The Tejas Debate – A Repartee


My post on the arrival of the Tejas has elicited a lot of response, on this blog as well as on the Bharat Rakshak Forum. A large segment of the critical responses have chosen the perceived neglect/hostility of the air force to the Tejas project to be the focus of their ire. One of the most strident voices that have come out belongs to poster Veena. His views are clear and are placed cogently. There are however other points of fact and opinion that would make his denouncements somewhat less valid. I would try to present these facts and views for Veena and my other readers.

Veena starts his argument with a very valid statement of history.

Ok, let me flesh out what I am saying. The emerging technologies in the 70s and early 80s were crystal clear. FBW controls,digital avionics , glass cockpit, composite structures, new gen engines (F100) and finally new maintenance concepts (LRU,on condition etc).

However, from there he jumps to a few conclusions that are non sequitter.

The problem is that there was no vision or even interest at a fundamental strategic level at the IAF & HAL in terms of competency building! They couldn’t care less. The focus was on importing designs and doing screw driver assembly and passing it off as “indigenous”.

The GOI in its wisdom had decided that the responsibility of aeronautical design would be reposed on the HAL. There were early turf wars. In the Late fifties Air Marshal Harjinder Singh created a small design center at Kanpur that produced two small aircraft called Kanpur I and Kanpur II in the absence of any other given name. The aircraft were constructed and initial test flights were performed. It immediately drew fierce opposition from HAL and the Civil Aviation Authority. Authority to conduct protracted tests on these could not be obtained. The design effort had to be junked. Air Marshal Harjinder was however a persist an person. Even though his design effort was thwarted, he was determined to create the capability to manufacture larger aircraft. With the blessings of Sri Krishna Menon (who was then the RM), he set up an infra-structure for aircraft manufacture from raw materials and named it the ‘Air Craft Manufacturing Depot (AMD)’ of the Air Force at Kanpur. The Air Force foresaw the need for a replacement for the Dakota in the short run. Negotiations were held with AV Roe of UK for detailed manufacture (NOT just assembly from CKD parts) of their model 748. Matters proceeded quickly. The parent company was in the process of merger with Hawker Siddley. As is usual with British companies, the British entity began dragging their foot about timely supply of jigs and tools. They were however surprised to find that as soon as they failed to deliver the contracted items of jigs and tools, the AMD created jig out of the initial set of drawings attached with the contract and proceeded to manufacture the aircraft. There was a huge techno-commercial/diplomatic row. Unfortunately, 1962 came about. Krishna Menon’s shelter was not available any more. The new dispensation decided that the Air Force had no business in manufacturing aircraft. The AMD was converted into the Kanpur division of the HAL which built the rest of the HS748 aircraft. (Interestingly, the Navy was always been authorized to play around with ship architecture following the traditions of the Royal Navy, and a specialized Constructors Branch of officers exists in the Naval organization for this purpose). Therefore, in my opinion, the critical conclusions drawn by Veena might benefit from a revisit.

In the next segment, once again Veena commences with a valid statement.

It could have been pretty easy to have an R&D project with say the Ajeet (which the HAL knew inside out) to have FBW controls, a composite wing and experimental avionics and you could have built that capability in the period 1975 to 1985! The Brits built their FBW competency by having a hold your breath, a JAGUAR (yes, the very same aircraft we are talking about) tweaked for relaxed stability with FBW. The French did the same with a Mirage III.. Yup the same kind used in the Arab-Isreali conflicts in the 60s!

