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Tuesday, April 05, 2005 E-Mail this article to a friend Printer Friendly Version

IAF says it’s not interested in US F-16s or F-18s

By Iftikhar Gilani

NEW DELHI: The Indian Air Force (IAF) is not interested in American F-16 or F-18 aircraft as they are prone to human error-related accidents, said sources citing Air Marshal PS Ahluwalia.

Sources said that Ahluwalia, director general of Inspection and Air Safety, gave a presentation to the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), where he showed that human error-related accidents in the F-16s had occurred more frequently than in Mirage 2000s.

It was this presentation that clinched the committee’s decision to clear purchase of 12 Mirage-2000-Vs. The committee was also told that the IAF was finding difficulties in managing the 20 different types of aircraft and would not like to add new makes of aircraft that would complicate the inventory further.

However, Ahluwalia also said the IAF would not like to depend on a single supplier. “It may not be prudent to put all our eggs in one basket, but it would reduce the efforts in terms of maintenance practices by opting for a familiar supplier,” said the air marshal hinting that not only the US firm Lockheed Martin’s F-16s and F-18s are not in the reckoning but even Sweden’s SAAB would not be able to sell its Gripen to India.

There is heavy pressure from global defence companies and their governments since India declared its intent to acquire 126 multi-role fighters but only two companies from France and Russia are being considered for the deal on grounds of familiarity, the Dassault Aviation of France offering Mirage 2000-V and Russia’s double-engine MiG-29M/M2.

Ahluwalia said the IAF was currently modernising its 12 squadrons of MiG-21 fighters by upgrading them to MiG-21 ‘Bisons’. “The MiG-21 is our mainstay and is highly efficient and will continue to fill our requirements till 2016,” added the air marshal.

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