Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Eurofighter's 'Ground' Realities

It's a thumping irony. On the one hand, you have this overwhelming sense -- yoked along by literally unanimous Indian press leaks -- that the Eurofighter Typhoon leads the pack in India's $12-billion MMRCA fighter aircraft competition. On the other hand -- and you couldn't have missed them -- reports in the British press mercilessly pillorying the airplane programme. A brilliant headline in The Register goes "RAF Eurofighters Make Devastating Attack - on Parliament".

I don't think it is remotely far-fetched or cynical to suggest that the application of the Eurofighter over Libya (or for that matter, the Rafale), and the carefully calculated release of information about its achievements, has as much, if not more, to do with proving a point to its customers, both current and potential, as it does supporting operational alliance commitments (it was only last week that the Typhoon, previously confined to air-to-air operations over Libya, joined RAF Tornados for air interdiction duties).

The Typhoon programme, rather like the Tejas programme here in India, is and has been a deeply polarizing programme, buffeted for years in equal measure by staunch supporters and ruthless detractors. Operations in Libya only happened to cast into stark relief the findings of two reports, one by the British Parliamentary Accounts Committee, and an earlier one by the National Audit Office. Supporters call it a modern, multirole jet that's easy to maintain, has a low logistics footprint, and is one bad-ass in the sky. Critics say it's an expensive, hard to support air superiority fighter with manoeuverability that nobody needs in a BVR paradigm anyway.

Eurofighter hates the "ground attack" debate. And why not? It remembers how Singapore, which had shown healthy interest in the Typhoon in 2005, bailed and ordered Boeing Super Hornets F-15s instead. All because of questions that swirled incessantly around the Typhoon's efficacy as a strike platform. In 2008, the RAF got one of its Typhoons to light up a tent full of British defence journalists with its laser pod in a decidedly dramatic PR exercise to reassure the press about the aircraft's precision strike abilities.

But that apart, here's what reports, especially the recent ones, suggest: despite all the increments, the Eurofighter does not have mature ground attack capabilities. It's current strike ability is via a LITENING laser designator pod, and its last capability increment was the addition of EGBU-16 bomb avionic release capability. Finally, it will only truly emerge as a full-blown fighter-bomber at some future point this decade. That's the drift.

As far as the Indian fighter competition is concerned, the Eurofighter was put through weapons trials both in Germany and the UK. While EADS obviously won't discuss the details of the trials, Eurofighter boss Bernhard Gerwert says, "Eurofighter Typhoons delivered to the IAF will be the latest Tranche 3 aircraft with state-of-the-art electronic warfare sensors and communication systems. With its proven multi-role combat capability, this aircraft will provide the IAF with unrivalled air superiority and with sophisticated ground attack capabilities."

So where do things stand? What did the Eurofighter demonstrate to the Indian FET team? Did strike trials meet requirements? Obviously, these questions are strictly in the context of what we've been hearing in the last few weeks. I'll update this post once I hear from the folks at EF. As always, let me know what you think.

Photo ©RAF / By Corporal Babs Robinson

53 comments :

Anonymous said...

Shiv, good post. To me, nothing makes more sense than F-18 or F-16. Yes, there is an argument of sanctions issues that can be made on american products, but that can happen with any imported product. Even if EF comes with sanction proff conditions, how good is this plane if they cannot even provide spares and weapons when needed. EF has too many hands controlling it, I see no way to justify this bird with the money we will be paying.
Rafael may be more mature than the EF, but still it's capabilities are in development. The AESA for Rafael was just recently approved/ intigrated (Around the AeroIndia time). Though French may not have sanctioned against India in the past, they do have a history of sanctions against other nations. All I am saying is it can happen to us as well. Plus, I am not too confident in their ability to supply spares, especially if their order book stops after India. The only ones of all 6 contenders that have a very large number of copies in service and are committed to use these birds for next few decades are the F-teens. The cost difference between F-16 and F-18 is not too big, but if money is an issues (which I think is not a big issue) F-16 should be our choice, if not F-18 is what we need. Yes, we will need to negotiate on sanctions and agreements, but I think this is achievable, especially becuase this is a 10 billion + deal, and a first such opportunity for the Americans. There is no way they are getting anything as big as this from any other overseas buyer. Rather then complaining about the americans, our babus need to roll-up their sleeves (or Dhoti) and get to work at the negotiation table. If they play it right, this could be a deal in our favor.