Indeed we should have expanded our capabilities in the 70s and 80s when aeronautical science was undergoing explosive changes with the arrival of computing power. However, who’s job do you think this competence building was? The air force had been steered away from R&D in no uncertain terms, and the job was clearly in the lap of DRDO. The HAL could also take it up if they so desired. The fly by wire experimentation by BAe at Warton was no secret. Many of us (including me) have visited that facility and studied it. There were many worthies from HAL and various DRDO entities too who had seen this experimentation at Warton. No effort was made to replicate it on our own. (Later, the LCA team did seek and derive assistance from BAe about FBW, of course on commercial terms.) Should we imply negligence and worse on the air force for not taking up something that was not a part of its charter? Thus, when Veena says that

Where is the Indian version of an FBW Jaguar ? You did help fix a big flaw in it at the HAL during the production run, you did the Darin upgrade which the others adopted.Why not the FBW ? That is because there was no “operational need” and as an organization you couldn’t think ahead strategically,

I feel the statement is being unkind to the Air Force. Instead of assuming that the Air Force found no Operational Need for FBW, perhaps it would be wiser to inquire whether there was no ‘Organizational need’ on the part of the DRDO or ‘Commercial Need’ on the part of HAL.

Veena goes on to say many things about lost opportunities implying negligence ineptness greed for foreign products and so on on the part of the Air Force.

Okay, the IAF had the Mig-21 since 69 or so. What have the done with it? The Chinese played with it intensely and have multiple versions including different wingforms and even one of their latest AJT is a Mig21 derivative. Why didn’t India have a FBW version of the Mig-21 with side intakes and a good radar in the nose and a MIL-1533B bus flying in the 80s? After all, the likes of Prof Prodyut Das (he posted in response in his blog) claim the best substitute for a Mig-21 is another Mig-21 or something to that effect if I remember correctly. It would have been silly to do that in the late 80s, but eminently sensible in the 70s! So what stopped the IAF from doing it rather than continue producing some tired old incremental upgrades of Mig-21s until mid 80s ..

Actually, the MiG21 was inducted into the Air Force before 1965. By 1967, HAL was assembling/manufacturing the aircraft. Yes, Veena is right. There is no justification why we did not discover the know why part of the manufacture while we learnt the know how to put it together. But, I ask you again, was it the task of the Air Force to do it? I do humbly suggest that Veena’s rhetoric

So what stopped the IAF from doing it rather than continue producing some tired old incremental upgrades of Mig-21s until mid 80s

should be answered by the statement that the Air Force was not authorized to dabble with design and development unless specifically ordered (like it was for the Gnat). Incidentally, I can state here as a participant that major and detailed papers for the up gradation of the MiG 21 were doing the rounds from 1971 onwards. Unfortunately, the air force could not convince the powers that be that such an upgrade is possible and necessary till the early nineties, and even then no one in authority was convinced that it could/should be done by ourselves. As can be seen from my post ‘The Tejas Arrives’, I was a strong votary for upgrading the MiG21 by ourselves. It was articulated in 1982 in no uncertain terms.

It is an unfortunate fact of life that experience cannot be purchased. It can be gained only through sweat and blood. I therefore have no quarrel with Veena when he says:

IF that had been done , you could have entered the LCA project with a solid industrial and technical base to do it and you wouldn’t have seen the kind of slippages we had.

In the absence that and because of the lost decades of the 60s , 70s and early 80s, we had to start from scratch. The LCA is really some 4/5 projects rolled into one ..FBW, Composites, Avionics, Radar, Engine and maybe Electronic Warfare. Each of which in normal circumstances would have been researched, developed, proven and tested separately! Each of those is a separate 5 to 10 year project at least. The FBW, composites,mission avionics, and electronic warfare are successes , while the Radar and Engine are partially successful (HAL should never have been given the radar responsibility) and GTRE against all odds for a project as complex as the airframe itself has a working engine! All in all quite good.

Unfortunately, Veena then loses centripetal logic and becomes tangential. He goes on to say:

I really have little patience with the service folks who sat on their backsides in the period 60s to 80s and for whatever reasons dropped the ball, to come back and dump on the LCA and other projects (like Arjun) for slipping timelines and “bad project management” and this and that and claim these are “R&D” projects and are not “operationally oriented” . Of course, there will be a big R&D phase because YOU dropped the ball there because you couldn’t think strategically as an organization, and when it came to even “operational oriented” stuff of making it into a fighter out of a prototype, dropped the ball again by totally neglecting it and going comatose!

