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Old 14th April 2020, 10:32   #886
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Default Re: Combat Aircraft of the Indian Air Force

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It is great to know that No. 18 Sqdn 'Flying Bullets', squadron of IAF's lone Param Vir Chakra awardee - F/O Nirmaljeet Singh Sekhon and a former MiG-27 squadron, shall be IAF's second Tejas squadron, soon to be equipped with the Tejas Mk.1 In FOC configuration.
Indeed a heartening news. With the naughty Gnats & Ajeets in fighter roles in the past, its now going back to the small fighter profile with LCA Tejas. The Mig-27 Bahadur era will look like an odd one in a strike role in a squadron that otherwise will seem a seasoned fighter/interceptor expert.

(Of course it doesn't mean that it is not painful to see that the squadron was only with a plated status for more than a couple of years after the Bahadurs were decommissioned from it. Sad reflection on the despicable state of attrition replacement planning & procurement pipeline.)

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Old 14th April 2020, 11:07   #887
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Default Re: Combat Aircraft of the Indian Air Force



Tejas Mk II Medium weight Fighter. I hope they are not making it too ambitious again. We hope for the best. First metal cutting has already moved from 2/20 to 4/21.
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Old 14th April 2020, 11:15   #888
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Default Re: Combat Aircraft of the Indian Air Force

What is also happening with this is - world is moving towards 5th generation fighters like F35 (of course unproven as such). And India is building 4th generation fighters in numbers pretty similar to those of the F35 being acquired by others. For a relatively technically inferior weapon system, numerical superiority should be at least of a magnitude to offset an inferior loss ratio. We aren't seeing that. Agreed that the first adversary PAF won't probably get an F35 like system any time soon, that is not the only potential adversary either!

For the MkII MWF, realistic timelines are fairly drawn out & the plane will enter full service toeing the "outdated" line almost. At least thats what I fear. I hope the planning is far long-sighted than what I see as a layman.
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Old 14th April 2020, 13:26   #889
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Default Re: Combat Aircraft of the Indian Air Force

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What is also happening with this is - world is moving towards 5th generation fighters like F35 (of course unproven as such). And India is building 4th generation fighters in numbers pretty similar to those of the F35 being acquired by others. For a relatively technically inferior weapon system, numerical superiority should be at least of a magnitude to offset an inferior loss ratio. We aren't seeing that. Agreed that the first adversary PAF won't probably get an F35 like system any time soon, that is not the only potential adversary either!

For the MkII MWF, realistic timelines are fairly drawn out & the plane will enter full service toeing the "outdated" line almost. At least thats what I fear. I hope the planning is far long-sighted than what I see as a layman.
Since the Tejas, Mk1 and 2, is an entirely indigenous project, it is entirely plausible that the government chooses to induct it in much higher numbers later on. It is also very likely that the initial squadrons are updated with time as the R&D is in-house and nothing should stop them as long as money is made available. Tejas Mk2 can be a complete game changer as in the medium term, it can allow us to play the numbers game.
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Old 14th April 2020, 14:07   #890
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Default Re: Combat Aircraft of the Indian Air Force

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Since the Tejas, Mk1 and 2, is an entirely indigenous project, it is entirely plausible that the government chooses to induct it in much higher numbers later on. It is also very likely that the initial squadrons are updated with time as the R&D is in-house and nothing should stop them as long as money is made available. Tejas Mk2 can be a complete game changer as in the medium term, it can allow us to play the numbers game.
Agreed. (Although picking them up in large numbers will totally depend on the IAF certifying that the force can do it's job to the fullest with these planes. Not otherwise.) Just that the plate cutting is slated some time in 2021 for now, no surprise if it slips further also (and thats understandable in complex projects).

Current planned retirements in the fleet & unfortunate training incident related attrition (not uncommon with the old Russian machinery in use) will mean we'll be just hoping that the adversaries don't try to test us a lot. Just a few modern Mig29 UPGs, the backbone Su30MKI squadrons & very few and not fully operational Rafales is what will be available in frontline interception & air defense roles IMO. Even with all schedules met by HAL, the Tejas MkII can't be seen in large number induction at least till 2029-30. Problem is, we can't turn back time. So - even if new acquisitions like Rafale are made in even more numbers, the deliveries will still take another 3-4 years to make actual impact. That is where picking up any available known airframes like F/A18E, F15, F16, Mig29 UPG, Mig35 etc will be more than a necessity. The twin tail Migs making more sense since the ground crew, service management, weapon system logistics are well known to the force at least.

We did see the IAF/Gov picking up such mothballed Fulkrum units recently in small numbers.

