China is fully aware that 1962 cannot be replicated .Any attempt to reenact and it will not only get a bloody nose but will have a nightmare hundred times worse than what Vietnam gave it. So China will be not in a hurry to militarily confront India, of course verbal duels add spice to daily life. On the other hand Pakistan in any case is not even worth worrying.
Therefore Indian Air Force in a time bound manner can easily achieve first the presently sanctioned strength of 45 Fighter Squadrons with a mix of existing air crafts together with Rafels and Tejas MK1. Thereafter for a Two Front War, Tejas MK1A, Tejas MK and FGFA will add in to bring it upto 63 Squadrons. Next will begin the replacement of vintage aircrafts with Tejas MK3 [Kaveri Engines], AMCA and more FGFAs.
Therefore it is quite a hilarious situation when American Senators Mark Warner from Virginia and John Cornyn from Texas are urging Trump Administration to push sale of vintage F16 fighter Jets to India.Though they have honourable intentions to build up India’s capacity to counter security threats and in bargain balance Chinas growing military power, mind you not in the Indian Ocean but in the Pacific. In a joint letter to US Defence Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, they have asked that Trump must make the fighter jets acquisition a priority during any bilateral discussions with India.
It seems that they have assumed that India’s effort to expand its fighter fleet to 63 Squadrons has narrowed down to F16 and Grippen. They seem to be oblivious to the presence of Tejas, FGFA and AMCA. They think that vintage F16 a totally obsolete aircraft is comparable with Tejas which is going to form the backbone of IAFs lighter requirements for next 20 years.
The two senators, respectively from Democrat and Republican Parties, are Co-Chairs of the very influential Indian Caucus, the only specific caucus in the US Senate, As per them “it is in our National Interest to work with India to progress democratic principles through regional security partnership and bilateral pacts.” Since they are actually pro Indian Souls, the Duo should ask the Trump Administration and the Senate to progress cooperation in AIRCRAFT CARRIER, NUCLEAR SUBMARINE and AWAC technologies. They should push for MADE IN INDIA of latest version of C130 Hercules. India will also be willing to buy another 36 x P8Is and 60x Chinooks provided Americans first set up total repair and rehaul shop for these in India with HAL. However please NO F16s……do not mistake us for Red Indians.
India meanwhile on its part should now revamp the series production of Tejas. By 2018, IAF will have its first Tejas MK1 Squadron up and running with 20 air crafts. By end 2019, HAL will be manufacturing another 20x Tejas MK1 and establishing one more production line. With effect year 2020 these two Lines should commence churning out 40x Tejas MK1A and continue production till 2025 and produce a total of 240 crafts or 12 squadrons, out of which 06 Squadrons will go to IAF and rest exported to Vietnam and others. The two MK 1s squadrons get gifted to friendly neighbours.
Meanwhile in addition to the above, by 2022, two more production lines should start churning out 40xTejas MK2 so that IAF gets 06xSquadrons by 2026 and rest get exported to Vietnam, Philippines, Sri Lanka, South American Countries and Africa. Then by 2026 the MK1A line should commence producing the ultimate TEJAS MK3with Kaveri Engines so that by
2035, in the Light Series IAF has a total of 21 Squadrons. This will form the mainstay of IAF for Combat Air Patrol and Close Air Support roles. AMCA, revamped Mirage 2000and Jaguars will form the Medium mainstay and Sukhoi MKI3 and FGFA will together form the Heavy stuff.
Hopefully Trump and both the Senators, all friends of India are listening as this provides opportunity to solidify and strengthen the significant gains made in bilateral INDO US defence relationship and also help the American Defence Industry.
Col Awadhesh Kumar, Veteran