Build vs Procure [5th Generation Aircraft]

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#1
I was going through this article here, and with respect to current condition of IAF i.e. they are having to make do with lesser number of squadrons than they need to function optimally, is this the correct way forward?

My opinion based on my analysis of current situation [correct if wrong]:

Our airforce is pretty much Pakistan oriented as of now, and slowly starting to focus on China (Sqdn. in Thanjavur).
Rafale was delayed as hell, and we are still using Mig-21s which is a relic right now (old is NOT gold) .

India is having lesser numbers of Su30s, Mig29s - thanks to crashes.

The Problem:

China now has a working 5th gen jet & there are no guarantees that Pak won't get their hands on it in case of war between India and Pakistan - China might give it to save their interest in Pak (CPEC).
Given our track record with development of Jets (Tejas being the prime example), by the time (if ever) we make our AMCA a reality, others might have gone past 5th gen to 6th gen territory.

Shouldn't IAF look to strengthen the capabilities along with 'make in India', so that both interests are safe guarded?
 
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#2
The problem with developments in India is that they are under-evaluated in terms of time and delay.

The Indians announce very insufficient budgets and a very insufficient duration of development and then under the pretext of going fast they refuse to bend to a methodology and even overtake the normal time of development at an astronomical cost.

To progress in technology you can't skip steps, it's as if you want to demonstrate a mathematical theorem at an advanced level when you only have a primary level. But every time someone offers to help you advance, you refuse because it seems too expensive.
 
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#3
I was going through this article here, and with respect to current condition of IAF i.e. they are having to make do with lesser number of squadrons than they need to function optimally, is this the correct way forward?

My opinion based on my analysis of current situation [correct if wrong]:

Our airforce is pretty much Pakistan oriented as of now, and slowly starting to focus on China (Sqdn. in Thanjavur).
Rafale was delayed as hell, and we are still using Mig-21s which is a relic right now (old is NOT gold) .

India is having lesser numbers of Su30s, Mig29s - thanks to crashes.

The Problem:

China now has a working 5th gen jet & there are no guarantees that Pak won't get their hands on it in case of war between India and Pakistan - China might give it to save their interest in Pak (CPEC).
Given our track record with development of Jets (Tejas being the prime example), by the time (if ever) we make our AMCA a reality, others might have gone past 5th gen to 6th gen territory.

Shouldn't IAF look to strengthen the capabilities along with 'make in India', so that both interests are safe guarded?
AMCA aircraft will be a 5th gen aircraft with some of the sixth generation capabilities
 
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#5
Can you elaborate on this please?
We are Calling AMCA 5th Gen aircraft but it will come with 6th Gen technologies: IAF Chief
We are Calling AMCA 5th Gen aircraft but it will come with 6th Gen technologies: IAF Chief
The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria spoke at Agenda AajTak on ‘IAF – The Way Ahead’ in a session named India First on 16 Dec 19. He laid out his vision on the IAF’s force structure and capability building in the decades ahead while underscoring the urgent need for indigenization for building a strong and self-reliant Defence capability.
Bhadauria said that while IAF calls the country’s AMCA program as a 5th Generation fighter jet but it will come with technologies which will be categorized as 6th generation technology which will come within next 10-20 years in the AMCA program, hinting that development cycle to keep AMCA technologically relevant will be an ongoing process even when it is ready for production in 2030.
Bhadauria spelled out the need to develop a laser weapon system that could protect fighter jets and other aircraft from incoming threats in the future. He also talked about the need for Artificial Intelligence to be leveraged to control weapon-carrying drones within proximity. He also stressed the need for AMCA to work in tandem with UCAVs (Ghatak) which requires the need for Artificial Intelligence.
While it is still not clear when such technologies will be available for integration in the AMCA, but since it is confirmed that AMCA Mk2 will be ready for production only in 2035, it is expected that if not many at least few of the technologies will be ready by then, specially AMCA’s ability to work in tandem with Ghatak UCAVs which are also under development, as of development of laser weapon system for fighter is already under development and according to a report U.S. Air Force will field a working prototype for aircraft testing by 2021, DRDO is working on ground-based laser weapon system which might be adapted for fighter jets but it will require technologies to downsize the technology to be fit into a fighter jet.
 
