Thursday, July 09, 2009

MMRCA Part 6 - The Typhoon Truth

The Typhoon was the last contender to throw its hat into the MMRCA ring. The Typhoon has huge strengths and huge weaknesses, even though there is a terrific amount of intrigue and interest about the airplane within the IAF. It is considered, overall, to be the most modern jet in the sweepstakes, and has a great deal of life development latitude ahead of it. The airplane comes backed by BAE Systems and EADS, two companies the Indian government has a lot of experience dealing with, though not all of these experiences have been sweet.


The Typhoon enjoys a reputation within the IAF of being possibly the most modern and advanced fourth-generation fighter jet flying today. Its multiple unofficial ground and flight demonstrations to IAF pilots have won it unofficial accolades for being a blisteringly good aircraft to fly, with a phenomenal amount of research clearly devoted to technology aimed at staving off the effects of G forces. Pilots believe the Typhoon's airframe is built with beyond visual range combat in mind, even though it demonstrates awesomely tight performance in close-combat drills. The next-generation Meteor beyond visual range air to air missile (BVRAAM) is a valuable standard on the aircraft when its ready. The Eurojet EJ200 turbofan engine's possible selection for the LCA Tejas re-engine programme could provide an enormous fillip to the Typhoon's chances in the MMRCA, considering that those engines will be built under full technology transfer separately in India by HAL. EADS/BAE/Alenia Aeronautica are understood to have provided one of the most comprehensive offset and technology transfer offers in the sweepstakes.


Like the Rafale and the Super Hornet, the Typhoon is a heavy-class twin-engined fighter, which immediately pulls the notches up on ownership cost, maintenance investments and turnaround. But the single most operational weakness (even though it may really be just perception) is that the IAF remains unconvinced of the Typhoon as a true multirole fighterplane. This may have something to do with the Eurofighter's slapdash external pod-based air-to-ground capability declaration for the Singapore Air Force fighter competition, though the IAF is itself of the opinion that the Typhoon is not a true strike fighter, built more as an air superiority and air defence platform, with an unproven, somewhat ad-hoc capability for stand-off interdiction, which is a critical, overriding operational QR in the MMRCA tender document. The stink over the Al Yamama contract with the Saudi government, and an alleged slush fund by BAE Systems for the sheikhs could prove to be a real downer for the Typhoon, especially since BAE is the counter at which the Indian government will deal if it chooses the Typhoon. The fact that the government has recently awarded BAE with the Hawk AJT deal -- despite a signficant quarter shouting out about kickbacks -- could also go against the Typhoon. The Typhoon is also weak on operational provenness, though the IAF is willing to look beyond that, considering how young the fighter is compared to some of the others.

(Series concluded)


Anonymous said...

I hope and pray that the IAF chooses any of the aircraft other than the American ones!!!

Anonymous said...

Who has details the fact that this airplane has voice recognition capability and the computer on the plane makes some 200 wing flap adjustments every second on tight turns.

Anonymous said...

EADS is trying to get the A2G configuration ready for the trials that are coming up soon. once its completed the A2G capabilities will match all of the other fighters except the SH.

Anonymous said...

There are three fundamental problems with Eurofighter:

First: it is not a true multirole. Yet. IAF, HAL, and DRDO will have to work for a solid 5 years to give it all the needed multirole capabilities, but the problem is there's Eurofigther consortium who have to be kept happy. All the talk of ToT aside, they can withold some basic very information that will stop the work of evolving Eurofighter MKI dead in its tracks.

Secondly, It is a खिचडी of many countries. Any one of them can come under the pressure of Unkil (or pretend to come under pressure) and severly castrate our supplies of spares or information in the future (once the contract is signed). We Indics are भोला people, when interacting with our White Overlords we assume if a contract is signed they will honour every word. But reality is, things change. Once you have transferred the money everything changes. They can harass us far more than we can.

Third, the meteor is looking to be a good BVR missile, but it is pure fantasy by IAF to assume they will get to stock it. Right now all the missiles are "available" to IAF, because everyone wants to win the contract. Once the aircraft contract is signed, there can be restrictions imposed on our acquisition of meteor. Building an Indian missile and integrating it with airframe+sensors is the only solution, frankly speaking.

All said and done, shivji you have done बहुत बढिया job. And if one thing has become very clear, it is that Gripen-NG-MKI is the only cheap, sensible and practical solution for IAF. That it is so similar to Tejas is an asset for our domestic manufacturing, who will also get to benchmark themselves and improve in any areas where they might be lacking. Tejas Mk 2 thus would be an even more capable platform, the best in the world.

Anonymous said...

Though Typhoon may not be a true multirole as yet but it has the most modern airframe. Inducting the best platform is the prudent thing to do as it is the only thing that will remain unchanged in 30 years of its service life. All other systems can and will be improved upon with time.

AK said...

India is wasting it's time in all this meca cmrca we should buy more of the spitefire planes from Britain. I think they cost like 5000 pounds. We can buy thousands of those and put them on auto pilot with bombs loaded. Once they reach the target they can then do hara kiri to destroy the enemy.

Anonymous said...

too expensive, not multirole, program is a mess (Uk, Ger, It, Sp), no AESA

typhoon is the favorite jet of the macho men because it has powerful engines and big claims attached to it, but it isn't a warhorse!

Rahul said...

I am still eagerly waiting for your LCA update. Only for this I am checking your blog twice in a day. Please don't disappoint me.

Vin said...

Hi Shiv,

Do you any info on the dates these MMRCA Deal Birds roar the skies of the Space, Aviation & Silicon Valley of India - Bangalore???

Mayuresh Gaikwad said...

Can we have comparisons of the flyaway costs and maintainence costs of the six aircraft?

