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Air Force Misleading SC? Current Fleet of Sukhoi Jets Belong to 4.5 Generation, Not 3.5 Generation

Air Vice Marshal T Chalapathi claimed Sukhoi 30 fleet were added to IAF in 1985, but designs for the same were completed only in 1995.

The Indian Air Force’s (IAF’s) reply to the Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi’s question about the latest induction of air fighter jets in the fleet has raised doubts about the veracity of answers provided.

On Thursday, November 16, in response to Justice Gogoi’s question, Air Vice Marshal T Chalapathi said, “The fleet of Sukhoi 30 aircraft is the latest consignment which was included in the Air Force in 1985.” He also added that these Sukhoi 30 aircrafts belonged to the 3.5 generation. Both answers have been reported to be untrue and as such, begging the question if they were provided to purposefully mislead the apex court.

  • The first being that the Sukhoi aircrafts’ design was ready only in 1995 — almost a decade after the year mentioned by the Air Vice Marshal in his statement to the SC.

  • An agreement to procure the Sukhoi 30 jets for the Indian air fleet with Russia was made only in 1996.

The biggest discrepancy, however, has been in terms of stating the classification of the generation of the aircraft.

Also Read: HAL Has Capability to Build Rafale Jets In India: Former HAL Chief TS Raju

Definition of the Classification of the Aircrafts

Third Generation Aircrafts: The third generation aircrafts were those developed around the decade spanning 1960-70. Fighters of the third generation are defined as, “those that served in the Vietnam War, particularly in the latter stages of the conflict. Most of these planes were the first to be designed specifically as multi-purpose fighters capable of performing both air defence and ground attack missions.”

The fourth generation aircrafts which follow are those which were primarily used in the 20-year time-span from the 1970s to 1990s.

In India, since 2000, the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), following a new agreement being entered upon with Russia in 2000 started producing the Sukhoi aircrafts in India. According to the records maintained by the IAF, around 42 Sukhoi aircrafts were inducted into the IAF fleet as latest as 2004. As such, the Sukhoi aircrafts currently operational in the IAF fleet belong to the 4.5 generation.

The 4.5 generation aircrafts —  also sometimes seen referring to more recent fourth generation fighters — are defined as those, “retaining the same basic characteristics of fourth generation planes but with enhanced capabilities provided by more advanced technologies that might be seen in fifth generation fighters.”

Also Read: Pricing of Rafale Jets Can Be Discussed Only if Facts on Deal Come in Public Domain: SC

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