Should IAF Fulfill Fighter Jets Shortage By Procuring Super Hornet?

Desperation on the part of the Indian Air Force might also be a factor in the decision to send Navy’s MiG-29K fighters into the Ladakh region.

Indian media first reported the MiG deployment on Tuesday. “They might be used for carrying out operational flying in the eastern Ladakh [region] along the Line of Actual Control,” a government source told news agency ANI.

The Line of Actual Control is the demarcation between Indian and Chinese forces in the Himalayas. Diplomats drew that line as part of truce talks following a bitter, bloody border war in 1962.

In early June, Chinese forces killed 20 Indian soldiers in a skirmish along the Line of Actual Control. Forty-three Chinese soldiers also were injured or died, according to press reports. Indian and Chinese warplanes and helicopters are patrolling the border zone as the standoff continues.

In April 2018, Boeing announced a partnership with PSU Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Mahindra Defence Systems (MDS) to manufacture the F/A-18 Super Hornet in India under the ‘Make in India’ programme. Last month, HAL delivered its 150th gun bay door for the F/A-18 Super Hornet.

A few facts about the Super Hornet fighter aircraft:

The F/A-18 Super Hornet is a twin-engine multirole combat jet based on the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet. It was designed primarily for use on aircraft carriers of the US Navy after the US government decided to stop purchases of the F-14 Tomcat in 1991 (the fighter jet featured in the original Top Gun movie).

Today, the latest evolution of the F/A-18 – the Block III – is able to perform a variety of tactical missions such as air superiority, day/night strike with precision-guided weapons, fighter escort, close air support, suppression of enemy air defense, maritime strike, reconnaissance, forward air control and buddy refuelling.

The EA-18 Growler is an airborne hacker meaning Super Hornet can carry out Electric Attack and SEAD missions inside China without being detected by Chinese HQ-19 surveillance radar. This is a proven fact as the Israeli Air Force proved SEAD missions over Syrian airspace using Rafael Sky Shield. The Israeli Air Force flew F-16 and F-35 over the airspace protected by S-300 and S-400 air defense system.

According to the Boeing website, the F/A-18 Super Hornet will deliver on India’s need for a carrier and land-based multi-role fighter being the least expensive aircraft per flight hour of its kind with advanced survivability and continuous evolution.

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This assessment is based on extensive testing that Boeing has done to test the Super Hornet’s compatibility with Indian carriers. Results show that the Super Hornet is capable of launching off a ski-jump carrier and could be operated from Indian carriers with a meaningful fuel and weapons load, as found on the company’s website.

Should the IAF and the Indian Navy decide to purchase the Super Hornets, the value of the IAF contract alone is estimated to be $15 billion.

Depending on the number of machines ordered by both the Navy and the IAF, Boeing will set up a completely new production facility in India for the production of its F/A-18 Super Hornets with the aim that the new facility can be used for other programs like India’s Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) program.

The Royal Australian Air Force currently operates 24 Super Hornets, while Kuwait has ordered 28 of the jets. The Super Hornet was also proposed for the Indian Air Force’s now-aborted deal to purchase 126 fighter aircraft. The US Navy will upgrade most of Block II Aircraft to Block III standard and order more Block III aircraft.

The Super Hornet can operate high mountainous terrain with minimal runways to take off and land safely with its heavy-duty landing gear, which means Super Hornet could easily operate in Ladakh, Kashmir and Himalayan regions.

The Super Hornet can fulfil Nuclear doctrine, — India poses a stockpile of Nukes.

The Super Hornet is truly Multi-role combat aircraft which can carry air-to-ground, air-to-air, anti-radiation missile, cruise missiles and anti-ship missiles in a single mission and carry out all tasks at the same time. No other fighter jets were able to perform these tasks in a single mission.

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