- October 5, 2016, 7:34 AM
The Indian Air Force (IAF) has confirmed that it will re-engine its fleet of Anglo-French Jaguar strike aircraft. The plan was discussed by IAF Chief of Air Staff Arup Raha during his annual press conference this week. Raha was enthusiastic about the recently confirmed acquisition of Dassault Rafales, but cautious on progress with the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) project with Russia.
“Technology is improving so rapidly that weapon systems and platforms soon become redundant,” said Raha. This phenomenon is being addressed through the IAF’s Long Term Perspective Plan, a 15-year scheme that is divided into three five-year spans. Raha said that while most previous procurement “had been process-driven; it is now changing to outcome-driven.”
Honeywell is to supply 270 F125IN turbofan engines to replace the twin Rolls-Royce Adour Mk 821s on apporoximately 120 Jaguars. The F125 is 600 pounds lighter and should enable 25-percent-shorter hot-and-high takeoffs. Raha said India’s Jaguars have become overweight and underpowered because of avionics and systems upgrades. Honeywell will first be required to conduct a trial modification of the Jaguars with the new engines. The plan was first mooted in 2012.
Full of praise for the Rafale, for which the IAF has signed a contract for 36, Raha added: “We’d like more, but the decision has to be taken in the near future based on capability and price.” Other officials in the IAFtold AIN that the version for India would be more lethal than the French and other recent international versions.
An Inter-Governmental Agreement was signed for co-production of the FGFA. But now that the IAF has completed a design review, it has “found gaps in information in terms of the depth and transfer of technology…and a lack of visibility of total cost,” said Raha. While things are now clearer, “let us see what happens,” he added.
The IAF combat fighter inventory includes 270 Su-30MKIs. An official said: “Ordering more will not be wise. We should not have all our eggs in one basket.”
Live firing of the air-to-ground version of the Brahmos missile on the modified Sukhoi Su-30 MKI will be finished in three months.
Aiming to boost its capability for local production via a transfer of technology, India has received “unsolicited offers for the Gripen, F-16, and F-18. Whoever gives the best deal will get the contract,” said Raha. Meanwhile, deliveries of the 80 indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Mk1 version will not be completed until 2028.