Analyisis of India's Military Aircraft (Navy Air Arm, Air Force, and Army Aviation)

Discussion in 'Professional Discussions' started by Jeff Head, Oct 30, 2014.

  1. Jeff Head

    Jeff Head General
    Staff Member Super Moderator

    Sep 9, 2005
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    I thought an analysis of the Indian military aircraft was in order, particularly with all of their new purchases.

    I have the following aircraft listed for the Indian Naval Air Arm, the Indian Air Force, and the Indian Army Aviation respectfully:


    Fixed Wing Aircraft:

    45 x Mig-29K Carrier Strike fighters (up to 40 more planned)
    12 x Sea Harrier Carrier STOVL Fighters
    05 x P81 Neptune (+3 on order, +4 on future order) MPA
    08 x Tu-142M Bear MPA
    05 x IL-38 May MPA

    08 x BAE HAwk 132 Trainers (8 more planned for Navy)
    08 x HAL HJT-16 Trainers

    Total: 91 Fixed Wing Aircraft (To be 144 aircraft)

    09 x Ka-31 Helix-B AEW helos
    27 x Westland Sea King ASW/SAR helos
    06 x Sirkosky UH-3H Seak King ASW helos
    07 x Ka-25 Hormone ASW helos
    13 x Ka-28 Helix-A ASW helos

    55 x Hal Chetak utility helos
    18 x Hal Dhruv utility helos (+16 on order)

    Total: 125 helicpopters (To be 141)
    Total: 214 Naval Aircraft (To be 285)

    Fixed Wing:

    216 x SU-30MKI multirole aircraft (56 more on order)
    062 x Mig-29 UPG (all being upgraded to UPG standard)
    049 x Mirage 2000-5 Mk2 (all being upgraded the Mk 5 standard)
    148 x Jaguar SPECAT MS (service life upgrade planned for early 2020s)
    079 x Mig-27ML (to be retired in early 2020s)
    254 x Mig-21 M/MF & BIson (to be retired by 2022
    008 x HAL Tejas multio role (40 more on order, 246 more planned)

    Total: 716 Combat aircraft (To be 827)

    006 x C-17 Globemaster transport (4 more on order)
    017 x Il-76 MD Candid transport
    006 x C-130J Super Herculese transport (6 more on order)
    062 x Hawker HS 748 transport
    105 x AN-32 cline transport
    040 x Do-228 Utility transport
    004 x 737 VIP tranport
    002 x Astra 1125 VIP transport

    Total: 252 Transport Aircraft (To be 262)

    Early Warning and Recon:

    003 x A-50 Phalcon AEW (2 more on order)
    003 x EMB-145 AEWC
    007 x IV Sra4 Gulfstem 4 recon
    002 x Bombadier 5000 recon

    Total: 15 Early warning and recon aircraft (To be 17)

    007 x Il-78MKI refueling

    Total: 7 Refueling aircraft

    078 x Hawk 132 trainers (28 more on order)
    081 x Hal HJT-16 trainers (to be retired in 2017)
    035 x Pilatuis PC-7 trainers (40 more ordered, 137 on additional orders)
    070 x Hal HPT-32 trainers (to be replaced by PC-7)

    Total: 264 Trainer Aircraft (To be 372)
    Total: 1,254 Fixed Wing Aircraft (To be 1,485)


    004 x HAL Rudra ALH-WSI attack helos (12 more on order)
    002 x HAL LCH attack helos (63 more on order)
    020 x Mil-35 Hind E Attack helos (to be replaced by Apaches)
    002 x AH-64D Apache attack helos (20 more on order)

    002 x CH-47 Chinook Transport helos (13 more on order)
    187 x Mi-8 Utility helos
    019 x Mi-17V5 Utility helos (40 more on order)
    003 x Mi-26 Halo Utility Helos
    047 x HAL Dhruc Utility helos (65 more on order)
    034 x HAL Chetah utility heolos
    073 x HAL Chetak utility helos

    Total: 403 Helicopters (To be 597)
    Total: 1,675 Air Force Aircraft (To be 2,082)​

