India’s ailing air force at risk in tough neighbourhood | Reuters

India’s air force risks a major capability gap opening up with China and Pakistan without new western warplanes or if local defence contractors can’t produce what the military needs in a timely manner.

Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter aircraft jets fly past during the Republic Day parade in New Delhi January 26, 2015. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

A 2012 agreement to buy 126 Rafale fighters from France’s Dassault Aviation (AVMD.PA) has stalled due to a dispute over the assembly of the aircraft in India.

India’s first homegrown fighter, the Tejas light combat aircraft, will finally be delivered next month, 30 years after it was conceived. But senior air force officers privately said they were unimpressed, with one former officer, an ex-fighter pilot, saying the plane was “so late it is obsolete”.

While the navy is undergoing an accelerated modernisation drive, experts said India was vulnerable in the skies because of its reliance on a disparate fleet of ageing Russian-made MiG and French Mirage fighters, along with more modern Russian Sukhoi Su-30s. Half of India’s fighters are due to retire beginning this year until 2024.

“It could lead to humiliation at the hands of our neighbours,” AK Sachdev, a retired air force officer, wrote last year in the Indian Defence Review journal.

A coordinated attack by China an

via India’s ailing air force at risk in tough neighbourhood | Reuters.

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