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



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 ag inst 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 Won Sy em 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 Gxys.

Private players comparable to Boeing and LM are totally non estent 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.

译文来源:三泰虎  http://www.santaihu.com/47456.html 译者:Joyceliu



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 dest yers



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, wons, aircraft, fighter planes etc? Does India not have the pential to have indigenous technology?

Well,forget Pakistan,we had the capabilities to beat even USA and .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 mamum 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 Longew ? 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 won companies and by those corrupt po iticians who wanted commission by purchasing foreign wons.

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-wons was lost.

4.India became dependent on foreign wons and technology and thus victim of power-po itics and diplomacy played due to them

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












SivaBn 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 cming 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 go nment 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 .

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 was smarter and they learned the art of reverse engineering the Russian aircraft which they were license manufacturing. How did succeed and why India cannot emulate this fete.

When USSR disintegrated at that point 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 gras 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.




spies hacked secret US wons sy ems including F-35 Joint Strike Fighter: reports

Most importantly they had the vision, po itical 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 with very astute po itical 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 po itical 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 sy ems involving hydraulics, pneumatic, avionics, rical and wons related equipment to make it an efficient, sturdy, rugged, reliable, dependable, pent and safe machine. In fact,

“The quality of the sy ems and wons 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 ecosy em 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 develo 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 ronics, rical, 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 go nment partners.

Land Sy ems: 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 aka multi rocket launching platform which took almost 12 years of development and MBT - Arjun.

Sea Sy ems: 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 dest yers and Amphibious vessels to get the Vikrditya class carriers.

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

Space Sy ems: 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 Sy ems: AGNI, Prithvi and Brahmos are few to be named.








There are multiple sy ems & 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 sy em but not the only one.

Financial constraints est 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 ned. 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 sy em 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.





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