Sunday, May 01, 2011

5 Questions On India's M-MRCA Elimination

For three days, I've responded to e-mail, text messages, social media pokes and calls from many of you asking me what I thought of Wednesday's dramatic elimination in the Indian M-MRCA fighter bid. For those of you who thought I was evasive and non-commital, it was for a reason: I haven't made my mind up, and I'm not sure I will. Besides, for four days I've devoured the copious amounts of journalism that the decision has fuelled across continents and across media. As with any contentious decision that has multibillion dollar implications for big business, opinion has varied from the dumbfounded "India is f***ed" sort of thing, to vicious, melodramatic diatribes about a betrayal of Washington, to stray instances of solid sobriety that eloquently wove into consideration more threads than just the jobs, dollars and cents. What I do have is a bunch of questions that I sure as hell would like to see some discussion on. Some of them may sound rhetorical, but they're not. Some of these are questions that I've seen raised by other journalists and writers in reports published in the last few days, and are therefore quandaries I agree need to be clarified. Here's my list of 5 questions:

Q1. Can a $9.5-billion dollar airplane deal ever just be about the airplanes? Which is to say, does India expect nothing from the country that wins, above and beyond professional on-time delivery of the fighters and rock-solid after-sales support? On the other hand, what about the possibility that the elimination of the American and Russian fighters WAS a political decision?

Q2. If the European twin-engine fighters outperformed the other four contenders in field evaluations, why are there now questions over their selection? But if it is true that the margins of performance couldn't have been significant between the six contenders, did it makes sense to effect such pronounced eliminations? Does this therefore reinforce the suggestion from the first question that this WAS in fact a political decision?

Q3. Is the importance being yoked to this one contract (and the apocalyptic fall-outs being predicted in some sections) a function more of the dizzy hype that has surrounded it non-stop since 2004 than anything real? Has the mythology that engulfs the deal made it impossible to look coldly at the M-MRCA as simply a contract that meets an arithmetic IAF requirement? In turn, does the significant importance being attached to the loss of this one contract by the US belittle, demasculate and subvert the importance of other Indo-US bilateral achievements, including high value defence purchases?

Q4. Is the government, which incidentally never refuted the prevailing sense that strategic considerations would be factored into any decision (until the very end), now taking refuge in the Indian Air Force's trial recommendations as an easy offset to obvious political questions? Did something happen in the course of the selection process that forced (and if so, what) the government to shelve all "strategic factors", and complete the process wholly on merit/technical grounds if at all?

Q5. Has there been thorough transparency through every step of the selection process? If all vendors have been kept totally up to speed about their performance and compliance, and were perfectly in tune with the benchmarks (as the MoD has stated), then was last week's elimination really a surprise to those knocked out? Some of them say they expect debriefs in a transparent manner. Umm, were things not transparent before? Has the government satisfactorily shut the watertight gates of the selection process at each stage to ensure that none of its decisions along the way can be shafted later?

Photo ©Eurofighter


Anonymous said...

I want to know where exactly did the evaluators find flaws with the F-16 which is a proven aircraft against the eurojets that have never performed in A2A combat.

Without transparency, observers will always suspect cheating and bribery.

Ravi Khanna said...

@shiv you r true... This could be right ??

Ravi Khanna said...

@ Shiv : I think this link will give all ur answer....

Why will india select Rafale beacause in 2013 AESA Radar would be ready.. Not only that This radar can be used in Mirage 2000 & Their Engines can also be opted upgrade from france...

India is just trying to make people think diffrently.. but this is the real cause for MMRCA Winner because India wants to spend its money wisely...

Anonymous said...

I have maintained from the very beginning that this deal is indeed political and strategic and not the other round way as claimed by our Govt. Fact is we are still pretty much "non aligned" or we have to feign that we are non aligned. Awarding the contract to Russia or USA would have antagonized the other, and thereby leading to repercussions adverse to India's interests which is dependent on these two giants for it's economic and military growth.
EF and Rafale are politically safe. Ergo, these two fighters have been chosen.
If you ask me, F16 was the best fighter for India, as it was giving the biggest bang for the buck in terms of ToT (best engine, advanced avionics n AESA radar)and price. It is also foolish to splurge huge amount of money on "advanced" 4.5 jets as they will be rendered obsolete by next decade. IMO, it makes no sense to increase the number beyond 126 jets as they won't be able to counter 5th Gen fighters.
We can heed Ajai Shukla's advise of jumping into F35 bandwagon, as it is the only Jet in the world (considering the fact that Harriers r going to be retired) that doesn't needs a runway to take off or land.Such A/Cs can change the equation and throw a spanner in the works of our adversaries planning to of deny us air superiority by destroying our bases and runways.
In the NMRCA we must opt for F35B n C. No Mig, Rafale, Gripen, Typhoon or F18.