I think the analogy of dropping a ball is inappropriate. It is more a case of holding a baby. The Air Force, like an expectant father is anxiously waiting outside the confinement room waiting for his new born child to be given to his care. The child was born eleven years ago after a twelve year confinement following a eleven year courtship. More than a year ago, the doctors had promised that the baby’s initial cleaning was was ‘almost’ over, and the baby would be in his lap any moment now. More than a year has gone by and the doctors are still discussing some problems in a hushed tone. The poor expectant father stands exasperated and confused while a set of off duty nurses are telling him that it is all his fault; he should have gone in and taken charge of the delivery from the hands of the doctors!

Enough of levity. We must now return to serious facts and allegation cited by Veena.

And no it is not just the LCA alone . Think of all the whining about the lack of an AJT and the how many decades (was it 25 years ?) and pilots lost before we got the Hawk! Well, we did have the “earlier Hawk” called the “Folland Gnat” in service for donkey’s years. That was originally designed and used as a trainer! What stopped the IAF from asking HAL to not close the Ajeet assembly line, enhance whatever was needed to bring it upto scratch as a modern day trainer and maybe if it made sense at all, even put the Adour from the Jaguar into an enhanced version and presto, you would have had an “Indian Hawk” . Nope.. It was all about.. Oh, the Govt /Babus aren’t giving us money to buy an AJT and you waited 3 decades for it to finally come through!

Veena is of course right about the long wait for an AJT. (The Air Force was not found sleeping on this job. It was agitating real hard for a long time.) However, Veena is not correct about the Gnat. The Gnat was not originally designed as a trainer. The Indian fighter version was the first. The Gnat trainer for the Royal Air Force was derived out of the Gnat fighter after very substantial changes that made it almost a different aircraft, visual resemblance notwithstanding. Primarily, the flight controls and the wings were changed. In the process, it had become a milder aircraft in the class of an Intermediate trainer. Our need was for something with higher capability. The Gnat entered the IAF nominally in 1959, entered squadron service in a meaningful way by late 61 and became a useful weapon in 1963-64. HAL produced a two seat version of the Ajeet twenty years later. By then the Gnats were all retired and the Ajeet variants were on their way out. The two seat Gnat had too many deficiencies for it to be an effective AJT. The original fighter Gnat was a thoroughly optimized design. It was almost impossible to tinker with it without taking away its prime abilities. Therefore the two seat Gnat was dropped.

Veena’s reference to the Hawk AJT reminded me about an incident dating back to 1981 or early 82. I was still the Project Manager for the Jaguar project. The LCA conference mentioned in my post ‘The Tejas Arrives’ had not yet taken place. There was a meeting scheduled in Bangalore with the top brass of BAe that was cancelled at the last moment as the BAe officials were held up in Delhi. I was a bit put off as I was on a tight schedule. I cornered the India Resident rep of BAe who was available in Bangalore and asked for an explanation. It transpired that the BAe staff were held up because they had to give a presentation on the Hawk at Delhi. I was amused. I asked him why they were wasting their time trying to sell a trainer to India? We had all the ability to design build something in the class of the Hawk I said. I did not think we would ever import an aircraft like that. The BAe rep smiled. He said that he was a Brit and a betting man. He would wager a Pound that they would ultimately sell the Hawk to us. It may take us a decade to do so, he said, but we will sell it to India. I found his assertion and confidence odd. I had full confidence in our ability to design and build a Hawk class aircraft. I could not fathom why we would import such an aircraft. On my return to Delhi, I queried the Plans Staff about it. I was told that the DRDO had been requested to take on the task of building an AJT but they had declined on the plea that as they were reserving all their strength for the impending LCA project they had no spare capacity left to undertake an AJT project as well. This of course is hear-say evidence. I have no official knowledge about it. However, the confidence of the BAe rep might have stemmed from his knowledge of such a situation. The Air Force of course continues to get the rough end of the stick from people like Veena.

I am getting no joy out of writing this repartee or in engaging in this debate. This is all about the past that we cannot change. I would much rather think about the future and how we can gain from the LCA project. Believe it or not, a large number of people within the Air Force ardently wishes for success of this project.