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#6
The problem with developments in India is that they are under-evaluated in terms of time and delay.

The Indians announce very insufficient budgets and a very insufficient duration of development and then under the pretext of going fast they refuse to bend to a methodology and even overtake the normal time of development at an astronomical cost.

To progress in technology you can't skip steps, it's as if you want to demonstrate a mathematical theorem at an advanced level when you only have a primary level. But every time someone offers to help you advance, you refuse because it seems too expensive.

India have its fair share of challenges for its own fighter developments.
However, I don't see why and how that acts as a barrier in procurement of a few 5th generation Jets to strengthen the IAF.
I fail to see the logic behind starving the IAF of advancement thereby reducing its effectiveness in case of a conflict.
We are Calling AMCA 5th Gen aircraft but it will come with 6th Gen technologies: IAF Chief

The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria spoke at Agenda AajTak on ‘IAF – The Way Ahead’ in a session named India First on 16 Dec 19. He laid out his vision on the IAF’s force structure and capability building in the decades ahead while underscoring the urgent need for indigenization for building a strong and self-reliant Defence capability.
Bhadauria said that while IAF calls the country’s AMCA program as a 5th Generation fighter jet but it will come with technologies which will be categorized as 6th generation technology which will come within next 10-20 years in the AMCA program, hinting that development cycle to keep AMCA technologically relevant will be an ongoing process even when it is ready for production in 2030.
Bhadauria spelled out the need to develop a laser weapon system that could protect fighter jets and other aircraft from incoming threats in the future. He also talked about the need for Artificial Intelligence to be leveraged to control weapon-carrying drones within proximity. He also stressed the need for AMCA to work in tandem with UCAVs (Ghatak) which requires the need for Artificial Intelligence.
While it is still not clear when such technologies will be available for integration in the AMCA, but since it is confirmed that AMCA Mk2 will be ready for production only in 2035, it is expected that if not many at least few of the technologies will be ready by then, specially AMCA’s ability to work in tandem with Ghatak UCAVs which are also under development, as of development of laser weapon system for fighter is already under development and according to a report U.S. Air Force will field a working prototype for aircraft testing by 2021, DRDO is working on ground-based laser weapon system which might be adapted for fighter jets but it will require technologies to downsize the technology to be fit into a fighter jet.

So, for next 10 to 20 years, IAF should wait for AMCA to mature and sit empty handed with China sitting with a 5th generation jet as we speak?
And networked warfare is pretty much present now, yes, AI is not yet used to it's full potential (as far as we know, and these things are mostly classified), but the base is present already.
 

Ashwin

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#7
I was going through this article here, and with respect to current condition of IAF i.e. they are having to make do with lesser number of squadrons than they need to function optimally, is this the correct way forward?

My opinion based on my analysis of current situation [correct if wrong]:

Our airforce is pretty much Pakistan oriented as of now, and slowly starting to focus on China (Sqdn. in Thanjavur).
Rafale was delayed as hell, and we are still using Mig-21s which is a relic right now (old is NOT gold) .

India is having lesser numbers of Su30s, Mig29s - thanks to crashes.

The Problem:

China now has a working 5th gen jet & there are no guarantees that Pak won't get their hands on it in case of war between India and Pakistan - China might give it to save their interest in Pak (CPEC).
Given our track record with development of Jets (Tejas being the prime example), by the time (if ever) we make our AMCA a reality, others might have gone past 5th gen to 6th gen territory.

Shouldn't IAF look to strengthen the capabilities along with 'make in India', so that both interests are safe guarded?
First, we have to understand the term 'Fifth-generation aircraft'. It means the aircraft will be low observable to radars with its RCS reduction shape and coatings. Remember, it does not mean the aircraft will disappear from the radar screen but it's just harder to detect first and have a lock. The generation jump here is not that significant compared to that of going propeller-driven to jet aircraft. It will not negate every advantage of its fourth-generation counterparts. It has now become largely a marketing term for F-35 in the west.

