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Why can't India make indigenous fighter jets and weapons?



Mahadev Bharath, Indian armed forces fanboy

Originally Answered: Why doesn't India have really good, indigenously built fighter jets ?

Two major reasons why we can churn out fighter aircrafts of that scale and quality.

1) Lack of private players in the defense space.

When the USAF (or USMC, USN) wants an aircraft they provide the spec, the necessary funds and in some cases the relevant tech via organisations like DARPA to at-least two private players to build the aircraft and outbid each other in a competition in a stipulated time frame. The AF would then test each of the prototypes extensively against the spec and decided the contract winner.

For example, in the Joint Strike Fighter program, two contracts to develop prototypes were awarded on November 16, 1996, one each to Lockheed Martin and Boeing. Each firm would produce two aircraft to demonstrate conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL), carrier takeoff and landing (CV version), and short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL). Lockheed Martin and Boeing were each given $750 million for the development of the concept demonstrators and definition of the Preferred Weapon System Concept (PWSC).




当美国空军(或美国海军陆战队, 美国海军)想要一架飞机时,他们会通过美国国防部高级研究计划局等组织向至少两家私人公司提供规格要求、必要的资金,在某些情况下还会提供相关技术支持,让它们建造飞机,并在规定的时间内互相竞标。然后美国空军会对每个原型进行一系列测试,并决定把合同交给谁来生产。



X-32 (Proto from Boeing) - Lost



X-35 (Proto from Lockheed Martin) - Won, awarded the F-35 contract


This type of competition inherently brings in the capitalistic element of business into defense. Companies, in an effort to outperform each other, recruit the best talent, use the best available tech to build the best aircraft within stipulated times. Think of it as Apple and Samsung trying to outperform each other with their iPhones and Galaxys.

Private players comparable to Boeing and LM are totally non existent in India. Even HAL isnt comparable. Moreover, govt is doing little or nothing to accommodate private players in the defense space. Private players like Tata, L&T and Mahindra are definitely willing to get into this space. But defense tech is not easy and none of them can do it alone without a JV with a foreign company. Getting a foreign company to invest in the defense sector where the FDI cap is 26% is not easy. Its ironical. The govt is willing to shell out billions of dollars on foreign hardware but doesn't allow them to set shops in this country.



2) Lack of closer participation of the Indian Air Force in the design and development efforts

HAL, ADA, NAL, DRDO et al. who are working on the Tejas and a slew of other aircraft projects aren't inherently incompetent. A lot of this perceived incompetence has got to do with changing requirements and the lack of direction from the Air Force. The relationship between the Air Force and HAL et al. is almost like a client and service provider, each pointing fingers at each other never working in unison. The Indian Navy is a classic example of what can be achieved if they work more closely.

Unlike the Army and the Airforce, the Navy always showed keen interest in getting its hands dirty with design and development of its equipment. The Directorate of Naval Design (DND) was set up with that very motive. Just look at the successes the navy has had.




Delhi class destroyers



Vikrant class Aircraft carriers



Arihant - SSBN (the crown jewel of the Indian Navy)

歼敌者号 - 弹道导弹战略核潜艇(印度海军的王牌)


Fix these two and we will definitely be able to churn out better aircraft at much faster rates.

BTW, you cant compare F22 with Tejas. F22 is a 5th generation, stealth fighter. Tejas is a 4+ generation light combat aircraft. Apples and Oranges.




Tirthkumar Patel, Indian by Tan-Man-Dhan, Patriot since Birth

Originally Answered: Why is India so dependent on other countries for defense, weapons, aircraft, fighter planes etc? Does India not have the potential to have indigenous technology?

Well,forget Pakistan,we had the capabilities to beat even USA and China.But they were sabotaged.


Remember Marut??




还记得风神吗? ?



It was India's 1st jet fighter aircraft ingenuously made by HAL way back in 1960. It was designed by well known German aircraft designer Kurt Tank with the help of many brilliant Indian engineers. It was equipped with guns,rockets and bombs.

Here is the image when Marut was towed to HAL runway for its 1st test flight.Scene is like a procession of marriage.




The only weakness(if you call it) was, its maximum speed was 1112 kmph which was slightly less than sound speed(1234 kmph).

(It participated in battles of 1965 and 1971.Remember the decisive Battle of Longewala ? Maruts were used to give support to Indian border posts. 3 Marut pilots were awarded Vir Chakra.)

Now the tragedy happens. As a part of organized propaganda,this awesome fighter was bullied in media,agents of foreign weapon companies and by those corrupt politicians who wanted commission by purchasing foreign weapons.

The tragedy doesn't stop here.The company which provided the jet-engines offered to modify the engines to make Marut supersonic but offer was rejected.


1.Only 3 squadrons got entry in IAF.

2.Kurt tank went back to Germany.

3.The golden chance to make India independent in war-weapons was lost.

4.India became dependent on foreign weapons and technology and thus victim of power-politics and diplomacy played due to them

5.India started losing valuable foreign exchange and is still losing.












SivaBalan Kumaravel, An Indian Defense enthusiast!!

Originally Answered: Why in the world can't India manufacture fighter jets like the Rafale?