Had a deal for the F/A18 Hornet been struck earlier with the US government & Boeing, there was a chance to pick up as many as 40 odd such units from Australia that they are rolling off to make room for the F35. Slow decision making means all of those fully airworthy fighters are now picked up by a private military contractor in the USA. Remarkable that a private contractor could pick this, but not a country even after almost 2 decades of deliberation.

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Old 14th April 2020, 15:14   #891
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Default Re: Combat Aircraft of the Indian Air Force

I see a lot of talk about picking American Fighters and even a F35 as and when they will make them available to us after we have ordered their 4th gen relics. They are desperate to sell us the F21, F18 and now even the F15. But as well all know, US hardware especially war planes come with a lot of strings attached and user agreements in place, so no matter what , we must continue to keep them away from our main offensive attack force. Tankers, Recon, Transport and helicopters are OK as we have to keep them happy for toeing our line in world politics but definitely not a fighter attack platform as we could find that we won't be able to use them exactly when we need to.

Tejas and it's iterations , Rafale, upgraded SU30s and AMCA or even the SU57, when it has matured enough and RuAF has ordered them in numbers, will be the composition of the IAF in the future. The only area where the Americans have a chance is some F35s for one our future carriers, otherwise I just can't see anAmerican plane ever becoming a part of our core attacking fleet. Ofcourse USA will keep up the pressure but we must not fall for it for our sake.
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Old 14th April 2020, 17:04   #892
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Default Re: Combat Aircraft of the Indian Air Force

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Tejas and it's iterations , Rafale, upgraded SU30s and AMCA or even the SU57, when it has matured enough and RuAF has ordered them in numbers, will be the composition of the IAF in the future. The only area where the Americans have a chance is some F35s for one our future carriers, otherwise I just can't see anAmerican plane ever becoming a part of our core attacking fleet. Ofcourse USA will keep up the pressure but we must not fall for it for our sake.
With India proceeding towards procurement of S400 ADS, F35 is pretty much out of the equation. Quite evidently the USA is not going to have both items working together (Turkey being an example). Seems the S400 is going to expose a lot of shortcomings on the F35 and cause a massive hit on the sales .

(Good riddance!)
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Old 14th April 2020, 19:57   #893
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Default Re: Combat Aircraft of the Indian Air Force

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Tejas Mk II Medium weight Fighter. I hope they are not making it too ambitious again. We hope for the best. First metal cutting has already moved from 2/20 to 4/21.
I swear mission creep is more dangerous to weapons development programmes than espionage and sabotage.

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Tejas and it's iterations , Rafale, upgraded SU30s and AMCA or even the SU57, when it has matured enough and RuAF has ordered them in numbers, will be the composition of the IAF in the future.
RuAF hardly gave the Su-57 project a seal of approval - last I checked it's not even in low initial rate production. They've essentially reduced it to a programme on the backburner and a new tow to trot out for the annual Victory Day parades or other photo ops like when two of the jets provided fighter escort to Putin's presidential jet. Basically a photo op queen for the time being. Especially with further hard choices the Russian MoD will have to make with depressed oil prices for the immediately foreseeable future, whatever Rubles will go towards other higher priority projects. Starved of funding you'll find the project managers desperate for any outside investment. Cue the photo op with Erdogan at a Turkish air show late last year iirc. I don't think India can afford to waste more time and money behind the platform, if there were significant enough issues that drove an ambling decision making bodies such as ours to take the drastic step of backing out of the Su-57, I don't see us re-entering unless there's a Very visible positive step made by the programme. I think you'll find one of the very few airframes even burned down earlier this year.

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With India proceeding towards procurement of S400 ADS, F35 is pretty much out of the equation. Quite evidently the USA is not going to have both items working together (Turkey being an example). Seems the S400 is going to expose a lot of shortcomings on the F35 and cause a massive hit on the sales .

(Good riddance!)
I think folks are being naive if they ever thought the F-35 was on the table for India. As a programme it's finally come into clear headway with units being inducted in strong enough numbers that costs are coming down to the advertised levels at the start of the project. But that's moot for us, even if the F-35A is relatively good value compared to something like the F-15X. As you pointed out, Turkey got booted pretty quick and they were a member of the programme. Given the highly networked nature and the fact the US has only made the exception for the Israeli's to tinker with the source code, and not even other stalwart partners like the UK or Australia, then there's more chance of pigs flying than India ever getting a deal past any hawks on the Hill.