In a scenario where a pack of Su-30 MKI and J-20 face-off. When MKI detects J-20 at 100km MKI has already been detected by J-20 at 150km. But by the time J-20 gets lock and fire (Firing BVRs in very long-range is not a good tactic ask PAF) , MKI is also in a position to do the same. The advantage stealth fighters bring in is not huge. A J-20 formation can use one fighter to turn the radar on and share data so that others will be detected late. This capability is already there in most of our fourth-gen fighters. In fact, we used it during the Feb 27 engagement. We already have most of these so-called building blocks of a fifth-gen fighter. From AESA radar to NGBVR missiles.

On the question. No, China having a fifth-generation won't automatically negate our advantages. Building a fourth-generation aircraft from scratch was a monumental task. We have finally achieved that. Now the next step will be far easier.

Recommended read: Demolishing Some LCA Tejas Falsehoods
 
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#8
First, we have to understand the term 'Fifth-generation aircraft'. It means the aircraft will be low observable to radars with its RCS reduction shape and coatings. Remember, it does not mean the aircraft will disappear from the radar screen but it's just harder to detect first and have a lock. The generation jump here is not that significant compared to that of going propeller-driven to jet aircraft. It will not negate every advantage of its fourth-generation counterparts. It has now become largely a marketing term for F-35 in the west.

In a scenario where a pack of Su-30 MKI and J-20 face-off. When MKI detects J-20 at 100km MKI has already been detected by J-20 at 150km. But by the time J-20 gets lock and fire, MKI is also in a position to do the same. The advantage stealth fighters bring in is not huge. A J-20 formation can use one fighter to turn the radar on and share data so that others will be detected late. This capability is already there in most of our fourth-gen fighters. In fact, we used it during the Feb 27 engagement. We already have most of these so-called building blocks of a fifth-gen fighter. From AESA radar to NGBVR missiles.

On the question. No, China having a fifth-generation won't automatically negate our advantages. Building a fourth-generation aircraft from scratch was a monumental task. We have finally achieved that. Now the next step will be far easier.

Recommended read: Demolishing Some LCA Tejas Falsehoods
A question here, regarding LO and low RCS, there are instances of 1 F-22 taking on 20 or 25 F-15 (the number of F-15 may be wrong) and the F-15 pilots were clueless about where they got soft-shot down. I don't know if those claims were false or not. If so then it's fine.

I am not sure MKI can detect J-20 @ 100 KM (if it is able to then what is the point of LO in the first place?)
Secondly, If J-20 can get a lock-on @ 150 KM, they know the position of the IAF quite in advance which in case of an engagement.
Once they get a lock-on they will fire and once again MKIs will not be able to find a firing solution like what happened on 28th Feb.

I accept that 4th gen and 4+gen fighters are not sitting ducks, but the advantage provided by the 5th generation is not something that can be overlooked in case of a real fight.
 

Ashwin

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#9
A question here, regarding LO and low RCS, there are instances of 1 F-22 taking on 20 or 25 F-15 (the number of F-15 may be wrong) and the F-15 pilots were clueless about where they got soft-shot down. I don't know if those claims were false or not. If so then it's fine.

I am not sure MKI can detect J-20 @ 100 KM (if it is able to then what is the point of LO in the first place?)
Secondly, If J-20 can get a lock-on @ 150 KM, they know the position of the IAF quite in advance which in case of an engagement.
Once they get a lock-on they will fire and once again MKIs will not be able to find a firing solution like what happened on 28th Feb.

I accept that 4th gen and 4+gen fighters are not sitting ducks, but the advantage provided by the 5th generation is not something that can be overlooked in case of a real fight.
Results cannot be that bad (Search for rafale lock on raptor). But F-22 is the true stealth fighter with it's over expensive coating and ludicrous T/W ratio. Possible 'fifth-gen' fighter we can procure in this decade are Su-57 or F-35A. Both are not as good as F-22 in stealth. Su-57 needs phase 2 engine and F-35 does not have the maneuverability. J-20 engine is also suboptimal.

