Air Chief Marshal S. Krishnaswamy today hinted at bureaucratic delays in the acquisition of much-required multi-role fighters as he said that the IAF had ‘‘established its requirement’’ for replenishing its depleted force levels.
The IAF chief said that the IAF had Cabinet-cleared 39.5 fighter squadrons though the projected current requirement was 45 squadrons. What Krishnaswamy kept mum about was the fact that even the procurement of 10 additional Mirage 2000H fighters was still to be completed, though, he said, they were expected shortly.
The IAF’s requirement of 120 Mirage 2000-V fighters to replace the ageing MiG fleet is hanging fire with the Defence Ministry, waiting to be cleared for the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS).
While the Air Chief said he hoped the LCA Tejas could be made operational by 2007, he has recommended a mid-term quality review of the Kaveri aero-engine (being developed for the LCA) project to DRDO.
After making IL-78M mid-air refuellers fully operational, the IAF plans to begin ‘buddy’ refuelling between Su-30 fighters by late next year. The process will involve an Su-30 tanker refuelling another through a drogue fuel hose. ‘‘We believe there are operational contingencies in which buddy refuelling could be utilised,’’ he said. Some Su-30s are currently being integrated with the required refuelling systems.
The IAF has also placed an order for two more Indra-II radars and is working with DRDO to develop a 3D radar system.
Krishnaswamy ruled out the immediate possibility of ‘true’ air exercises with Israel. "Defence deals are okay, but an air exercise in the true sense with Israel may have different connotations," he said.