The Chief of the Indian Air Force ST Tiagi has said India will replace the Russian made Mig-21 aircrafts with the latest French Mirage adding that the purchase would open a nuclear arms race in the region.
Talking to BBC from Delhi, the Indian air chief said that the country was also interested in the US F-16s. Responding to a question on what would neighbour’s, particularly China and Pakistan’s reaction would be Tiagi said it would start an arms race.
He said it has come to be known that an embargo imposed on Pakistan will be lifted. The F-16 aircraft which Pakistan bought ten years ago and whose delivery was stopped by the USA will now be supplied to Pakistan. Its clearance is expected to be secured in the next three or four months.
An airborne surveillance system is also being acquired by India, he added. Delhi has signed deals with Israel and Russia in this connection. This system is likely to arrive in the next two or three years. India will be the only country in the region to possess this AWACS capability. It means that India will be capable of locating an aircraft within 600 kilometres, along with its speed and direction.
He also said that the Indian Air Force is going to purchase 126 multi-role aircraft from the market. These 126 aircraft will be inducted in the Indian Air Force in the next five to six years.
The Indian Air Force already has nearly 50 Mirage 2000. The air force says that the Mirage 2005 is an advanced version and should be acquired. India is engaged in negotiations with France to acquire Mirage 2005 for the past two and a half years, but recently India has also sent its demand to the USA and Sweden. India has also tried to get Russian MiG-29-M.
To a question, ST Tiagi said there were nearly 300 to 350 MiG-21 aircraft with the IAF but 125 of them were being upgraded with better weapons and avionics. According to Indian air force chief the 126 multi-role aircraft will cost nearly $20-30 million each in the market. sana