Friday, June 19, 2020

India Is Buying The Wrong Warplanes For Fighting China

The Indian Air Force needs new fighters. It needed them pretty badly before the current conflict with China over a stretch of the Himalayas that both countries claim. Now it needs them even worse.

On Monday, Chinese forces killed 20 Indian soldiers in a skirmish along the disputed India-China border running through the towering mountain range. Forty-three Chinese soldiers also were injured or died, according to press reports.

So it should come as no surprise that India this week reportedly placed a $780 million order with Russia for 33 fighters, enough to equip or reequip two squadrons. What’s weird is which fighter types New Delhi reportedly is buying.
The Indian order includes 21 MiG-29s and 12 Su-30s, according to press reports. But one aviation expert believes the Sukhois in particular are a poor fit for mountain patrols.

The Indian Air Force reportedly long had planned to buy the extra planes to bolster the service’s existing arsenal of around 230 Su-30s and 60 MiG-29s. The air arm also plans, in coming years, to buy 83 locally-made Tejas light fighters as well as 144 foreign-made medium fighters.

All the new fighters—the Sukhois, MiGs, Tejas and medium fighters—are part of an effort to grow the air force from 28 front-line squadrons to 40, the number New Delhi considers adequate to fight both Pakistan and China at the same time.
Those 28 squadrons fly a bewildering variety of fighters, including Indian- and Russian-made types, French Mirage 2000s and Rafales and European Jaguars.
19/06/20 David Axe/Forbes

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