Anonymous said...

10 rupees for the swear jar ;)

Anonymous said...

Typhoon costs an arm and a leg. The only good thing about the Typhoon is the hype which precedes it. The reality about Typhoon is described by British journalists : the aircraft takes a lot (of money), gives back little and the project is a complete fiasco.
Typhoon is also completely immature, there are other sources which say the front runners are F/A-18IN and Dassault Rafale (Trishul).

Anonymous said...

As long as the damn thing is imported, IAF should be happy. All their fastidiousness is reserved for indigenous equipment. In any case, the requirement is 'urgent' and should help to avoid bloody ADA and HAL for some more time.

Damn it, there are so many RFPs to be released and the darn press in the UK is just not cooperating. However, IAF will prevail and set new records for imports. Jai Hind.

Anonymous said...

Shhh, you are not supposed to criticize the top contenders !!

Well, the domestic press has substantially been managed, but it is now the turn of the foreign press to create trouble. Didnt the chief warn that there may be trouble ahead.

Eagle said...

Good piece Shiv.But need to know more about what concerned people here are thinking about EF or Rafale.Atleast some top level assessment about winning the contest.Can you provide top notch assessment about which one is better capable aircraft suitable for Indian requirement.

Anonymous said...

Every plane in the competition has problems. But they are never discussed in the case of imports.

All the 'ball by ball' criticism is reserved for the Tejas. Mig 21 ++, three legged cheetah, LCA is a joke, Gripen is medium aircraft etc etc.

There is no hope left for the IAF mafia.

Anonymous said...

Singapore did not bought F18 Super Hornets, but F15 Strike Eagles!

Anonymous said...

either way it lacks AESA and is very costly

Raman Kumar Singh said...

I am contently getting bad news about EF. Not sure if its still my choice for MMRCA. Hope MOD chooses best aircraft.

Anonymous said...

Bad news for EF ! M. Gerwert's comments may have been a bit too enthousiastic but that's the beauty of marketing: "proven", "unrivaled", ...
In Singapore, Boeing won with F-15, not Super Hornet. It was against Rafale, not EF. Typhoon never made it yet in a 1-to-1 shorlist.

Rahul Devnath said...

While MMRCA deals is about fetching IAF a good multi role fighter, it's imperative for it have a formidable ground strike capability. At the end, everything boils down to lowest bid. If GE-414 win over EJ-2000 is any pointer, F/A-18 is not that bad after all.

Mr. Ra said...

No smoke without fire. So there may be a bit of truth about the events. After all something like this was to happen to an item having so many patrons.

Only thing that the timing of the events may be a pointer towards the F-18 SH.

GodMaker said...

Good article, but one correction.
Singapore chose the F-15SG Strike Eagle, not the Super Hornet.

Anand said...

Shiv,
Quick correction the RSAF uses the Strike Eagle, not the super hornet.
Anand

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

"It remembers how Singapore, which had shown healthy interest in the Typhoon in 2005, bailed and ordered Boeing Super Hornets instead."
----------------------------------
Not Super Hornets, but the F-15SG.

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

The problem with the Eurofighter EF-2000 is not so much its performance parameters, but the cumbersome and cost-prohibitive nature of its four-nation R & D/production infrastructure, as revealed by the UK's National Audit Office. Though the four-national Eurofighter consortium is perfectly capable of offering cutting-edge solutions, it is the constantly shifting timeframes for the availability of such capabilities that has been the sore point with countries like Singapore and India. Till today one is not sure whether a Captor-E AESA-MMR-equipped Eurofighter armed with Storm Shadow cruise missiles will be a single-seater or tandem-seater. The same is the case with the JAS-39IN Gripen equipped with ES-05 Raven AESA-MMR and armed with the Taurus KEPD-350 cruise missile. On the other hand, one already knows that a Rafale equipped with the RBE-2 AESA-MMR and armed with SCALP cruise missiles will be a tandem-seater. Finally, Germany has not yet clearly stated whether nor not cruise missiles like the Taurus KEPD-350 or Storm Shadow will be offered to India sans any MTCR restrictions.

saptarshi [Sachi dulal das] said...

correction,singapore ordered f-15e strike eagle not super hornet

Michael said...

