two aircraft.One can understand if another 12 or so were being ordered.The logistic/ maintenance effort would be chaotic.
Moreover, these aircraft are far cheaper than any western equiv. The difference in cost per unit is huge and disproportionate why Ru aircraft like SU-35s are red hot in the neutral export market today, being preferred to Rafales, Typhoons and US equivs.The US recently in a brainstorming session by two retd. diplomats trying to promote more sales od US defence eqpt. to India,actually had the temerity to advise India to do away with the lowest price policy and buy "superior" US eqpt.!
The MOD/GOI should first preference ,buy more numbers of aircraft in service whether it is fighters, transports or helos for increasing the inventory and for cost-effective ops, before examining new types.This saves huge procurement time at the MOD the type already approved and in service and avoids setting up a new infrastructure line , training, etc.,which adds to costs.
As far the LT is concerned it is replacement of an entire type for which a new aircraft is required.Good to hear more news about the C-295, but even these and the AN-32 now upgraded cannot replace the heavylifters esp. during a crisis.They will all be needed at that time, even mothballed HS-748s! The lack of enough of them and esp. enough MI-26s hampered our BRO in its Himalayan infrastructure projects, reqd. to carry heavy road building eqpt., of which only 25% has been completed according to official reports.We missed the boat when the C-17 line closed and now have been able to buy just one, the last built. We should've factored in a further option for 6/8 at low inflated cost when the first batch was ordered .Amazing how such a simple thought , of extras at reasonable cost increases seems to be missing from most of our defence deals.One has the option before a deadline whether to order or not.
The C-295 programme could touch well over 100 aircraft if you add civilian types to the list. It has a good future even here with the new UDAN policy for regional connectivity to smaller towns and cities. As AN-32s retire, if another more capable MRS isn't found by then, the C-295s would have to manage.In the sub-continental context, against Pak. in particular, a variety of specialist EW, MRP/ASW aircraft could add to the numbers.