Anonymous said...

It's over now stop creating innuendos where none exist.

Tanmay said...

and biggest question is how can we buy 126 jets if EF is selected??
EF is priced more than 100 million $

Anonymous said...

Only Sweedes are the true loser in the MRCA contract. They really went the way out and brought a updated aircraft just for the Indian deal, despite knowing very well they will most probably not get the deal.

US is pure cribbing and being greedy. Boeing alone has 14 billion dollar order from India.

What else they want? This from a country who 5 years back had nothing but handshakes and photo ops to show for " strategic relationship"

Russia also lost the deal. I haven't heard them cribbing. Why is US jets so special?

Why should India buy from a country which support a country which itself recognize as a terrorist nation!

For once I am happy India did this. The American can take their "jets adhering with US laws" and give it their frontline terrorist ally.

Mr. Ra said...

I feel the selection of Rafale and EFT itself may speak volumes that the technical considerations themselves were the almost final things and that no subjective constraints coming together were allowed.

All other considerations were and are being duly taken care off as US has got full basket of various other orders which may be no cheaper than the MMRCA.

How in a so-called free world under a free competitive business pattern, can USA or Russia think that all the orders shall be coming to them and them only.

Anonymous said...

well decision is very much political as US has got a lot from India and will get even more in future so as Russia, only trouble point was Europe. Hence, when it comes to permanent seat at UN US will support it so as several other European countries and Germans were the only pain, which might be soothed with this deal. Secondly they lost to politics in last tanker bid and hence loosing this one again to the politics would have angered them. and last but not least European jets must have performed well in tests without any doubts.

Anonymous said...

The writing was on the wall when India opted not to sign CISMO and to take delivery of the downgraded US C130's
In the case of the MMRCA.... downgraded f16's or 18's were just not an option as the castrated jets stood no chance against the fully loaded europlanes
It need to be seen if the evaluation of the US jets was done on the basis of 'what is has' or 'what will be supplied', considering India aversion to signing CISMO and umpteen other agreements that would have ham-strung the independence of India's operations

Anonymous said...

Shiv, tell me straight did u personally like this decision or not?

chikoo said...

@shiv I agree with you on the fact that their will be political / strategic interests involved in this decision (elimination of 4 contenders). But their are other factors that played a significant role in this decision.
F-16 and F-18 were eliminated because although they might seem value for money tested a/cs but US will remove some or other tech. from it while delivering it as India is not ready to sign CISMO with it.
Gripen was eliminated as MOD still has faith in Tejas (which is justified) and Gripen's selection will make Tejas meaningless.
MIG-35 was eliminated not just because of the trials but also because of the unprofessional behavior in other deals (like INS Vikramaditya, etc).
So, the elimination is strategic, political as India is sending a message to US and Russia that they just can't expect India to accept every terms they want to put in the deal.
Do reply to this commment...

Anonymous said...

It is not MMRCA Elimination. It should have been MMRCA Eliminations or to be more correct - MMRCA Tender's Eliminations.

Ram said...

My thoughts about the MMRCA deal is that, India had a good experience with the Jaguar Deal. Subsequently, the HAl was in position to augment the Engine and give it 35% more better performance. Apr t from this when the TOT of Jaguar was done, it was with out any terms and conditions. Same was the case with Mirage. On the other hand the Russians started showing their true colors after the Russia split. The unreasonable rise in pricing etc., not only dampened the spirit of friend ship but also gave an impression to the Public that Russia was out to loot India.
Whether the choice of the Aircraft is right or wrong only time will tell.

Anonymous said...

The question really is really one of comfort and political expediency. Comfort that the technology will be transferred, come what may,and, political expediency i.e. cannot afford to be seen as being a US lackey in the midst of all the current UPA troubles.

Both played against the US.

If you view the Tellis "Dogfight" monograph release video and discussion, there is a kind of deal making and lackdasical attitude exemplified by a comment somewhere in that video that " we have to come up with creative wording" to satisfy the india request for technology in face of US policy of not releasing critical technology like F-16 mission computer codes. Indeed if this was the approach by US policy makers no wonder both LMT and BA lost.

Now, the US approach in itself is not a bad thing if decision makers believed that the broader gains of the relationship spin off outweighed the gains of sub optimal technology transfer.

If that was the case then clearly political expediency did not help.

If that was not then and we still let political considerations stump strategic decision thereby taking a decision that will have far reaching consequences in terms of tangibly improving India's ascent as a global power with teeth.

But come on, Dr Singh stuck his neck out for once and barely survived on the nuke deal. Would he commit his government to another potential no-confidence motion in the parliament, no! (A bit of an exaggeration but you get the drift of the political context)

The cost differential between an F-16 at US$ 30mm a piece versus a 64mm Rafale or 90mm Typhoon is unacceptable.