Did Singapore order Super Hornets? I thought they ordered F15Es. Please correct me if I'm wrong on this.

fissurezone said...

singapore ordered super hornets? what a scoop!

Anonymous said...

How about their cousin across the channel ? Does Rafale has the same short comings ?

Anonymous said...

And oh, I forgot to add. South Korea too went for AESA equipped F-15s, precisely to counter the Chinese SU-30MKK threats! And guess what, they were looking for a supreme air defense platform with a secondary ground strike (the F-15 ,esp the strike eagles are pretty potent). The Typhoons with their current captor radars simply lack the radar performance of the AESA equipped F-15s, though they may have superior radar performance.

Of all the platforms in the MRCA ,avionics fit wise the American entries are heads and shoulders above the rest. The Rafale and Typhoon have emerging AESA capabilities while the Americans are fielding proven AESAs which are in their 3rd generation!

Michael said...

Am I dreaming or what? The posters here seem to have suddenly had a favorable opinion in favor of the American contenders. Where's the Eurofighter has won polling data?

Anonymous said...

The way the things are progressing we may end up buying F-18 SESH because neither of the other contenders are mature enough also you may not know what the politicos have under their DIRTY MIND

Anonymous said...

If any sanctions from US on india , UK will blindly support it , as per me both F-18 / EF is same in sanctions , if india need no problem bike we may go for Rafale , but need get good bargaining in price issue .but US still has its trump card UN seat = mmrca.

Anonymous said...

So what we need to have an effective deterrent TODAY and a lean and mean IAF is...............roughly
1. SU-30MKI - 600
2. Tejas - 100
3. AMCA - 300
This will be a 4.5 generation – 5 generation indigenous aircraft.
4. FGFA - 250
This will be a truly 5 generation aircraft.

Michael said...

India should stop dithering on full alliance with the US. Look at the French and the British, without US spearhed they can't even make much headway in Lybia, and that's only Lybia. US alliance still constitutes as the greatest security insurance policy today against any aggressive intention from any other country. India should do what Japan is doing and hedge its security on the US and in the process seek with the greatest coimmonality with the US in terms of hardware and battle systems.

Anonymous said...

F-16, I believe is the best bet for India...if CISMOA and other such binding agreements are taken care of. It is a proven platform and Chinese Su-27 copies will be no match for F-16 with an AESA radar.

India should split the MRCA deal into 100 F-16 and 40 F-18 or 40 Rafale.

Additionally we can look at F-15 Strike Eagle aircrafts in our inventory.

We've had enough of Russian aircrafts in our inventory. FGFA should be the last one.

Anonymous said...

Why do I get the feeling that you're plugging for Rafale...ever so subtly

Anonymous said...

So EF is also Mig21++?

This must be a conspiracy by ADA.

How can 4 Western Superior Nation with Martian technology not have A2G capability on a fighter, which rivals the USS Enterprise. I have seen the Ray Gun on EF with my own eyes.

Silly failures like this are the trademark of low level orgs like ADA. We cannot insult such cutting edge tech with names like 'Endless Failure'(EF) Typhoon.

It is time Indian media start reporting the truth about EF, specially about the Ray Gun.

Anonymous said...

Increasingly I am of the opinion that the MMRCA contest should be scrapped.

More LCAs, LCAs with AESAs are the way to go forward.

But the MMRCA is also needed for DPSA missions. Who is going to do that? Can't expect the MKI to do everything.

The current birds in IAF service have very poor weapons carrying ability and have outdated weapons. No modern standoff weapons. All the exUSSR and Russian weaponry needs to be supplemented with western origin weaponry to build a healthy mix.

