Wednesday, July 18, 2007

F-35 Lightning II Presentation to IAF

After a first-level-of-detail presentation to the Navy in 2005 on the F-35C Lightning II, a top team from Lockheed-Martin gave the Indian Air Force a classified presentation on the F-35A Lightning II on Tuesday at Vayu Bhawan. The team, led by Tom Green (VP, Business Development), gave the IAF a preliminary introductory presentation on the capabilities, economics and opportunities for own systems integration on the F-35. A more detailed presentation is likely to be made later this year. The plug is of course something Lockheed-Martin has been pushing for a while now. If the Indian government chooses to buy 126 F-16s, it would lead them logically toward switching to the fifth generation F-35 in two decades (a little rich, if you ask me).

Either way, India will only be a buyer of the aircraft, with no participatory opportunities left. The only Level I partner in the $40 billion programme (other than, of course, the US) is the UK. Italy and Holland are Level II partners. Canada, Turkey, Australia, Norway and Denmark are Level III partners and Israel and Singapore are on board as security cooperative participants, where they commit in-principle to a certain purchase but make no investment in the development. The levels simply reflect the level of financial exposure each government has in the programme.

Either way, it makes little sense in terms of where the IAF is, and where it's headed. It looks like everyone's throwing something at the government and expecting it to make decision rapidly -- big mistake, because that just isn't the way the government works. And in this case, rightly so. Speaking of 5G, the government has the PAK-FA negotiations on with the Russians, the MCA with HAL/DRDO and, in time, a Mk-II of the LCA. Where in hell does the F-35 fit into all of that? Or does it.

8 comments :

Abhiman said...

Mr. Aroor, the last paragraph of your article is excellent in my view. It is high time that the media starts to question defence-deals. It may not be in defence, but after all it is Indian taxpayer's fund and he must be answered to.
Such articles help to highlight very important issues unlike usual political occurences, films and other "small-talk".

However, the "danger" of such foreign presentations is that the services almost always end up purchasing it. Like the Tejas and Arjun now, the MCA might also be kept in abeyance indefinitely, while the IAF might sign contract after contract for foreign fighters like F-35 etc.

Thank you.

sniperz11 said...

I dont think a presentation by L-M should be looked at as a serious indicator of interest on the part of the MoD. After all, a lot of suppliers do the same. We must trust the IAF to be smart enough.

Prashanth said...

Hey Shiv, when's the post on the Tajikistan base coming up?

Anonymous said...

Shiv, what happened to the part 1 of the 5 part article on "State of the PAF". I think I saw the first part here on livefist but then it was taken off.
Thank You

Anonymous said...

Is it possible to join in block development program as partner in JSF at this stage?

Eitherway, India cant be a developmental partner if it choose any other a/c except Mig-35.

Joe

Abhiman said...

Mr. Aroor, from a strategic point of view India is considering between 2 projects viz. the MCA by DRDO and the purchase of Russian 'PAK-FA'.

I fully agree with your view that F-35 is a "mis-fit". If chosen in ANY manner, the media must decisively begin to question the government.

We may recall that the US has also made presentations of their Patriot and Aegis missile systems also. It was a "stroke of good luck", that DRDO has already thwarted the attempts of politicians and corrupt army officials to purchase the Patriot by conducting the timely tests of the PAD (Prithvi Air Defence).
Now, derived of a political reason, the expensive foreign missiles cannot be purchased.

In the same way, the DRDO must expedite work on the MCA soon, so that this F-35 proposal also has no basis to be considered. Infact, even the proposal for outright purchase of Russia's 'PAK-FA' is already being resisted successfully by the DRDO's indigenous MCA proposal.

Thank you.

Abhiman said...

Mr. Aroor, today's edition of ToI had 2-3 reports that endorsed the MRCA contract (with the "ritual parading" of the 6 contenders).

The newspaper is infact endorsing the 5th Gen. contract with some foreign country viz. either US or Russia. Hence, you may highlight all available information about the DRDO's MCA before the politicians in tandem with newspapers like ToI completely delete it from not only public memory, but also any past existence. Its announcement may also be infamously be described by ToI's Rajat Pandit as "..yanked out of its hat.."


Mr. Aroor, I may request you to raise the issue about the 'PAK-FA' purchase, the recent F-35 presentation in the light of DRDO's indigenous MCA proposal WHICH LITERALLY HAS BEEN FORGOTTEN IN THE MOD AND IAF. The manner in which they function is no different than a school-teacher checking hundreds of answer sheets, having forgotten what the child wrote only 2 answer-sheets back. They will however keep a discrete and cold-merchant like note of their students who take private tuitions.

The MCA has similarly been forgotten by the IAF & the MoD, but these presentations of F-35 and PAK-FA's announcement by Russian defence minister on 26th Jan can be remembered if the wick is oiled by the prospect of vested interests.

Thank you.

Reference :-

1) DRDO working on MCA project (The Hindu)
http://www.hindu.com/2007/02/10/stories/2007021017110500.htm

2) Aeronautics - A DRDO perspective (Speech of Dr. Natarajan in Feb 2007) :-
http://www.domain-b.com/aero/report_details.aspx?id=222

Abhiman said...

As concrete proof of the fact that India barely is to have any technological contribution to the Russian fifth generation Sukhoi fighter, is the following report by Russia's RIA Novosti :-

http://en.rian.ru/russia/20070808/70574505.html

There is NO mention of India at all in this report. It categorically mentions that the design of the fighter has been handed to the "famed" Sukhoi design bureau. The prototype is expected to start construction very shortly---without any Indian participation thus far.

Thus, it may be 'crystal clear' now, that except providing finance, India has no contribution whatsoever in Russia's fifth generation fighter programme. It is only Indian media which reports it as a "Joint venture" between Russia and India.

Even government sources (if I am not wrong) have incorrectly commented that India will have technological inputs in the Russian fighter. It may only be a ploy to route Indian investment in the programme for vested interests. Otherwise, it is very surprising that there has not been even a cursory mention of the MCA project by DRDO by the IAF or the government.

Thank you.