The Europeans do not deserve this largess.

Kind Regards,

Anonymous said... - check this out for detailed description ...

Anonymous said...

Would there be so many questions is a US fighter made it to the shortlist ? Is it so unbeliveable that Eurocanard were technically ahead during FET ?
BWT, recall me A2A experience of F16IN, F18IN and other contenders ? None. Eurocanard have as much experience as the others in this area.

Rafale said...

Hi Shiv,
I am starting a blog & I need a photo watermarking software. Just wanted to know if you could suggest some good freeware.Thanks in advance

Animesh said...

Good to see the questions being raised about the deal. hope this will keep the deal transparent & will address the important aspects. however all those cribbing about f16/18 loss should know that f16 as a platform has matured completely & there are no growth aspects. f16 assembly line is just surviving on orders from Pakistan & UAE & if f16 is so good then why did USAF purchased the last one in 2004.
As for f18, well yes f18 is a multirole fighter optimized for navy requirements, but if you want to analyze its performance just check out
Australia brought these fighters a stop gap before purchasing F35 which is why the deal dosen't go down too good in australia.
Moving to Saab Gripen, again a very good platform at very cost competitive price, but we cannot forget what happened in Norway purchase of f35. Gripen was a serious contender there & realizing this that f35 chances can be jettisoned US pressurized Sweden, well gripen stil uses F414 engines of GE. This is very much clear from wikileaks & Shiv have already mentioned this in one of his previous threads.
Mig35, what to say, at time when other are sending in their best jets, MIG is sending technology demonstrators........... what to say
To all my American friends, Calvin Coolidge remarked "The business of America is business." If you want to play it fair then remove your acts(CIOSMA, etc.) & enter the field. We'll sure respect you & your jets

Anonymous said...

As mentioned in several news reports the rafales and typhoons performed exceedingly well in flight trials as compared to american ,swedish and russian jets.moreover there are no conditions or strings attached to a possible rafale or typhoon sale to India. on the other hand the US aircraft even if they would have performed up to the expectations of the end user there were several binding bilateral agreements that would have delayed the contract even further and which the IAF could not afford.The US has nothing to lose as they would be getting much more in form of the C-17s, C-130s ,P-8I's and possibly Apaches and Chinook helicopters.IMO this shortlist was purely on merit and performance.

Bhavin said...

what ever it is, but an appropriate Disicion by IAF.
Main reason to reject US is their geopolitical trustworthyness. One can't trust them in such sensitive matter, wether thy offer F22 but due to some treaty & pacts , we hv to operate these equipments acording to their 'wishes', thy can restrict capabilities as thy want , we hv to approch thm to configure the weapons everytime, how strange!

Anonymous said...

Shiv as I look at it the final down select is the culmination of a well thought out process which was consistently implemented :

Mig-35 was never in the picture as you have pointed out various times.

Gripen was too close to the Tejas. The Tejas IOC before the downselect pointed to the thinking and rightly so.

The US birds come with intrusive baggage which is never going to be acceptable for fighter jets. They are also not good enough for the next 30 years. Further, there has been insufficient information on tech transfer which could be of use in our future projects.

The European birds are the default choices and are comparable technically and politically more acceptable.

The final decision will be made on cost provided India's needs are substantially met.

Anonymous said...

You have raised some very interesting points. Let me try and add my bit to the discssion. Some of the remarks may be simplistic but then I am no strategist nor have any inside track on these things:

Point 1 - I will be very surprised if the deal is only about aircraft and after sales service. But it is not sensible to assume that these weren't important.

In case of Russia (price) and US (policy) it is difficult to imagine that service under all circumstances will be uninterrupted. The only sources with least number of doubts were the shortlisted vendors (particularly the French).

In terms of politics I really can't guess what could be the benefit but I am sure better informed people will have some perspective on that.

At a very simplistic level it seems that a fine balance has been achieved. The Russians have been given USD 2 bill + for Vikramaditya, USD 5 bill (and counting) for PAK FA/FGFA and sundry other upgrade contracts. The Americans have also been given contacts totaling in excess of USD 10 bill and now Europeans too have been given an opportunity.

It seems India does not expect any big bang political / diplomatic gains from any one party but support/tech/benefits from all sides. It also wants to ensure that no one country / vendors grows too big or takes us for granted.

Point 2
You yourself have pointed numerous times directly and indirectly that none of the aircraft really fit the requirements. Also, that they are not all comparable. I will not be surprised if the difference in performance is not much.

It could be a combination of AF's comfort, TOT, upgrade potential, service and reliability and the political decision elaborated in #1 that could have swung the deal.

The down-select timing can be debated on but I really don't see too many better ways of doing it. The one good part is the MoD and AF officially kept their silence on the subject and did not add to the confusion. This gives them the choice to paint the back-story the way they want. (cont.)

