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Indian Strategic Forces Command (SFC) Nuclear Strike Fighter Race- Top Contenders?

The Indian Strategic Forces Command ( SFC), created in January, 2003, is planning to acquire 40 fighter planes capable of delivering nuclear weapons, has submitted a proposal to the defense ministry for setting up two dedicated squadrons of fighter aircraft which will act as “mini- Air Force”. It will be the first time for the SFC to possess its own nuclear strike fighter force. At present, the SFC has to depend on the Indian Air Force for carrying out the nuclear tasks under its command.

The Indian Strategic Forces Command, created in January, 2003, is a part of India’s Nuclear Command Authority. It is responsible for the management and administration of the country’s tactical and strategic nuclear weapons stockpile.

The aircraft planned to be procured are part of efforts to strengthen the nuclear delivery system which right now is based on land-based ballistic missiles such as the Agni and Prithvi and nuclear-capable fighters such as the Mirage 2000, Su-30 MKI and Jaguars. The SFC does not want untested fighters but the ones which are battle proven and have capabilities to deliver nuclear-tipped missiles.

Rumors of contenders for roles in the Indian Strategic Forces Command (SFC) nuclear strike fighter project.

PAK-DA- A fifth-generation long-range strategic bomber aircraft as a replacement of aging Tu-95MS, T-22M3 and Tu-160 long-range bombers by 2020-25. It stands for Perspektivnyi Aviatsionnyi Kompleks Dalney Aviatsyi which means Future Air Complex for Strategic Air Forces. This new attack aircraft would be used in both conventional and nuclear conflicts using high-precision weapons. PAK-DA development platform to be taken from Tu-160 bombers that have the ability at least equivalent kinematic Tu-160. It is expected that this program is completed in the year 2025. *HOT

Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit- The B-2 Spirit is a low-observable, strategic, long-range, heavy bomber capable of penetrating sophisticated and dense air-defence shields. It is capable of all-altitude attack missions up to 50,000ft, with a range of more than 6,000nm unrefuelled and over 10,000nm with one refuelling, giving it the ability to fly to any point in the world within hours.

Su-30MKI- The Indian configuration of Russian Su-30MKI fighter jets are “possibly the best” fighter-bombers in the world and tested model for Indian Air force. The Su30-MKI(Flanker-H) is a customized Su27PU built according to Indian specifications. It is probably the first time that an aircraft has been built in Russia for a foreign customer specifications. The Su-30MKI was jointly designed by Russia’s Sukhoi and India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The aircraft is equipped with similar avionics and thrust vectoring as the Su-37, for superior combat agility and manoeuvrability.

Tu-160 Blackjack- A Russian supersonic strategical missile bomber,the heaviest and the most powerful war-plane in the world. Pilots call it “White Swan”. The two weapons bays can accommodate different mission-specific loads, including strategic cruise missiles, short-range guided missiles, nuclear and conventional bombs, and mines. Its basic armament of short-range guided missiles and strategic cruise missiles enables it to deliver nuclear strikes to targets with preassigned coordinates.In the future, after the aircraft is equipped with high-precision conventional weapons it may also be used against mobile or tactical targets.  * HOT Choice

Dassault Mirage 2000N/2000D- The two-seat Mirage 2000N was designed to provide nuclear deterrence capability employing the long range ASMP cruise missile. Mirage 2000N replaced the Mirage IV aircraft. Mirage 2000N penetrates enemy air defenses flying at low-altitude and supersonic speed using the Antilope-5 terrain following radar and Spirale integrated countermeasure system. Typically, it carries a single ASMP missile, two Magic air-to-air missiles and two external fuel tanks.

Su 34- The Su-34 (also known as Su-27IB) fighter bomber has been developed by the Sukhoi Design Bureau Joint Stock Company in Moscow and the Novosibirsk Aircraft Production Association at Novosibirsk in Russia. The Russian Air Force has ordered an initial 18 Su-34 aircraft, with a total requirement for up to 200 aircraft. *HOT

Rafale- The Rafale is a twin-engined, delta-wing, multirole fighter designed and built by France’s Dassault Aviation. RAFALE supportability and mission readiness capitalise on the undisputed track record of the current generation of French fighters such as the combat-proven Mirage 2000. Powered by two Snecma M88 turbofans (prototype examples used two General Electric F404-400s), the Rafale has a top speed of over Mach 1.8 (1,900km/h) and a combat radius of 1,000nm (1,850km).

About the AuthorProfessional

Features Editor, a senior director of strategic planning for a major university, has experience at a long/short equity hedge fund and has been in the markets for just under a decade. He has degrees in Economics and Communications and focuses on macro themes in the markets. His background also extends to logistics, marketing, and e-commerce.

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