Defence acquisitions in democratic countries come laden with controversies, whether procurement is from abroad, as in the case of India, or domestically, as in the case of US, when corporate rivalries play into massive lobbying with the government. It is said that shrewd US arms firms spread their supply chains across multiple states to coopt tens of senators.
The IAF’s depleting strength has been public knowledge for decades now. Other than the Sukhoi-30 MKI procured in the 1990s, the squadrons have had shrinking strength due to a depleting core of MIG 21s. While India dithered, Chinese indigenous aircraft development and supplies to Pakistan expanded, besides new Chinese airfields in the Tibetan Administrative Region (TAR). Consequently, the government in 2001 issued a Request for Information (RFI) for the procurement of Medium Multi Role Combat Aircrafts (MMRCA). India was looking to replace its MIG 21s, an outdated interceptor, slotting the new fighters between the high-end Sukhois, upgraded Mirages and MIG 29s and the low-end Light Combat aircraft (LCA) being developed indigenously.
India and Russia agreed in ’07 to jointly develop a Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft for induction in the 2020s. Besides cost over-runs and delays, reports indicate the IAF’s unhappiness with the performance/technical features of the prototype PAK FA T50, four of which are under flight testing by the Russian air force now. India also felt uninvolved in the development phase.
Russia’s confrontation with US and the West over Ukraine and its drawing closer to China, besides opening the military supplies door to Pakistan, raises questions about its reliability. Japan is emerging from its post-World War II defence abnegation and now permitting export of defence materials. Israeli behaviour in Gaza highlights the perils of overdependence on suppliers costing India international goodwill by their actions. India needs to finalise deals on the table, draw private sector into future indigenous development of dual use technologies for defence and civilian uses and seek joint ventures with and technology transfers from new partners, including the US, in a rapidly realigning world.
K.C. Singh is a former secretary, ministry of external affairs; Email your columnist: ambkcsingh [AT] gmail [DOT] com
Apropos K.C. Singh’s column, Get it Flying, when it comes to dealing with India, Russia has never been unreliable. As PM Modi told Putin at the BRICS summit, even a child in India knows that Russia is our friend. It takes a long time to build such a relationship.
To be completely fair, when it comes to dealing with India, Russia has never been unreliable. At the BRICS summit, PM Modi told President Putin, Even if you ask a child in India who is our friend, it will say Russia. It takes a long time to build up such a relationship.
We at Outlookindia.com welcome feedback and your comments, including scathing criticism
1. Scathing, passionate, even angry critiques are welcome, but please do not indulge in abuse and invective. Our Primary concern is to keep the debate civil. We urge our users to try and express their disagreements without being disagreeable. Personal attacks are not welcome. No ad hominem please.
2. Please do not post the same message again and again in the same or different threads
3. Please keep your responses confined to the subject matter of the article you are responding to. Please note that our comments section is not a general free-for-all but for feedback to articles/blogs posted on the site
4. Our endeavour is to keep these forums unmoderated and unexpurgated. But if any of the above three conditions are violated, we reserve the right to delete any comment that we deem objectionable and also to withdraw posting privileges from the abuser. Please also note that hate-speech is punishable by law and in extreme circumstances, we may be forced to take legal action by tracing the IP addresses of the poster.
5. If someone is being abusive or personal, or generally being a troll or a flame-baiter, please do not descend to their level. The best response to such posters is to ignore them and send us a message at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT
6. Please do not copy and paste copyrighted material. If you do think that an article elsewhere has relevance to the point you wish to make, please only quote what is considered fair-use and provide a link to the article under question.
7. There is no particular outlookindia.com line on any subject. The views expressed in our opinion section are those of the author concerned and not that of all of outlookindia.com or all its authors.
8. Please also note that you are solely responsible for the comments posted by you on the site. The comments could be deleted or edited entirely at our discretion if we find them objectionable. However, the mere fact of their existence on our site does not mean that we necessarily approve of their contents. In short, the onus of responsibility for the comments remains solely with the authors thereof. Outlookindia.com or any of its group publications, may, however, retains the right to publish any of these comments, with or without editing, in any medium whatsoever. It is therefore in your own interest to be careful before posting.
9.Outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for how any search engine -- such as Google, Bing etc -- caches or displays these comments. Please note that you are solely responsible for posting these comments and it is a privilege being granted to our registered users which can be withdrawn in case of abuse. To reiterate:
a. Comments once posted can only be deleted at the discretion of outlookindia.com
b. The comments reflect the views of the authors and not of outlookindia.com
c. outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for the way search engines cache or display these comments
d. Please therefore take due caution before you post any comments as your words could potentially be used against you
10. We have an online thread for our comments policy:
You are welcome to post your suggestions here or in case you have a specific issue, to directly email us at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT