The procurement of front line fighter aircraft for Indian Air Force has been caught in one or the other controversy resulting in depletion of its actual fighting strength. The political slugfest has only created a critical situation and with air force left with an effective strength of 31 combat squadrons, although it has 34 combat squadrons in total. It is to be noted that the peak strength of the Indian Air Force was approximately 39.5 combat squadrons, with four MiG-23MF/-BN and six MiG-27ML squadrons forming the core of the strike assets and some 17 MiG-21 FL/M/MF/BIS squadrons forming the bulk of the air defence units. The deal began during the UPA deal and signed in real during the present NDA regime has delayed the procurement. What is through is that the UPA leadership lacked the confidence and determination to complete the deal. Had the NDA Government let the negotiations go on in MMRCA terms, there would have been no deal even now. The entire MMRCA process was flawed as the IAF was very clear from the first that they wanted the Rafale. It all started when during the Kargil War the IAF found the Dassault Mirage 2000s to be an excellent aircraft and were extremely impressed and wanted to sign a contract with Dassault to produce the Mirages in India. Then NDA Defence Minister George Fernandes stung by corruption did not have the guts or authority to sign a government to government contract. Dassault miffed at having to enter into a competition shelved the Mirage production line and offered the next generation Rafale which is what the IAF wanted anyway because France is not sanctions happy as the other competitors ( the US and their poodles ); with the exception of Russia of course. So the MMRCA dragged on for a decade! Think about it. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been to France more than once the deal remained on the discussion level and not further. Now with French President Emmanuel Macron in India will the deal be through?
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© 2017 State Times Daily Newspaper