Remember once J-20 turns on its radar it's advantages are gone. The above scenario was with both side's radar on. MKI got a big and capable PESA radar for its job. I did not say J-20 got a lock at 150km. You can't fire BVRs at such range and pray it will hit something. Even the AMRAAMs couldn't do it at ~90km. Let alone Chinese unproven ones.
 

randomradio

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#10
The problem with developments in India is that they are under-evaluated in terms of time and delay.
True.

The Indians announce very insufficient budgets and a very insufficient duration of development and then under the pretext of going fast they refuse to bend to a methodology and even overtake the normal time of development at an astronomical cost.
False. DRDO has never complained about lack of funds once a project has been sanctioned. And very few projects have crossed sanctioned amounts. For example, LCA is well under budget released for its development.

It's just media misinforming readers because they do not know how project funding is sanctioned. For example, LCA's PDC stage was sanctioned $85M, but according to the media that includes the price for FSED and flight testing also. So when funds are released for FSED, that becomes "cost overrun". So it's just journalists being terribly ignorant. This is also pushed by import lobby and other vested interests.

We built 4 aircraft with the funds earmarked only for 2 TDs.
Background to DRDO Developed Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas
LCA FSED Phase 1 was completed on March 31, 2004 with all objectives of technology development achieved. With efficient management of funds, four aircraft (TD1, TD2, PV1, & PV2) have been built within the funds sanctioned for two aircraft development.

Read this article for a better picture.
Broadsword: Cost of the Tejas: when a sword arm is worth it

To progress in technology you can't skip steps, it's as if you want to demonstrate a mathematical theorem at an advanced level when you only have a primary level. But every time someone offers to help you advance, you refuse because it seems too expensive.
This part is because most of the time what's being offered is simply too basic and unnecessary. For example, would you argue in favour of us paying billions and taking up FGFA development with Russia in its current format with extremely limited workshare that are outside core areas? Most of the times we get access to technology when we are in the process of getting our own up and running, or sometimes the offers made are ridiculous, like Saab's offer of taking over complete development of LCA with a majority stake.

If you are referring to your engine offer, that's only one incident, and there's a possibility the engine on offer needs an upgrade since MWF has progressed far too much to require an engine change and AMCA's engine development is taking a different path through a separate project.

This used to be a problem during the Cold War, but at that time we were extremely poor, like the Marut's engine troubles which could have been solved with money. There have been some missed opportunities, but this is not endemic.

The biggest impediment to R&D in India is the lack of initiative for taking risks and the govt's low threshold of tolerance for failure during R&D. And of course, there's our bureucracy.
 

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#12
India have its fair share of challenges for its own fighter developments.
However, I don't see why and how that acts as a barrier in procurement of a few 5th generation Jets to strengthen the IAF.
I fail to see the logic behind starving the IAF of advancement thereby reducing its effectiveness in case of a conflict.



So, for next 10 to 20 years, IAF should wait for AMCA to mature and sit empty handed with China sitting with a 5th generation jet as we speak?
And networked warfare is pretty much present now, yes, AI is not yet used to it's full potential (as far as we know, and these things are mostly classified), but the base is present already.
To answer your question, the IAF has the option to go in for PAK FA at a later date. Either as a silver bullet force with 2 or 3 squadrons like Mig-29 or M2000, or a full license production of an MKIzed version with 6 or more squadrons. This has a lot to do with how well PAK FA progresses though, as also the status of our own programs. FGFA has most likely beeen shelved though. MoD and IAF would much rather spend R&D budget on indigenous tech instead.

But the IAF is not in a hurry to counter the J-20 since their technology is not mature yet. The IAF believes the Rafale can counter the J-20 until such time the J-20's more advanced versions are released at a later date, which gives time for PAK FA to mature as well.
 
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#13
To answer your question, the IAF has the option to go in for PAK FA at a later date. Either as a silver bullet force with 2 or 3 squadrons like Mig-29 or M2000, or a full license production of an MKIzed version with 6 or more squadrons. This has a lot to do with how well PAK FA progresses though, as also the status of our own programs. FGFA has most likely beeen shelved though. MoD and IAF would much rather spend R&D budget on indigenous tech instead.

