Monday, April 28, 2008

MMRCA Begins: Lockheed-Martin pitches "the most advanced F-16 ever conceived"

Lockheed-Martin's press release today: The U.S. Government, supported by Lockheed Martin, today responded to the Indian Ministry of Defense's Request For Proposal (RFP) for a Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft Program (MMRCA) by proposing the most technologically advanced F-16 ever conceived, uniquely tailored to meet or exceed the requirements of the Indian Air Force.

"No other operational multi role strike fighter in the world today compares to this aircraft," said Orville Prins, Lockheed Martin's Business Development Vice President and MMRCA program Campaign Lead. "The F-16IN is a unique configuration of the F-16, designed to address the requirements specified in India's RFP. The F-16 is already the most reliable, maintainable, affordable and safest multi role fighter in the world. The F-16IN will be even better. This proposal also represents a long-term partnership between the Air Forces of India and the United States and between Indian industry and the F-16 industry team."

The F-16IN has been especially designed to include a multitude of cutting-edge technologies such as a modern, full-color, all-digital, glass cockpit; the APG-80 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar; the GE F110-132A engine for increased, thrust; a large weapons inventory; a highly effective electronic warfare suite; and Conformal Fuel Tanks (CFTs) to significantly extend range and persistence. The aircraft also includes advanced survivability features such as superior agility, excellent pilot situational awareness, and critical systems redundancy. The F-16IN is designed to provide outstanding front-line capability, unprecedented reliability, and an extremely low total cost of ownership.

The F-16IN is an advanced derivative of the most combat proven multi role strike fighter available in the international marketplace today. Twenty-four countries have selected the F-16 as their fighter aircraft of choice, with 14 of those countries selecting the aircraft for follow on buys an unprecedented 52 times.

Lockheed Martin has established four F-16 production lines outside of the United States. Additionally, the Company has successfully achieved more than $37B in offset program credits in 40 countries. A proven cornerstone of these programs is the ability to provide technology transfer to program partners. The F-16IN proposal assures that 108 of the 126 F-16IN aircraft would be delivered from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited under licensed production with Indian industry.


Anonymous said...

the falcon in iaf livery looks quite hot, but i don't think we should buy it. if we're buying american maal, might as well buy the super hornet. the raytheon aesa is supposed to be superior to the ng sensor on the falcon they're offering us. plus who wants to use fighter the damn porkis use anyway!!

gagan said...

I agree with anon. if we are buying american, there's no doubt that we should go for the hornet. the falcon, despite all its upgrades etc, is a dead fighter. at least the hornet lines are still buzzing. we need to get a nimitz class carrier for our navy, so we can have *real* jointmanship between the IAF and IN, where both can use the super hornet. darn, that would be amazing.

Anonymous said...

No proposal from Dassault?

Anonymous said...

Is there no proposal from Mig. i don't about others but i am 90% sure that it is going to be Mig-35.

Mihir said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mihir said...

Where the hell is Dassault? Either they have given up, or are confident that the deal is theirs already. I think it is the latter.

Anonymous said...

i think they realise there's no way in hell they're getting this deal. they got the scorpene deal, so their chances of swinging this one are too slim. plus, the rafale is bloody mehnga.

Ankur said...

I don't give a rat's ass how awesome and customised this thing is to the Indian Airforce.

It is OLD and DEAD.

Same goes to the freaking SuperHornet.

Ankur said...

Also, how *dare* they sell it to Pakistan and then try to flog us some. They can take their "customised" zombies and shove it up their collective a**es.

Hornets are firstly a NAVAL aircraft. Also, the USA cannot be trusted to not meddle with their equipment. The Malaysians learned this the hard way when they purchased their Hornets - the USA locked out some vital components in order to pervent them ever using it against the Singaporeans (who it was directly meant for).

And both aircraft are OLD (F-16 since the 1970s, and the F-18 Hornet since the 1980s). I don't care how many upgrades they have had. The USA is phasing them out over the lifetime it will take us to acquire these birds.

