Sunday, January 31, 2010

TYPHOON TOUR Part 2: The Typhoon For The Indian Navy?

MANCHING, GERMANY: "We are very interested in responding to the RFI that we have received from the Indian Navy. We plan to be a contender in the competition to be the Indian Navy's next-generation fighter aircraft," Dr Matthias Schmidlin told me during a brief interaction at the Eurofighter's final assembly facility forty minutes outside Munich. The Vice President of the rather lofty sounding India Campaign Directorate for EADS Military Air Systems has a nervous air about him -- he constantly glances at pre-prepared notes for a television interview, even though my for-the-record questions are mostly of a general nature. But when I rounded off the brief interview with a question about the Indian Navy's interest in the Typhoon, he smiles for the first time.

For one thing, a Sea Typhoon isn't a new idea from any stretch. In the past, there has been talk of the Royal Navy pulling out of the JSF programme in favour of a navalised Eurofighter. The navies of Italy and Spain have also sporadically put forward the idea of putting together a Sea Typhoon and hawking it in the global market. However, so far, no single point of interest has been incentive enough for EADS to proceed with anything even closely resembling a Sea Typhoon prototype. What they do have, however, is a fully finished concept study just waiting to fly off the drawing board. At least, that's what they say.

"A navalised Typhoon may soon be a reality. In fact, we have completed the groundwork for navalising the Typhoon since long and may pursue the respective entry into service based on ongoing campaigns," says Schmidlin. Eurofighter was mildly surprised to receive a request for information, alongside Boeing for its F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Lockheed-Martin for the F-35 and Saab for the conceptual Sea Gripen.

Notwithstanding EADS' claim to have completed "all the groundwork" on the Sea Typhoon concept, navalising the Typhoon, like navalising any fighter jet not initially planned for deck-based operations, will be a onerous task to say the least. Even the fundamental airframe architecture of the Eurofighter seems to suggest that the platform would face serious issues over a range of areas, for instance the placement and configuration of its intakes, which may preclude the possibility of reinforced landing gear. That, in the event, would be only one of the questions that EADS claims it has solved with the Sea Typhoon concept, though it doesn't say how.

Doctrinally, it so happens, the concept of operating a heavy fighter (of the Su-33-class for instance) off aircraft carriers is something the Indian Navy has been toying with for long, though such ideas have been severely pushed about by the fact the very concept of an aircraft carrier force stands doctrinally questioned, albeit not in practice -- India still stands to receive the troubled Vikramaditya and at least two indigenously built aircraft carriers from the Cochin shipyard.

Photo by Shiv Aroor / Newly built Eurofighter just after radar testing at the System Testing Center, Manching


Anonymous said...


Parminder Grewal said...

Sounds all good but do you really think it makes sense to go for a naval fighter that's not even of the drawing board? I mean I don't think IN would like a situation where the aircraft carriers are ready and the jets are going through testing phases.

I feel that India may just go in for US equipment for the MMRCA aka the SH. Its a tried and tested plane with a radar comparable to the one on F 35's that'll serve purposes of both Indian AF and navy. I even think the French may pull it off. They are less dependant on other countries for technology(from what Iv read), hence that may help transfer of technology, they are participant to LCA through SNECMA, they are testing a homegrown AESA radar. They did create a huge fracas in Brazil where the govt is backing rafale while the AF wants SH. Then you have the incumbent Russians. Its really anybody's game right now as all of them except the swedes I guess have their own strong points. Besides who knows what's cooking in South Delhi. Personally I feel we should go in for Eurofighter only if HAL is given the chance to be a full design partner in the next generation of planes. We should develop our own programmes and collaborate with the best in the world at the same time.

Sancho said...

Although an interesting idea to see a Sea Typhoon, but the IN RFI is for around 40 fighters. If the member countries don't go for such a development, why should India fund it?

Murali said...

I am really tired of HAL having complete control. Put in some competition, you will see HAL do much better. We should have either Tata's or L&T or Even Mahindra's for that matter be given to take TOT and bulid planes and be accountable. This way they will start doing more R&D Specially if you tell them that Govt will and should support them in export markets.