1.First to people here the Russian PAK-FA is not an Indo-Russian joint venture and that's an pure Russian prototype and only a preliminary R&d agreement is signed and that is nowhere related to those flying prototypes.

2.And to answer whether India can manufacture a fighter like Rafael with its present capabilities the short answer is no. This is not because of the time we got independence or slow development pace of LCA or IAF or something else....this is because of the soddy performance of our defence PSUs like HAL,DRDO etc...

3.To people who are speaking about the timing of Indian independence and the time we started the R&D on aviation I want to refer ISRO which sent probes to moon and mars with its own launcher during the same time period. Also I want to refer the missile division of DRDO which developed ICBM "Agni V" during the same time.

4.According to me LCA Tejas is not a true development until unless it has 80+ percentage of its parts made in India. At present it has more than 60+percentage of its parts from foreign vendors like engines,ejection seat,radar,missiles etc...although its an good but very much slow start.

5.Its a shame that a company to the size of HAL which is claiming Asia's one of the premiere aviation complex doesnt have its own full blown R&D facilities where it depends on DRDO agencies like NAL,ADA for design and development which is not a case with any international aviation major.

6.Even the Dhruv helicopter that HAL manufactures have a high foreign content including its engines!








7.Also in India aviation sector means its only HAL and it is willingly wanted to maintain that monopoly by adamently doing lobbying at the government level to curb any defense aviation contracts going to private sector.

8.Everybody know here the quality standards, timelines etc..which HAL follows and its is more than happy with the opaque deals with Russians where it will happily assemble Russian aircraft's like SU30 which has very little for domestic industries interms of growth.

9.Please don't priase LCA Tejas development. The outcome is very much delayed compare to India's development in space and missile tech where nothing is available from international countries or even from Russia. Where it is available to so extent there is no development like aero engine development and radar.

10.Development of an aircraft like Rafael require in depth R & D and concerned company should have all round capabilities which our only aviation major HAL lacks.

11.If India can manufacture a aircraft like Rafael means why are we begging for transfer technology as part of Rafael deal....its simply because we don't have it.



9.请不要夸耀LCA 光辉的研发。与印度在太空和导弹技术方面的发展相比,这一成果来得晚得多。




Rajat Verma, I don't answer anonymously

Making an indigenous fighter aircraft is an art in itself which very few countries have mastered like US, France, Britain, germany, spain, Sweden, Russia and China.

India has been trying for the last 35 years to develop an indigenous fighter called Tejas but has not succeeded in its endeavor. Vis a vis china was smarter and they learned the art of reverse engineering the Russian aircraft which they were license manufacturing. How did China succeed and why India cannot emulate this fete.

When USSR disintegrated at that point China started preparations for the future and gave position in its fighter aircraft industry to many experienced and young russian aircraft designers. Moreover, instead of designing their fighters from scratch initially they reverse engineered Russian aircrafts like Mig-21 into F-7 fighters. Slowly and steadily as their grasping power increased they started manufacturing top of the line aircrafts and this they did by planting spies, which siphoned of top secret data regarding aircraft design and specifications.




Chinese spies hacked secret US weapons systems including F-35 Joint Strike Fighter: reports

Most importantly they had the vision, political will and they created aviation industry which is the best in Asia today.

Whereas India without having a prior knowledge about aircraft design or manufacture started the Tejas (LCA) project and the result is something which everyone knows. Moreover, even in LCA the engine is from US, RADAR is from Israel so what did the Indians contribute (Read HAL), making a composite flying aircraft body in 35 years at the humungous cost of ₹7,965.56 crore (Source Wikipedia). Awesome feat as it deserves a standing ovation!!

The fighter aircraft industry has to be modeled in the lines of china with very astute political will. Moreover Half hearted efforts will continue to lead no where, so what is the need of the hour.






  1. There should be no bureaucratic tangles, young talent from IITs and NIITs should be nurtured only on the basis of capability and not just recommendations and favoritism.
  2. Moreover talented NRI engineers who have worked in NASA, Lockheed Martin and Boeing etc should be lured back to India with perks, royalties and a good political will is needed in this.
  3. The Garbage which has crawled into organizations like DRDO (DEFENCE RESEARCH DESTRUCTIVE ORGANIZATION), HAL should be marginalized. They should be made accountable and "chalta hai", "kya Farak padta hai" attitude has to be done away with. There should be no excuse for non performance and where ever there is dearth of technical know how, it should be ironed out by collaboration, joint projects etc.

When these steps are truly inculcated then only the fruits will be borne out of years of hard work and we will create an aircraft industry which the entire world will look up in "AWE".



  1. 此外,应该把在美国国家航空航天局、洛克希德·马丁公司和波音公司等工作过的有才华的工程师吸引回印度,这需要额外的津贴、奖励和政治决心。




Raj Narayan, Entrepreneur, Innovator, Aerospace Engineer

Originally Answered: Why doesn't India have really good, indigenously built fighter jets ?

