In September 2016, India and France sign a 7.8 billion euro deal with France’s Dassault Aviation for 36 Rafale fighter jets, equipped with latest weapons and modified for Indian Airforce needs.
Dassault Aviation has guaranteed 50 years of product support.
According to India Outgoing Airforce chief Arup Raha, 36 Rafale fighter jets ordered from France for 7.8 billion euro are not enough, and India needed to add at least 200 such fighter jets to hone its military advantage.
“The Rafale is a great aircraft and it will prove its worth in any operations. We have signed only 36, we require more aircraft in the medium-weight category,” Raha added.
The IAF would need 200-250 medium-weight combat aircraft in the next five to 10 years, emphasizing the necessity for setting up a new production line in the country.
The IAF has admitted it doesn’t have enough fighters to respond to a common threat from Pakistan or China.
Requesting midair refuellers is a vital “force enhancer,” Raha said. While the Il-78 fleet had served the IAF well but it’s availability for missions was poor due to maintenance problems.
The 36 Rafale jets are expected to deliver to the Indian Airforce between September 2019 and April 2022.
The current strength of Indian Air Force is 34 squadrons which are far beneath the required 42 squadrons recommended by an Indian Parliamentary board for two front wars.
Indian Air force has more than 200 Su-30MKI (multirole fighter), around 60s mig-29, around 40s Dassault Mirage and more than 200 MIG-21 which soon to be retired.