The problem with the F-18 is poor high altitude performance. That is why Boeing tried to introduce a more powerful engine as an option very recently, which the MOD and IAF rejected as being too late after all evals were completed. The F-18 has not won any recent orders, as the Singaporean and South Korean, and the Brazilian mystery show. Rafale was either shortlisted each time only to be trumped by US pressure and an F-15 counter offer.

But India seems to have been stuck with the present set of contenders, NONE of whom are perfect.

Rafale is going to win this one.

Anonymous said...

The Rafale has gazumped its peers. Period.

The M-MRCA, apart, I would expect a lot of petro dollars head the Rafale way.

Mr. Ra said...

Regarding F-16/18, in spite of so many assurances, the reliability of USA towards India may still be covered under the dark clouds. When they could not properly support the UK, France or Nato in Libya, then supporting India is a far off cry.

I am afraid that MMRCA perhaps will not be used in the last war even if F-18 is attempted to be purchased at the earliest. It will tantamount to using the Mig-21s whatever it means.

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

Lo & behold! Those with eyes wide open & yet who were blind have since been 'illuminated' and enlightened by the disclosures from the UK's National Audit Office! RIP the 'Eurofighter has won' polling data.

To Anon@3.47PM: What kind of air campaigns are waged at high-altitudes of the kind you seem to have in mind? As for the F/A-18 not winning any recent orders, try saying this to the Australians. And for those gunning for the Rafale to win, pray study the on-going mess with the Navy's Scorpene SSK procurement programme and what the status of being L-1 bidder actually means before empathising with Sarko's gang.

Anonymous said...

The reports in the British press are particularly negative towards the UK MoD but they are in no way suggesting that the Eurofighter is an incapable aircraft.
The aircraft is in service with six of the world's top air forces and there have been no critical reports about it's performance from other partners in the Eurofighter program.
As for it's air-to-ground capabilities the Eurofighter is one of the youngest contenders in the MMRCA program and it does take some time for a new aircraft's capabilities to be fully realised.
PS: The Rafale is only in service with the French and they are bound to sing it's praises.

Anonymous said...

What utter nonsense from the posters above!!! Happily taking a dig at anything without a clue of what they are talking about.

EF is already capable of deploying LGBs and GPS guided munitions with standoff cruise missiles on the way.

So what the hell is missing in an advanced air to surface suite?

I think the public in the UK and in India are getting misled by some sensationalism in the reporting.

To be clear,it seems this report is not about the capability of the EF rather what capability it has today. These are two very different things.
The EF as a project is far from complete.When you look at any project of this scale timelines are bound to be stretched,priorities have to be decided by committees, funds allocated etc etc.
This is a multinational project where every step requires a consensus to be reached by politicians across countries. That will undoubtedly lead to delays,which lead to cost escalations and on and on; but has nothing to do with the capability of the EF.
Imagine this ever happening in India !!!

One must understand what the original EF requirement was and has been. It was to be pitted against numerically superior Su-27s and MiG-29s. Air combat is the primary mission of the EF. So it should not surprise anybody that the air combat capabilities will take precedence in the project schedule.

Could those accusing the IAF of favouring imports only please suggest indigenous alternatives half as capable ?

The Brits in their report have asked the question whether the money spent on EF is well spent or could have been better used for health and education. Well this is not a new question at all, and this has got nothing to do with the EF capabilities.

If you want a top notch fighter but don't want to spend all the money that entails you collaborate with others. Obviously this will involve some compromises and delays but this is a political and budget issue not a question of technical merit of the system.

Whether to spend tax money on military funding or medicine is upto the policy makers. We unfortunately are not in the same benign threat environment as the Brits with their NATO allies.

As far as capabilities go the RAF doesn't have a gun on its EFs, does that mean the IAF is not going to have a gun if it chooses the EF? Certainly not. The IAF is going to get the capabilities that it wants (Indian politics willing).

Having said all that I am neither for or against the EF in the MMRCA competition. I am not privy to the details of requirements or performances and neither are most of us here. Hope we get the best of the lot definitely but on actual technical merit rather than political pressure or lowest bidder status.