Anonymous said...

Point 3
The only participant that has not taken it nicely is US or so it seems. At least the flag bearers for IndoUS relations are frothing at their mouth.

The problem there is that they see US-Others relationship through the template of Australia, Saudi Arabia or Pakistan (with US and China). That is you are forever yoked to US interests and your own standing in the world is subservient to that of US.

Maybe India is not ready for that embrace. Maybe our people will never accept such a relationship.

If the US sulks it only proves the US skeptics right. If they see from a cold business logic they have got enough and stand to gain more. If they have not had as much as they expected they need to look inward and find where the fault lies.

My view is it does not impact a relationship that, under Obama, was anyways not going anywhere.

Point 4
Already discussed. Taking refuge on technical grounds to push a part political decision is not entirely unexpected or surprising.

I am not an aircraft person and do not have any first hand information. But following are the impressions that I got about all aircraft after reading your blog, comments and a few other sources:

F16- every Tom, Dick and Pakistan has it. Nearing the end of the road. No great leap in tech and other terms and the labyrinthine US laws to negotiate to keep it in air and fighting.

MiG 35- you have done two detailed posts on this. Need I say anything more?

FA 18- some sites (not sure how dependable) claim that it is inferior to the Su30 MKI. Again an old platform and of course US of A to deal with.

Gripen - it had some very enthusiastic supporters but it was never claimed to be the kind of plane that will scare the F teens or others out of the skies. Some called it LCA++. Not sure.

That leaves us with two non-battle proven shortlisted aircraft. Where was the real choice?

What other benefits is US likely to give us for USD 10 billion that we should end up buying F 16? What is USD 10 billon for them? Heck, they gave USD 10 billion over the years to Pakistan just to get Osama.

Point 5
I have read at multiple times on your blog that all participants were briefed in detail by the AF team after trials.

At one level what else would you expect the vendor to say? As per all of them they had the ideal machine to meet our needs.

At another level since the flaws and relative rankings were known all along the down-select should have happened sooner. It would make it look like a genuine rejection on technical grounds.

Anonymous said...

Americans aircrafts were defeated in the field by their european counterparts. This is reality. On top of that, US tot is less interesting.

Anonymous said...

And, Ben laden was killed in Pakistan with the help of ISI, the strategic US-Pakistan ties will be stronger than ever now. So it's a good thing american aircrafts were left out.

buddha said...

i thik rafale will be winner
and with france india can take its home made aircraft to a good position

but india should consider F-35 for its navy
and also look for naval FGFA

Anonymous said...

Well now! Can we expect a rap on the knuckles for the Froggies. Supplying subs to Pakis is simply not on. That would make EF sail through.


मुझे लगता है की हम "बाल की खाल" निकाल रहे है. डील की कट ऑफ लिस्ट विशेषज्ञ टीम के द्वारा निर्धारित की गई है. RAFAL AND EUROFIGHTER नई तकनीक पर आधारित है जैसे DELTA WING, CANARD, NEW COCKPIT, COMPOSITES AIRFRAME, इत्यादि. भारत को नए वैमानिकी संरचना तकनीक की आवश्यकता है न की पुरानी संरचना पर आधारित डिजाईन जैसे की F-16IN, F-18, MIG-35 लेकिन अपवाद JAS 39 GRIPEN पर उसमे अमेरिकी इंजिन और अन्य पुर्जे लगे है. साथ ही उसका राडार भी समय पर उपलब्ध नहीं हो पा रहा था. जरा सोचिये JF-17 पर यदि हम आधुनिक इंजिन, राडार, उड़ान नियंत्रित प्रर्नाली इत्यादि लगा दे तो क्या हम JF-17 को पसंद करेंगे. शायद नहीं.

Shubham said...

very rightly put by Mukesh.. i think we as conscientious Indians are over analysing and trying to question as to why (oh why have we rejected the gr8 nation USA's iconic planes?). Lets respect the decision of the IAF and MoD- and for heaven's sake, it was us (in majority i think) who thought that Rafale and EF should make the cut and the teens be rejected. Well, now what do we want then? People in the IAF are much more qualified and their decision matters to say the least and they know their needs better than we armchair analysts. It is they who will defend the nation in times of war or similar crises, and not us knowledgeable analysts. We have a role to play, but only a certain extent- lets please not go overboard. To cut the story short, whether its a political or strategic decision, lets respect this decision and not over analyse it. And yes, lets not forget was USA in an explanatory mode when it sold F-16s, Orions radars, frigates, missiles to Pakistan, turns the other way when China was arming Pakistan with missiles thru the 80s and 90s?? Well, again that was a different era, and now times have changed and we hope for a truly strategic partnership with USA, thats cool, but lets not forget the saying " my nation first, right or wrong". If they can make "strategic" or "political" decisions, so can we.

