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India has already come forward with new improved designs under the LCA project and has cherished it as the Tejas MK II which have enhanced designs and technologies making the Tejas more reliable.
MK II will be fitted with the Cobham IFR probe and Israeli AESA , and will have a enhanced wing design providing a better degree of maneuverability. Even though the Tejas is said to be a reliable product it lacks the punch the IAF has demanded and can compromise the scope of operations the pilots can perform.
The MKII with all the enhancements promise to provide a very reliable aircraft but with the LCA Tejas itself to be inducted to the force the MKII is a long distant project. The security of the force is something that can’t be compromised and has to be looked after under any circumstances.
With the MK II being a distant it is crucial other options are looked at and with the flying squadrons depleting drastically it is time an option is floated at the earliest. Any more projects on HAL will compromise the work on both the MKII and any project added to them. Bu what the government can look at is an joint venture with a leading Aerospace partner who can take the cumbersome work but yet provide a reliable platform for Indian companies to develop on.
The Swedish Saab is a leading aerospace community that has provided very reliable aircraft's to leading forces across the globe but the relationships with Saab and Indian forces is good, but setting up a reliable work station itself will take a long time.
Israeli IAI has been a leading aerospace partner for India and has helped India develop platforms, avionics, missile systems, propulsion systems and the list goes on every project executed by the Indian side has had the participation of the Israeli aerospace industry. Israeli products have been cost effective and have saved time and works for the Indian side.
With just $50 Million being shunted out for a single aircraft the development is strongly compromised. To make costs for this the product developed in JV can be exported to countries which not only serve economically but also go a long way in the diplomatic channels. The Latin American countries and various other African countries are now investing heavily in acquiring modern technologies to their forces.
Israel operates F 16, F 15 and the stealth enabled F 35 is currently in the pipeline and will operate them by the end of this decade. Israel operates no light fighter but building a light fighter with the technology they poses is extremely easy and can fill the treasury of Israel. Israel already has completed several export orders under the Kfir program and the countries are operating successfully.
If at all India starts a JV with Israel, India will have no worries in the field of providing avionics and latest technologies to the aircraft. India will still have to develop a power packed engine or again this can also be exported form a foreign firm. With the help of Israel India can then manufacture aircrafts easily back home with all the technology.
The Israeli's might need one or two squadrons of these jets, and we India can manufacture some ten to fifteen squadrons and another few more squadrons can be developed for export.
If India starts with the negotiations and paper work the actual contract materialize by early next year and the prototype can be expected anytime by 2019 and the first operational squadron can be expected by 2023 by time which HAL will e ready to start with the MK II development program.
By 2025, stealth would be seen in almost all advanced countries but not all countries will be able to operate a stealth enabled aircraft. Faced with internal threats African and Latin American countries need reliable light fighters and the export option will always be viable for the program.
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Editor Karthik Kakoor