16 responses »

  1. Sir, superb post.

    All said and done, there is just one point on which I fully agree with Vina. The IAF refuses to accept ownership or responsibility for any R&D or vision related to design (as opposed to the IN). Point that you seem to highlight and defend this. Personally, it seems unwise and completely unacceptable that a professional force keeps blaming everyone else but itself for not being able to get its house in order first.

  2. It’s nice that you replied to the ongoing debate but when IAF was determined to develop the related MIC it should have nagged the GoI till it gave in to it’s demand instead of saying yes sir and continuing with day to day business. Because the IAF gave in that’s why we are still developing an aircraft industry when we could have had a developed one. You are right sir saying that it’s all past and we must look into the future but has the IAF learned from it’s mistakes in the past ?? Unless sir the AF doesn’t learn from it’s past mistakes the future will remain in doldrums.

    And sir do share such inside information about the role of IAF, it will help in removing any misinformation against the organization. One request sir please continue with your views on BRF so that a fair debate can take place.

  3. ” I would much rather think about the future and how we can gain from the LCA project. Believe it or not, a large number of people within the Air Force ardently wishes for success of this project”…golden words sir

    I work for a high tech manufacturing company in the US and know how hard it is to design, manufacture, and stabilize yields for even simple products, let alone complex aerospace vehicles. I also understand how the IAF has a hard time maintaining foreign made aircraft due to the shortage of spares and OEM support through the product life cycle. People need to realize that if the LCA Tejas never sees service, then the AMCA and the AURA never will, and India will forever be dependent on foreign companies/governments and the vagaries of fortune

    We as a nation need to move on. The LCA Tejas represents our one chance to get a foothold in the aerospace door before it slams shut permanently.

  4. But then again sir, you have not exactly refuted Veena’s pt. in one sense, at all. What happened to the ‘vision’ thing, that which separates out the Navy(trying to be as indigenous as possible, getting to the point of a nuke sub or so) compared to the rest of the services.

    No, really?

    People object, lie, stonewall,obfuscate,delay,fight,smear; if it took a stroke of a pen to say, nay decree ‘The IAF shall not do design’ and make the IAF simply roll over, to put it rather unkindly, the IAF will forever be ‘chained’ users. Lead by the nose by all sundry foreign vendors, then, now and in the future

    Your repartee is a long whinge, of this, of that, which does your service a huge embarrassment.

    No sir, no one will fight your organisational battles,ever. Carpe diem, they tell us.

    At least in the future, would the IAF be able to answer Quo Vadis?

  5. Sir,

    Alas, if it was only about the past.

    You say that aircraft designing had been turfed out to HAL, cool. However IAF could have got HAL to build its projects. It needed only one thing, put IAF funds on the table.

    clearly, whatever the turf wars were, they dont forbid the IAF to put its own money to develop those Ajeet projects, those trainer projects etc. The navy does it, horror of horrors, the navy put 1000 crores on the table for the LCA-navy where as AFAIK, the total money which IAF is put for development of LCA is exactly 0.(development not for LSPs)

    As Vina said, IAF had clearly dropped the ball where it seems to have said, okay we are turfed out of design – and in retaliation we will not support design at all.

    And in your last statement, you have said something instructive. You say that there is a large number of well wishers, which seems to beg a question – was there a large enough or even larger contingent of non well wishers and does this group exist even today

  6. It appears to me that the relationship between the IAF and the Indian Military Industrial Complex represented by DRDO would be very different if the possibility of acquiring foreign “maal” was removed. Then hopefully survival instincts would focus minds and the credo of “swim together or sink together” would take over.

    • I am getting no joy out of writing this repartee or in engaging in this debate. This is all about the past that we cannot change. I would much rather think about the future and how we can gain from the LCA project. Believe it or not, a large number of people within the Air Force ardently wishes for success of this project

  7. Good to hear your perspective.

    I do feel that the govt’s decision of getting the IAF out of the airframe business was correct. It is too specialized a field and requires a whole different set of skills than what a force trained for fighting would possess , unless the IAF too like the Navy goes and recruits Naval Architects, either builds a specialized cadre staffed with trained Aerospace engineers hired from outside and/or trained in IAF technical schools ,even if it is restricted to purely design , concept studies and architecture and not goes into actual building (which will require an even wider set of skills in manufacturing, sales,supply chain etc).

