Shailesh Kumar is an independent journalist with over 17 years of experience in crime, political and defence reporting for leading media brands including Star News, India TV and NewsX. He is the founder editor of defence and security news portal, National Defence.
With Rafale deal close the corner, Indian Air Force is about to close the widening gap of the required number of squadron to successfully wage a two front war. India is about to ink deal with France for 36 Rafale possibly in next few weeks as the negotiations likely to close at 60,000 crore rupees. That means a Rafale fighter would cost India some thousand six hundred fifty crore rupees each.
The deal looks costly but it would prove dear to India if IAF can’t put up a deterrent to China and Pakistan in two front war scenarios. As a military doctrine, Indian Air Force requires 42 squadrons of fighter jets to best teach a lesson to its adversaries on both western and northern front. But, squadron numbers stands at 34 at moment and in next 10 years down the line another 10 squadrons mostly Russian Migs will be obsolete and phased out. The number standing at 24 is not enough to scare the dragon which has 1700 fighter and Pakistan 400 combat fighter ready. The asymmetric number with China was bearable with the superiority of Indian Air Force fighters. Now, to maintain the superiority, IAF needs the most technologically sophisticated 4++ Generation medium multirole combat aircraft. MMRCA trials proved Rafale to be the best choice for IAF.
After India signs the deal, first Rafale would be inducted in IAF in about 3 years time. But, can 36 Rafale give IAF the brute force to finish off its enemies on both fronts? IAF requires another 90 fighters as was originally stipulated in MMRCA deal to plug the gap. While Fifth Generation Fighter Jet Pak-Fa T-50 could only be inducted in 2026 and 8 squadrons of LCA in another 8 years. So, IAF would require another 90 MMRCA fighters ASAP to fill in the gap. LCA can’t be compared with Rafale which has multiroles in single package and less visible on enemy radar. India would need 90 MMRCA equal if not more than rafale capability in order to be capable of waging two front war. Rafale is not enough. IAF needs more… more… more for swift, swirling and swelling power.