But the IAF is not in a hurry to counter the J-20 since their technology is not mature yet. The IAF believes the Rafale can counter the J-20 until such time the J-20's more advanced versions are released at a later date, which gives time for PAK FA to mature as well.
I also read that FGFA is shelved thanks to pricing issues with the Russians. Also, with IAF's current inventory, you feel IAF is prepared to take on China until the Rafales come in? Also, how many are India getting?
 

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#14
I also read that FGFA is shelved thanks to pricing issues with the Russians.
Not pricing issues. IAF made too many bureaucratic and close involvement demands and DRDO killed any need for sharing workshare. IAF's assumption was DRDO cannot make such tech, but DRDO said they are already doing it, so IAF backed out of FGFA since we didn't need R&D assistance there.

As for bureaucratic demands and IAF's insistence on being closesly involved, the Russians did not agree. For example, IAF wanted weekly reports and flight testing by IAF pilots. But according to Russians, weekly reports are not possible and IAF can't fly the aircraft since it's not a serial production aircraft yet and only Russian pilots are allowed to fly it since the version currently flying is not for export. So the IAF will now wait for serial production aircraft before making a decision.

Money wasn't the problem, both sides had agreed to most of the stuff both were supposed to do long ago. Most of our share was going into the R&D infrastructure and production line within our country anyway. Only a small amount was headed to Russia to complete the development of an export version.

Also, with IAF's current inventory, you feel IAF is prepared to take on China until the Rafales come in? Also, how many are India getting?
China alone or Pakistan alone, then we have enough. For China and Pakistan together, we don't have enough. IAF cannot perform offensive missions against China for many days if there is a simultaneous attack from both countries since existing jets will have to deal with Pak first while only focusing on air defence against PLAAF.

We are getting 36 Rafales, although minimum required is 72, optimal is 120 and comfortable is 180-200.
 

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#15
First, we have to understand the term 'Fifth-generation aircraft'. It means the aircraft will be low observable to radars with its RCS reduction shape and coatings.
Add to that two more things.
>Super Cruise Powerplant
>Sensor Fusion. (Integrated battlefield management solution, usually a fiber-optic comm bus fully integrated with entire digital and analog I/O and the subsystems like MAWS/RWR/Optical Sight/Targetting Pod along with integrated encrypted external data link.

Sixth Gen feature here is most likely going to be Swarm Drone integration or Mothership for Augmented Xploitation (MAX) as in Jag Max.
 

Milspec

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#16
India have its fair share of challenges for its own fighter developments.
However, I don't see why and how that acts as a barrier in procurement of a few 5th generation Jets to strengthen the IAF.
I fail to see the logic behind starving the IAF of advancement thereby reducing its effectiveness in case of a conflict.
IAF had plans acquiring the PAKFA in some fly away configuration and then develop a ToT FGFA variant, but that project did not materialize as intended and thus had to be shelved, the only other option was the F22 which has not been up for sale. Finally, there is the F35 option which the IAF has not shown interest in other than a few stray comments of defense journalists proposing it.

Currently, there is no 5th generation product out there that India can or is interested in buying

T50- Doesn't fit the requirement
F35 - Doesn't fit the requirement and IAf has not expressed interest.
F22- It is not up for sale.
J20- Not in India's Market
J31- Not in india's market.

So, for next 10 to 20 years, IAF should wait for AMCA to mature and sit empty handed with China sitting with a 5th generation jet as we speak?
And networked warfare is pretty much present now, yes, AI is not yet used to it's full potential (as far as we know, and these things are mostly classified), but the base is present already.
IAF has it's own acquisition and development roadmap which is based on its own evaluations of threat perceptions. It is recalibrated when there are major developments in the immediate theater but it's not reactive where if China inducted a new aircraft we need one too.

With China-specific our doctrinal attitude is not to define an immediate plan, but there are ample assets to protect ourselves against aggression as well as have the ability to take the fight to China if needed.
With Pakistan, the Idea is to exact a unilateral surrender and render their entire forces ineffective with rapid mobilization.
With a two-front war, the idea is to develop a credible defense to ensure survivability and leveraging it's conventional and nonconventional strength.