Go for something that can meet our needs well into the next 30 years and remain "cutting edge". I.e .The Eurofighter/Rafale/Mig-35. I am however very suspicious of the damn Mig. JVs are fine, but we depend way too heavily on Russia, and should NOT have a sole supplier of military equipment. And the buggers should *pay* for what they are doing with the freaking Gorshkov.

The Eurofighter and the Rafale are both really fine aircraft, but Dassault will bend over backwards to accomodate us - they have *no* sales to date, beyond the Franch Airforce.

Anonymous said...

ankur, why you are not recommending gripen ng ??

Ankur said...

Anon@5:13: Good question. And one I have partly answered before!

I initially favoured the bird, thinking that it offered both the cutting edge technology and the independence of politics that all good suppliers should have.

Then I learned that they have US and other non-Swedish parts in them. Imagine the logistical quagmire a pissed off USA could launch if we did anything to even mildly annoy them (like the Iran pipeline we so badly need).

sniperz11 gave a fantastic rebuke to the Gripen a couple of posts ago. It is well worth a read:

Although the Swedish offer a more apolitical source than the USA and also a technically competent bird, they are unfortunately tied down by the non-Swedish (esp. American) components used.

Anonymous said...

mihir, you are freaking right. where the hell is dassault. and thanks for the succint roundup ankur. i think you have a point about the rafale. it sure is a beauty.

Mihir said...

Snazzy pics of the F-16 and Gripen. But I wonder... is the effort being wasted? Who is the target of such advertisements? If it is the common citizen - they're going after the wrong people, aren't they? We don't have the power to influence the decision.

Does Dassault recognize this? Is the why it appears to be "absent" and "uninterested"?

Anonymous said...

ankur, i thought that you didn't like gripen ng because of low range and single engine, to be marked as light rather than as medium....

Anonymous said...

The USP of american birds are their AESA radars the european birds have still their AESA evolving. The only problem is its too risky to trust the americans (anyone remembers Tarapur) and as someone pointed out who knows what kind of riders it will come with and whether the sensors will be bugged. Also we need a pltaform that can be transformed/hardwired for aerial delivery of nukes, thats another thing we need to look into. AFAIR the Mirages were modified for that role. Same should be applicable for the MMRCA being procured. JMT

Ankur said...

Anon@10:57: Good point about the single engine - the F-16 has a single engine too. Both ridiculous

Here is a breakdown of the Ferry ranges (fully tanked, minimal loads):

Gripen: 2,800km
F-16: 3,900km
Eurofighter: 3,300km
Rafale: 3,125km
F-18: 3,330km
MiG-35: 3,200km

But who cares? We have refuelling takers for a reason!

Abhiman said...

It must be noted that F-16 and the Tejas both are single-engined planes. Even though the engine of the F-16 has 1.5 times more thrust than the Tejas, it must be noted that the F-16's empty weight is also 1.5 times more than the Tejas. Thus, there must be no difference in combat radii of the F-16 and Tejas, if normal weapon-loads of the order of 3,000 kgs are carried.

The Tejas' radar would match the F-16's radar in capability, if ADA accepts Europe's offer of mounting an AESA radar on the Tejas. Anyway, the current radar also uses similar technology as that of the Typhoon or Rafale. The Israeli Litening target pod (used on Israeli F-16s) on the Tejas provide the capabilities of FLIR, laser illumination of targets, laser ranging and night vision. This is exactly the same profile of the LANTIRN pods of the F-16, with the exception of SAR imagery.

Like the F-16, Tejas can also carry the entire variety of long, medium and short ranged BVR, WVR missiles. It can also carry A2G missiles, laser-guided bombs, etc. The only difference may be that of HARM missiles, the associated CLC computer and JDAM munitions. However, these are NOT "edge defining" differences and do not merit the purchase of the F-16 IN.

The 8 ton max. weapon-capacity may be used for the rare delivery of nuclear payloads or very heavy cruise missiles only. The weapon-loads in the fighter configs of the F-16 IN and Tejas are virtually identical. Thus, the F-16 DOES NOT provide any tactical or even strategic advantage over the Tejas.

Note that the F-16 for the US is a "discarded toy". The USAF no longer inducts the F-16, and has already begun a long-term procedure of phasing it out of its fleet. It's production facility at Fortworth has all orders from the USAF terminated. The facility is in abeyance only in anticipation of
an Indian order and a truncated Pakistani order.

