Saturday, December 04, 2010

Is There An MMRCA Warning Bell In How The Americans Shafted The Gripen For Norway?

If you wanted a chunky glimpse of the cold political stuff that everyone knows goes down in a fighter competition in which the Americans have a horse, a clutch of the recent Wikileaks cables provide just that. It's simple (if you missed it): according to these cables (between the US Embassy in Oslo and the State Dept), the Americans denied the release of a US-built AESA radar for the Gripen-NG being pitched for a Norwegian requirement two years ago, while simultaneously bringing to bear political pressure ("high-level Washington advocacy") on the Norwegian government to choose the F-35 instead.

The cables provide the starkest view of how the threat of future political/diplomatic relations are very unsubtly yoked to weapon contracts. It's common knowledge that this is the way it happens, but here it is, in black and white. One cable ends, a touch frazzled, with, "Other advocacy efforts would contribute to helping [Norway] recognize the seriousness of their decision and resist the temptation of making a short-term expedient choice, but damaging long-term interests."

This is two years ago. Shortly after, Saab decided to call off all discussions with the Americans, French and Israelis (IAI was reportedly pressured by Washington to pull out of talks) and go in for the Selex Galileo RAVEN AESA, currently under development testing, and part of the configuration on offer to the Indian Air Force in the MMRCA competition.

You can pretty much bet that Tim Roemer has cables going out asking for the same sort of thing (including high level visits to impress the point) ahead of an Indian decision on the $12-billion contract next year, but there is at least one very serious question: Do the Americans still have leverage over the Gripen NG/IN, considering that the airplane's engine (F414G), avionics suite, head-up/down displays, environmental control system, air data computer, life support system, pressure regulator, shutoff valves and radar altimeter are American built? Worth thinking about, notwithstanding the fact that Saab (like the other five contenders where applicable) was made to submit a government-endorsed guarantee that all subsystems on the aircraft were export-cleared if not from the country of the principal integrator's origin.

And yet.


Anonymous said...

I am not a proponent of american hardware-my staunch support is reserved for the Eurofighter in the MMRCA, but this seriously does not do justice to the Americans.

I mean, if I spent billions of dollars developing critical technologies, why would i let my competitor sell my stuff. Would Russia let India sell Mk-2 LCA's with the MiG-35 AESA radar and the OLS in a competition between MiG-35 & LCA, in the future for a national tender? No. Similarly if India contests a tender in 2015 to supply Mk2 LCA's against F-16's in a Govt (say Malaysia) tender, would USA allow us to use the F 414 engine (wishful thinking :-))? I seriously doubt that.

To answer your question: I think that, If India buys the Gripen, we would be negotiating with the Swedes and the Americans (for their components) NOT only with the Swedes.

But a bigger fear is: If India buys the F-18 and conducts a couple of nuclear tests 5 years down the line (with all the controversy that Pokhran-2 did not yield required results recently) what happens? Infact, what happens to the C-130J, the C-17 the P-8I and the F-18 (might i add the LCA coz it would be using the F 414 engine?)?

And please do not think in your wildest dreams that HAL would absorb technologies to keep the above platforms flying in the face of sanctions.

That really is THE FEAR.


keshto said...

I have all along said, and been saying, that, Uncle Sam maintains a VETO over gripen, due to its US contents.......for, Gripen´s win would be a US loss!

And US cant afford to say "a baill mujhe maar"

Mr. Ra said...

I am afraid that after the successful counter-revolution, the headquarters of the Big Brother had shifted from Moscow to Washington.

OR it may be arising out of the dire needs of the imploding American economics.

If the producers are not stopped, then every municipality on the earth may brandish a squadron of F-35 rightly or wrongly.

