India is on a spending spree. And the country is still pushing to defense hi-tech. As demonstrated by the trip of President Hollande of France to sell about 130 Dassault Rafale, India is currently one of the markets with the best dollar potential. No wonder any one wants a piece of the action, starting with the French who are desperate to sell their jet fighter, which by the way, they are showcasing with brilliance in the African country of Mali. This will help to sell. India is coming to the defense hi-tech age by modernizing its entire air force. As the country celebrates its 80th anniversary, the country has grown from a subsidiary of the Brits in the 1930s to become the 4th largest air force in the world. This amazing progression is due to the fact that India has invested massively in tech, and is recognized as such. And tech is everywhere: command, control, communication, computer, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
Now, India is taking another big step to increase its capabilities, and lethality. The modernization of the Indian Air Force will be dual: upgrading existing fighters (MiG-29, Jaguar and Mirage 2000) while inducting new ones. The aim of the IAF is to increase its combat squadron strength to 40-42 by the end of 14th Plan (2022-27) and eventually to 45 squadrons by the 15th Plan (2027-2032). The contract for upgrading MiG-29s was signed in 2008 with RAC MIG of Russia at a cost of US $964 million. This program is to be completed by 2014. The contract for modernizing Jaguars to DARIN-III Standard was signed with India’s state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) in 2009 at the cost of Rs 31.1 billion. The work is scheduled for completion by 2017. In July 2011, the MoD signed a $2.4 billion contract with French companies Thales, and Dassault Aviation and HAL for upgrades to the IAF’s Mirage-2000 fleet procured in eighties. As per the contract, out of 50-odd fighters, two will be upgraded in France, two at HAL with French support, and the rest by the HAL. The entire process is expected to be completed by 2021. The IAF is all set to induct in its fleet over 400 new fighters that include three new types of combat planes – Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), French Rafale and Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) – and an additional 42 SU-30MKIs. The additional SU-30 MKI is part of the $4.5 billion defence deal signed between India and Russia during President Putin’s December 2012 visit to New Delhi. The newly contracted SU-30 MKI will be license produced by the HAL, taking Indian aerospace company’s total order of the fighter to 222, and the total cost of procurement of 272 Su-30MKIs to $12 billion.