Speaking of Israel, I think our best bet of finally putting to bed the endless conjecture and hype about the S-400 vs the F-35 will be if the Israeli's ever stray into range of the Russian S-400s stationed at Latakia for example. In the short operational history of the F-35I, the Israeli's have already used it with impunity to strike Syrian positions, to almost comically inept response from the Syrians. I think the true test though would be up against Russian operated air defence systems. But even then I think a lot of the hype behind the S-400 works in favour of it's myth preventing any action in the first place. I think that's a preferable position to be in for the Russians.

Anyway tangent aside, I think Australia might have an instructive example of how to marry ostensibly 4th generation platforms with something 5th gen so to speak and a bit more attainable. By that I mean their "loyal wingman" UAVprogramme. Essentially having advanced drones, potentially with some degree of low observability but more crucially the sensor fusion that provides the high fidelity picture of the entire battlefield (that I for one think is the main strength of the F35 for eg). You could have such a UAV far in advance of your manned older spec fighters, relaying back targeting info. Thus our hypothetical Tejas for example becomes a cheap weapons truck. I only say this because we've screwed the pooch with the deadlines on the Tejas programme enough that I am wary of any indigenous efforts in this domain. However I find a low observable drone more palatable in that regard and something where we can just leapfrog the manned fighter game at the very high end and perhaps hope to get our foot in the door for the evolving unmanned arena with a domestic capability early doors.

Finally I think the aphorism about quantity having a quality of its own, very apt. So even if these Tejas squadrons get fielded and they're a bit geriatric out the gates, field them in enough numbers and complement them with more advanced platforms in limited numbers but the right way, and we might see a compromise that works for us. The USAF came up with it with their Raptor squads made of F-22s coupled with buddy F-15 Eagles that allowed them to make use of their minuscule fleet of Raptors compared to the larger Eagle numbers. I suppose that's a template the IAF can employ. Marry the Tejas with a high end but limited number of perhaps a foreign platform like a Rafale. I'm just spitballing here so feel free to interject
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Old 14th April 2020, 23:55   #894
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Default Re: Combat Aircraft of the Indian Air Force

Already there are rendering and designs out for another parallel efferts by ADA
Twin Engine Deck based Fighter ( TEDF) for Navy

This was also presented in def expo I think. Looks like a bad omen as 2 parallel developments are not feasible and if they continue and suppose in 2025 IAF bites twin engine bug and true to the tradition revises GSQR again it would mean another 10 year delay.

The main source of delay from 2001 aftwr first flight in Tejas were continuous revision in requirements.

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Originally Posted by V.Narayan View Post
https://www.Youtube.com/watch?v=gCiCpXwcZ2M

Tejas Mk II Medium weight Fighter. I hope they are not making it too ambitious again. We hope for the best. First metal cutting has already moved from 2/20 to 4/21.
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Old 15th April 2020, 03:17   #895
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Default Re: Combat Aircraft of the Indian Air Force

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Already there are rendering and designs out for another parallel efferts by ADA
Twin Engine Deck based Fighter ( TEDF) for Navy

This was also presented in def expo I think. Looks like a bad omen as 2 parallel developments are not feasible and if they continue and suppose in 2025 IAF bites twin engine bug and true to the tradition revises GSQR again it would mean another 10 year delay.

The main source of delay from 2001 aftwr first flight in Tejas were continuous revision in requirements.
Like I said earlier, changing the goalposts during development never helps. It's pulled the rug out from under many many a project.

Indeed, the scenario you suggest is a nightmare to me, where the IAF suddenly decides to board the twin engine bandwagon late in the day. I feel like one of the biggest issues HAL and ADA have is they cannot or will not say no, to any request, proposal, shot-in-the-dark. Regardless of the fact that they're making slow going with the things on their plate, some talking head at HAL never ceases to amaze me with some new proclamation about a task they've proudly taken on. Lord, while the intention is admirable, I think we need to be brutally honest with ourselves.

I think we can break it down into simple categories.
  1. IAF - you'll need a light fighter to replace the Mig-21s. Well, focus simply on the Tejas 1A, that's something that should be in sight. Get that sorted and start pumping those out in sufficient number. We don't need a silver bullet platform to do a lot of the work that the Bisons do in service currently, so all it takes is going all in on the Tejas. At least in this regard there's some small promising steps being made. I'd frankly not bother with the Tejas 2/MWF, I think the kind of mature platforms it would pit itself against are not worth the time lost in needing to develop this.
  2. IAF - medium weight fighter: well we finally got the Rafale, after it went through all the rigmarole that the Indian procurement process could throw at it. Then just double down on it. It's clearly passed muster, sure it's pricey but I think there's an opportunity to really bring total life time costs down because the sister service might have a hand.
  3. IN - clearly leaning towards a twin engine naval fighter. Funny, that's exactly what the Rafale-M is. If I were Dassault, I'd get a Rafale-M on the mock-up carrier deck at an Indian naval station, demonstrably show it could easily fling itself off INS Vikramaditya and Vikrant, and get a decent order in. I think Dassault needs to take the initiative here and force the issue a bit by doing the demonstration and not simply leaving it to conjecture.
  4. A combined IAF+IN order for Rafales of either variant would further still be the biggest order for Dassault outside the French themselves, I'm sure the French will in that light be amenable to throwing in some sweeteners. Crucially with that many airframes, we could potentially bring the critical stumbling block of unit cost down.