A modern fighter aircraft is a very complex machine. It consists of a high performance aerodynamic airframe, constructed using a variety of modern materials such as aluminium and titanium alloys, carbon/glass fiber composites, etc., and a very high performance jet engine involving cutting edge technology and high precision machined parts. This only constitutes the basic flying platform, which is then equipped with a large variety of systems involving hydraulics, pneumatic, avionics, electrical and weapons related equipment to make it an efficient, sturdy, rugged, reliable, dependable, potent and safe machine. In fact,

“The quality of the systems and weapons fitted on a fighter aircraft is what really determines whether it is a "really good" or a mediocre aircraft”.

The design and development of a modern fighter aircraft needs a whole set of skills, capabilities, technologies and infrastructure extending over a very wide engineering spectrum. Further, due to the rapid advances in engineering technologies these days, such an industry would need to assimilate technologies as well as innovate their own continuously through R&D.




All these require highly qualified and trained engineers and scientists, who are encouraged and supported with the best of environment, infrastructure, financial backing and most importantly, quality leadership. Such an ecosystem has been sadly missing in this country all these years. With HAL being the exclusive PSU engaged in the development and manufacture of military aircraft for the last six decades, there has been very little opportunity for the private sector to get a foothold in this sector. One must also appreciate the fact that an aerospace industry is highly capital intensive with long gestation periods and hence no private sector organisation would have been able to afford the investments as made by the Govt. of India into HAL.

It is only in the last 15 years that large Indian business houses have evinced interest in foraying into aircraft manufacture. The synergy arising out of the joint participation of various aerospace organisations such as NAL, ADE, DRDO and HAL, by itself has resulted in a quantum jump resulting in the development of the LCA. This needs to be carried further with the active inclusion of the private sector, particularly in the areas of development of the airborne equipment falling under various categories.

What is required is a holistic and planned approach to developing the indigenous capability that synergises the strengths of the Govt. controlled aerospace organisations with the private sector companies that possess proven domain expertise in each of the engineering areas such as electronics, electrical, hydraulics, mechanical, pneumatic, and software engineering.





Sri Harsha, works at ValueLabs

India has major players collaborating and partnering in and outside the country to develop military hardware.

TATA, L&T,ASHOK-LEYLAND are some major private leaders yet the decision makers or requirement handling of Armed forces is done by BEL, BHEL, BEML, HAL, DRDL, DRDO, HSL, BARC and similar government partners.

Land Systems: Still we depend heavily on the disputed Bofors artillery guns and long had the Army plans to procure US Howitzers. This did not stop DRDO to design a 155mm towed Artillery gun. So is the Pinaka multi rocket launching platform which took almost 12 years of development and MBT - Arjun.

Sea Systems: Apart from aquiring Akula Class submarines from Russia, Arihant class is an indegenious project with a decent operational and payload capability. And the ship building did not stopped at frigates but advanced through Godavari class destroyers and Amphibious vessels to get the Vikramaditya class carriers.

Air Systems: Tejas made history , however there are Light Combat Helicopters, small UAV’s which are developed for Army, Navy & Airforce.

Space Systems: ASLV, GSLV and PSLV put more eyes in the space than anyone comparing the costs, which again is multirole - civilian & military. It doesn’t have a fancy name like Space Command, yet it is functional.

Missile Systems: AGNI, Prithvi and Brahmos are few to be named.








There are multiple systems & technologies which are acquired from Russia, US, Israel, South Korea, Japan, France, Germany, Italy which are upgraded with home made tech along with OEM upgrades. Sukhoi MKI is an example of such system but not the only one.

Financial constraints exist which contribute to majority of delays nevertheless the developments are trying to reach the tip of the peak.

In current global scenario, it is impossible to say 100% indegenious which is practically impossible for any country. F22 is said to be built by LM, but how many foriegn brains contributed to the 5th Gen flight is to be noted. No one wants to reinvent the wheel, but make the wheel smoother and better. That is what major countries do. There is a disadvantage is relying on foriegn military hardware but countries like India are intelligent enough to get hardware with tech transfer license to customise the acquired hardware within the permissible limits of OEM. India has exceeded the expectations of OEM in terms of modifications. Flanker MKI is considered better than the Su-30 and at par with Su-35. The Brahmos missile system is a successful collaboration with Russia. That made the Russians invite India to collaborate on the FGFA Project.

Nuclear Arsenal is also no less and comparable to other forms of WMD.






Rohith Kumar, works at Hyderabad, Telangana, India

Originally Answered: Why is India so dependent on other countries for defense, weapons, aircraft, fighter planes etc? Does India not have the potential to have indigenous technology?

India's government has turned down its military's request to expand the acquisition of 36 fighter planes from Dassault Aviation SA to plug vital gaps, officials said, nudging it to accept an indigenous combat plane 32 years in the making.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's decision, in line with his Make-in-India policy to encourage domestic industry, is a blow for not only the French manufacturer but also others circling over the Indian military aviation market worth billions of dollars.

The push for India's struggling Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA) also comes at a time when the Indian Air Force (IAF) is at its weakest operational strength since the 1962 war against China, which is causing anxiety within military circles.

Since it took over last year, the Modi administration has repeatedly said its overriding goal is to cut off the military's addiction to foreign arms which has made it the world's top importer.

The air force wanted the government to clear an additional 44 Rafale medium multirole aircraft on top of the 36 that Modi announced during a visit to Paris this year that are to be bought off-the-shelf to meet its urgent requirements.

