IAF Upgrade Plans Delaying Due To Price Concerns


The Indian Air Force (IAF) will have to wait a little longer before its Mirage 2000 fighter fleet is upgraded or shortage of transporters is met as the two key deals have got delayed over the price rows with the vendors.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) had hoped to wrap up these two contracts, which have been under discussion for long, by the end of financial year on March 31.
Despite frantic efforts, the Mirage 2000 upgrade contract, estimated to be nearly $2.2 billion and purchase of super heavy transporter C-17s, pegged at $4 billion couldn’t be clinched. It has come as a set back for the IAF’s modernisation plan, but officials said the price issues were critical even though political considerations would also play a significant role.
The IAF is looking to upgrade its 50 Mirage fighters, a key arsenal in its kitty procured in the 1980s, to prolong its life and turning the machine into a modern combat platform keeping pace with changing technology.
The aircraft will have new cockpit equipment with the most modern avionics. France is keen to have the deal signed and made several representations at the political level.
Sweetening the offer, France has even linked it to the new fighters the IAF is looking to buy. France’s latest combat Rafale is one of the contenders for the contract.


The IAF is a bit of urgency as key components of its fighter fleet needs urgent upgradation. Apart from Mirage 2000s, the deep strike aircraft Jaguars need to be powered by the new engines.
Rolls Royce has walked out of the deal, closing options for the IAF and delaying the project. The other contract the IAF was keen to finish by March 31 was for C-17 Globemaster super heavy transporters from the US company Boeing. The two sides were confident that commercial negotiations were completed and it was on the verge of being signed. But fresh questions raised by the ministry of defence has delayed the process. Defence Minister A K Antony has made it clear that his ministry would not compromise on the price aspect and has successfully resisted political pressure, particularly from the US.
The C-17 deal is being estimated to be the biggest one signed with the US till date. The US officials admit in private that dealing with Antony had become difficult as the minister wants to downplay any contact with Washington.
Despite frantic efforts, the Mirage 2000 upgrade contract couldn’t be clinched as price rows with vendors got delayed.

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