    When the decision was made, what actually prevented the IAF from putting up money and sponsoring critical projects in these areas in HAL, NAL, DRDO labs and Academia like IITs an IISc ? I don’t recall a SINGLE such significant project in all these years. Yeah, it probably would have been a trade off of producing 5 airframes less say (1 less Mig21, 23, 27 and Jaguar) to have a 100crore project for investing in composites , avionics and sharply focused FBW project , even if you had no separate R&D budget . That kind of money would have gone an incredibly long way in the 70s and 80s when a 4 figure salary was rare. Who had that kind of strategic vision back then. Can the IAF do it even today ? I don’t think so. So really, with the Govt not putting up the money (they obviously wont put up the money without seeing an application and not fund R&D purely on stand alone) for that sort of thing, it simply fell between the cracks and did not get done at all, until the LCA project. Rightly or wrongly , I personally think the blame has to go to the IAF for that, because, it was the ultimate user and beneficiary of any research on those lines. It did drop the ball there.

    What happened with the AJT was very difficult to believe. I did not for a moment suggest that the Ajeet trainer as it came out HAL was what the IAF wanted. But it could not have been too far away either and with the Adour already licensed and the Ajeet experience under the belt, that would not have been too difficult to get to an acceptable AJT. It was a dropped ball for sure.

    About the HPT-32 , it is mind boggling. It was not something that came up all of a sudden 2 years ago. It was always known. Another dropped ball there . To give the much maligned HAL it’s due, it did come up with the trainers that the IAF needed, but was cold shouldered. And true to form and sterotype, there we are back to importing and assembling the Hawk and an ab-initio trainer.

    The LCA project is on the verge of success, detractors either in the IAF or outside be damned and it has rebuilt the industrial base that was allowed to atrophy and in the process produced a pretty useable plane.

    In fact, if we had just gone with an say an upgraded Mig-21 in the 80s alone and also not built the LCA, it would be obsolete today and we would be out there shopping for a “modern light fighter” and be buying the Gripens in addition to the Pilatus and the Hawk and Rafale! Such a scenario was a distinct possibility because I seriously doubt india doing 2 major projects at that time with the resources at hand.

  8. Dear Sir,
    A very good reply to the ongoing debate at BRF. Both CM ji and Veena ji have put forward strong points in their favour, and your remarks from an insider POV is invaluable. There has been much debate regarding the ASR of LCA in 1985. Could you clarify the inner debate within the service and the specificatioms, if any? We all wish the Tejas a grand success. I guess all this debate was kicked off by the irresponsible MIg+++ comment.

  9. From the above discussion, IAF in the case of LCA seems to have bowed to the govt or to its leanings. It seems not to have acted as a partner but as a customer. Perhaps they can improve upon this in the future even if it has to force GOI to allow it to become a partner

