India seems to do the same mistake again in acquiring the fighter jets which are much needed for the Indian air force. It had lost two decades of time and money with a huge embarrassment for the nation with snail pace decision process and huge mismanagement of the two decade old process. As per the statement given by the junior minister Mr. Sripad Naik in parliament, it seems that India is inviting bids and evaluating them for purchase of 114 fighter jets again which many experts say as worlds largest deal as on date. The deal is valued to be more than 15 billion USD and had attracted major global suppliers.
Boeing is partnering with state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. and Mahindra Defence Systems Ltd. for the fighter jet deal offering its F/A-18. Lockheed will jointly bid with salt-to-software conglomerate Tata Group for its F-21 jets, and Saab teamed with billionaire Gautam Adani to offer its Gripen jets. Under the new tender, the winner will have to deliver the first jet within three years of securing the contract.
After laborious exercise and technical evaluations by Indian Airforce which took nearly a decade to finalise Rafale jets which seems to be the best fit as per Airforce experts and fighter pilots. Government had scrapped an order with Dassault Aviation for 126 Rafale jets worth $11 billion in 2015. Modi’s administration bought the same 36 Rafale jets with full ammunition separately under government to government agreement.
When we have 36 Rafale jets on its way and jets evaluated for the performance and pilots satisfied with the same jets repeatedly irrespective of the governments. Its really not in the interest of the nation that we again do the same drama of calling for the bids and redo the process again. Rather Indian government can ask for additional 114 Rafale jets from Dassault and involve French government for a better price and negotiate with them for the bulk contract with a 85% manufacturing clause in India.
Twin threats from China and Pakistan are looming always over the nation. Recently a dog fight between Pakistani F-16 and Ageing MIG 21 soviet era jets, it was the pilot who had to be given full credit rather than the machine in downing a Pakistani jet before being downed himself. Modernizing the age old fleet and soviet era jets is the need of the hour and urgent attention is needed.
Its better we add on squadrons or 114 additional Rafale jets at a much better price rather than doing the same bidding process again which will take many years for the first fighter to come to action. And its a well known fact that Indian Pilots and IAF engineers are best used to Russian and French Jets and entire ecosystem of maintenance with full fledged squadron expertise around these machines. Trying American or Swedish jets would be a bad decision at this stage when we need the jets desperately. They may be tried later in partnership when our urgent needs are addressed.