India Looks to Order 40 More Mirage 2000s, Upgrade Other Aircraft
India is currently engaged in a wide-ranging modernization and upgrade of their fighter force. An earlier effort to buy 12 Mirage 2000v5s from Qatar ended up stalling when negotiations failed, but Dassault’s withdrawal of the Mirage 2000 from the MRCA competition, the emergence of delays in key programs, and accidents/issues with other fighters in the fleet have India’s defense planners re-thinking the need for stopgap measures. India Defence reports that the Indian Air Force is again in negotiations with Qatar and now France as well, in order to boost effective airpower strength as an interim measure.
The moves follow a number of other efforts by the Air Force to:
- Accelerate SU-30MKI production by using more Russian components
- Modernize platforms like existing MiG-29s
- Bring the indigenous Tejas Light Combat Aircraft into initial service with GE F404 engines, instead of using the indigenous but delayed Kaveri engine
Other disclosures from Air Chief SP Tyagi included the fact that by 2009 India’s Air Force would:
- Induct the new BAE Hawk jet trainers/ light attack aircraft and Russian/ Israeli/ Indian IL-76 based “Phalcon” AWACS aircraft
- Seek to buy 6 more IL-78 “Midas” aerial tankers from Russia
- Upgrade 20 more Jaguar strike aircraft
- Induct 80 new helicopters
- Begin upgrading their present fleet of Russian Mi-17 helicopters, An-32 medium lift turboprops and IL-76 heavy lift jets.
- Upgrades for the existing Mirage 2000 fleet were also mentioned; specifics weren’t offered, but are likely to be seen in any Mirage package that India manages to negotiate with France.
India’s military has an unusually low “closing ratio” due to many deals that are pursued but somehow never manage to make it through the procurement system into a contract. Nevertheless, Tyagi’s comments mesh with earlier DID coverage of the IAF’s transformation focus on restored strength, strategic reach, and trans-oceanic [DID: Indian Ocean, to key resource lifelines et. al. in the Mideast and Africa] capability serve as a reliable indicator of the Air Force’s desires if nothing else.
March 8/07: An India Defence article contains this update: “[Defence Minister, A K Antony] said, negotiations for procurement of Mirages from Qatar were held “but no agreement could be reached”.”