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

Undoubtedly the US has the leverage over Saab's marketing campaign concerning the JAS-39 Gripen IN. However, exercising such leverage won't be required at all, since the US is most favourably positioned to offer the best financial offer-cum-industrial offsets (direct and indirect) package. I can safely dare say that there's no other military-industrial complex on Earth that can match the capacities and capabilities of the US-based OEMs, as amply demonstrated in the GEF414/Eurojet EJ200 competition for the Tejas Mk2. Secondly, of all the contenders, only the F-16IN and F/A-18E/F have 'operational' AESA-based MMRs on board, no one else has. Thirdly, the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is most likely to be ordered by US operators in far larger numbers now that the F-35 JSF has become too cost-prohibitive to be procured in large numbers (that would also effectively derail BROADSWORD's bull-run concerning his 'F-35 JSF for India' lobbying campaign!). This consequently will enable the Super Hornet's industrial consortium members (Boeing, GE, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon) to offer the Super Hornet at unmatched mouth-watering financial prices to the IAF. Fourthly, if at all India's MoD refuses the F-16IN due to the Pakistan factor, then the way ahead for the Super Hornet gets clearer and smoother. Fifthly, given the RSAF's order for the Eurofighter EF-2000 and consequently, the guaranteed exposure of this aircraft to the on-deputation PAF flight instructors (a point that has been overlooked by many, just as has the PAF element concerning the UAEAF's F-16E/F Desert Falcons), the EF-2000 too has ample reason to be 'politically' rejected.
Sixth, history MAY be repeated IF, as in the case of the F414, Raytheon's APG-79 gets selected for the Tejas Mk2 in the event of the DRDO being unable to offer the 'indigenous' AESA-based MMR within a pledged timeframe. Raytheon as far back as February 2009 had publicly declared its willingness to offer the APG-79 for the Tejas Mk2.
Lastly, also to be factored in now are the noises emanating from both the Indian and Russian side about R & D schedule slippages concerning the FGFA, which again could lead to the IAF selecting a 'heavier' M-MRCA like the Super Hornet. All in all, consequently, game, set and match in favour of the Super Hornet, in my humble view.

Anonymous said...

this color scheme is more readable. Now only if you can use more of the screen in black needs to reduce....

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To keshto: BROADSWORD is more ideally suited to make the remark "aa baill mujhe maar", as his F-35 JSF marketing campaign seems to have suffered catastrophic, paralytic and decapitating haemorrage (LoL!!!). Time for him to seek asylum for self-introspection and obtaining enlightenment based on the ductum of 'logical reasoning' at Dharamsala. Would you agree?

keshto said...

Prasun: 3:01 AM

Lolum lol..
Fully agree..
You are great!

He (Broadsword) has been dumped n ditched by forumites who are lately flocking here (Livefist), hardly any traffic there.

No wonder he would aptly say "aa baill mujhe maar", Dharamshala, Madhushala or Pathshala, no matter what!

Anonymous said...

Congrats Shiv, you made a right decision

Anonymous said...

Rafale also?!


Sarkozy presented the myth that France is the perfect partner for states that do not want to rely on U.S. technology, even though the U.S. has agreed in principle to transfer relevant technology if Brazil purchases the F-18. However, if the Rafale sale goes through, Dassault may have to request export-control licenses from the U.S. for parts built with American technology.

Anonymous said...

The US and Sweden has such strong agreements that the US can not stop the transfer of products from their respective private corporations. BUT they can slow down the process.. all the paperwork... and that is what the US Ambassador in Norway suggested.

Sweden's Volvo own parts of the F414.

It's a mutual dependency.

Anonymous said...


I have already mentioned about PAF getting accustom with eurofighter.

Anonymous said...

Do you think GOI will approve a deal in which Indian radar is used by Nepal to build and sell planes to a third country? Especially if GOI was not involved in the negotiations from day 1. I have said this many times on this blog.... The Golden Rule: He who owns the gold, gets to make the rules. If GOI does not own the gold, stop dreaming of setting the rules. Either dig for your own gold, or live by the rules of the ones who are selling it to you.

THis is nothing new, anyone who has a upper hand in any deal will try to make the most of it. This is strictly business, nothing more and nothing less.

Heberian said...

Shiv!!! This is really a much more user friendly layout/template. Thank you for changing. But why the downgrade from the Sukhoi to the Mig 29 on the Banner? :)

indian defence forum said...

the MMRCA deal is going america's way..... most probably the f-18 will win it......bcoz usa will stop delivering the ge-404 & GE-414 engines for tejas if we don't buy american........

that's uncle saM for you.......

Anonymous said...

Shiv to add to your post , recently another noted defense journo has been pitching the F35. coincidence ? I would not be surprised if more than a few journos / defense attaches/ lobbiyist are feeding out of the american hands. $12 billions is a lot of money these days , especially in America where it can produce new jobs and save governments.

come to think of it , after the wikileaks , it looks like America is in the best position as a defense supplier. It is supporting both India and Pakistan and supplying arms to both. More jobs to Americans. More tensions in Asia


Heberian said...

