Thursday, August 02, 2007

Boeing Counters JSF Pitch With Super Hornet

Boeing Integrated Defence Systems briefed journalists on July 31 in New Delhi, where Boeing India President Dr Ian QR Thomas and Vice President and General Manager Integrated Defence Systems Chris Chadwick both said that the F/A-18 Super Hornet was "cheaper than the F-35 Lightning-II and that the USN has no intention of phasing the Super Hornet out". This is presumably what they'll be telling the government and IAF as well. It was also revealed at the briefing that Boeing had made modifications to the Super Hornet to drag down the unit cost of the aircraft from $82 million to $49.9 million.

This actually illustrates how hard the MRCA deal is being fought. Boeing is a partner on the JSF programme and manufactures the wings, aft fuselage, integrates the avionics and all of the pilot and maintenance training systems, so why, in it's right mind, would it not think LM's pitch of the JSF was beneficial to both companies? The F-35C variant is admittedly a replacement to the legacy Hornet and more advanced Super Hornet. Well I guess it would just look lame agreeing with your biggest rival. If you ask me, it looks sort of silly either way. Why in hell would we need the JSF when we've apparently jumping head-long into our own fifth generation fighter programme, either independently or with the Russians (PAK-FA). And on the other hand, from which angle does the Super Hornet fit a fifth generation requirement? I ask you.

7 comments :

Teews said...

So Shiv, in essence you are saying we should go for neither, is that correct?

Abhiman said...

Mr Aroor, as your article rightly stated, F-18 is much behind in the "pecking order", because the MCA, PAK-FA and JSF are already ahead of it. Thus, if the F-18 is being presented as a near fifth gen fighter, then it is unlikely to win the MRCA tender.

By the same measure, the Typhoon and Rafale too cannot be chosen as the MRCAs by the IAF. As Boeing and Lockheed are packaging their contenders for MRCA as either the fifth gen itself or as a transition to fifth gen, the lines between the MRCA and the fifith gen fighter are increasingly becoming blurred. The IAF must not allow Lockheed and Boeing to alter its future plans by their marketing and packaging of their products.

The IAF periodically mentions its goal of strategic reach, but it must now clarify how it is going to reach that goal. It must declare the plans of acquisitions of its planes. It must decide whether the MRCA is going to be a near fifth gen plane like F-18 Super Hornet (then what about the 4++ gen Su-30 MKI) or whether the IAF shall fuse the acquisition of the fifth gen plane and MRCA into one.

Anonymous said...

I say again these ex-Express fellows have started lobbying for American aircraft, in keeping with the Express trend.

Disgusting fellows, I say.....want to sell off the country to the US

Jayanthi S.

Shiv Aroor said...

teews: pretty much yes, as far as a fifth generation requirement is concerned. if we commit to the JSF, what happens to the Indo-Russian 5G? Or the MCA? First, there's not enough money for all three (there isn't enough money for even one of them, actually!) second, inventories would burst at the seams even if we did have the money for all three. three, the super hornet is a fourth gen fighter, pure and simple. its basic design, airframe and onboard systems, engines, weapons positions etc keep it well out of 5G, so that rules it well out of the 5G race (though there isn't really a race just yet).

Incidentally, while on the subject of the super hornet, read this fascinating article from The Age of Australia, a must read:

http://www.theage.com.au/news/in-depth/the-hornets-nest/2007/07/08/1183833340924.html

Abhiman said...

Mr Aroor, these events such as presentations and packaged deals by Lockheed Martin and Boeing, may definitely indicate that they are much behind in the contention for the MRCA contract.

As regards the Super-Hornett it is exactly like the basic Su-27 Flanker. First flight in 1970s. Constantly improved since then, to presently qualify it as a 4++ gen fighter. Presently, the main strikers of most major air-forces. The antiquity of the airframe per se may not matter (which too has undergone numerous structural changes).

Thus, the F-18 Super Hornet cannot be purchased neither as a near fifth gen alternative to the JSF, nor even as an MRCA. Its purchase (in any form) would be totally uneconomical, wasteful and without any force-addition.

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Shiv,
Thanks for providing the Link for the excellent article on the RAAF deal to buy the Super Hornets. Although I cannot understand the fact that they are paying USD 6.6 Billion for only 24 SH's. According to your article here Boeing has reduced the unit coast of the SH to USD 49.9 Million. Which means the 24 SH's must only cost USD 1.2 Billion. Even taking in to account the conversion rate from USD to Australian Dollar which is 1.1667, the price should only be about AUD 1.4 Billion. Granted it costs extra for Training, Simulators, Weapons etc...I cannot understand where the 6.6 Billion figure comes from. In this case if India purchases the SH for the IAF M-MCRA, the deal would cost about 30 BIllion dollars!!Riduculous.

Anonymous said...

>> Boeing is a partner on the JSF programme and manufactures the wings, aft fuselage, integrates the avionics and all of the pilot and maintenance training systems, so why, in it's right mind, would it not think LM's pitch of the JSF was beneficial to both companies? The F-35C variant is admittedly a replacement to the legacy Hornet and more advanced Super Hornet. Well I guess it would just look lame agreeing with your biggest rival.

Why Boeing has to settle for part of share in case of JSF as MRCA if they can get full share of the MRCA tender by promoting SH ? Just business....

>>if we commit to the JSF, what happens to the Indo-Russian 5G?

I see no reason why one should be at the cost of other. If shortage of money should be the reason, then we shouldnt be returning the unused allocated funds every year. These are one time expenses for next 40 or so years. MRCA and Indo-Rus 5G is not inter-linked. One is proven a/c and another one is yet in design stage. Dont we purchased Mig-29 and Mirage-2k for the same role. Funningly, history could be repeating...

There are adv and dis-adv in having single type of a/c.

Joe