Read: Rafale fighter jets deal between India and France in jeopardy








But a defense ministry official said that Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar had told the Indian air force that there weren't enough funds to expand the Rafale acquisition and that it must induct an improved version of the indigenous Tejas-Mark 1A.

"The IAF (air force) needs to have a minimum number of aircraft at all times. The LCA is our best option at this stage, given our resource constraints," the defense official said.

"The Rafale is our most expensive acquisition. The LCA is our cheapest in the combat category."

India's air force says its requires 45 fighter squadrons to counter a "two-front collusive threat" from Pakistan and China. But it only has 35 active fighter squadrons, parliament's defense committee said in a report in April citing a presentation by a top air force officer.

With the drawdown of Soviet-era MiG 21 planes under way, the air force would be down to 25 squadrons by 2022 at the current pace of acquisitions, it told the committee.

Cleared by the government in 1983, the LCA designed by the government's Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) was meant to be the backbone of the air force due for induction in 1994.

Instead, it suffered years of delay and chaos with scientists trying to build the world's most modern light combat aircraft from scratch, including the engine.





该委员会表示,随着前苏联时期MiG 21飞机数量的减少,按照目前的采购速度,到2022年,印度空军的战斗机中队数量将减少到25个。



Eventually they scrapped the engine, turning to GE Aviation and lowering their ambitions for a state-of-the-art fighter. So far, only one aircraft has been produced and even that is awaiting final operational clearance, now delayed to early 2016.

"In January this year, they had given one LCA ... which had not completed its flight testing. They handed over the papers to us. We do not make a squadron with one aeroplane. That is where we are," said an air force officer speaking on condition of anonymity.

Safety concerns

An independent investigation by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India into the LCA program identified 53 "shortfalls" in the plane. In a report in May, the auditor said that the plane wasn't as light as promised, the fuel capacity and speed were lower than required and there were concerns about safety.

Retired Air Marshal M. Matheswaran, a former deputy chief of the Integrated Defense Staff, said the LCA was obsolete.

"It is a very short-range aircraft which has no relevance in today's war fighting scenarios. If you are trying to justify this as a replacement for follow-on Rafales, you are comparing apples with oranges."

He said the plane was at best a technology demonstrator on which Indian engineers could build the next series of aircraft, not something the air force could win a war with.










Rishabh Umrao, studied Mechanical Engineering at MVJ College of Engineering

Originally Answered: When will India succeed in manufacturing indigenous weapons?

Well I don't know if you were aware of this fact, but YES we are manufacturing weapons indigenously and not from 1 or 2 years but 4 decades.

We have recently built ALH, LCH, LAH, LCA TEJAS, PINAKA MISSILE, AAD ANTI MISSLE DEFENCE SYSTEMS, BRAHMOS, AEW&CS (Airborne Early Warning System), HAWK-i Trainer Jet and now India is planning to develop AMCA (advanced medium combat aircraft) in near future. I'll recommend you to just browse internet and see developments happened at AERO INDIA 2017 and see the deals signed.

And most importantly we are the only country in the world which has the power to deploy a BALLISTIC CRUISE MISSILE (BRAHMOS in this case) THROUGH A FIGHTER Plane (SU 30 MKI).

We have recently inducted Medium range Artillery Gun known as ATAGS (Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System) and DHANUSH Artillery Gun system.

We have developed 5th Generation Stealth Aircraft with Russia known as PAK-FA ( Perspektivny Aviatsionny Kompleks Frontovoy Aviatsii) and FGFA (Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft) and as expected these should be delivered by 2019–20 in IAF.

So saying that India has not developed any Indigenous Weapon is wrong.

And more important fact is that there is not a single country in the world which is manufacturing their weapons completely indigenously. Even USA's Aircraft components are being supplied from India. Point is that By what level are we able to make our product Indigenously.

So be proud of your country.



我们最近建造了ALH、LCH、LAH、LCA TEJAS、PINAKA导弹、AAD反导弹防御系统、布拉莫斯、AEW&CS(机载预警系统)、HAWK-i教练机,现在印度还计划在不久的将来研发AMCA(先进中型战斗机)。我建议你浏览一下互联网,看看印度航空2017年的发展,看看签署的协议。

最重要的是,我们是世界上唯一有能力通过战斗机(SU 30 MKI)部署弹道巡航导弹(布拉莫斯导弹)的国家。


我们与俄罗斯合作开发了第五代隐形飞机PAK-FA (Perspektivny Aviatsionny Kompleks Frontovoy Aviatsii)和FGFA(第五代战斗机),预计将于2019-2020年进入印度空军服役。





Chandra Bhanu Prakash, Pensive; Impulsive; Inquisitive

Originally Answered: Why in the world can't India manufacture fighter jets like the Rafale?

We do not need to develop a fighter like the Rafale in question. This is our answer to the big fishes of the defence industry.




Its a Sukhoi PAK T-50 FGFA(Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft) jointly being developed by Russia and India. The Rafale, from the Dassault Aviation assembly line is a 3rd gen/3rd and a half gen fighter plane. It doesn't even come closer to what we are going to have in a couple of years.