Mr. Ra said...

One more question... If this decision would have come earlier, then Laden too would have gone earlier. Lol...

SmestarZ said...

Q1. Can a $9.5-billion dollar airplane deal ever just be about the airplanes? Which is to say, does India expect nothing from the country that wins, above and beyond professional on-time delivery of the fighters and rock-solid after-sales support? On the other hand, what about the possibility that the elimination of the American and Russian fighters WAS a political decision?
A1. Sure it can be more than just planes, but as you are aware that India is big pie of business and most of them want the bigger slice of the pie
Now the Americans are being bad losers for simple reason
a) They have offered planes which were dsigned in early 1970's F-16 first flew in 1974 and was introduced into USAF 4 years later.
F-18 was actually contender to F-16 and F-16 won that competetion, and then US Navy wanted something to replace A-6 Intruders and A-7 Corsair II and F-18 was selected, so the designs are of mid 70's at least, and yes the planes have been upgraded.
Now, most people know that the production line of F-16 was to be shut down, as there are no orders forthcoming from USAF, but they are supplying to UAE (similiar to what they offered to India) and inferior version to Pakistan (and pakistan was their best friend in South East Asia !!)
Both F-16 and F-18 are good planes, but the american policy is that new technology cannot be transfered to other countries, so the planes are not a problem but the Transfer of technology is a big big headache, And IF we had selected the American planes and then later the US Senate will decide if they can transfer the Technology to India, Also that is the same problem with Gripen as their Engine is American, Now, though we can say that American policy is different now, but surely we cannot oversee the fact that USA had put embargo on export of technology and engines to India after the Pokhran II.
I do surely respect American laws and their country policy, that is made for their benefit, but our benefit may not be in the Benefit of USA as this example shows.
Further, USA has slice of the defence pie as we did purchase P-8I (at much higher price) and also C-130 J at much higher price, nd now we are negotiating for C-17 Globemaster. So they already have some of their fingers in the indian defence pie.

Now, it is due to the USA embargo that we could not get the GE-F404 Engine for Tejas and that cause a significant delay, else Tejas would have flown many years ago, already inducted and possibly this need for MMRCA would not be such big, but the USA embargo did delay the development of Tejas

Now we are also signed contracts with USA for Engines for Tejas, and the the other two contenders who have been selected Rafale and Eurofighter will be more than eager to help us develop the engine if the need be,
So by Refusing the F-16 and F18 we have rejected their fighters showing we have ability to not compromise on our defence, but also we send a strong signal to USA and our main supplier Russia, that we cannot be bullied with,
Russia is being very complacent about the aircraft Carrier Goroshkov and huge significant delays. Russia is having some fingers in their pie as we are purchasing Su-30 MKI from them and upgrading them as well as Mig-29, we also build T-95,

SmestarZ said...

So I think we are just trying to ensure that everyone has a sample of this pie, and they like it, the one who has the best relationship with us and treats us with respect, he might get a bigger pie,

USA, I do not understand the Attitude of the Americans, they have good aircraft, but not all aircraft are best in each field. And it is upto the Indian Airforce to evaluate as per their requirements. Americans are behaving like spurned suitors who does not like to be rejected.

It is a tender and competetion, and when you enter competetion, always be prepared that you might not always win,

Q2. If the European twin-engine fighters outperformed the other four contenders in field evaluations, why are there now questions over their selection? But if it is true that the margins of performance couldn't have been significant between the six contenders, did it makes sense to effect such pronounced eliminations? Does this therefore reinforce the suggestion from the first question that this WAS in fact a political decision?
A1, India has a bad reputation and so there is always question about "fixing". All the contenders in this Competetion are tainted. But if there is need for transparency, then would it be advisable for IAF to announce the reasons and short comings why it was rejected? This can have an effect that
a) Transparency will be appreciated,
b) but due to the flaws published other countries that are interested in these planes might give it second thought thus they lose their market.
c) Understanding the flaws, they can come up with modifications and offer to new customers.
The way, I see it, it was more of a military decision, but some of it seems to be political,

Q3. Is the importance being yoked to this one contract (and the apocalyptic fall-outs being predicted in some sections) a function more of the dizzy hype that has surrounded it non-stop since 2004 than anything real? Has the mythology that engulfs the deal made it impossible to look coldly at the M-MRCA as simply a contract that meets an arithmetic IAF requirement? In turn, does the significant importance being attached to the loss of this one contract by the US belittle, demasculate and subvert the importance of other Indo-US bilateral achievements, including high value defence purchases?
A3. If USA thinks so, then its best they cancel all the contracts with India, and it is better we start to focus on our own indgenous projects. Before the second world war, America had the worst Airforce in the countries participating in the war, but the american industry started to develop as the battle in Europe started to get more heated. So it was situation and opportunity that developed their defence industry. We are in such a situation too.
In evaluation system. there is always chance of failure, China has Su-30 MKK. so we can always compete the competitors with sub versions of our Su-30 MKI and evaluate them.. can we not? F-16 nor F-18 can compete and win against Su-30 MKs based on manoverablity or weapons. Even F-16s and F-18s have lost in 1 on 1 scenario against Typhoons, so what better plane are USA talking about?

