India buys the wrong warplanes to fight China
The Indian Air Force needs new fighters. He needed it before the current conflict with China on part of the Himalayas claimed by the two countries. Now he needs it even more.
Monday, Chinese forces kill 20 Indian soldiers in a skirmish along the disputed India-China border crossing the towering mountain range. Forty-three Chinese soldiers were also injured or died, according to press reports.
So it’s no surprise that India this week placed an order for $ 780 million from Russia for 33 fighters, enough to equip or re-equip two squadrons. What is weird is who types of fighter New Delhi would have bought.
The Indian order includes 21 MiG-29s and 12 Su-30s, according to press reports. But one aviation expert thinks the Sukhois in particular are unsuitable for mountain patrols.
The Indian Air Force has long reportedly planned to purchase the additional planes to bolster the service’s existing arsenal of around 230 Su-30s and 60 MiG-29s. The Air Force also plans to purchase 83 locally-made Teja light fighters and 144 foreign-made medium fighters in the coming years.
All the new fighters – the Sukhois, MiGs, Tejas and medium fighters – are part of an effort to grow the Air Force from 28 frontline squadrons to 40, the number New Delhi is considering. enough to fight both Pakistan and China. .
These 28 squadrons pilot a bewildering variety of fighters, including Indian and Russian-made types, French Mirage 2000s, Rafales and European Jaguars.
The Rafale, Su-30 and MiG-29 are candidates for the needs of medium fighters. American firms Lockheed Martin
Tom cooper, author and aviation expert, said he was surprised that the Indian Air Force wants the Su-30 and MiG-29 to meet its emergency needs for a few squadrons of planes. The Su-30, while seemingly impressive on paper, lacks performance and combat capabilities compared to Western models.
“Your air force has 200 to 250 Su-30s,” Cooper said on Facebook. “Yet when you want to bomb a terrorist gang in the neighboring country, you need the almost 40-year-old Mirage 2000 instead. “
Cooper was referring to the February 2019 clash between Indian and Pakistani forces over disputed Kashmir, roughly in the same region where Indian and Chinese troops would clash more than a year later.
Indian Air Force Mirage 2000 launched the fight with a precision strike on a suspected terrorist base inside Pakistani territory. Pakistan responded with F-16s. When the dust settled, the Indians lost a single MiG-21 fighter.
These same Mirage 2000s had been decisive in a previous conflict in Kashmir in 1999. Russian-made Indian fighters struggled to strike Pakistani bases in the mountains. But a single coordinated strike from the Mirage 2000s carrying Litening cameras and laser-guided bombs succeeded in destroying a key Pakistan headquarters.
“In these attacks, the target was acquired by the Litening pod’s electro-optical imaging sensor about nine miles away, with a weapon drop occurring at an oblique range of about five miles and the the plane then turned away while continuing to mark the target with a laser point ”, Air Force Review Noted in 2012.
Cooper’s point is that for decades the Mirage 2000 was a more efficient fighter in Indian service than the Su-30 was. The Rafale, the French-made successor of the Mirage, is also one of the best Indian fighters. But the country only ordered 36 Rafale.
Not only does the Su-30 lack the latest precision air-to-ground munitions, but it does not perform well from the high altitude air bases that support Indian operations along the so-called “real line of control”. , the border between Indian and Chinese forces in the Himalayas. Diplomats drew this line in truce talks following a bitter and bloody border war in 1962.
Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport in the Indian city of Leh supports Indian warplanes for operations over the Himalayas. Indian army continuous efforts improving a road between Leh and an Indian outpost a few miles from the actual line of control could be what sparked the current clash.
Kushok Bakula Rimpochee’s 9,000-foot runway is located 11,000 feet above sea level. The Su-30 does not perform well in these conditions, Cooper said. “They are happy if the jet can take off carrying two [air-to-air missiles]Cooper wrote. “And the brake discs and tires need to be replaced after every ride.”
The lighter MiG-29 apparently performs better at Leh than the Su-30. But that doesn’t mean the old MiG is the right choice for India. The MiG-29s New Delhi plans to buy from Russia are apparently obsolete models that Russian workers will refurbish before handing them over. “They just aren’t up to the task,” Cooper said of the MiG-29s.
So why, faced with an invading Chinese army, does the Indian aviation want Sukhois?
It should be obvious. Indian firm HAL builds the Su-30 under license in India. The purchase of Sukhois funnels Indian money to Indian businesses. Although, as Cooper pointed out, with the right political will, India could also allow the Rafale.
“Last year’s experiences should have brought the Indians to their senses,” Cooper said. “They could have bought more Rafale.”