It is for the IAF to decide whether to choose this "hand-me-down" in place of the equally capable and developed, Tejas.

Thank you.

Abhiman said...

Mr. Aroor, one may assume temporarily, that the Tejas had already been developed by, say, Japan (as Tojoka ).

It has entered into a partnership with Euro-consortium to install an AESA radar. Currently 'Tojoka' fields an Elbit ESA radar. It has HMDS, Litening target pod, an indigenous sensor pod, and an array of French and US missiles. It also conforms to the norm of multiple MFDs, full quad FBW, high speed data-links, unstable design, and a heightened composite structure. Total payload is of the order of >4000 kgs, and which can be carried on 8 external hardpoints. Certified software used in its composite design, now adopted for the Airbus A-380.

However, Japanese Self-Defence Force prohibits its payload to accommodate nuclear warheads. The 4000 kg capacity is thus the upper limit.

It is likely that this plane would have acquired many "fans" in India, just as in BR forum there are "fans" belonging to each of the 6 contenders, for one reason or the other.

Likewise, the J-10 would also have been a candidate for the MRCA, had it not been of Chinese origin. It has a modern canard design (like the 3 "Euro-planes"), quad FBW, a payload of 6,500 kgs distributed on 11 hardpoints, and an architecture open to full customization and modification. The latter as an activity has been 'mastered' by the IAF, that can add radars, target pods, sensors and weapons of choice from a "lineup" of foreign suppliers.

Since comparisons with China are "in vogue" nowadays, it must be mentioned that even though Europe has virtually lifted all export sanctions to China, the PLAAF is concentrating only on the J-10 and has reportedly shown no interest in any European fighter, or even latest Russian fighters like Su-35. In contrast, in India, despite an indigenous fighter under development, the Tejas, which has been described as a 4.5 Gen plane by Mr. Parthasarathy and Mr. Raman Puri, the IAF and defence ministry insist on a foreign-made MRCA.
These 2 experts, who were former Science and weapons acquisition advisors respectively to the govt., have already opined that the Tejas can be a cost-effective alternative to any of the 6 foreign MRCA contenders. As per a Dutch parliamentary report, the unit cost of a Rafale is a "whopping" $327 million, and that of the Typhoon is $178 million. These are "insane" prices, and are unlikely to be entertained by the IAF and the defence ministry. Thus, the 126 contract may end up costing $32 Billion or $17 Billion respectively, if the Rafale or Typhoon are chosen. Thus, the views by Mr. Parthasarathy and Mr. Puri, of choosing the Tejas as the MRCA, have been proven.

Thank you.

References :-

1) Dutch Parliamentary report :

2) Views by Mr. Parthasarathy & Mr. Raman :-

Prashanth said...

Interesting post, esp. about "Tojoka". Surprisingly, I couldn't find any material online about this plane - can you share some links?

Abhiman said...

Prashanth, that was only a hypothetical example i.e. had Tejas not been Indian, but Japanese, and named 'Tojoka'. It would not have been regarded as inferior in technology to ANY of the 6 current contenders of the MRCA.

The "veneer" of its being an Indian jet makes for a "pre-natal" "jaundiced" view. One must just view it for what it has (or will shortly have).

As already mentioned by Mr. Hormuz Mama in his latest article, the Tejas as a lightweight-MiG-21-replacement is an understatement, for it can already carry the weapon-load of the IAF's MiG-29's. It can thus replace the MiG-27 bomber and the MiG-29 air-superiority jet and not just the MiG-21.

Hence, this "stamp" of 'MiG-21-replacement' has been the single biggest detriment in its acceptability so far. Mr. Parthasarthy and Mr. Raman in their path-breaking article in The Hindu, have stated that the Tejas' ASRs match or even exceed that of the Mirage-2000. Note that the originally, the MRCA was meant to be simply the augmentation of Mirage-2000s only. Hence, the Tejas can not only be a successor to the Mirage-2000's, MiG-29s and MiG-27's in India, it "limbers up" to be an M.R.C.A.