Photo: A cutaway of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. This aircraft is not in contention in India's MMRCA tender.
Many visitors to Broadsword have expressed strong views on the ongoing selection process for India’s proposed Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA). But do we really need an MMRCA and, if so, what kind?
Let’s examine this 11 billion dollar question on Broadsword, based not upon gut reactions but on a cold assessment of our needs and our means.
I invite visitors to post on this subject. Let’s break down the decision-making into the following heads:
How many squadrons does the Indian Air Force (IAF) need?
In October 1962, the Government of India sanctioned 45 squadrons for the IAF, which was later stepped up to 65 squadrons (both these included transport and air observation squadrons). An expert committee later suggested that the IAF needed 39.5 combat squadrons.
Given our operational requirements (which need to be quantified), and the strength of our likely adversaries, what is our reasonable requirement of combat squadrons?
To what extent would the introduction of force multipliers --- e.g. AWACS, network-centricity, satellite surveillance, etc --- reduce our requirement of squadrons? Please quantify.
Light, Medium and Heavy fighters
How should this total requirement be broken down into light, medium and heavy combat aircraft? After breaking down the requirement, calculate (squadron by squadron) obsolescence schedules and when aircraft of a squadron must be phased out. That will give you a chronological map of when you need different types of aircraft.
Fleet structure and types
What would be the best mix of aircraft that would allow commonality of parts (and hence ease of backup and servicing); interoperability; and operational flexibility.
ALL THIS WILL PROVIDE REASONABLE PREMISES BASED UPON WHICH WE CAN CALCULATE OUR REQUIREMENT OF MMRCA’s.
Give your inputs. Everyone's ideas are completely valid.