As the Indian Air Force waits for the Rafale fighter jets in September, it has also decided to overhaul the spare supply of the planes in its fleet to improve its maintenance capabilities. According to a latest media report, the Indian Air Force is inviting fresh bid for supply of spares to improve the situation of the existing planes in the squadron. An IANS report said that the IAF has invited bids ‘from the vendors for spares which will go into the maintenance of ageing Mig-21s, newer Mirage-2000s and Su-30s.’
While there has been no confirmation from either the Ministry of Defence or the Indian Air Force, the experts suggest that the decision to amp up the spare supply was taken after the AN-32 crash. The transport plane’s crash highlighted the poor maintenance of the air force fleet. There have been reports that the Indian Air Force is also planning to buy 18 Sukhois from Russia. Russia's Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTC) Deputy Director Vladimir Drozhzhov on July 8 had said that India has placed a request for an additional 18 Su-30 MKI kits and over 20 modernised MiG-29 aircraft.
Meanwhile, as part of change in the current structure, the Indian Air Force will deploy Rafale squadrons at Haryana’s Ambala and West Bengal’s Hashimpura bases respectively. At present, the number 3 ‘Cobra’ squadron of MiG-21 Bison fighter jets has been deployed in Ambala since 1997. But with Rafale taking over the fighter base in next two years, the ‘Cobra’ squadron will be shifted to Rajasthan’s Nal air base.
The Indian Air Force is all set to receive its first Rafale combat aircraft in its "Golden Arrows" 17 Squadron which was commanded by Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa during the Kargil war in 1999. "The first unit to receive the Rafale combat aircraft would be the 17 Squadron which was earlier located in Bhatinda in Punjab and will now be shifted to Ambala in Haryana," IAF sources told ANI.