    020 x HAL Rhudra ACH-WSIattack helos (40 more on order)
    002 x AH-64E attack helicopters (37 more on order)
    002 x HAL LCH Attack helos (112 more on order)
    012 x HAL LAncer attack helos

    Total: 36 Attack Helicopters (To be 223)

    064 x HAL Druv Utility helos (96 more on order)
    060 x HAL Chetak AS 316B utility helos (to be replaced by 2020)
    022 x HAL Cheetah Utility heols (to be relaced by HAL CheetahI)
    026 x HAL CheetahI Utility helos

    Total: 192 utility Helicopters (To be 208)
    Total: 228 Army Aviation helicopters (To be 431)​


    Current: 2,099 aircraft
    Planned: 2,798 aircraft

    Now, for a couple of observations and comments.

    First and foremost, now and in the future, based on the numbers I have, the Indian Military is extremely deficient in AWACS/AEW aircraft, and in Refueling. I would say for a force their size that they are severely deficient. They should have 16-24 decent AWACS aircraft for their nation, and something more capable for their Navy than the Kh-31s. They should have 24-30 or more large refueling aircraft as well.

    Second, for a nation their size, with the kind of coastline they have, I would say they are also very deficient in Maritime Patrol and Recon aircraftr, as well as recon aircraft for their Air Force. They should have a force fo 36-48 MPAs, and they should have 48-60 recon aircraft for their Air Force IMHO.

    Third, the Indian military, for a nation as large as theirs, needs to spend the next ten years making very serious progress towards developing their own indegenous military aircraft industry. Other than the languishing Tejas, a few trainers, and some light helciopters, they basically do not have a military aircraft industry and they desparately need one. Both from a cost and a strategic reliance standpoint.

    Now, the Indian Military is modernizing and they are getting some very decent aircraft and capability. The SU-30MKIs are extremely good aircraft for their air superiority and their attack/strike capabilities, and the Indians will have more of them than any other nation on earth, including Russia.

    The Mig-29K is an excellent choice for their naval air arm, and they will also have more of them than any other nation...including Russia.

    They are buying more and more Western technology and particularly US technology. This is increaing their overall capability, and hopefully they will be able to get some decent infusion of technology into their own future programs.

    From the US they are getting all of the following types of aircraft:

    The P-8I Neptunes Maritime Patrol/ASW Aircraft (12 planned)
    The C-17 Globemaster Transports (10 planned)
    The C-130J Super Herculese Transports (12 planned)
    The AH-64D Apache Attack Helicopters (61 planned)
    The Ch-47 Chinook Transport Helicopters (15 planned)

    Now, those are relatively modest numbers for a military their size...but it is a good start. Having over 60 AH-64Ds will be a critical capability for them in the future.

    And...if they can somehow find the funds to add 48 or so F-35As to their Air Force and 24 F-35Bs to their Navy...all the better for them. Those would be very critical future assets, even as they dirve for developing their own military aircraft industry.
    #1 Jeff Head, Oct 30, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2015
  2. A Bar Brother

    A Bar Brother Junior Member

    Nov 1, 2014
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    Re: Indian Military News II

    I've read your assessment on India's air arm in the Pro Discussions thread. Since I cannot reply over there, I though it would be better to answer some of the points you've made over here instead.

    The navy is not going to order more Mig-29s. The future orders will be for CATOBAR capable aircraft, with the exception being the N-LCA. So we are looking at a new MRCA tender, or just outright purchases of either Rafale-M or F-35C. The navy sent out a preliminary RFI in 2009 for 36 aircraft with 36 more as options.

    Indian Navy eyes newer generation aircraft - The Hindu

    We could be looking at new orders for 40-80 MRCA aircraft pretty soon. The planned 45 additional Mig-29s have either been put on hold or canceled.