SmestarZ said...

Q4. Is the government, which incidentally never refuted the prevailing sense that strategic considerations would be factored into any decision (until the very end), now taking refuge in the Indian Air Force's trial recommendations as an easy offset to obvious political questions? Did something happen in the course of the selection process that forced (and if so, what) the government to shelve all "strategic factors", and complete the process wholly on merit/technical grounds if at all?
It is best not to put all eggs in one basket, we should learn from example of aircraft carrier Goroshkov, and also USA - Pakistan relationships. When there is over dependence in relationship, thats when it fails.

Q5. Has there been thorough transparency through every step of the selection process? If all vendors have been kept totally up to speed about their performance and compliance, and were perfectly in tune with the benchmarks (as the MoD has stated), then was last week's elimination really a surprise to those knocked out? Some of them say they expect debriefs in a transparent manner. Umm, were things not transparent before? Has the government satisfactorily shut the watertight gates of the selection process at each stage to ensure that none of its decisions along the way can be shafted later?
A5. It is just elimination process, there is always possibliity of the price negotiations failing and then we have to again send for RFI...
In my view, best put eggs in two baskets, and split the contract between Rafale and Eurofighter, Rafale is good strike aircraft with credible Air superiority role, but its expensive. Also Eurofighter is one of the best Air superiority fighter along with F-22 and Su-30 MKI but has limited strike role.
What we need to do is also get involved in the development of these aircrafts so that we can learn as well as get the aircrafts exactly as per our needs.


SmestarZ said...

And to add a point, seems that USA expects us to buy their planes in assurance for their support for permenent seat in UN Security council

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Shubham@8.30PM: For reasons unknown to me you seem to be clinging on to the discredited and mistaken notion of the IAF being the ultimate repository of all knowledge and wisdom concerning airpower application. If that is the case, why has the IAF so far failed to sort out even elementary matters once and for all with its India-based spares parts distributor for aircraft of Russian origin? Why did the IAF delay the induction of Su-30MKI flight simulators and CPTs? Why were such training aids inducted into service eight long years after the Su-30MKIs were inducted into service? And why has the MoD down-selected two competing M-MRCA candidates hailing from countries that have always been vociferous about lifting the EU arms embargo against the PRC? And why have both France and Germany blatantly violated the EU arms embargo against the PRC since the late 1990s by supplying propulsion and air conditioning systems for all warships built by the PRC since the late 1990s? Can such countries really be trusted?
Lastly, how on earth can the ECR-90 MMR-equipped EF-2000 outperform and prevail over the AESA-MMR-equipped F/A-18F?
At the end of the day, India has since the mid-1960s never seen the procurement of imported combat aircraft as just an acquisition; it was always an exercise in establishing strategic partnerships. Therefore, to now claim that the M-MRCA downselect process was devoid of any political inputs is sheer nonsense and professionally suicidal.
But perhaps, all is not yet lost if one goes by the IAF CAS' statement yesterday in which he had said that the IAF had done its job on evaluating the six contenders for the MMRCA and now it was for the government to select the lowest bidder in the tender, which was being done according to the defence procurement procedure. By this statement is he now saying that the door is still half-open for the US-origin M-MRCA contenders? Only time will tell.

Bhavin said...

Ye sab Bakwas Bandh kariye.....Pls.

Jo decision IAF ne liya hai woh ekdum 101% sahi decision hai.....


Anonymous said...

Looks like there are many who are in an awkward state due to the non-selection of the teens. Let us advise all concerned that as a country we do not accept intrusive terms in our defense purchases. Let us also advise that in competitive tenders there is no guarantee that preference will be given to superpowers. If they are still interested they may participate. In case they choose not to participate we will make do with whatever we can lay hands on. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

There has been a lot of debate after the down select, even though it was clear from the opinion polls that the favorites were the European birds. The down select has been managed far better than I had personally expected. It appears that the press people like to stir up controversies or they have been compromised.

Shubham said...

