Rafale & Sukhoi Can't Replace Each Other: IAF Chief

Amidst swirling speculation that India's M-MRCA jet deal with Rafale is shuddering through final lap turbulence, and suggestions (including by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar himself) that the India could buy more Su-30 MKI jets if the Rafale deal didn't work out, Indian Air Force chief Arup Raha today publicly declared that the Rafale and Su-30 were different aircraft and that one couldn't replace the other.

"There's M-MRCA and there's Sukhoi-30. The requirements are slightly different. And they have their own capabilities. They compliment each other but do not replace each other," Raha said at his press conference at the Aero India show in Bengaluru.

Making clear the IAF's own thoughts on open suggestions that 'other options' existed in the event of a deal collapse, Raha said, "No, we don’t have a Plan-B as of now. We are only working on Plan-A."

The IAF chief also stated, in what could be perceived as a sense of resignation over the turbulence negotiations have seen over the last 18 months, "Rafale has been selected as L1. It is a replacement. It is important that we have the MMRCA, I would not say Rafale. But we need to have it in the quickest possible time because the draw-down is true. Everyone is aware of the draw-down of combat squadrons of the IAF. Every air force faces this in its cycle of operations. It is not new or specific to IAF."

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