So please lets all be objective and stop making uninformed comments that are ignorant and useless at the best.

Anonymous said...

'Sarko's gang' ? What does that mean ? No better argument to defend your American friends ? Pity.

Anonymous said...

In Libya it was a great show off by EF due to inspirations and following to Rafale deployment. But as per one of my trusted AF source, if EF enters IAF ,it will be used as SCOUT Role (fleet protection - SCOUT was the original word used during discussion) - not for Ground Attack or Air superiority, bcoz it is made for that.

My view say Rafale or Gripen is the best choice for us.
Gripen on 2nd priority, bcoz it s having parts from EU or USA origin.

Rafale is combat proven & truly OMNIROLE fighter. It has recently approved RBE2 AESA.
Biggest thing> we are going to spent money on one any of 6. But the bigest advantage with Rafale is FULL ToT. This is the only chance for us to learn or Reverse-Engineer the current technology and run a leap ahead of our competitors.
The only reason to refuse from EF, F16 and F18 is their origin country. We have very bitter experience of their 'co-operative' nature in international context. We know how 'smoothly' we are operating our fleet of Harriers(many of them are grounded due to shortage of spares, at the time of Pokhran Nuke blast and Kargil situation were untolerable). UK - USA are the most Non-trustworthy nations in the world. Already looting us in many ways, there is no chance to deal with them. They are as dangerous as PAK.

RAFALE s the only SOLID ANSWER to those Fukers.

Bhavin said...

In Libya it was a great show off by EF due to inspirations and following to Rafale deployment. But as per one of my trusted AF source, if EF enters IAF ,it will be used as SCOUT Role (fleet protection - SCOUT was the original word used during discussion) - not for Ground Attack or Air superiority, bcoz it is made for that.

My view say Rafale or Gripen is the best choice for us.
Gripen on 2nd priority, bcoz it s having parts from EU or USA origin.

Rafale is combat proven & truly OMNIROLE fighter. It has recently approved RBE2 AESA.
Biggest thing> we are going to spent money on one any of 6. But the bigest advantage with Rafale is FULL ToT. This is the only chance for us to learn or Reverse-Engineer the current technology and run a leap ahead of our competitors.
The only reason to refuse from EF, F16 and F18 is their origin country. We have very bitter experience of their 'co-operative' nature in international context. We know how 'smoothly' we are operating our fleet of Harriers(many of them are grounded due to shortage of spares, at the time of Pokhran Nuke blast and Kargil situation were untolerable). UK - USA are the most Non-trustworthy nations in the world. Already looting us in many ways, there is no chance to deal with them. They are as dangerous as PAK.

RAFALE s the only SOLID ANSWER to those Fukers.
JAY HIND

Mr. Ra said...

F-18 will be advantageous only if after TOT India decides to fix its engines on the AMCA.

Anonymous said...

Fair comments by Anon@9.26 recalling that EF main mission was initially air-to-air against Warsaw Pact air forces. The French had a different operational requirement in the 80's for a smaller, more versatile aircraft, which led them to multirole Rafale instead of air dominance EF. EF is now on the way to progressively acquire air-to-ground capabilities. Both aircraft are young and offer tremendous potential for evolution in the 40 years to come. Both offer very good level of ToT to India. They would make a good shorlist for MMRCA.

Anonymous said...

Minor correction there Shiv, Mr Gerwert is not the Eurofighter boss, he is an EADS guy, the CEO of Cassidian Air Systems, the divison of EADS which deals with military air systems.

There are definitely better options than the Typhoon! Not even the four core customers need/want it anymore. If the contract (signed still during the Cold War!!) wasn't waterproof, even they would stop the project. Italians and Spaniards do the bare minimum, as they have more reliable American planes and no money these days. The Brits are trying to sell most of theirs to the Saudis. Too bad Saudis reject the planes because of quality issues.

Almost all the other contenders feature better Air to Ground capabilities, some of them with ESCAN, navalistaion and all of them cheaper.

