Friends don’t let friends fly junk. This week the Indian Air Force turned over the production of its flagship defense project to General Electric. The American company will now play a huge part in upgrading the Indian Air Force: Its GE-414 engine will replace the domestically produced Kaveri engine in the IAF’s new light combat aircraft, which is slated for 2017. The arrival of this new line of fighters is a serious step forward for India as a modern militarized power in Asia:
India’s Light Combat Aircraft program is meant to boost its aviation industry, but it must also solve a pressing military problem. The IAF’s fighter strength has been declining as the MiG-21s that form the largest component of its fleet are lost in crashes, or retired due to age and wear. India’s other Cold War vintage aircraft will face similar problems in the near future.
The Diplomat has more on the trials of India’s military programs:
India’s problems are more acute than most. Everyone is to blame. The government offers little leadership, is far too soft on the DRDO [the state-run R&D outfit], and has failed to privatize the country’s flabby and underperforming defence complexes. The military does a poor job of communicating its needs to the government and the DRDO. The boffins at the DRDO appear to be in a world of their own, working on capabilities that the military doesn’t want and didn’t ask for, and with no concept of time or money. And no-one is ever held accountable when it all goes wrong.
This is another important step in the Game of Thrones. India needs to fix its dysfunctional defense projects before it can keep up with the nearby Chinese military and make its presence felt in Central Asia. And it’s no coincidence that one of America’s largest American companies is helping India reach its military goals. The United States has become the leading nation in the strategic alliance of countries along China’s rim, and it wants to ensure that each ally is militarily capable of meeting regional threats. So far, it appears that America is committed to keeping this alliance strong.