F-18s can't operate from our 2 current carriers because of lift sizes. There are enough aircraft for both carriers right now and no 3rd. CV is on the horizon,why buy the aircraft now for something that will even if decided upon today,will arrive post- 2030?!
The ROP of Tejas and performance will determine the MMRCA buy.The intense US pressure to buy either of its aging beauties ,which were discarded by the IAF earlier, is complicating a clean decision.Adding yet another type to the IAF's fleet,most unwise from every angle. The emergency extra 12 MKIs and 21 MIG-29s to plug the increasing holes in the force was very prudent. We wait for the decision for the extra 80+ MK-1As in Dec.,but here again it's a leap of faith as the 1A still hasn't flown.
Eventually, the IAF may be forced to order more MKIs,29s,whatever LCAs can be built and an extra sqd. of Rafales, a combined total of 6+sqds., which will cost half the price of acquiring 120 of a new type,as all the training infra,support infra,weaponry,simulators,etc., are already in service leading too substantial cost reductions. A slew of indigenous weaponry is being perfected from Aastra BVR AAMs to smart LR PGMs,anti-radar ASMs,which is intended to be common to almost every type.The only AAM that we can't integrate with Ru aircraft is the Meteor BVR AAM,though Ru AAMs have been integrated onto M2Ks as seen in some pics posted. Another firang US fighter will only add to the missile menagerie and defeat the mantra of self-sufficiency.This policy does not apply to other US aircraft and weaponry purchased like P-8Is,C-130Js, LW 155mm howitzers,etc., stillinproduction and where the infra is in place for support,trg.,weaponry, etc. Extra 155mm BAe howitzers are sorely reqd. for the Himalayan front,a second tranche should be immediately ordered at if poss. the same prices as the first order in still in the pipeline.
This may be the best way forward, acquiring extra aircraft in small affordable tranches other than the Rafales which may cost around $2.5.