Outgoing air force chief, Arup Raha on Wednesday said the 36 Rafale warplanes ordered from France for $8.7 billion were not enough and India needed to buy around 200-250 such fighter jets to sharpen its military edge.
The Air Chief Marshal, who is set to retire on December 31, also rued that the tender for the much needed ‘force multiplier’ mid-air refuellers had to be withdrawn. He said a fresh tender is in the offing and the procurement will be speeded up.
“India has sufficient number of aircraft in the heavy category in Sukhoi-30s, whereas gaps in the medium and lightweight categories needed to be filled,” he said.
“We are still inducting Sukhoi-30s; it will last us for another 40 years. The Light Combat Aircraft (Tejas) will fill some void in the lightweight category… Rafale is an excellent aircraft. But we have just 36 aircraft; we require more aircraft in the medium-weight category,” Raha said.
“To fill the gap, one more line of production is needed in India,” he said, adding that a decision on the matter is likely soon, and the file is at present lying with the Defence Ministry.
“Over the next 10 years, we must have 200-250 aircraft. It has to be balanced out. In the heavy weight spectrum, we have enough. But in the medium weight category, we need to have more. Yes, about 200 will be very good,” he said.