We expect LCA Mk-2 to replace Mirage 2000, Jaguar and MiG-29 aircraft in the future.
Interesting comment. What is AMCA replacing then? Jag will be there for another 10 yrs, same with mirage and mig29. Surely LCA MK2 is not expected to get into production after 10 yrs.
Moreover what is replacing mig21 bison? If MK2 is replacing existing jets, we will not be hitting 42 sqd strength for a really long time.
I think there's a little bit of fudging/sleight-of-hand as well as hedging bets here by all parties involved.
1) The FGFA was supposed to come (approx 150 units) --> nowhere on the horizon now --> this is the supposed Su-30 replacement
2) The AMCA was supposed to replace the Jaguar/MiG29/Mirage2000 which will retire by 2030 --> clearly the AMCA is not coming in 12 years; we haven't even seen a full scale mock up at this time, let alone a prototype or flight tests
3) The MMRCA was supposed to come (approx 126 units) to replace the MiG27s and *SOME* of the MiG21s that were retiring --> this was cut down to 36 rafales, plus potential future orders since we know the IAF likes the rafale
4) The Tejas Mk1 was supposed to replace the MiG21 (approx 200 units) --> pared down to 123 in Mk1/Mk1a format
The Tejas Mk2 - let's call it MahaTejas, as per Dileep - has a very ambiguous gap to fill...some of the old MiG21 slots, some of the MMRCA slots, and now apparently some of the MiG29/Mirage2000/Jaguar slots
>> In 10 years time, the strengthening of air defences on all sides will make the Jaguar's low level penetration role something that must be fulfilled by a stealth aircraft; either the AMCA or the rafale's "active radar cancellation"/SCEPTRE blah! The MahaTejas is probably not designed for that role.
>> The MiG29 has a dedicated interceptor/air superiority role that is by now well covered between the Su-30 and the Tejas Mk1/Mk1a...the MahaTejas can very likely be replacements for the MiG29
>> The Mirage2000's jack-of-all-trades role is very likely to be taken over by 36 + future orders of the "omnirole" rafale plus the AMCA if it materializes. If not, expect very large future rafale orders
Our only bets to maintain squadron strength are to keep making Tejas MK1s/MK1As, since a bird in hand is better than 2 in the bush. I think more than likely, the IAF will buy as many Tejas Mk1, Mk1A as HAL can make.
The other variable to bear in mind is the success or failure of the chinese J-20 and J-31. If the J-20 succeeds, there will be immediate pressure to buy 150-200 FGFAs from Russia. If the J-31 succeeds and the PAF gets 100+ of them as F-16 replacements, there will be hightened pressure to buy 100+ more rafales.
The MahaTejas & Rafales are hedges against the delay or failure of the AMCA and FGFA. The MahaTejas is a lower risk program than the AMCA, and buying large numbers of MahaTejas + Rafales + AWACS can make the PAF/PLAAF hesitate even if the J-20 and J-31 succeed.
I don't think anyone has a very clear idea of what the future holds - maybe even the IAF chief. Overall a very confused scenario...