The thing is that we are a poor country and hence have far more basic problems to deal with. We lack the infrastructure to go all out and develop ultra advanced weaponry. So, have to rely heavily on west for fulfillment of our defence equipments' need. Nevertheless, it hasn't stopped us from developing Brahmos or INS Vishakhapattnam or INS Kolkata. Agree, We are running at Mr. turtle's pace (due to financial and geo-political problems) but, In the not so distant future we are bound to dominate this field like all other fields we do.

这是由俄罗斯和印度联合开发的苏霍伊PAK T-50 FGFA(第五代战斗机)。阵风,来自达索航空装配线是第三代/第三代半战斗机,与我们在未来几年内将要拥有的东西完全不在同一个级别。



Swapnil Kabra, Chief Investment Strategist at Credible Cow (2011-present)

Originally Answered: Why in the world can't India manufacture fighter jets like the Rafale?

India became a free nation in 1947. By then, the European and the Russian nations had 50 year odd experience in the field. After independence, India had more chronic problems to deal with than concentrate on manufacturing defence equipments.

Over the period of time, India has emerged as one of the leading nations in research and technology (for instance, ISRO's Mars mission). However, manufacturing a world class fighter jet requires superior technological infrastructure. The deal with Dassault includes promise of domestic manufacturing in the form of offsets, joint ventures and contracts for purchase of components for Rafale. Mark my words, India would manufacture world class defence equipments in 20 years from now.

P.S. The design stage of Rafale started in 1978, it took its first flight in 1986 and was introduced in 2001: a production cycle of 23 years.






Eeshan Katoch

Originally Answered: Why is India so dependent on other countries for defense, weapons, aircraft, fighter planes etc? Does India not have the potential to have indigenous technology?

I am not an expert by any chance in this matter and whatever I have to say is with personal experience and random reading. The fact of the matter is that after independence India invested in low output ( more useful at the times ) technology like green revolution and stuff whereas our neighbours, the Chinese invested in high output technologies like nuclear power and weapons etc. Therefore, they have reaped a much greater benefit of that than us. Moreover, the metallurgy is India in not very good. The weapons that we have got from Russia ages ago work very fine, howsoever old they may be and the new age weapons that India has so called developed in the recent times is stuttering ahead due to huge design flaws which we realise very damn late( after inception) and really shitty metallurgy. The motors that they ( vintage Russia) provided us have never suffered a problem but new age Indian motors appear to have a lot of issues. Then again India is still not investing in R&D of weapons etc as aggressively as it should. The scientists in the few weapon research labs across India are also not too notch for the fact that they are paid stupidly and hence returns are expectedly less. The budget of this year also shows that even though the defence budget has increased, it is not on par with the rate at which we want to grow (search it up). The non existence of defence people in the defence ministry hierarchy is also a reason and a stupid one for that matter as we are only one of the few countries who have this problem in the world, a big loophole for the country wanting to be at least regional superpower. This leads to controversial decisions. Whereas the country might not have money for the project that the armed forces want and hence wants a cheaper option, the armed forces does not care about this because it's looking at it from its own perspective and a cheaper option will not, by any chance , improve its capabilities and the decision to go ahead with sub standard equipment leads to no increase in capability as well as a bad set of equipment.

Just a small perspective.....





Abhishek Raj, works at NIIT

Originally Answered: Why in the world can't India manufacture fighter jets like the Rafale?

The quick answer is a big YES. India can manufacture fighter jets like the Rafale or even better in coming decade.After almost 30 years of planning and development for the Tejas LCA, India is placed in a elite league of countries who can manufacture fighter aircrafts of their own.Though Tejas is not as capable and advanced as other current generation aircrafts, It has helped India to build a whole range of manufacturing hubs starting from Engines to ancillary parts.We now have dedicated industries to cater to this fighter aircraft aviation industries.The Indian government's "self-reliance" goals for the LCA include development of the three most sophisticated — and hence most challenging — systems: the fly-by-wire (FBW)flight control system (FCS), multi-mode pulse-doppler radar, and afterburning turbofan engine.After acquiring these most important built capabilities we are on the path of self reliance on fighter aircraft manufacturing.



A fully operational Tejas LCA:



HAL Tejas


Now the answer to why can't we manufacture if we have achieved so much.

The answer lies in a mix of indian mindset and current operational need of IAF.We are in deep trouble with respect to number of fighter aircraft squadron in IAF. We require more than 250 aircrafts in less than 5 years.

Otherwise in case of two front war from both China and Pakistan , we will be in big trouble. So,the quick and tested solution is buying the ones like Rafale which has proved its mantle in a gruesome selection process by Indian forces. We have also a clause for investing back the 30% of buy price in India itself which will help create more jobs in this industry.

And now about Indian mindset.We are people who always have considered the foreign made things as more robust and technically advanced. So even if produce something like Rafale ,the world and more importantly we ourselves wont consider it as a big achievement. And the process of development fighter aircraft requires more than just base industries, it requires a conducive environment and supporting government.If India starts investing handsomely in this industry , people will start questioning its intentions and whole lot of ruckus will start.