Of course buying a highly political product as the Typhoon comes at a price, as all the numerous hours spent arguing about what core nation gets to do the most profitable tasks of the project is the main task of the managers and engineers involved, instead of just doing the bloody work! A good example would be the introduction of ESCAN. The biggest question there is 'In which nation is the ESCAN supplier based?' The result will most likely be a radar with the disadvantages of an ESCAN and the traditional MSCAN combined!
If you want a really low value for money product and think that 5 nations arguing is funnier than 4 nations arguing, go for the Typhoon!!

MRUGEN said...

I sense a foul play due to contradictory reports and if eruofighter isn't a Effective strike platform how did it pass Evaluation by IAF ,it should hav e been outrightly rejected.

We need to go cautiously as we can't afford another scam ,coz it will be bead for IAF as it will lose A/c that it badly needs to maintain force levels vis-a-vis our hostile neighbours.

Anonymous said...

'(Eurofighter) is in service with six of the world's top air forces'

And none of them want to complete their purchase !!!!!!!!!! THAT SAYS IT ALL !!!!!!

Anonymous said...

EF gripen shown they are great comercial pdf plateform , Rafale prouved it was a real operational omnirole plateform, that's all about comparing illusions and facts !

Mr. Ra said...

Looking in to all the beautiful logics, I think one should finalize the Rafale and march ahead in the further quest of Tejas-mk2, FGFA and AMCA. A lot many things require the attention of the nation.

Astonishingly F-15 Strike Eagle emerges as the second best option.

Imagine who is to purchase the EFT after knowing that all six of its users to not want the completion of its further deliveries.

Or who is to purchase by knowing that now F-18 wants to increase its engine powers obviously to overcome some inherent debilities.

Or when the Gripen kills the ambitious and indigenous Tejas-mk2.

Bhavin said...

Mr. Ra , you are true in all sences.

Anonymous said...

Wahi Hota haiamnjure khuda hota hai

Anonymous said...

Wahi Hota haiamnjure khuda hota hai

Bhavin said...

@ Ano. 3:04pm> I know what God wants, bcoz he told me wht he want.
I am very close to him.
lolz..,....

SilverSurfer said...

Like the rest posting here I am a curious amateur - albeit with a PhD in engineering.

There are a few big misconceptions in the posts here. So it's worth taking some time to set the record straight about the Eurofighter which is, after the Raptor, the most effective air superiority fighter available today, and likely for the next one or two decades. Here are some points of fact and speculation, you decide which is which!

First thing. All should note is there is no such thing as a modern jet that 'flies in' on time, and on budget. For that matter, every major defense procurement, since the 1960s, has run over its' budget, leading to 'shock and horror' stories in the press, worse still the problems have led to poor political decisions being made, like Britain's cancellation of the TSR2 program and Canada's cancellation of the Arrow. In return, we all got General Dynamics F111 rammed down our throats as its' costs escalated wildly, and performance proved mediocre at best. If the British Labor government had stuck with TSR2 it would have transformed Britain's aerospace industry.

Second thing. The unit cost of any fighter is directly related to the number of airplanes that are bought. America's aging teens like the Eagle are relatively cheap because the USA managed to undermine the West's ability to design, build, and most importantly sell, air defense and ground attack aircraft. Read Noam Chomsky, an acknowledged genius, if you want to understand the 'mind' of Washington. This has resulted in a totally hegemonic position with regard to sales of the Teens which were fine aircraft, in their day. So ask yourself, if India accepts the offer to join the Eurofighter consortium, and buys several hundred Tranche 3 aircraft what will happen to the price bearing in mind that Japan, Norway, and many others are starting to balk at the cost of the F-35, which is now estimated to cost $168mln, less than half way through the flight testing program. And remember, the congressional report on the F-22 Raptor estimated it had cost $338mln for each plane delivered to the USAF. Here is the link: scroll down to unit cost.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk%3ALockheed_Martin_F-22_Raptor/Archive_2