@ Keshto

I am sure you are familiar with the word "troll" in the context of posting comments on blogs etc.? You are now presenting yourself as one by that cheap potshot at Col. Shukla. Such disrespectful trashing of anyone is not the behaviour of a gentleman, and I'd like to think you are one. Try and refrain, and do not vist any blogs that you feel don't toe your line of thought. "Forumite" indeed. Objective assesment of any side of an argument is greatly respected.

I did not agree with Col. Shukla's argument for the F35. That said, the discerning reader will agree that his case was very well presented. Anyone in the profession of reporting is allowed quite a bit of leeway in how one presents arguments.Follow Foxnews to see blatant displays. If you doubt it, then read up on Chomssky on propoganda and mainstream media. Even our Shiv displayed his justifiable love for the Gripen in his writings, but so what???

@ Prasun

You are extremely knowledgeable and present a lot of excellent detail. I say this because I have some understanding of defence and intelligence issues, especially with respect to the PRC. I respect your writing and comments and follow them. With due respect, I just feel that you dont need to stoop to potshots. The level of information and detail you provide suffice to make very big holes in any argument like the case for the F35. Sometimes, graceful understatement speak a lot, I am sure you will agree... Apologies if I am too straightforward, my intention is not to cast negetive aspersions... its an honest comment stemming from respect for your writing.

@ anon/Vikram @ 1:59 pm - Dude, I smell something burning... oh .. its the smell of hypocritical,self-righteous jealousy!! Maybe these companies should woo you instead of Shiv and Col. Shukla. Lol!!

@ Shiv -
Would you please consider bringing the Su-30 back to the banner?

Heberian said...

@ Prasun -

As usual, perceptive observation about the PAF exposure to the EF Typhoon :)

They will also get good exposure to the F35 when it reaches Turkey.

Also, one of the CO's (or a senior officer I think) of the Su 30 squadron near Ipoh in Malaysia has a name that is very very "un-Malay". To my ear, its very Pakistani sounding name. And our pilots were training them :)

saurav jha said...

Raytheon offering Apg-79 for tejas is a news to me..Any link of some sort will be welcome..
@ topic.. There is nothing wrong in what US is doing..Why US will supply equipments which in turn will eat up sales of its own companies..And this should be kept in mind while deciding for MRCA..

Anonymous said...

This is proof for all the RATshakers out there who think Uncle Sam is good for India, noone is good for India - only India is good for India. The more we depend on others the more they can screw us over.

Ben - Yours truly said...

Even after the leaks people are so willing to be gullible.

I'll repeat something I had said "would IAF have worked to induct 80-120 tejas mk-1 before mk-2 commences production if there was no MMRCA alias MRCA program?"

Anonymous said...

Gripen can fly only because America allows it to do so. Americans are the real owner of this plane.

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Heberian: Point taken and accepted. Never meant any malice toward anyone, even at the personal level. Hence, I've always referred to the blog and not to the blogger by name. Regarding the PAF's exposure to the Turkish F-35, yes, it will get to take a look at the F-35, but it will be of the 'look and see, but don't touch' type, as the Turks will be contractually bound to adhere to the severe technology restrictions (as also in the case of the Tur
kish B.737NG-based AEW & C platform). In contrast, the PAF will, in case of the UAEAF and RSAF, get hands-on exposure to the F-16E/F Desert Falco and Eurofighter EF-2000. Regarding the RMAF Su-30MKMs, the IAF instructors' job was to teach the RMAF to draft their own operational and maintenance manuals/protocols only, and not to share any kind of air combat tactics. In India's case, the Su-30MKIs have some unique capabilities (unavailable to the Su-30MKM) when it comes to network-centric warfare-based air dominance operations in conjunction with the A-50EI PHALCON AEW & C platforms. What should be far more worrisome for India is the troika of Iran-Pakistan-China getting unrestricted access to 1990s-era technologies from Ukraine, be they about the Su-30 family, or the S-300T LR-SAM, or the Korshun cruise missile, with the latter now morphing into the 800km-range land-attack Chinese CJ-10 and Babur cruise missiles.
To saurav jha: Raytheon's offer for the APG-79 was made during the Aero India 2009 expo and most of the show dailies being published then during the expo printed the info that you seek. In fact, the offer was not just limited to the APG-79, but also included other Raytheon-built items like EW pods, ESM suites, etc. Similarly, Northrop Grumman too made such offers at Aero India for its SABR AESA-based MMR (for both the Tejas Mk2 and the to-be-upgraded Jaguar IS of the IAF).

keshto said...

On Ajay Shukla:
My motto remains the same, a TIT 4 every TAT, BTW in his own words, "if you give, you should be able to take it", since it was him whose rebuttal was full of horse manuar, let him eat a humble pie on this.