To me these 3 orders are eminently achievable within the decade and I think entirely prudent. I would imagine if we managed the above it would go some way towards rectifying the issues we face now without breaking the bank.
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Old 15th April 2020, 12:55   #896
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[*]IN - clearly leaning towards a twin engine naval fighter. Funny, that's exactly what the Rafale-M is. If I were Dassault, I'd get a Rafale-M on the mock-up carrier deck at an Indian naval station, demonstrably show it could easily fling itself off INS Vikramaditya and Vikrant, and get a decent order in. I think Dassault needs to take the initiative here and force the issue a bit by doing the demonstration and not simply leaving it to conjecture.
Agree with your points up there. Regarding the Rafale-M, I'm not sure that MRA can work to its full potential from small ski jump platforms like the Vikramaditya/Vikrant. Its weapons load capability is quite high along with a high possible take-off weight & fuel load. Such a plane would need a longer flight deck with catapult launches. The Mig-29K in use right now has fairly low weapons load and endurance range with the Vikramaditya. Its a bit of a compromise limiting the range, weapon load and roles that it can perform effectively IMO.
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Old 15th April 2020, 12:59   #897
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Default Re: Combat Aircraft of the Indian Air Force

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Like I said earlier, changing the goalposts during development never helps. It's pulled the rug out from under many many a project.

I think we can break it down into simple categories.

To me these 3 orders are eminently achievable within the decade and I think entirely prudent. I would imagine if we managed the above it would go some way towards rectifying the issues we face now without breaking the bank.
You have summed up the IAF procurement plan as it should be !

Quality and Quantity are both needed for the air force and navy.

The Tejas Mk1A as you have rightly said will emerge as a potent platfrom but will be fully operational (able to undertake all missions demanded of the IAF and ready to go to war) and available in significant numbers only by 2028-2030.

It will take 3 years from the date of the order to make the first aircraft and another couple of years to for production to ramp-up. If history is our guide, then you can expect a year or two of production delays as well.

The MWF or Tejas Mk2 is perhaps an acknowledgement that India does not have the technological base to design and develop a 5th generation fighter from scratch. It is probably the same as expecting Mahindra/Tata to make a Mercedes S Class in terms of the technology jump.

So proceeding with the MWF or Tejas Mk2 as a replacement for Mirage 2000, MiG-29 and Jaguar (more than 200 aircraft) that will be ready for production by 2030 will keep our designers and workforce occupied.

With the decision not to go in for the Su-57, the Rafale will be the top gun in the air force. But it is a very expensive platform (to purchase and maintain).

The best the IAF could hope for will be an order for another 2 squadrons around 2022-2025 for delivery 2025-2028.

We are buying the Rafale F3-R variant and the French are already developing an F4 variant, which we can upgrade to around 2030 hopefully.
https://www.dassault-aviation.com/en...dard-launched/

It is unlikely the Navy will buy the Rafale.

Indian Naval Aviation is now heavily tilted towards US equipment - P-8Is ( 8 ordered and 4 more and another 6 likely in the pipeline) and 24 Sikorsky MH-60R (there will be more orders in future).

The Super Hornet will likely emerge the winner here as it will also support interoperability with P-8I, MH-60R and commonality of weapons also.

Super Hornet deal will also keep the US happy and being FMS is less controversial. Boeing has already partnered with HAL for the Super Hornet.

The Rafale M is operated in small numbers with the French Navy and will not get any other export orders.

The Super Hornet will be operated by the U.S. Navy till 2040 and is also operated by the Royal Australian Air Force. Future upgrade cost will be spread across the U.S. Navy fleet and maintenance costs will be cheaper.
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Old 15th April 2020, 13:14   #898
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The Super Hornet will likely emerge the winner here as it will also support interoperability with P-8I, MH-60R and commonality of weapons also.
Super Hornet deal will also keep the US happy and being FMS is less controversial. Boeing has already partnered with HAL for the Super Hornet.
The Rafale M is operated in small numbers with the French Navy and will not get any other export orders.
The Super Hornet will be operated by the U.S. Navy till 2040 and is also operated by the Royal Australian Air Force. Future upgrade cost will be spread across the U.S. Navy fleet and maintenance costs will be cheaper.
Yes there certainly is a tilt towards US made equipment. However, if choice comes to pick between the Rafale-M and F18 Super Hornet, I think as long as the commercials are favourable, picking the Rafale makes more sense. Both will need a CATOBAR carrier in first place, which is nowhere on the horizon for now considering IAC-2 is pretty much on the back burner.

