Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Defence Review Asia July/August 2011

The shortlisting of the Dassault Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon in India's Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft competition highlights the lofty ambitions of the Indian Air Force, the fourth largest in the world. With the order for 126 aircraft, India will have more than 800 combat aircraft in its 1,700 aircraft inventory. Such purchases are part of the Air Force's biggest expansion in thirty years and are transforming India into one of the leading air powers in Asia. The US$10-12 billion Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) competition will be India's single largest ever defence procurement deal. The 126 fighters (with options for 74 more) will fill the gap between the lightweight MiG-21 and Tejas and high-end Su-30MKI, and will replace MiG-23MF interceptors (phased out in 2007) and MiG-23I3N ground attack variants (retired in March 2009). Only 18 aircraft will be delivered as flyaways while the remaining 108 will be built by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). HAL is already developing the necessary MMRCA production capacity, which will be ready in roughly three years time.