  10. TKS (Sir)/Veenaji,
    The debate has become too technical and difficult to assess the real reasons for the time/cost overrun of this project. With bit of my Project Management knowledge with working experience of Air Force, Atomic Energy and Larsen & Toubro and also analyzing this interesting case study studiously I have the following observations to make.
    Why Projects Fail
    Generally projects fail when they do not meet the following criteria for success:
    • It is delivered on time.
    • It is on or under budget.
    • The product works as required.
    The moot question does LCA project full fills all these criteria’s?
    Other reasons of a successful project may be the following,
    • The end users were apparently involved right through the development of the project.
    • The project manager had full backing of the executive management. Whatever hurdles came up during the project were promptly looked into by the latter.
    • Specifications were clear-cut. This was also possible due to close-level of interaction between the end-users and the project team.
    • Expectations from the project were realistic. There was nothing overly optimistic about what could be achieved within the project’s constraints.
    Also why, projects slipped behind in time, or went overboard on budget, or were unable to deliver the full functionality, due to the following reasons:
    • User inputs were inadequate, or thoroughly lacking. Passive users got the chance to comment only after the project was handed over to them, neatly wrapped.
    • Project specifications were incomplete. There seemed to be an inordinate rush to jump from requirements analysis to design stage.
    • Specifications kept on changing over the period of the project execution. The project manager kept incorporating the changed specifications into the system, in order to appease stakeholders.
    • Executive management showed little or no interest in putting out any fires that flared up during the time the project was underway.
    • The project team was technically less than competent.
    Finally, their reasons for why projects end up in the dustbin of history are as follows:
    • Users failed to provide complete requirements.
    • Users were not involved in the development process.
    • The project had inadequate or no resources that were vital for its completion.
    • Executive management just did not seem interested in seeing the project through.
    • Specs kept on changing during the project’s tenure.
    • Planning was a casualty.
    • The project’s scope had become outdated due to change in business environment.
    • The project team was technically incompetent.
    Yet another take on the reasons why some projects succeed and a lot others fail attributes three variables whose impact on project performance is the maximum:
    • Good Planning: The more forward, future-oriented and in-detail planning, the higher the chances of success. Each and every activity that is expected down the line gets due attention. Not only is this pre-planning well-documented, but also even after the project has taken off, if things don’t exactly pan out as planned, the project manager does not hesitate to re-plan, avoiding Project Management Failure, and readily incorporates the changed circumstances in their new version, so that future events are controlled.
    • Clear responsibility and accountability: All team members have a clear understanding of their roles and duties. There is clear awareness of what exactly is expected from them.
    • Schedule control: Project managers are constantly on their toes, recording time elapsed, milestones reached, change in people/task allotments, and the like. This helps in fine-tuning the schedule on a real-time basis.
    Now conclude your own judgment what went wrong.