Yes the Super Hornet has a pretty assured long service life to go still. But US arms come with a lot of restrictions and monitoring clauses. France on the other hand has been a proven all weather friend for India for decades. They have been supportive for all the modifications India went ahead with on the Mirages for example. Provided modern missile systems with the Rafale also. Are allowing integration with non-French weapon systems on Dassault made weapons platforms like the Mirage-2000. Russian & French weapons deals have so far been more of "Sell & Forget" kind. This cannot be presumed to be possible with US made systems.
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Old 15th April 2020, 13:22   #899
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Default Re: Combat Aircraft of the Indian Air Force

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Also contrary to popular belief, long range missiles launched from a plane don't fly straight towards an aerial target. They follow a parabolic path in which the rocket motors only fires for a small duration enabling it to reach a very high altitude and then it glides to its target.
What would be the velocity at end of burn, and at outer limit of range? Approx how long is the burn time?

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Old 15th April 2020, 15:30   #900
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I think we can break it down into simple categories.
  1. IAF - you'll need a light fighter to replace the Mig-21s. Well, focus simply on the Tejas 1A, that's something that should be in sight. Get that sorted and start pumping those out in sufficient number. We don't need a silver bullet platform to do a lot of the work that the Bisons do in service currently, so all it takes is going all in on the Tejas. At least in this regard there's some small promising steps being made. I'd frankly not bother with the Tejas 2/MWF, I think the kind of mature platforms it would pit itself against are not worth the time lost in needing to develop this.
  2. IAF - medium weight fighter: well we finally got the Rafale, after it went through all the rigmarole that the Indian procurement process could throw at it. Then just double down on it. It's clearly passed muster, sure it's pricey but I think there's an opportunity to really bring total life time costs down because the sister service might have a hand.
  3. IN - clearly leaning towards a twin engine naval fighter. Funny, that's exactly what the Rafale-M is. If I were Dassault, I'd get a Rafale-M on the mock-up carrier deck at an Indian naval station, demonstrably show it could easily fling itself off INS Vikramaditya and Vikrant, and get a decent order in. I think Dassault needs to take the initiative here and force the issue a bit by doing the demonstration and not simply leaving it to conjecture.
  4. A combined IAF+IN order for Rafales of either variant would further still be the biggest order for Dassault outside the French themselves, I'm sure the French will in that light be amenable to throwing in some sweeteners. Crucially with that many airframes, we could potentially bring the critical stumbling block of unit cost down.

To me these 3 orders are eminently achievable within the decade and I think entirely prudent. I would imagine if we managed the above it would go some way towards rectifying the issues we face now without breaking the bank.
In an ideal scenario IAF just wants to buy the Rafael in big numbers and be done with it. But the problem is money and its even less after this Corona virus pandemic. This long drawn MMRCA 2.0 circus will soon be gone, rather scrapped due to lack of funds and I expect another GTG deal for 36 more Rafael frames from France. I just do not see any more Rafales in IAF in the future, as it just doesn't make sense to have such an expensive 4th gen platform, when our not so benign neighbors are already talking about 5th gen fighters.

So AMCA has to happen no matter what. But there is already concern about its the power plant choice and low ordnance capability in its internal weapon bays in its current design, which makes it a risky proposition. Our fall back strategy is the SU57 even if its a half baked product currently. In fact not just a fallback strategy, the IAF may actually continue with current AMCA design as a low to medium capacity 5th gen plane and move the heavy weight low observable ops to the SU57. So we are kind of clear with our fifth gen path.

Unfortunately after the Mig 21s are gone, we still have a lot of 4th gen frames that need replacing like Jags, Mig 29s and eventually Mirage 2ks in a couple of decades or even earlier. The only aircraft that could replace this massive 4th gen shortfall is the MWF. Well the AMCA should have been the ideal candidate, but its too risky a project currently and the promised development schedule could really go hay wire, if the Tejas project management is any indicator.

Rafale is and will be the last 4th gen or 4++ gen fighter that we will ever import. So MWF development isn't just any science project, rather, very much a dire need to replace these 4th gen frames in the near future.
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