In all of the cases, even with the obsolescence of equipment, India has enough firepower to tackle any tactical situation thrown at it, so it doesn't need to be reactive in nature at all.
 

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#17
A question here, regarding LO and low RCS, there are instances of 1 F-22 taking on 20 or 25 F-15 (the number of F-15 may be wrong) and the F-15 pilots were clueless about where they got soft-shot down. I don't know if those claims were false or not. If so then it's fine.

I am not sure MKI can detect J-20 @ 100 KM (if it is able to then what is the point of LO in the first place?)
Secondly, If J-20 can get a lock-on @ 150 KM, they know the position of the IAF quite in advance which in case of an engagement.
Once they get a lock-on they will fire and once again MKIs will not be able to find a firing solution like what happened on 28th Feb.

I accept that 4th gen and 4+gen fighters are not sitting ducks, but the advantage provided by the 5th generation is not something that can be overlooked in case of a real fight.
The issue is : war does not happen in a one to on fights like you have mentioned. There will be a AWACS in picture as well, not to mention ground radars too. These have Massive radars systems and the disadvantages that a FCR has do not apply to them.
 
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#18
The issue is : war does not happen in a one to on fights like you have mentioned. There will be a AWACS in picture as well, not to mention ground radars too. These have Massive radars systems and the disadvantages that a FCR has do not apply to them.
Right. But I didn't talk about one on one.

With all the posts made above in view, it seems like we are doing fine.
Like randomradio said above, IAF in not ready for a two front war.
Now it all boils down to the probability of India hitting Pakistan and China siding with them during the war.


In case of a conflict, take for example 28th Feb as the latest air skirmish between two 4+ gen. jets with AWACS guiding them,
the fact remains that SU-30s were not able to shoot back as they were busy evading AMRAAMs.
In case of air battle, who sees the enemy first has the highest probability of gaining a kill, on that day, PAF F-16s were not keen on coming close and engaging thereby wasting shit load of AMRAAMs. But, that won't be the case always correct?

What worries me is the fact that we were not able to engage back.

However, with the context of the original question, I agree that we don't have any immediate 5th generation jet in the market that ready for procurement.

Just read that F-35 is coming to India for DEF EXPO, link here.
Not sure if Lockheed Martin is trying to push F-35 to India or not.
 

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#19
In India talent does not get recognition and this is the reason at right time on right project wrong people are working and this causes trouble. Neither you have to be Pakistan oriented nor China oriented. You have to compete the world.
We have mind but what we don't have is recognition.
 

STEPHEN COHEN

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#20
Not pricing issues. IAF made too many bureaucratic and close involvement demands and DRDO killed any need for sharing workshare. IAF's assumption was DRDO cannot make such tech, but DRDO said they are already doing it, so IAF backed out of FGFA since we didn't need R&D assistance there.

As for bureaucratic demands and IAF's insistence on being closesly involved, the Russians did not agree. For example, IAF wanted weekly reports and flight testing by IAF pilots. But according to Russians, weekly reports are not possible and IAF can't fly the aircraft since it's not a serial production aircraft yet and only Russian pilots are allowed to fly it since the version currently flying is not for export. So the IAF will now wait for serial production aircraft before making a decision.

Money wasn't the problem, both sides had agreed to most of the stuff both were supposed to do long ago. Most of our share was going into the R&D infrastructure and production line within our country anyway. Only a small amount was headed to Russia to complete the development of an export version.



China alone or Pakistan alone, then we have enough. For China and Pakistan together, we don't have enough. IAF cannot perform offensive missions against China for many days if there is a simultaneous attack from both countries since existing jets will have to deal with Pak first while only focusing on air defence against PLAAF.

We are getting 36 Rafales, although minimum required is 72, optimal is 120 and comfortable is 180-200.
If we add 114 MMRCA plus 36 Rafale , then
We get 150 Planes

By the way do you really think , we will.stop
Production of Su 30 s

Then what.will we do at Nasik

LCA is being made at Bangalore

Su 30 and Super Sukhois are the only way to
Get the required numbers