    Now, coming to the points you have raised.
    It is true that our the forces are deficient in such assets, but multiple programs have been initiated for the same. When it comes to AEW&Cs, there are a total of three programs. One is the Israeli Phalcons, the second is a DRDO-CABS program for an indigenous AEW&C on an Embraer platform and the third is the analogue to the Phalcons and is called AWACS-India. Apart from the 5 Phalcons, the plan is to induct well over 20 of the smaller Embraer AEW&C. And a new program for 6 more Phalcon class AEW&C under AWACS-India. Naturally, the numbers will climb as the program progresses.

    Livefist: Indian AWACS Reloaded: Competition For 6 Aircraft Announced

    We also mustn't forget that the navy's P-8I are unique, and come with a full 360 degree air surveillance capability (unlike the USN's P-8A), further augmenting the military's surveillance capability. 12 have been ordered and there is a requirement for 12 more P-8Is. So be on the look out for additional orders.

    Back in 2006, the navy had studied inducting the E-2C Hawkeye for their carriers. Things didn't work out due to the less capable STOBAR capability of the AEW platform. Apparently, if launched in a STOBAR configuration, the endurance of the aircraft is just one hour. So we are looking at a new FMS deal for the E-2D Hawkeye meant for a new CATOBAR capable carrier, INS Vishal.

    US clears Hawkeye E-2D aircraft for India - Hindustan Times

    As far as tankers are concerned, it seems to be a problem area. After the 6 IL-78s were inducted, the air force initiated a program for new refuelers, but after the tender process was completed, with the A330 as the victor, the finance ministry scuttled the deal citing high costs. So the tender was restarted with LCC (life cycle costs) being the basis. The A330 deal is currently in the limbo because of rebranding. The company (Cassidian, I believe) that participated in the tender has passed the project on to Airbus, so it is stuck in bureaucratic red tape. The tender is for 6 aircraft with 6 more as options. If signed, the refueler fleet will have a total of 18 aircraft. Hopefully, the new govt is not going to sit on the file. Eventually, the navy will also want to acquire new tankers.

    The forces have focused a lot of their energies in acquiring buddy refueling capabilities for all aircraft. However, unlike the AEW&C fleet, the tanker fleet is in the doldrums, and I hope it is fixed as soon as possible.

    Very true and this is another area of core importance to the navy. As already mentioned, there are 12 P-8Is ordered, and a possible order for 12 more. The navy has also released a new tender for 9 MRMRs with probably as many in options.

    India’s Mid-Tier Maritime Patrol Aircraft Competitions

    So we are possibly looking at 21 on paper or flying and 21 more orders in the next few years. This is apart from the Tu-142 and IL-38 which are being upgraded to last at least 2 more decades. So we are looking good as far as MPAs are concerned.

    We have three fighter aircraft programs running in parallel. One is the LCA, the other is the FGFA and the third is the AMCA. Apart from that there are a number of UAV and UCAV programs, like the Rustom family and the AURA UCAV. In the transport segment, there is the IL-214 program as well.

    There are two hypersonic development programs, one is DRDO's HSTDV and the other is ISRO's RLV.

    There is a reliable source who said more Su-30MKIs are to be ordered depending on the financial situation.

    These numbers are expected to go up soon. The IAF has mentioned they want to increase the C-17 fleet to 25. There is also a new request out for 1 more C-130J as attrition replacement.

    45 IL-214s are expected to be ordered.

    There is no chance for the IAF to order the F-35, but there is a huge potential for the navy to do so. With the FGFA program, IAF officials have already mentioned that there is no requirement for the F-35.
  3. aksha

