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From Rafale to Tejas: Fighter aircrafts of the Indian Air Force

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New Delhi, Oct 08: France on Tuesday handed over first Rafale fighter to India as part of a Rs 59,000-crore deal for 36 multi-role fighters manufactured by Dassault. The first batch of four Rafale jets will arrive in India by May 2020. India had signed an agreement with France for the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of Rs. 59,000 crore in September 2016. By 2022, India will get all the 36 Rafale fighters.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh received the first Rafale fighter at Dassault's facility in Mérignac near Bordeaux, France. The Rafale jets will come with various India-specific modifications, including Israeli helmet-mounted displays, radar warning receivers, low band jammers, 10-hour flight data recording, infra-red search and tracking systems among others.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) is staring at a massive problem of depleting fleet size. The IAF should ideally have a strength of 42 combat squadrons but currently, its fleet has shrunk to around 30-32 squadrons and many MiG fighters are set to retire in the next 5 years.

To immediately address this depleting flee problem, PM Modi in 2016 by-passed all defence procurement procedures and struck a government to government deal with France for 36 Rafales. 36 Rafale is around two squadrons of fighters. Two of the LCA Tejas and two more Sukhoi-30MKI are likely to be added in the coming years, but that still will not make up for the shortfall. India will have to purchase more fighters.

Here's a list of different types of fighter jets used by the Indian Air Force:

Different types of fighter jets used by IAF

[Why India badly needed Rafale?]

Single engine vs twin-engine fighters: Main difference

Fighters used by the IAF can be classified as single-engine or twin-engine combat aircraft. Which is better - Single-engine fighters or twin-engine?

Well, there is no clear answer to it as it depends on the requirements and intended use of the aircraft, and to some extent the level of available technology.

Single-engine fighters cost less and require less maintenance. On the other hand, a twin-engine aircraft has a greater operational ceiling, high-altitude kinematic performance and can carry a higher payload. A single-engine aircraft's primary advantage is being relatively light-weight and often less-draggy airframe. The twin-engine fighter aircraft have more thrust and acceleration, but are also bulky and have the capability to carry the additional weight of the airframe/payload.

There is a concern that the choice of a new single-engine fighter-type could jeopardize India's own Tejas project. Actually, this should not be an issue since other single-engine aircraft can replace the MiG-23 and MiG-27 aircraft, while the Tejas would be replacing the MiG-21s.

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