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.