Monday, 21 November 2011

Two Big Ticket Projects Cleared For IAF

Two important defense deals will get a final nod within a week or so. Both the deals are worth nearly 5000cr and are meant to beef up IAF. First one pertains to acquiring 75 Swiss turbo-prop aircraft to train novice pilots and second one is for 450 advanced French missiles to arm upgraded Mirage-2000 multi-role fighters.

Defence ministry sources say the two deals have now been "sent" to the Cabinet Committee on Security for the "final nod" after "clarifying all objections" of finance ministry. "The contracts will be inked after the CCS clears within a week or so," said a source.

IAF wants to induct trainers before the induction of MMRCA to train new pilots. The situation has been aggravated by the fact that IAF's 114 HPT-32 jet trainers have been grounded since 2009 due to repeated engine failure.

"We want to begin our first course on the Pilatus trainers from July 2013," said a senior officer. IAF, of course, is already inducting 123 British Hawk AJTs (advanced jet trainers), at a cost of around Rs 16,000 crore, but they are meant for "advanced'' combat training. The contract for the around 450 fire-and-forget, all-weather MICA (interception and aerial combat missiles) systems with French company MBDA, too, has been in the pipeline for quite some time.

You might recall that earlier this year it was agreed that Mirage-2000s will be upgraded by Dassault costing a whopping 10,947 Cr Rs.

First two fighters are being sent to France next month for the upgrade, the remaining 49 will later be "souped up" with new avionics, radars, mission computers, glass cockpits, helmet-mounted displays, electronic warfare suites, weapon delivery and precision-targeting systems by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd in India. The overall upgrade project cost will go beyond Rs 15,000 crore over the decade it will take to be completed. Down to just 33-34 fighter squadrons (each has 16 to 18 jets) from a 'sanctioned strength' of 39.5


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Some of the new deals being done by IAF are
1) 63 MiG-29s are to be upgraded under a $964 million deal inked with Russia in March 2008.
2) 126 MMRCA
3) IAF is also inducting 272 Sukhoi-30MKIs contracted from Russia for around $12 billion.
4) The first batch of the around 120 indigenous Tejas Light Combat Aircraft will join IAF from end-2013 onwards.
5) India plans to induct 250-300 stealth fifth-generation fighter aircraft co-developed with Russia from 2020 onwards, in what will be its biggest-ever defence project at around $35 billion.