On a troll issue, have you heard the adage; The pot calling the kettle black? live with it. And yes, next time dont shoot the messenger! Mind your own buisness without indulging in a bullying tactics.

A word to the wise should be enough!

Anonymous said...

This article is pretty useless because US made parts/weapons are present in 5 out of the 6 contenders. EF too requires US permission for clearance of TOT just like in the case of Saudi. Rafale and Ef too have US made parts, Rafale has a smaller percentage while EF has many critical parts coming from the US. Gripen IN is not the only exception. US government will have to clear TOT for EF, Gripen and may be even Rafale. Though Rafale already comes with full-tot, parts coming from US may be non-critical. However, operating cost of Rafale and EF are the highest followed by the Mig-35. It finally comes down to SH vs Gripen IN. SH is ideal for our needs with new International upgrade available, new EPE engines, new cockpit, CFTs, IRST, weapons pods and already deploying the widest range of weapons, its gonna clinch this deal.

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Heberian: Point taken and accepted. That's why I've referred by name to the blog, and not the blogger.
Regarding the PAF exposure to the Turkish F-35 (or even the B.737NG-based AEW & C platform), yes it will be there but it wioll be of the 'look & see but don't touch' type. In contrast, the PAF will have hands-on exposure to the RSAF EF-2000 Typhoons just as it has had to the UAEAF's F-16E/F Desert Falcons.
The IAF non-combatant instructors were in Malaysia to teach the RMAF the art of drafting the Su-30MKM's operational and maintenance manuals, and not for imparting any kind of air combat tactics. The RMAF's Su-30MKMs are not as advanced as the Su-30MKIs as the latter has dedicated data links (which the Su-30MKMs don't have) that enable them to communicate with platforms like the A-50EI PHALCON. Therefore, the IAF's airborne battle management protocols for air dominance operations are secure and have not yet been shared with anyone else, except maybe with Israel and Singapore. What is far more worrisome is the military-industrial cooperation between China-Iran-Pakistan and Ukraine in areas like LR-SAMs (S-300T morphing into the HQ-18), IL-76MD-based aerial refuelling tankers, and long-range land-attack cruise missiles (the Ukrainian Korshun and Kh-55 morphing into the 800km-range Babur/C-602 and CJ-10).

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To saurav jha: Raytheon's offer of the APG-79 MMR and self-protection jamming pods for the Tejas Mk2, and Northrop Grumman's offer of the SABR MMR for the Tejas Mk2 and existing IAF Jaguars (which are to be upgraded and re-engined) were extensively reported upon by almost all the show dailies published during Aero India 2009. The offers were disclosed during press conferences given by officials from these two OEMs.

Heberian said...

@ Prasun - Thank you, I was hoping I did not offend you.

I have 2 doubts :
1) How would it be made sure that the access to the F35 will be only from a distance? I mean, how will that be enforced (by the US I presume)?

2) What is your take on the HQ series? Are they pure reverse engineering? Or collaborative? How good? Do you have any details on the recent Pak deployment of anti-radiation missiles?

The SAMs are really worrying, especially due to the saturation deployment on our eastern borders.

Heberian said...

@ Keshto -

Apologies for qualifying you with a comment. Its a free world out there, feel free to display your deep knowledge. And I don't, quote "indulging in a bullying tactics".

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Heberian: There are adequate mechanisms available to the US to enforce the guidelines. That's the job of the Joint US Military Advisory Group (JUSMAG) which is permenently located in Ankara.
The HQ-18 is a reverse-engineered S-300T (already in service with China, Iran and North Korea) while the HQ-16 is a reverse-engineered 9M38M1 missile. The MAR-1 anti-radiation missiles are from Mectron of Brazil.

keshto said...

And I don't, quote "indulging in a bullying tactics".

What else could have you come up with, knowing that you were/are skating on the thin ice ;)

Heberian said...

Thank you, Prasun. Mectron? I am out of touch. Sigh.

hanonymous said...

Is that not expected ?

You expect them to develop the f414 and just let anybody use it ? Potentially against USA in the long run ? If you believed that, you are silly naive.

As Vargas mmrca is concerned, I'm glad saint Anthony did not sign it. Maybe he knew to steer clear of things out of his reach.

Rafale should clinch the deal. The signs say so. The paranoia about it happening and the flurry of alternatives of rafale being offered to us indicate good things ahead. Now only if we had a lil more money for this deal, this financial year..hmm !