In an effort to offset the growing number of age-related combat aircraft retirements, India is engaged in a round of fighter fleet upgrades. In December 2006, India Defence reported that the Indian Air Force was “close to finalizing” a EUR 1.5 billion (about $2 billion) deal to upgrade its fleet of 51 49 Mirage-2000 ‘Vajra’ fighter jets.
The aim was to give the aircraft, inaugurated into IAF service in 1985-1988, another 20-25 years of service life. Of course, “close to finalizing” means something very different in Indian defense circles than it does elsewhere. It took 4 years before there was even a preliminary agreement, and 5 years later, the negotiated agreement appears to be higher than original reports. So, what is India getting for its money?