    aksha Captain

    May 30, 2012
    Likes Received:
    Re: Indian Military News II


    there won't be another naval mmrca deal for the navy .the iaf's mmrca circus has been going on for more than a decade and they haven't got a single aircraft yet.
    besides 45 mig29k's aren't enough for both vikramaditya and vikrant ,reasons
    they will need a minimum of 90 fighters for the vikram and vikrant,both of which is expected to serve atleast till 2040
    1)they will start losing mig29k's sooner or later,even the USN does and the french navy does by way of crashes.
    2)the NLCA Mk1 is mainly going to based on airbases at shore for airbase protection ,them being single engined are not very suitable for STOBAR.(remember even with steam catapults the USN went for the double engined f18 than the single engined f16,).though they will maintain a 3 - 5 NLCA's on both the STOBARS.
    3)the rafale won't be able to take off with the same loadout as the mig29k's on STOBAR ,besides operating 3 different aircraft each of which uses 3 different engines on small carriers is a recipe for disaster interms of the spares each of them will need.
    4)the griffin is too similar to the tejas,having similar capablities,though the griffin is better than the tejas at present.
    5)the EFT whose naval version which the british call seaphoon wont be revived ,the royal navy is not interested in them and developing a naval version for limited number of aircraft is going to be very costly.
    6)f16 ,same problem AS NLCA ,single engined
    7)f18 ,too heavy,can take off from STOBAR but limited loadout.
    8) the ins vishaal can't be expected before 2035, even the french with a better shipbuilding reputation than india had problems with the charles de la gaulle ,inspite of already having built 2 carriers of similar tonnage,though she s all right now.the ins vishaal design too i think hasen't been completed .so buying rafales for 2035 is pure stupidity ,the IN wants the AMCA for the VISHAAL not rafale .(a CATOBAR version of NLCA has been planned too.)
    the rafale will be lets say out of fashion then as will be mig29k,EFT ,griffin,Fs 18 & 16.
    so better buy mig29k's which are cheaper

    i posted this on russian mil news
    the F35 B & C has a very high chance of operating in the IN if the US allows them
    on the four 40,000 tonne lhd's (f35 B) and the F35 C apparently can be used on STOBARS too.(it has the most powerful negine in the world)
    the biggest reason why they won't have another MRCA competition(until at least the late 2020's) is because of the training and money they spent on the mig29k's ,if they buy any other aircraft the logistics involved will make things much cosltly.
    the article on the hindu was published in 2009,my interview(informal though) with the navy guy was this year,also a few months back when admiral dhowan visited kochi ,he said that the navy may buy more mig29s ,unfortunately the national media didnot cover the the breifing or thought it not important but it came in the local news channels.i will post a video or article if i find one ,tommorow
    Air Force Brat likes this.
  4. A Bar Brother

    A Bar Brother Junior Member

    Nov 1, 2014
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    Re: Indian Military News II

    That's fine. That's how long some tenders take in India. The Scorpene contract was signed in 2005 (originally initiated in 1997) and we are yet to get our first sub. The MRCA negotiations timeframe that you see now isn't the first time.

    You see large delays whenever major license production is involved.

    That's where the F-35B comes into the picture. And Rafale can be configured for STOBAR operations.

    Rafale News: Rafale : STOBAR compatible

    So both F-35 and Rafale can be primary contenders.

    Lockheed to offer fifth generation F-35 fighters to Navy - The Times of India

    Lockheed has offered, and Pentagon has mentioned in a report that they are open to sell F-35s to India whenever asked for it.

    Washington Opens for Indian Request for F-35 | Defense Update:
  5. aksha

    aksha Captain

    May 30, 2012
    Likes Received:
    Re: Indian Military News II

    rafale can't carry the same loadouts as mig29k,rafale delta wings are not foldable(therefore cant be used on vikramaditya ,check the elevator dimensions on vikram,the french abondoned rafle m foldable wings because they though it was too can only be used on vikrant.

    the IN if they buy F35's the can use the B on the FOUR 40,000 TONNE lHD's they will build by 2027, F35 C CAN BE USED ON THE stobar CARRIERS TOO.

    as i said they want the mig29k's to be their last foreign aircraft ,unless F35's are offered and the IN finds them economical.
    they will order the next year when all of the first batch of mig 29k's are deliverd.

    other than F35's i see no surprises by the IN,changing to another 4.5 very expensive gen(like rafle) is not smart especially when fifth gen aircrafts are around the corner.

    anyway time will tell,if by next year the IN hase'nt ordered more mig29k's then we might see F35's,but most probably they will be F35 B's for the LHD's
    Miragedriver and Air Force Brat like this.

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