Thursday, September 13, 2018

India Looks to Indigenous Fighters

With the number of the Indian Air Force’s fighter squadrons expected to decrease quickly from the present 31 as the current fleet ages, there has been a decisive endeavor to accelerate the recapitalization of the fighter fleet. The majority of the new fighters are to bear the “Make in India” label. By 2032, the Indian Air Force plans to have at least 18 squadrons of Indian-made fighters, said the Deputy Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal R. Nambiar, at a conference held in Delhi this month.

Nambiar said that the squadrons of the indigenously built fleet would include the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Mk1, Mk1A, and Mk2 that, in 10 years, “would be the mainstay of our inventory.” LCA variants would replace the MiG-29s, Jaguars, and Mirage 2000s. He said of the LCA: “It is a wonderful aircraft but deliveries are too slow.”

With the India-Russia fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) project showing little signs of moving ahead, it is the twin-engine, stealthy Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) program that the Indian Air Force is now looking at “as a replacement for the Sukhoi Su-30s, which will start showing their age by then,” noted Nambier. He said that the air force “has put its money where its mouth is” and has already released a facility in Coimbatore in South India to the Defence Research Development Organisation to start work on two AMCA technology demonstrators. In the meantime, the Minister of Defense, Nirmala Sitharaman, confirmed to Parliament the feasibility study for the development of AMCA had already been completed.
12/09/18 Neelam Mathews/AINonline