@ Prasun: I am not clinging on to anything, just voicing my opinion, like you are. You are right regarding the spares problems being faced by the IAF regarding the Russian origin aircraft fleet. What about the spares problems faced by the Sea Harrier fleet and Sea King helicopters of the IN post the 1998 tests as a result of the sanctions? That had crippled the entire naval aviation wing- whatever it was worth. Which is one of the main reasons I feel that it is a right decision to opt for the Rafale & the Eurofighter, as there are no restrictions on India regarding their use post purchase, along with full TOT, did your awesome radar equipped teens promise that? No.
With due respect, I would also repeat here that this competition was about the entire deal and not just about AESA radars or any subcomponent or weapons package taken in isolation. F/A-18 and F-16 are great aircraft no doubt, but it’s about the whole aircraft and what it can give to IAF over the next 30-40 years. I have not mentioned that it is purely a technical decision, but I have mentioned that if USA can have political and strategic considerations – so can India. India is spending the money & IAF is the end customer, and customer shall decide what it will buy- it’s another matter if the MoD agrees with that decision- thankfully it has in this case.
Regarding the EU & the countries being vociferous about lifting the EU arms embargo against the PRC: atleast that policy has been consistent with India too, if you recall, France did NOT impose any sanctions on India post the 1998 tests, and with EU countries started to take a dominant share of the trade pie with India, it suddenly dawned on Uncle Sam that "what a great market & great democracy India was" and the sanctions were lifted. Do you remember when USA stymied the cryogenic engine deal of Russia with India in mid 1990s & has now concluded a very big strategic nuclear deal with the same country, how times change as per a nation’s strategic interests- isn’t it?
Choosing F-16 or F/A-18 would be extremely risky at such a time when the squadron strength of the IAF is at a historic low, and with China arming itself rapidly much to India's (and not to mention USA's) consternation. While signing a deal as strategically significant as the MMRCA, I am sure we don't care about how many people will continued to be employed in USA as a result of India making this decision in opting for F-16 or F/A-18's favour, as much as USA probably isn't interested in fully transferring technology (and enhancing the value of India's domestic defence production) and scrapping restrictive partnership agreements like CISMOA, which doubt and belittle the buying country's ownership of the technology platform in spite of having paid a hefty sum of money for the same.
For me, the deal makers are strategic & political partnerships and what a weapons purchase can do to contributing to the growth of the country's defence forces, either by means of boosting defence production knowhow through TOT from offsets. I am sure you would agree that in spite of the awesome AESA radars on F-16 and F-18 and other such similar components, CISMOA is an important factor still, another reason why the IAF recently prompted the govt NOT to sign the CISMOA while the first of the C-130JS were being delivered to India. The choice of the Rafale and Eurofighter, on the other hand are based on full TOT and partnership roles in the development whatever little there is (as promised with the Eurofighter). This would potentially be helpful in our AMCA program too. I would repeat, like USA, India also needs to take care of its political and strategic considerations, and not put all its eggs in the USA basket. India has made the right decision by opting for Rafale and EF. Surely USA could do some soul searching and scrap restrictive agreements like CISMOA if it hopes to have a great chance of winning deals of such magnitude with India in the future.

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Shubham: Firstly, the spares problems faced by the IN after May 1998 were due to the MoD's and IN's failure to order the standard three-year spares packages from the early 1990s onwards. Had the MoD and IN adhered to the universal practice of adhering to the rules governing spares stock replenishment once every three years, there would not have been any problems of this type at all.
Secondly, if you would have gone to Aero India 2011 and spoken to radar manufacturers like Thales, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and Cassidian, you would have discovered that NO ONE is willing to part with source codes for their respective radars. However, ALL are willing to provide the IAF with a programmable EW threat library that utilises 'object codes', which is applicable to both airborne MMRs and EW suites.
Thirdly, whether or not EU countries have imposed or are imposing any kind of sanctions or technology denial regimes against India can be gauged by the fact that not a single EU country is offering India ALCMs like the SCALP/Storm Shadow or KEPD/Taurus without range restrictions. The ranges of all these ALCMs have been capped at 280km EVEN FOR INDIA. And I'm assuming you know what is the achievable range of the BrahMos versus how much has been permitted in India's case.
Fourthly, regarding CISMOA, this topic has already been visited at:
Lastly, kindly take some time to find out the quantum of US-origin equipment on board both the Rafale and EF-2000. This will give you a fairly good idea on ToT limitations faced by the likes of Dassault Aviation and Cassidian. You also need to define for all of us here what exactly you mean by 'full ToT'. ToT to do what, and why?

Anonymous said...

