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OCTOBER 2015 ISSUE


Realising the critical operational necessity of fighter aircraft in the IAF and likelihood of further delays in concluding the MMRCA contract negotiations, the government of India decided to procure 36 Rafale aircraft from France through an inter-government route
Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha
 

ACM Arup Raha What are your biggest operational, organisational and administrative concerns?
Indian Air Force (IAF) is a technology intensive organisation and skill development is a long drawn process. Our major challenge has always been to synchronise these two for optimum results. As a result of our critical self-analysis, we as an organisation are focusing on processes rather than events. Our operational capability is dependent on five verticals namely equipment, training, procedures, infrastructure and force application, based on knowledge and in-depth analysis. Our capability at any instance is governed by the vertical least developed. Therefore, our endeavour is to keep all verticals moving up in sync. We are aggressively pursuing our acquisitions and simultaneously changing our training philosophy and operational procedures to exploit our equipment profile fully. While infrastructure is being developed on ground to assist aerospace operations, minds are being trained for holistic capability development.

What is the update on 36 Rafale purchase from France? How will the shortfall of remaining 90 aircraft be made up? Will you issue a new Request for Proposal (RFP) for the Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA), buy more Su-30MKI or is Air Headquarters still to make up its mind?
The contract negotiations for the 126 MMRCA had reached a stalemate and the process was not making any headway for almost two years. Realising the critical operational necessity of fighter aircraft in the IAF and likelihood of further delays in concluding the MMRCA contract negotiations, the government of India decided to procure 36 Rafale aircraft from France through an inter-government route. The negotiations for the procurement of 36 Rafale aircraft from France are presently in progress. The requirement of fighter aircraft for the IAF is known to the government and it would take a decision on induction of additional fighter aircraft in due course.

It seems that negotiations with Russia on Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) and Multi-role Transport Aircraft (MTA) projects have been on a hold for a while and Russia has decided to do it alone if necessary. What is the update and what if Russia does it alone?
The Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) for development and production of FGFA was signed on 18 October 2007 between India and Russia. There are some issues related to the work share, technical features, costs and timelines of the project. Our concerns have been conveyed to the Russians and their response is awaited. Similarly, our concerns with respect to MTA’s technical capabilities and costs have also been conveyed to the Russian side. To address various issues related to MTA, a Co-ordination Committee has been setup with members from both sides and the committee has held its first meeting in May this year.

Considering the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has made humongous strides in the domain of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAVs) and unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAVs), what are your proposed plans in these two critical areas by the end of the 13th plan in 2022?
A country structures its military in accordance with its strategy and threat perceptions. PLAAF has built up its UAV and UCAV capabilities as per their appreciation. Indian Air Force (IAF) has its own plans in place. We have been closely monitoring the growing role of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) in its military application. Our plan is to achieve full spectrum capabilities in the RPA domain over the next few years. This will involve increasing the numbers as well as capabilities of RPAs. The indigenous Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) RPA ‘Rustom-II’ is also under development by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

 
 
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