Such is the tortuous history of Indian arms procurement that defence minister Rajnath Singh officially accepting the first Rafale fighter aircraft is front page news. The first Rafale fighters, four out of 36 ordered, will not actually land in India until March next year. But the present ceremony will at least mark an end to India’s pursuit of a 21st century fighter. The Rafales, supplementary to Tejas and Sukhoi purchases, and a bargain basement buy of some MiG-29s, will still mean an air force of about 33 squadrons by 2032.
The technical quality of this patchwork air fleet is another matter altogether. Much of it will be obsolete, for example, if the Chinese J-20 and J-31 stealth fighter projects come to maturity. Which is why the present lull in India’s defence purchases Read more