Brijesh D. Jayal
April 20 , 2015
There is something about the procurement of fighter aircraft from Western commercial sources that generates interest far greater than perhaps the sum of its economic or strategic content. The entire spectacle of open tendering, nail-biting selection followed by endless negotiations, all played out in the public arena, resembles a soap opera more than the very serious business of dealing with a strategic weapon system for war fighting. In the heated debate that has followed the latest announcement by the prime minister regarding Rafale, the sanest voice has been that of the raksha mantri when he said that such strategic systems should not be "open tendering and lowest bid" affairs, but of agreements between national governments.
We have, since 1962, procured and licence-produced Soviet and Russian fighter aircraft in hundreds so that the Indian Air Force's inventory today is predominantly Russian.