Anonymous said...

Y does the navy want so many types of aircraft ?

Anonymous said...

Didn't Lockheed Martin offer F-35B to the Indian Navy?

latesh said...

The Sea typhoon might be good choice for the iac 1 as it has got good th to wgt it can take off from iac and since the navalised LCA will probably be using the Eurojet engine maintenance will be no probs but on cost wise the typhoon would be pricey as lot of design changes are to be done .The rafale would be a good choice as its operational on CATOBAR Charles de gaulle and It can be operated from IAC 2 since its a heavier and CATOBAR .

Karupaswamy said...

There are only 3 aircraft's worth considering for IN. SH, Mig-35 & F35.

Since Lockheed is not willing to give us F35 for MMRCA we can kick it out for navy too, because having a single fighter for both IA and IN will reduce the life cycle cost and we can plough those savings back to buy more aircraft's to compensate for our dwindling numbers.

Also for MCA there is no point going solo on R&D burning our tax payers money. It is like betting the money on a donkey alongside horses(to be read as counting our public sector enterprises ADA & HAL).

It is time we break our public sector defense companies into small pieces and make them public limited companies so that their management becomes accountable and make them work towards profitability.

We may have tie up with like minded countries for the medium sized 5th gen aircraft and we should be in the driver seat of the partnership and have others has junior partners.

Sancho said...

@ latesh

The naval version of the Rafale is still lighter than the normal EF, also there is no reason Rafale couldn't be used from Gorshkov, or IAC1 via sky-jump.
It has similar size and MTOW as the Mig 29K, but offers less empty weight and even a better t/w ratio.
In fact, IN evaluated Rafale and F18SH for Gorshkov, but it was a combined deal with the Mig.


First of all, the RFI for the navy is not directly linked with MMRCA, so F35 indeed is an option. But if IAF chose a fighter that offers a good naval version, it would offer many advantages for the navy too!
Commonality in spares and weapons would reduce logistic costs, also a combined deal would make the fighters clearly cheaper, as a separate procurement of just 40 naval fighters.
Btw, there is no Mig 35 on offer for IN, only for IAF! There won't be a Mig 35K, they will take the same Mig 29Ks and integrate AESA radar, possibly TVC into it. So that offer compared to even a 5. gen fighter will fall waaaaay too short.
Oh and you forgot the Rafale which will be a frontline in MMRCA as well as the IN RFI, but for IAC2 that won't come before 2018, I still hope for a naval version of Pak Fa/FGFA!

Anonymous said...

Is the PAK-FA also headed for naval service?Su-33 has been retired na.

Anonymous said...

As and when the Russians deliver the PAK-FA to the IAF, they will invariably add a "K" to its name. Just imagine how inline the name would be to its purpose - PAK-FAK

Ha ha ha ha


LPIC1 said...


I didn't know you were travelling to Munich.

Should you travel again in the future...there is a open invitation for you in Munich Germany for dinner!

Drop a mail at

Anonymous said...

No actually i meant the IAC 2 will be heavier and larger so two squadrons can easily be assigned .Has anyone thought of india's own super carrier similar to that of the USS NIMITZ class of us.?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Karapswamy...the mig-29K is also not part of the IN deal, we already ordered 29 additional migs and we wont order more. The F-35 wins hands down because of being a generation ahead of all of them. As far i as know the F-35C has been offered and dont eb too supriced even if the Army later gets intersted in the f-35. India was given the option to partner in the f-35 early on but we refused.

mig-35 isnt also part of the IN contract. The SH will win the MRCA and the f-35 will win the IN competition simply because they are safer bets.

@ Sancho, IN didnt evaluate the SH or the Rafale, matter of fact till MRCA trials began IN never tested these aircraft. 16 Mig-29K and Gorshkov was a packaged deal since the start and was signed for around 1.2 billion long back but prices increased.

Sancho said...

to Anon

Of course they never tested Rafale, or F18SH, because we have no carrier to make tests from. But IN indeed asked Boeing and Dassault for informations about these fighters and if they could be used on Gorshkov:

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