So in the best interest of our country, the current Rafale deal is the need of hour. However, in the long run we are on path of developing our own fighters as in case of joint venture of India and Russia the T-50 PAK FA and the very indigenous Tejas LCA 2 together with our own fighter engines.Amen.






A prototype PAK FA:




Suyash Chandak, Chocolate Marketer, MBA and BSc (Economics)

Originally Answered: Why doesn't India manufacture its own fighter planes? Wouldn't it be cheaper and safer than buying from any other country?

International treaties and laws prevent sale or transfer of technology of nuclear capable missiles. But there are no such law preventing sale of fighter planes by one country to another. 

This meant India was and is a market for fighter planes. This lead to various countries and defence companies lobbying heavily to sell their products. This not only involved promoting their product but also involved shunting the development of any indigenous competitor. 

Since the commission of Tejas on 1983 India has finalised deals to import Jaguar, Mirage 2000, Sukhoi 30 MKI and finally MMRCA (Dassault Rafale finalised.) 

The same hasn't happened to our guided missile and space program. Sanctions did deny them technological transfer but they also acted as a protection from foreign company lobbying.  

This signifies the importance of transparent defence procurement.  

But having said this the recent procurements by IAF like Sukhoi 30 MKI, Dassault Rafale and Sukhoi FGFA (to be inducted post 2017) are as good as any fighter plane in their respective categories. We need to have a combination of indigenous and foreign technology.




自1983年光辉战机委员会成立以来,印度已经敲定了进口捷豹、幻影2000、苏霍伊30 MKI以及最终的MMRCA(阵风达索最终敲定)的协议。





Mike Mckenna, Lots of flights in Warbird Jets

Indians perfectly capable of developing their own aircraft and weapons systems and they have done so. I think they are very smart in letting OTHER countries spend the billions of dollars in research and testing and THEN buy this foreign product when it has been proven. By remaining non aligned and a bit coy, the Indians can buy the best of what Europe, Russians, Japanese, and American’s have to offer. Indian Aero-Space research and manufacturing may suffer from this policy, but the Indians end up with the best products at the best price. This is what National Defense is really about, protecting your Country without Bankrupting it.



Sumit Bisht, an aam aadmi

Originally Answered: Why indian defence purchases/imports most of its weapons ,aircrafts,ships etc.Why can't we indigenously make weapons like israel,china,france etc?

It is cheaper to buy a completely built product rather than research and develop one from scratch. Not everything is purchased as a completly built unit. Some are purchased under technology transfer/local manufacture or even leased to Indian armed forces to enable it to gain expertise.

Some of the successful defense weapons that have originated from India are actually products of JV between other countries and this is going to continue for foreseeable future.

Over time, this will change and the indigenous production will prove to be cheaper- a fact that is going to be reality in Indian navy earlier than the army and air force.







Because one time we tried to build on our own, we ended up with Arjun main battle tank. Development started in 1974, prototype built in 1984, initial pre-production of 14 tanks in 1988. During the testing, the performance was so poor, the Army ordered improvements. Despite several attempts to kill the project, higher ups kept the project alive, after spending 20 times the original budget and almost 20 years behind plan, the first production Arjun tanks rolled off the assembly in 1999. But, further delays were caused by production issues and the tanks weren't fully deployed until 2009. The total production is 248 tanks. Because of the delays, Indian Army's current main battle tank is T-90S. Although, Arjun Mk2 program was much more successful, the original Arjun program disaster should be enough to pause anyone that thinks domestic production is always best.

我们尝试过自己建造,成果是阿尔琼主战坦克。坦克的研发始于1974年,原型建造于1984年,最初在1988年小批量生产14辆坦克。在测试期间,性能非常差,军队下令改进。尽管有几次试图终止该项目,但在花费了比原预算多20倍的资金、且比原计划落后近20年之后,高层仍维持了该项目的存续。但是,生产问题导致了进一步的延迟,直到2009年坦克才得以全部部署,总产量248台。由于延期,印度陆军目前的主战坦克是T-90。尽管Arjun Mk2项目成功得多,但Arjun项目最初的灾难应该足以让所有认为国产最好的人闭嘴。


Akhil T Raman, Rockstar! Cleverly disguised as an Engineer :P

There are several reasons for this...

  1. The time involved in developing a technology for the defence is very high especially due to the procedures involved. So in many cases it is better to go for a Foreign procurement as the deal would be completed much faster.
  2. Defense deals involve a lot of money. Our politicians and beaurocrats are so corrupt that even if the technology is available or could be developed within the country, they lobby for foreign companies. Take for example the case of IAFs Turbo-trainer aircraft deal with Pilatus. Though the country's biggest aerospace company HAL proposed to develop an indegenous aircraft, the HTT40, IAF went for a procurement deal with Pilatus. The point of irony in this case was that the cost of an indegenously developed HTT40 aircraft would have been much less than that of the Pilatus aircraft.


