Putting pen to paper, India on Friday inked the Rafale deal with France, shelling out 7.878 billion Euros for 36 of the fighter jets.
The deal was finalised after over an year of negotiation on cost. However, when the UPA was in power in 2012, India had decided to deal for a total of 126 Rafale jets, which begs the question, would the 36 aircrafts suffice the needs of India?
Back in 2012, India kept the number to a minimum and, considering the urgent operational requirement, settled for 126 of the Medium Multi-Role Combat Jets in a $22 billion deal.
Now, in the wake of the Uri terror attack, when India has decided to deliver an efficacious counter-attack to its neighbour, India pats itself on the back with the meagre three dozen aircrafts.
The sanctioned strength of the Indian Air Force is for 42 squadrons yet, India survives with only 32.
Former Defence Minister AK Antony describes the prevailing situation as volatile; worsening over time. “By 2022, this strength will be reduced to 25 squadrons. How will the Govt equip the IAF with more aircrafts. What is their plan?”
Although the deal is 750 million Euros lighter than it would have been in the UPA era, the Rafale deal is what it is, a mere stepping stone.
Former Indian Air Force Chief Fali Homi Major concurs with the fact that the deal does not cover the required squadrons. Fali Major suggests alloying the Su-30 and LCA Tejas to meet interim required squadrons as he crosses his fingers for more Rafales to fly in.