I think the cost factor would put the Typhoon, Rafale and Super Hornet out of consideration

Anonymous said...

"This may have something to do with the Eurofighter's slapdash external pod-based air-to-ground capability declaration for the Singapore Air Force fighter competition..., with an unproven, somewhat ad-hoc capability for stand-off interdiction, which is a critical, overriding operational QR in the MMRCA tender document."

1. Your above statement with regards to the 2005 SG fighter competition (Typhoon, Rafale & F-15SG) is somewhat in accurate. All 3 aircraft offer podded A2G solutions. However Boeing offered the Sniper ATP, which is the more advanced targeting pod/solution.

2. The 2 important reasons why the Typhoon lost in the SG competition are as follows:
(i) One, they could not meet the delivery time schedule required by Singapore.
(ii) Two, at that time, the Typhoon offer also did inlude an AESA radar.

3. The SG competition was to replace a strike fighter, the A4SU. Your analysis is incomplete for 3 other reasons as stated below:
(i) One, in 2005, the Typhoon, at that time, did not have a certified A2G capability. The Typhoon has now been certified for A2G missions. Your criticism of the Typhoon contains an actual misrepresentation of its current capabilities. I would like to remind you that the F-15 (that won the SG competition) itself was not originally designed for strike missions.
(ii) The F-15SG is also a larger aircraft (when compared to the Typhoon) with a significantly larger bomb carrying capacity.
(iii) The F-15SG, with CFTs also out-ranged the Typhoon, enabling the Singapore air force greater reach.

Anonymous said...

LCA Tejas Updates ???

Anonymous said...

Well i think that the EF being a superior and also an expensive fighter, the IAF should go for only 60-70 of them. I think that this will be a wise decision. And yeah I would also like to ad that the IAF MUST NOT select the American aircrafts!

koti said...

And yes, though f-18 is a mouthwatering proposal, we shouldn't fall for that bait.

JAS-39 is a better proposal. We could simply order more Mig-29k(navy) to make it better.

Anonymous said...


- immature and unproven in combat

- European Union is a political lightweight, a Typhoon purchase wouldn't bring any political advantage to India.
And if war broke out between India and Pakistan, how would they react ?

Anonymous said...

good coverage on all fighters well it seems evry fighter has a weakness so should not we select the least weak aircraft? any ways I feel the aircraft that will be readly available and with commitments for upgrade and full TOT and supply of spares during time of conflict is a wise choice also it should fit the requirments of the IAF WELL THATS WHAT I FEEL I HAVE BEEN READING THIS BLOG FOR OVER A MONTH NOW HENCE HAD TO PASTE A COMMENT SORRY COULD NOT STOP MYSELF THANKS FOR THE EVALUATION OF THE FIGHTERS ONCE AGAIN

Anonymous said...

One very important aspect of this is that the Gripen has several innovative techs incorporated, in it. Because this is a very very capable aircraft and the fact that it is much cheaper than the rest, makes for a very convincing argument to acquire it.

Not only will this give us a good aircraft, but also ensure that this aircraft is not available to any of our regional challangers, who might consider it because it is cheap. The Gripen datalinks and tech are capable of some very nasty surprises to the adversary.

We cannot allow such a package to fall into the hands of our enemy air-force.

The pakistanis will never acquire the F-18E/F/G or the F-16 Block 60s. They don't have the money for the Typhoon or the Rafale. All our Mig-29s will be Mig-35 standard anyway. The Gripen is the only aircraft that can fall into the pakis and thereby the chinese hands.

We can keep this MRCA contract, but have another MRCA contract for another aircraft type if we feel there is more needed. Any aircraft we acquire, will have to need maintenance, IAF has shown that it can successfully maintain all those russian aircraft, even with unsure product support, uncertified parts etc. These new gen aircraft - all of them are intended to be maintenance friendly from the ground up, the suppliers are much more reliable than the USSR of yore, so it is unlikely that having two MRCA types is going to be too much of a headache to maintain.

Just my two naya paise.

Anonymous said...

india should not choose any double engine aircraft coz it will be a logistical nightmare with su30 only f16 is good for india coz it has proven track record and reliable plane.

Anonymous said...

I agree that twin wngined have higher logistical costs, but IMIO The Gripen NG is better than F16 as far as single engined aircrrafts are concerned.

US can never be trusted. Never.

Anonymous said...

All our Mig-29s will be Mig-35 standard anyway
from where you get this info?

if older f16 can't be upgraded to blk60 standard and if older f18 hornets can't be upgraded to super hornet standard,if m2000 can't be upgraded to rafale so how come these older mig29 can be upgrade to mig 35 standard

rakeshroy87 said...

1.f-16IN will have the same radar as that of saudi F-16's and hence all their details will be available to pakistan which will then add it to their library on SAAB EYERIE which they are due to receive.dont buy F-16
2.EF typhoon other than radar is possibly the best fighter on offer.very small RCS and potential development,but radr is big factor also not big political gains
3.ruskies are troubling us a lot.vikramaditya delay,tech transfer hiccups in T-90 and Su-30,holding back brahmos, codes.Dont give them more leverage
4.gripen is lackluster,no political gains,US technology,IAI pulling out of sensor development,no real RCS reduction
5.rafael is good,though present french govt.lacks the weight of a jaques chiraq govt,indian expirience with mirages has been exceptionally good,promising full ToT,infrasructure benefits,rafael's in
6.To me india should go in with SH.US political benefits come attached,APG-79 is next only to raptor's radar,US navy still inducting SH,RCS reduction
So it should be SH or rafael,though if EF manages a decent AESA it's also right up there

anthony said...

If the IAF brass wants a single engined MRCA, then the Gripen NG IN would be the best bet.

Despite LockMart's and Boeing's friendly offers to the IAF, Sabb has passionately won out.