IAF plans to get old defunct aircraft from France to run its fleet

36 Jaguar fighter aircraft to provide spares for six squadrons

IAF plans to get old defunct aircraft from France to run its fleet

Indian Air Force wants to procure 36 grounded Jaguar fighter aircraft from France to run its six squadrons of Jaguar deep penetration bombers that are in dire need of spares for operational readiness.

The fighter planes inducted nearly four decades ago, remain one of India's mainstay for air attacks. Even though these platforms are being upgraded, unavailability of spares remained a critical challenge in the absence of an assembly line for the aircraft.

The IAF is now looking at France for a solution with Paris offering to sell its 36 grounded Jaguar aircraft at a nominal price. These aircraft could be cannibalised – extraction of spares in aviation parlance – to run the Indian squadrons for several years.

There are 117 Jaguar aircraft (as on October 2016) with the IAF that flies six squadrons with these jets. In the last five years, the government has sanctioned multiple upgrade projects for these aircraft to give them more teeth during combat.

The top brass in the IAF and defence ministry are in the process of calculating the transport cost associated with bringing these defunct aircraft back in India, sources told DH. The final decision would be taken only with a positive cost-benefit analysis.

India is the only country that still flies Jaguars. Its two original users – Royal Air Force and French Air Force – replaced their Jaguars with Eurofighter Typhoon and Rafale respectively.

The upgrade programme for Jaguars includes installing a new navigational-attack system DARIN-3 (Display Attack Ranging Inertial Navigation-III) in the old aircraft. It is supposed to transform the ancient war jet into a modern fighting machine with a head-up display, all-glass cockpit, advanced avionics, auto-pilot and new weapon systems.

The modernisation programme of Jaguars is several years behind the original schedule. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited in July 2017 described the completion of the Darin-3 upgrades as one of its targets and the IAF is unlikely to receive the entire fleet of modernised Jaguars by 2019.

The Defence Acquisition Council approved the purchase of flight simulators for Jaguar fighter jets only in July 2016.

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