This is how it is proposed Indian Air Force will be in 2025.
- Sukhoi 30MKI – No doubt the most capable Fighter jet in the IAF. 4.5th generation fighter, belonging to the ‘Heavy category’. Based on the Russian Su-30, but customized by India in design and including Indian and Western Avionics and Weapons system. Built by HAL in India. Cons include heavy maintenance, low availability and high radar signature.
2. 123 HAL Tejas MK 1/MK 1A –
The third most advanced 4.5th generation jet in the IAF after the Su-30MKI and Rafale and belongs to the ‘Light category’. Has among the most advanced flight design and flight controls in the world. The only aircraft in the IAF with some degree of Stealth. Cons include Less operational range and weapons load due to its small size.
3. 36 Dassault Rafale –
A deal that wasn’t necessary and does not help India to reduce its import. 4.5th generation jet, one of the best in the world but overpriced and increases maintenance issues for India. Falls under the ‘Medium sized’ category. Possibly will be the last import for the IAF.
4. 67 Mig29s –
4th generation fighter upgraded to 4+generation in the form of Mig29UPG. Falls under the ‘Medium sized’ category. Will serve till the late 2030s/early 2040s eventually will be replaced by HAL AMCA
5. 50 Mirage2000
Upgraded to 4+ gen standards in the form of Mirage2000 mk2. Falls under the ‘Medium sized’ category. Also will serve till the late 2030s/early 40s to be replaced by the AMCA.
6. 145 Jaguars –
Mainly ground attack Jet. Used for Deep penetration bombing and Marine time operations. Just upgraded with DARIN III Upgrade which increased its life by 15–20 years. Will be possibly replaced by the later versions of the HAL/Sukhoi FGFA in the early 2030s.
7. 80 Mig21 BISON
While 123 of the 200 odd Mig21s have been replaced by the HAL Tejas, 80 odd Mig21s would still remain in service which will be eventually replaced by the HAL Tejas mk2 between 2025–2030.
Thus the IAF should have 770 odd Fighters or around 39 Squadrons as of 2025.
The Future of the IAF should be to reduce the variety of Fighters to improve maintainability and to stop imports and work on the Indian Defence Industry if India has to be considered a Superpower by 2040.
This was written by Rohit Banerjee.