  11. Sir (TKS),
    I am enclosing an article by Nirad Mudur A sometime back. Some of your bloggers who are apparently from DRDO have been castigating Air Force. This article will give lot of clarity on this issue.
    “Former DRDO chief and ex-scientific advisor to defence minister VK Aatre had once said when questioned about delays in the light combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas’ Kaveri engine project: “We are a country which has not even manufactured our own car engine; here we are trying to develop an engine for a fighter aircraft!”
    The same applies to the development of LCA Tejas, the first fighter aircraft ever to be developed by India to reach initial operational clearance. The one before this was the Marut, which faced severe problems and the project had to be shelved in 1970 after the crash during a test sortie precisely 40 years ago flown by Group Captain Suranjan Das, who was killed.
    LCA Tejas now has to meet the Air Staff requirement of the Indian Air Force (IAF), the final user of Tejas.
    But with the background of Air Chief PV Naik’s critical remarks during the granting of the initial operational clearance (IOC) to Tejas on Monday about the LCA being just a 3 or 3.5 generation aircraft when it was actually supposed to be developed as a fourth generation one, exposes IAF’s dissatisfaction with LCA’s development.
    It raises a question: Has LCA Tejas actually served its purpose; or will it be outdated by the time it is finally cleared for combat operations with the IAF?
    For one, the final operational clearance (FOC) for LCA Tejas has been delayed by two years instead of within the next three months, as expected by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) scientists. The reason is IAF’s insistence that the fighter aircraft achieve complete fourth generation aircraft status at a time when some countries are already engaged in developing a fifth generation fighter.
    LCA Tejas is considered to be the lightest and the smallest fighter aircraft in the world, integrating modern design concepts and the state-of-the-art technologies like fly-by-wire flight control system, advanced digital cockpit, multi-mode radar, integrated digital avionics system, advanced composite material structures and a flat rated engine.
    But the 100% indigenous element, which was the matter of pride when the project was conceived in 1983, has now come down to 60%. VK Saraswat, DRDO chief, in fact said complete indigenisation would instead end up with the per piece cost going up several times more than the present Rs180 crore apiece for LCA Tejas. He explained that trying to achieve complete indigenisation would involve cost escalations due to delays over testing, leading to the final price being well over the present price calculated with 40% foreign components for the aircraft.
    So, not only has the LCA project not achieved complete indigenisation; it has not been able to deliver itself as a fourth generation fighter aircraft to satisfy the IAF top brass.
    Where does that leave the LCA Tejas programme?
    The plan to have an indigenously developed light combat aircraft came in the background of not-so-pleasant circumstances for the IAF.
    IAF’s combat force level was expected to decline sharply in the 1990s and beyond due to phasing out of the then existing ageing aircraft. In 1981, the Long Term Re-Equipment Plan (LTREP) projected a shortage of 11.4% squadrons by 1990-91 and 40% by 1994-95. The position beyond 1995 was expected to be worse.
    This deficiency in combat force levels and the gap in indigenous design and development capability in the global aeronautical field was planned to be filled through the development of an advanced multi-role LCA.
    That’s how the LCA programme was conceived in 1983 and formally launched two years later.
    The subsequent aim of the LCA, to begin with, was to replace the ageing MiG-21s, the workhorse of the IAF which have been questionably termed as the “flying coffins” due to a series of crashes over the last two decades.
    M Natarajan, former director general, DRDO, had said in August 2008 “When we draw a road map, we see a medium combat aircraft, a multi-role combat aircraft with fifth generation technologies, where there can be commonality of parts with LCA in avionics or radar, and eventually, 15 years from now (2023), building an unmanned aerial combat vehicle (UACV). So, if one looks at just this spectrum of vehicles, five in number, I see a good potential to build altogether about 1,000 aircraft over a period of time. The LCA could be 400 in number for the IAF, 100 for the Navy; the trainer could be 150; the medium combat aircraft 250; and 100-150 for the UACVs.”
    But the teething problems with India’s first almost-complete fighter aircraft are now showing with LCA Tejas now set to be tested by IAF pilots post-IOC and until the FOC is granted. There are bound to be several more correctional demands from IAF’s side for DRDO scientists to meet before IAF decides that FOC be granted for the fighter aircraft to join operational duty with the force.
    How long that would take, only time and IAF’s needs would tell.”

    • My dear Piya.
      I am unable to comprehend your comment. Which act do you say was stupid? We are engaged in a kind of a debate. Unless I understand your point of view, it becomes difficult to respond to.


  12. After hearing the public landry being done both Army and IAF, one thing is clear for me. The DRDO being a PSU and has limited funds which prevent it from taking any R&D / Production activties by itself if the cost is beyond their limit. EVERYONE knows this. DRDO and other defense R&D firms kept categorically saying that we cannot do X,Y or Z unless we have a firm order for a specific number of items.

    But the defense forces (not sure of their motive) continue to put up some unrealistic requirements/timelines. The opinion I get is it is not interested in the procurement/developement for a ‘local’ alternative. They want a finished product delivered and do not want to share the pains or spent the efforts to nurture local industry. Why have not the defence forces (Army and IAF) budgetted a percentage of the procurement expenditure to nurture the domestic sector. Its not that India cannot afford that, India performed very well on much lesser resources in the past.

    We had purchase 1500+ aricraft (fixed and rotatory winged) and 3000+ land vehicles so far, how much was the input of the indian R&D sector into this. I would be safe to assume less than 2%.

    The selection of IAF’s for a 100% foriegn aircraft for all its aircraft but not willing to compromise for a few Indian aircraft with a foreign AESA radar (if media reports and Defense R&D are to be believed then this too for near future only) and engine points to a ulterior motive. I am not understanding this logic. I may not have the complete and inside information in this. But considering all, even a worst case scenario for an Indian peice is not as bad as the IAF is portraying.

    Similar example are also in Army also. But I sincerely hope that for my country’s sake the armed forces wake up OR some one pours cold water on them to start thinking keeping India’s local defence industry in mind.


  13. Pingback: IAF diluted al least 12 benchmarks for trainer aircraft - Page 3

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