1. 研发一种国防技术需要的时间非常长。因此在许多情况下最好进行海外采购,交易完成的速度会快得多。

2. 国防交易耗资巨大。我们的政客和官僚非常腐败,就算国内有可用的技术或可以自助研发,他们也会为外国公司游说。以印度空军涡轮教练机交易为例。尽管印度最大的航空公司印度斯坦航空提议开发一种名为HTT40的国产飞机,但印度空军还是与皮拉特斯达成了一项采购协议。具有讽刺意味的是,自主研发的HTT40飞机的成本比皮拉特斯飞机要低得多。


Rehaan Chaudhary, studied at Manav Rachna International School

Originally Answered: Why is India unable to build their own fighter jets?

India is one of the few nations who actually are capable of building however the fighters are not as good as f22s or su35s but still they are awesome.

So far India has made 3 aircrafts

1)HAL HF-24 Marut




1)印度斯坦航空的HF-24 Marut

印度斯坦航空的HF-24 Marut

It was made in 1960s and was comparable with the best aircrafts but due to some amazing statesmen we had to drop it.


2)HAL Ajeet



It was a decent aircraft made in 1977


3)HAL Tejas

3) 印度斯坦航空的光辉战机


It is a pretty stealthy aircraft due to the use of composites and has various models


1)Tejas Mk1

2)Tejas mk1a

And the other one for aircraft carriers

By 2032 India we will get a 5++ generation aircraft












Samar Rehman Patel, lived in India

The level of technical expertise one is required to make weapons is extremely high. India, does posses this ability but not the ability to reproduce these on a large scale.

Also, I think that importing these goods from US/ Israel might be financially speaking , more economical than say, setting up our own industries.

Setting our own industries for weapons in a resource starved nation like ours also opens up avenues for illegal disbursement of blue-sheets and black market weapons.

We do construct our ships and aircrafts at HAL. Most of the very cutting edge technology has been patented by private defense contractors and industries in the aforementioned countries. And as this is a sensitive topic of defense, the governments behind these organizations defend their patents furiously, so one has to buy it through, if one wants to use it.

And China was the biggest importer of weapons, my friend, till a few years ago.







Matt Pickering, Been a military aviation nut since childhood.

Originally Answered: Why can India not make its own fighter jets?

It has. It has designed two indigenous fighters, several other aircraft and has built other foreign designs under license.

The HAL Kiran is an intermediate two-set jet trainer.

The HAL HF-24 Marut was India’s first native fighter design and it was its first supersonic design.

The HAL Tejas is India’s latest supersonic design and is in the process of entering service.

India has built the MiG-21, SEPECAT Jaguar and Su-30 under license.

Seems to me India is fairly capable of making its own fighter jets.



印度斯坦基兰(HAL Kiran)是一种中级双座喷气教练机。

印度斯坦HF-24 Marut是印度第一款国产战斗机,也是第一款超音速战斗机。





Shanker K.Vee., former Technical Writer at Retired (2006-2015)

Originally Answered: Why in the world can't India manufacture fighter jets like the Rafale?

I think the need for developing weapons through wholly indigenous efforts is over. I would discourage any research from scratch that is equivalent to re-inventing the wheel. It was necessary during 1990's but hardly makes any sense today.

Indigenous efforts are worthless for all available weapons for the following reasons:

1.It's very costly and time consuming. By the time we could make a prototype, world would have moved over quite far away from us.

2.HAL doesn't seem to absorb\not allowed to absorb the high technology. It appears to get only screw-drive technology of the crafts it manufactures for decades. I don't think, from the scratch, it can design/make equivalent crafts it manufactures so long.

3.The technology denial of 90's is over, and countries are very eager to share technology and or make the weapons in India. Even, US is eager for joint development.

4.Our DRDO is notorious for unending delays with successful release nowhere at sight. Recall abandonment of Cauvery Engine, and yet to succeed 'Intermediate Jet Trainer'. Even with technical collaboration at latter stages, the problems remain. Already, DRDO labs have their plates full.

So, the best practice would be to go for 'Make in India' or the joint development right from the beginning as applicable.   










Shumayel Liton

This has largely to do with lack credible R&D powered industry. While it is true that india has organizations such as DRDO, HAL, etc, none of these organizations work by injecting R&D and innovation. Instead, the focus is on commercialisation, fear of failure, profits, and copying western designs. The fact is that a large chunk of R&D has potential of going to failure and while the west is willing to invest to absorb this, india's focus is on making profits rightaway and/or copying. In india, any product can officially be called indigenous, if it uses around 40-50% of components produced in india. The other reasons are incapacity in the education system to produce skillfull workers, and process based organizations with focus on high quality control. Indian mentality also has a large to play in it, since indians want to import as much instead of making on their own.



Rahul .Gokhale

I have answered this question elsewhere but to recap, we do not have the expertise or the financial resources at this time to build a fighter jet. Fighter jets are significant undertakings and require a mature well developed industrial base in many different areas like engines, electronics, radars, software (for FCS), displays, etc. India did not have a program in aeronautics right till 1990. To develop fighters we would need to build expertise in at least the main components that make up a fighter jet and this would take significant amount of financial resources which we do not have. Unless and until drastic investments are made in human, technical, and other resources related to the defense industry i suspect we are always going to play catch up.



Damien Leimbach, USAF avionics technician, U-2s

its the culmination of several different reasons which I shall try to briefly state.

