In the latest development Indian government has asked Indian Air Force (IAF) to consider twin engine Boeing Super Hornet F/A-18 E/F along with SAABs’s Gripen and Lockheed Martin’s F-16.
already talks are going on between Indian Navy and Boeing to finalise the deal of $8 billion (Approx) for the procurement of 57 fighter jets.
IAF needs almost needs 100 fighter jets to reduce the shortage. IAF has current strength of only 33 fighter squadrons which is the weakest in the four decades. And India’s indigenous build Light Combat Aircraft Tejas is still under development stage.
According to some media reports IAF wants government to issue Request of Information (RFI) in this regard to get the process of procurement started.
So Boeing’s Super Hornet F/A-18 E/F is in the contention of $15 billion deal. As reported by Reuters Boeing India President Pratyush Kumar said that Boeing committed to building the planes in India and had offered to help with India’s plans to develop its own advanced medium combat aircraft.
Super Hornet F/A-18 is already operational in United States (US) Navy.
Lets us look at some main features of Boeing Super Hornet :
The Super Hornet was first ordered by the U.S. Navy in 1992.
Super Hornet F/A – 18 E/F is equipped with touch sensitive control display with large multi-coloured liquid display for revealing tactical information to the pilot. In addition to this it has two monochrome display and one fuel display.
Length of this fighter jet is 18.31 metre with wingspan of 13.62 metre. Height of Super Hornet is 4.88 metre.
It has a wing area of 46.5 sq. m
Loaded weight capacity of super hornet is 21,320 Kg and take- off weight capacity is 29,937 Kg.
Super Hornet F/A – 18 E/F has 2X General Electric F 414-GE-400 turbofan engines. Each engine provides dry thrust of 62.3 KN and 97.9 KN thrust with afterburner.
It has 11 hardpoints for carrying ammunitions of varying size.
Super Hornet F/A – 18 E/F has maximum speed of 1.8 Mach or 1,190 Miles per hour.
Super Hornet has service ceiling of 50,000 feet and has rate of climb at 44,890 feet per minute.
It has standard armament of 20mm M61A2 Vulcan Gatling Gun with 578 20mm projectiles.
Ferry Range of Super Hornet is 1,800 nautical Miles with a combat radius of 390 nautical miles.
India successfully test fired BrahMos supersonic cruise missile from Rajasthan’s Pokhran test range on 22nd March 2018 around 8:42 AM. The missile was test fired with an indigenous seeker developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). Earlier India used to use seekers made by Russia. Initially the range of BrahMos was capped at 290 Km due to the restrictions put up by Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). Since India’s entry into the group, the range has been increased to 450 KM.
BrahMos can travel at three times the speed of sound, attaining maximum speed of Mach 3.0
Last year in November India successfully test fired BrahMos from Sukhoi -30 MKI.
Nirbhaya is another cruise missile which India is looking forward to. It is still under trial phase. Once developed Nirbahaya is said to supplement the role played by BrahMos missile. Till now five trials have been conducted. Nirbhaya is a long range subsonic missile weighing up to 1,500 Kg and having an operational range from 1,000 km up to 1,500 km. Nirbhaya can attain maximum speed of 0.7 Mach.
India along with Russia is developing BrahMos-II missile. It is expected to get ready for testing by the year 2020. BrahMos-II is expected to have a maximum speed of 7 Mach. Making it the fastest cruise missile in the world. An operation range is expected range between 450 Km – 600 Km.
India has also varied range of ballistic Missiles like Agni Series missiles, Prithvi series missiles, Shaurya missile and Sagrika missile. In addition to this we have Anti-Tank Guided missile – Nag. India also possesses Akash and Astra Missiles.
India and Russia are on the verge of signing Rs 40,000 crore defence deal. Senior Defence official told The Hindu that the two countries could be just weeks away of signing one of the biggest defence deals.
The deal for the purchase of S-400 Triumf, long range air defence systems is expected to get closed by 31st March.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an intergovernmental agreement for the acquisition of five regiments of S-400s in October 2016 during the eighth BRICS summit.
According to the report published in The Hindu, Russia is not in favour of any offset clause because S-400 Triumf air defence System is very strategic in nature.
Acquiring S-400 will boost India’s air defence system as it can track and shoot down the incoming enemy aircraft upto the range of 400 km. Indian Air Force will operate this system.
China is the first country to procure six battalions of S-400 air defence systems.
Controversy on the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets has not yet died and there have been reports that government is mulling over purchasing 36 more Rafale jets from France. The Congress on one hand accused Modi government of purchasing Rafale jets at higher cost causing a loss of Rs ‘12,000 Crore’ to the country, but on the other hand French government wants India to announce talks for purchasing 36 more Rafale jets. According to the report published in NDTV, French Defence Minister Florence Parly has written a letter to Nirmala Sitharaman on 26th February which indicates that French Government is keen in extending the Rafale deal with India. Indian government has not taken a final decision yet.
Other report published in Economic Times stated that French officials pitched for selling another batch of 36 Rafale fighter jets to India during the talks between Parly and Sitharaman. Parly was in favour of extending the Rafale deal to strengthen defence ties between both the countries.
India will start receiving the first set of Rafale fighter jets from 2019.
France is also pitching on behalf of its defence supplier SAFRAN to develop combat aircraft engine in collaboration with Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for India’s Light Combat Aircraft Tejas.
It will be interesting to see how things pan out over the period of time, whether government will purchase another set of 36 Rafale jets and intensifies political controversy or will play safe and avoid further purchase of Rafale fighter jets?