Source : Bulgarian Military
Tejas fighter ‘starts taking down’ Russian Su-30s and MiG-29s in the Indian Air Force
Figuratively speaking, Russian fighters Su-30 and MiG-29 are beginning to lose to the Indian fighter Tejas Mk1 and its subsequent series. On the political scene, and on the local market, the domestic fighter is getting or is about to get, a lot of support.
Although the Su-30SMI is an Indian production under a Russian license, the idea of the Indian Parliament that 50% of the Indian Air Force [IAF] should be made up of indigenous aircraft could seriously harm its production. If the Su-30SMI is “hit”, the naval MeG-29 will also suffer damage. In fact, it is already suffering negatives as the French Rafale will take its place on the Indian aircraft carrier Vikrant.
Last month, Tejas received an unexpected boost from the Indian Air Force. Commanding officers, leadership, and pilots support the idea of 50% of the Air Force inventory being equipped with indigenous combat aircraft. And the idea has already been presented in the form of a report in the Indian Parliament.
The ‘Made in India’ program has been revolutionizing the defense industry for the past decade. Starting as an initiative to have half and more of the components for the military platforms locally manufactured, today ‘Made in India’ will change the entire face of Indian defense. In fact, it made sense even when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the launch of the program.
This is what Indian politicians intend to change. By 2040, India should not only have a fleet of 4.5-generation fighters but also a fleet of indigenous fifth-generation stealth fighters. In numbers, this means at least 73 Tejas Mk1 fighters, 108 MkII fighters, 50 Tejas Mk1A fighters, and at least 140 stealth AMCA fighters.
However, AMCA fighters will not enter the deadline until 2040. New Delhi has other plans for the fifth-generation fighter. And they are for the fighter to start its series development in 2035, with 20-30 units being produced in the following years. Large-scale production is expected after 2040, with 2045 assuming that India will have the desired 140 fighters.
India’s intentions have begun to emerge in recent months. Here, for example, India ordered 10 Tejas training fighters. The first one has already left the hangar, and the next ones are coming.
The MiG-29 has already received the first “Indian punch”, which will most likely break its dominance in India. At the beginning of February, the MiG-29 landed for the first time on the Indian aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, but it was immediately followed by the naval version of the Tejas. Yes, India has developed the first Navy prototype of its home-grown fighter jet, which successfully took off and landed on the aircraft carrier’s “short chance”.
BulgarianMilitary.com has already reported that serial production of the Tejas Mk1A has begun. Of course, it so happened that serial production will be delayed. But it won’t be delayed for years, just a few months. It is expected that at the end of 2023, the second, better, and combat-capable version will go into serial production.
The hopes of Russia, as well as the US, to launch their respective Su-57 and F-35 fighter jets, are gradually evaporating. Although Washington has never said it wants to sell the F-35 to New Delhi, the fighter’s presence in India weeks ago was more of a thumbs-up to the Russian industry, which has a tradition in the Indian market.
Russia is also about to part with the dream of the Su-57 being sold and jointly produced, and on Indian territory. AMCA will most likely shift the focus from large foreign transactions to episodic ones. Yes, India may at some point decide to buy a new generation fighter jet. But it looks like it won’t be a tall order.
AMCA is under development. It is expected to be a single-seat, single-engine 5.5-generation fighter jet. According to Indian plans, the Mk2 version of the AMCA will be a sixth-generation fighter. In reality, almost all the key characteristics of the aircraft are currently being developed – the stealth technology, the avionics, the sensors and the cockpit, the armament, and most of all the power unit.
But, India has clearly planned its time correctly, since it assumes serious progress in the coming years and by 2035 will start the production of the first AMCA prototype.
India’s intentions do not only hit Russian ambitions. Boeing spent considerable time and expense teaching its F-18 Super Hornet to take off from a short runway to get it aboard the IHS Vikrant. That’s clearly not going to happen. Not only because of the clearly intended French Rafale but also because of the cessation of production of this glorious fighter.
At the same time, the F-15 and F-16 can be “discarded” and the acquisition of a large number of multipurpose fighters of the 4th generation can be focused on the Tejas. The Americans’ chances are there for real, but they are diminishing by the day, especially if the Indian parliament decides to take steps to acquire 50% of local production. Then Russians, Americans, and French will still sell, but now in much more limited quantities.
Tejas is a new entrant in the market. Gradually, it can not only change the domestic consumption of foreign fighters but also target international markets. However, countries with limited military budgets far outnumber those that can afford to spend hundreds of billions of dollars a year.
Another 4.5 generation aircraft manufacturer with a tendency to develop fifth and next generation in the market, means limiting the entire international market. For everyone.
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