India was not directly involved in any international, large scale conflicts during the dawning of the electronics age, which arguably happened in the 40’s and 50’s.

As a result, you had no reason to dump billions of dollars into domestic arms developers, engineering firms, electronics companies, software and computer companies, or materials research companies.

Countries like the U.S. did, largely because we could afford to, and largely because we were involved in a cold war arms race at the time.

So India could try to catch up, but it would be a long, expensive road, and unless you really think you can produce something genuinely better, the money would be better spent on purchasing what you need.

One way for you to catch up quickly would be to reach an agreement with a superpower where you domestically produce someone else's design under license. Its more expensive, but the lessons you learn could go a long way towards erasing that 70 year deficit.








Shawn Noronha, The rational man.

Originally Answered: Why does India have to purchase fighter jets from other countries?

Because we only have quantity of engineers with close to Zero quality. Our education is heavy focused on theory only, and practicals are a joke.

Of the few % of bright students who do exist, and that are capable of doing great things, our infamous reservation based system makes sure that they don't get seats, and undeserving and underachieving students get to take their place instead.

Sad but true, most Indians become highly successful when they join foreign institutions in the west.






Ranga Prasad, Political scientist, Historian and Spiritualist

No. India doesnt have the technology.

We didnt have FDI for these many years. All countries including USA and USSR have private players which will give penetration.

Also, from Nehru's period, we concentrated only on infrastructure and not on human resources. Even the Mmodi government has slashed 15% for research. Untill, we dont give importance to research, we wont have technology. And with no technology, we will end up with NO.1 in defense importer.





Aathan, Indian is my second identity

India is capable making any kind of jets and weapons. Give it a chance. Two sectors, Space exploration and Nuclear power were totally closed to India. India has developed those two complex technology areas on its own. In space exploration India is second to none, a stage we reached overcoming many sabotage attempts . We are not in need in nuclear technology either and the purchase of power reactors from foreign countries are for Geo Political reasons only. But we are unable to be self reliant even in small arms. Reason for this is corruption. Defense imports are lucrative to corrupt people. We would have indigenous 5+ generation fighters jets by now if we were not supplied with jets from other countries.



Ravi Chandra

India already manufactures Su30MKI, The problem with India is not manufacturing, but design and geo politics. After Hal marut(India's first fighter jet in 1960's), There was no follow up projects and all talent was lost in due time, While Tejas is different story, with no industry base and foreign powers trying to scuttle the project as they will loose big customer like India .

Second ADA is responsible for design of aircraft for planes not DRDO. thanks to Tejas MK I . ADA is designing MK II of Tejas and 5 th Gen Fighter AMCA . We started now hopefully in future we can design and develop jet on par with other world powers .


第二,国防部负责飞机的设计,而不是DRDO。感谢光辉MK I。国防部正在设计光辉的MK II和第5代战斗机。我们希望,将来我们能设计和开发出与其他世界强国相媲美的喷气式飞机。


Varun Rao, I don't know what to say... o_o

This is just based on all that i have read, but as of today, the Govt is not one that supports R&D. No matter how many ever institutes and organisations are opened and inaugurated, until there are sufficient funds and support by the Govt for R&D, an indigenous jet, or any other equipment for that matter, will not be.



Subhrajyoti Parida, works at Helicopter Division, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.

Unless the brighter students love their motherland and work for her, we can't make indigenous fighter jets..



Patrick Bindner, pilot, fluid dynamics engineering research, 100+ R&D papers

It’s pretty simple. They do build indigenous aircraft, including a supersonic 4-gen fighter.



Sarang Kashikar, worked at Indian Army

We do manufacture weapons in India. However, we need to have more R & D, and master cutting edge technology.



Praveen Venkiteswara Annu, India; my motherland, my pride. Born and bred in India. TW18

LCA or Tejas is one small step for India. Hopefully, we will soon have the required technology transfer to build fighter jets like Rafale indigenously.



Bumbhole Rao

Because govt employees salaries are not sufficient to keep the pace with social change therefore if collective will of the government can be relaxed for few decades then others can enjoy perks of such inability !!



Padmabhushan Shivram Rajguru, worked at Walchand College of Engineering, Sangli

This is because of lack of private companies in India's defence sector .in america many companies are working for the military development applications system. But the case is not with India..



Juby Mathew, Managing Director at www.cogreen.in

The biggest Mafia is Medical Industry and Weapon Industry.



Well I, being from Aviation Branch, will not comment for Fighter Jet specifically, because it's useless to talk considering the Small initiative like SARAS project which started with pomp and show never saw the day light with lots of bureocracy, internal politics,external politics and to take upper cut from black marketers of weapon industry.

Government should start having all these things made by doing reverse engineering and then go on to develop advanced versions in India....will army accept this approach?

There is no big defence industry in india. Kickbacks from foreign companies was the name of the game.

Defence allocation should be at least 5 percent of GDP. Allow THAAD missile defence system on China border and Pak border along with S-400 missile defence system. Thereafter we will have lot of time to build other equipment .

Defence procurement is slow because babus sitting in the MOD are looking for bribes else they will slow down procurment.

So let me come to the conclusion,No we can't build our own advance weapon system for another 100 years because our babu's will never allow that.








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