- Ajai Shukla
Kudos to the government for selecting a fighter aircraft for a depleted Indian Air Force (IAF), which currently fields barely 34 fighter squadrons (21 aircraft per squadron) against an assessed requirement of 45.
While zeroing in on the French Rafale, New Delhi has said "no thanks" to arms supply heavyweights whose political and technological clout often bludgeons procurement decisions in their favour. This was helped, admittedly, by India's ability to soothe the losers with alternative largesse - Washington with contracts for transport and maritime aircraft; Moscow with deals for helicopters, fighters and warships; London with trainer jets; and Stockholm with the hope of mammoth deals for artillery guns and conventional submarines.
But that should not detract from the IAF's credit for running a fair, transparent and relatively quick contest in which, for the first time in India, a detailed "life cycle" evaluation looked beyond the fighter's ticker price to the cost of operating it through a service life of four decades.
The difficulty in conducting such an exercise is illustrated in Brazil, where competing pulls and pressures have stymied a simpler decision between the Boeing F/A-18, the Rafale and the Gripen NG fighters.
Text: Business Standard
Image: A picture shows a Dassault Rafale fighter jet on December 12, 2011 at Air Force Base 113 in Saint-Dizier eastern France, during a ceremony to recognise the work done by units engaged in overseas operations in Afghanistan and Libya.