The solution for IAF pain is in sight, but to get more Rafale, IAF will neither buy more SU30MKI or LCA. Plan A (there is no plan
, don't buy anything, let the number fall and force the govt to buy more Rafale. Rafale na hua, chand ka tukda ho gaya.
The three reasons for not buying more SU30MKI are
1. IAF will be top heavy, no AF is - Academic argument with no merit. There is no completion where someone is measuring the bottom or top heaviness of an AF
2.More Capex, double engine, more fuel more pilot. Agreed, but beats being less in number and thus losing war and territory. Having a AF is costly. Besides, GOI pays for it, not IAF. Also the CAPEX is marginal, it does not effect any capital acquisition of IAF. Pilot shortage can be solved, actually IAF is already doing it, let the WSO be a non-pilot.
3.Aviability - Invest in spares, more on the line of Mirage 2000 maintenance (Mirage 2000 was 2/3 in number of Mig 29, but its maintenance budget was 3 times of Mig 29, no wonder it had availability of over 90% compared to 60% of Mig 29)
I would say increase the number of SU30MKI holding to 400 planes (20 sq). That solves many of IAF problem. Also with increased number, negotiate a better deal with Russia where more of our/3rd party stuff is allowed, local spares are allowed without voiding the warranty etc. etc.). With 400 MKI both China and TSP will think twice.