The Indian Air Force’s global tender to buy 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) has been cancelled and instead, a limited purchase of 36 Dassault Rafales is being negotiated without the transfer of technology and local production envisaged in the original tender. Meanwhile, the fighter strength of the Indian Air Force (IAF) is diminishing rapidly due to obsolescence. The IAF operates a wide variety of aircraft which significantly complicates its logistics, training, budgets, and force synergy. The acquisition of just two squadrons of Rafales is hardly enough to overcome the numbers crunch.
The Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), an aviation research arm of the Defence Ministry, however, believes its Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) may just be the answer that the IAF is looking for. The AMCA programme, though still in its design and development phase, is believed by the ADA to hold immense potential to replace a wide range of IAF aircraft while bringing quantum changes to fielded capability as the aircraft will be a generation ahead of what the IAF currently fields, or is considering. The indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), which the ADA has been developing over the last 30-odd years, has created an aeronautic ecosystem for the AMCA programme. ADA officials believe that if the IAF were to throw its weight behind the AMCA programme, it would result in a shift from short-term tactical thinking to a more long-term strategic view, keeping pace with technological developments and meeting future threats.
This Brief examines the AMCA programme, aggregating and comparing official information on the programme with its peers, and analyses the drivers of – and obstacles to – the successful completion of the AMCA project.
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Abhijit is senior fellow at the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies. He used to coordinate the National Security Programme at ORF. Abhijit has been ...Read More +
Pushan was Head of Forums at ORF. He was also the coordinator of Raisina Dialogue. His research interests are Indian foreign and security policies.Read More +