It was stated in congress that Raptor had a mean time between critical maintenance of 0.6 hours…… that means half your fleet is on the ground during a war with Pakistan! It is entirely reasonable to assume the F-35 will cost more than $200mln per plane, yet the verdict on it's performance is startling: poor reliability, single engine, and limited internal weapons bay. Compare that with Eurofighter which has proved reliability, outstanding maneuverability at supersonic speed (which reportedly betters the Raptor), and a rugged high load weapons hard points. It's high wing area means it has low unit wing load (good for fatigue) and lots of space, as we see here.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Eurofighter-NellisAFB-2008.jpg


This means the unit cost, by munition weight, is frankly fantastic. And take a look at the recent demonstrations of the FGR4 variant at a recent airshow. Fully loaded, it outperforms the F-35 when fully loaded (i.e. external weapons and no stealth).

SilverSurfer said...

Third thing. Eurofighter's avionics and 'carefree look and shoot' are widely regarded as second only to Raptor. As for F-35 who knows how it performs, it's so late and there is still more development needed. Current estimates for F-35 delivery are around 2018, and many say it will not be delivered to foreign nations until 2020 - assuming it takes 2-4 years to fully integrate into India's defense then you will be defended by inferior technology for some 13 years to come. It would make more sense to buy, and share development, of Eurofighter and then decide on whether to transition to F-35, if it ever reaches mass production, which means low unit cost. I suspect Norway and Canada will balk at the escalating costs, at which point all bets are off, and India will be left with an overpriced legacy of the cold war era.

Fourth thing. Others are right to point out the slow development of a ground attack Eurofighter. However, the Royal Air Force have deployed the FGR4 variant, and I would imagine EADS are offering joint development of the A2G variants. India's massive intellectual capabilities combined with Europe's un-matched technical brilliance will create synergies that accelerate it's development. BTW - Americans who think Europe's science lags should go to wikipedia and count the number of Nobel Prizes awarded to ALL of europe and compare with the USA (after extracting the ones lured to the USA from Europe!) The nascent ability in Europe, combined with India's development led demand will be a force majeure for defense procurement. And note: there is now agreement to continue Eurofighters development. India will be buying Tranche 3 with AESA and Meteor. That will mean Eurofighter is state of the art with respect to A2A. And, also note that the low observability of Eurofighter can be improved in the same way that Boeing and LM are tinkering with the F-teens.

Fifth thing. I have touched on the cost and politics associated with major defense procurements. This is probably the most important factor in any decisions made by India, Canada, Norway, Japan, Qatar, et al. If you look at the original projected sales for the F-22 and F-35 it amounts to more than three trillion dollars. Read that cost again and think about it. US defense, and big US corporations supplying parts and services, are being handed a totally hegemonic position. And to cement the deal, Boeing and Lockheed Martin were clever. They made sure nearly all 52 States were included in the development program. That means lobbyists could corrupt the whole of the Senate and Congress, making it virtually impossible to control spending and costs. It took a spending crisis, a debt crisis, and bi-partisan action by Republican Mr. Gates to finally make a decision to stop the Raptor program. Thank god he did - otherwise the partner nations were on the hook to buy Raptors at around $300mln a plane. You can get three Eurofighters with twice the air availability for that (i.e. 1 = 5!)

Anonymous said...

Shiv, Are you aware of a news report which was posted on the net regarding the Indian Airforce consulting the Israelis on whether the F-16 or Gripen would be a better choice of the two. the advice was that India should buy the F-16.
Secondly, When SP Tyagi was COAS in 2007 he wrote to the then Defence Minister
and advised the Government to move on from MiGs, which have been the backbone of the Indian Air Force, to F-16s and the Government has complied. How is the F-16 superior to the MiG?
"I do not know yet whether we are going to get the F-16s or not. We have yet to send out the requests for proposals. The proposals will go out to various vendors, there will be technical evaluations and it will take a while before we understand which aircraft to buy. And we need to understand that aircraft is only part of it. What is more important is what goes into the aircraft like radar, missiles, weapons, weapon delivery and rates. It is a very complex issue," he said.(in an interview to CNN-IBN on MMRCA deal)
the twin engined fighters were too heavy and expensive.he also added that he was unsure whether the IAF would be getting the F-16s or not?