http://idrw.org/cost-worry-on-rafale-and-tejas/#more-69469 Cost worry on Rafale and Tejas Published July 19, 2015 | By admin SOURCE: TELEGRAPH INDIA The “stopgap arrangement” to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets from France, as announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his Paris visit in April, is estimated to cost the exchequer about Rs 800 crore per plane plus the cost of weapons and munitions, a defence source has told The Telegraph. In other words, the 36 planes will cost Rs 28,800 crore. To add to the air force’s worries about depleting force levels, a light combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas that was recently in field trials in Jaisalmer returned to Bangalore with a major technical fault: its undercarriage was down. The first of the Tejas aircraft had been handed over to the air force in January this year pending a final operational clearance for the plane, which, it was hoped, would come by December. That hope is receding. The Jaisalmer incident has further sapped the air force’s confidence in the LCA. A former air force chief, Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik, had famously described the LCA as MiG 21-plus. The MiG 21 is of 1970s vintage. “I wonder if you would go to a car showroom today,” said the defence source, “and ask to buy a 1984 model Maruti.” The cost of the Rafale was one of the primary reasons that prompted the Modi government to rethink the contract after seven years of trials. A contract negotiation committee is still in talks to fix the precise cost of the aircraft. The committee is not going into the technical specifications or trials of the aircraft because that is presumed to have been done during the trials through which the Rafale was selected for the air force’s requirement of 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft. But the air force is worried that the procurement process is not fast enough to meet its requirement of fighter aircraft after it “number-plates” three squadrons by the end of this financial year. “Number-plating” of squadrons is done after the aircraft of a particular unit are phased out – retired from service – or reallocated to other units to meet their shortages. Technically, the squadrons are still “alive” but they are bereft of planes. Typically, a fighter squadron in India’s air force has 16 aircraft (plus two in reserve). By next March, the air force will have retired about 50 aircraft without adding any fighter jet to its inventory. Defence minister Manohar Parrikar had said the government would seek to meet the requirement of the air force’s fighter fleet by hastening the production of the Tejas. But the Tejas neither has the capabilities the air force requires from a medium multi-role aircraft, nor is operational. At about Rs 800 crore apiece, the Rafale is not cheap, either. The Sukhoi 30Mki, the most modern aircraft in the air force’s inventory, currently costs between Rs 420 and 430 crore, the source said. But it is the time and cost overrun relating to the LCA that is probably more expensive, cumulatively. The LCA was expected to be delivered in 1993.