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India's Fighter Jets

  • 24 Apr 2023
  • 7 min read

Why in News?

The Indian Air Force (IAF), one of the world’s largest Air Forces, face challenges in modernizing its fleet, as delays in procurement have led to a shortfall in its fighter squadrons.

  • An IAF representative informed the Parliamentary standing committee on Defence that the IAF has only 31 fighter squadrons, against the sanctioned strength of 42.

What is Fighter Squadron?

  • About:
    • A fighter squadron is a military unit consisting of fighter aircraft and the pilots who fly them.
      • It is a fundamental component of an air force and is responsible for conducting air operations in a combat zone.
    • A typical fighter squadron consists of 18 fighter aircraft.
    • They are an essential component of any modern air force and are tasked with a wide range of missions, including air superiority, and ground attack.
  • Reasons for the Shortfall:
    • Delays in procurement have contributed to the shortfall, as many of the IAF's fighter jets are ageing and need to be replaced.
  • Status of the Procurement of Fighter Jets:
    • India has an ambitious plan to acquire over 500 fighter jets, with most of them being for the IAF.
      • Many of these jets are still in various stages of development, and their manufacturing and timely deliveries are critical.
    • The IAF has in total contracted 272 SU-30s.
    • A deal to procure 12 additional SU-30MKI aircrafts to replace the ones lost in accidents and 21 additional MIG-29s from Russia has been stuck, though both IAF and Russian officials state that it has only been delayed but is on track.

What Different Types of Aircrafts India Has?

  • Light Combat Aircraft (LCA):
    • Designed to replace ageing Mig 21 fighter planes
    • Developed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) under the Department of Defence Research and Development.
    • Manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
    • Lightest, smallest and tailless multi-role supersonic fighter aircraft in its class.
    • Can carry a range of air-to-air, air-to-surface, precision-guided weapons.
    • Air-to-air refueling capability, maximum payload capacity of 4000 kg, maximum speed of Mach 1.8 and Range of 3000 km.
  • Multi-Role Fighter Aircraft (MRFA):
    • Designed to perform various missions such as air-to-air combat, air-to-ground attack, and electronic warfare.
    • IAF pursuing the procurement of 114 MRFA to replace the aging fleet of Soviet-era MiG-21.
    • Procurement will be carried out under the Make in India initiative.
    • Selected vendor will have to set up a production line in India and transfer technology to local partners.
  • MiG-21:
    • Supersonic jet fighter and interceptor aircraft designed by the erstwhile USSR in the 1950s.
      • Widely used combat aircraft in history, with more than 11,000 units built and over 60 countries operating it.
    • IAF acquired its first MiG-21 in 1963 and has since inducted 874 variants of the aircraft
    • Involved in several wars and conflicts involving India. Involved in many accidents and crashes, earning it the nickname “flying coffin”.
    • IAF plans to phase out the MiG-21 by 2024 and replace it with more modern fighters.
  • Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA):
    • An Indian program to develop a 5thgeneration stealth, multirole combat aircraft for the IAF and the Indian Navy
    • Designed and developed by the ADA of the DRDO, in collaboration with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and other public and private partners.
    • Expected to have features such as a stealth airframe, internal weapons bay, advanced sensors, data fusion, supercruise capability and swing-role performance
    • Started in 2008 as a successor to the Sukhoi Su-30MKI
      • First flight planned for 2025 and production is expected to start after 2030.
  • Sukhoi Su-30MKI:
    • Twin-engine, two-seat, multirole fighter aircraft developed by Russia’s Sukhoi and built under license by India’s HAL for the IAF.
    • Designed to perform air superiority, ground attack, electronic warfare, and maritime strike missions
    • Entered service with the IAF in 2002 and has been deployed in several conflicts and exercises
  • Twin-Engine Deck-Based Fighter (TEDBF):
    • Manufactured for the Navy to replace the Navy's MiG-29K.
    • First twin-engine aircraft project in India for dedicated carrier-based operations.
    • Equipped predominantly with domestic weapons.
    • Maximum mach number of 1.6, service ceiling of 60,000 feet, maximum takeoff weight of 26 tons, unfolded wing.
  • Rafale:
    • French twin-engine and multirole fighter aircraft.
    • India procured 36 Rafale jets for Rs 59,000 crore in 2016.
    • Equipped to perform air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, ground support, in-depth strike, anti-ship strike, and nuclear deterrence missions.
    • The weapons package of Rafale jets includes Meteor missile, Scalp cruise missile, and MICA missile system.
      • Meteor missile is the next generation of Beyond Visual Range air-to-air missile designed to revolutionize air-to-air combat, capable of targeting enemy aircraft from 150 km away.
      • SCALP Cruise Missiles can hit targets 300 km away, while MICA missile system is a versatile air-to-air missile capable of hitting targets up to 100 km away.
    • Flight hour capacity of 30,000 hours in operations.


Source: TH

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