These are my answer to your questionnaire:

1) First and foremost the selected fighter has to deliver, within the future IAF combat force structure, the highest operational effectiveness for the roles assigned to MMRCA. In an increasingly dangerous and unpredictable world. Within the allocated budget.
Having chosen an open and fair competition--and so far nobody can complain about the professionalism and fairness of it--it seems clear that the so called geopolitical considerations were playing a minor role in this race. If India had wanted to show deference or preference towards a particular nation it would have gone for a direct procurement without going through the complications of a prolonged competition. Anyhow such geopolitical and strategic preferences are generally manifested at a higher level than a prosaic procurement and the idea that every single step India makes has to be judged through the geopolitical lens is nonsense. Judged by whom? Do the US or France or Russia Or the UK consider what the reaction in India will be when they make a procurement decision? India is a sovereign nation and each decision it takes has to respond only to its national interest. The national interest of India when buying the MMRCA is that the chosen fighter is the best and most cost-effective in defeating the foreseeable future threats. End of story!

2) There are always questions in a competition; that is the nature of the game. Those excluded feel disappointed.
The clear cut selection for the two most recent fighter designs indeed indicates that there were significant differences in performance across the requirements spectrum. Let us not forget that the IAF technical-operational evaluation was the most scientific and the deepest assessment ever taken in the modern fighter world. (It puts to shame many other so called competitions out there!) By a top tier, universally respected and battle proven Air Force! Has anybody here have doubts on the technical and operational competence of the Indian Air Force?
I would state that question two confirms that the downselect process so far has been mainly based on science.

3) Any fighter deal is bound to raise interest well beyond the professional circles and give birth to legions of armchair strategists of all sorts. So far the IAF / MoD have conducted this competition in an impeccable manner. They are a highly competent body. The most competent to judge what kind of MMRCA better fits in their vision of the future force structure for the threat scenarios laying ahead.

4) The so called strategic factors are in a much higher level type of considerations.

5) There is always surprise in being eliminated. One would have not entered such an expensive competition if one did not feel to have a decent chance of winning. So surprise, disappointment, recrimination and so on are the order of the day, I am afraid. And of course there always are bully boys, those used to win fake competitions, generally in their client states and generally on geo-political grounds.

Shubham said...

@ Prasun: rather than me defining anything, why don't you define to us what do we get out of buying older generation planes - simply put. At least the IAF and the Govt isn’t convinced thankfully.

Whatever you or I may say, unfortunately for those supporting the American planes, thankfully, the IAF and the MoD are happy by downselecting the EF & the Rafale.

And you did not address and elaborate on the CISMOA issue – let me be enlightened on that as well, is the IAF and the MoD willing to sign it at all? Not to my knowledge. If that were the case then we would have signed it while the C-130Js were getting delivered. Reading the link you sent - and yours and other readers comments there, again I am afraid to say that you are in minority there as well who feels that India should go ahead and sign the CISMOA. Having again read the section on CISMOA for your benefit, I, as a buyer, I would not like to enter into an agreement with a country with a track record like USA at least as of now (given the critical condition of the IAF’s depletiong squadron strength).

Russia may also be having similar agreements, but they hold a far greater trust quotient among the Indian forces and government- (albeit that is dwindling in the recent years, but that hasn’t stopped India from entering into an even more lucrative FGFA contract with Russia)- compared to USA- given our nascent defence relationship with it, and the defence relationship with USA is only gradually evolving. Let’s not rush into things. And again, if I as a nation am spending huge amount of money to buy a weapons platform, I don’t need anyone’s permission to remove any component from any weapons platform. Its mine, i will do whatever I want with it depending on the operational need. This is the major concern and viewpoint held by the authorities that be in the Indian forces against signing CISMOA- and they aren’t convinced yet to sign agreements like the CISMOA, hence F-16 and F/A-18 are not in the downselect – this being the major reasons among many. And fortunately, the IAF and MOD isn’t convinced yet too. That is the biggest impediment in the current scenario against buying the teens.

Viewpoints don't hold any water however well qualified they maybe, in the acquisition process, what matters is the recommendation of the end users and most importantly what the Government is willing to support. I am sure you would be extremely well versed with the defence equipment acquisition process to know that. Equipment manufacturers in defence exhibitions can say a lot of fancy things true, but for a successful campaign, we need the end users and government's nod as well. Please don't ignore that important aspect of an acquisition. We would not be inducting JF-17 tomorrow if in the future some well qualified person recommended that. Thanks.

captainjohann said...

Americans have been stingy about transfer of technology.We are used to russians,British,Swedish gun merchants who sell and ask no questions. americans want India to behave like Pakistan,korea or even japan. no way

Dinakar Peri said...

The logic behind the selection is simple.
Mig-35 has engine problems and non operational.

Gripen has US components and doubts about its high altitude use.

F-16 is 70's airframe. It is an excellent plane but its at the end of its life. We need a plane for the next 3-4 decades.

F/A 18 is 90's design and the number of batch upgrades will be limited. Besides its a carrier based jet and its endurance at Indian high altitude conditions is seriously doubtful.

Again a note on the US jets, though they have operational AESA radar the technology transfer is questionable and we need to sign many intrusive agreements and IAF will have operational limitations imposed by the US.

About the Rafale and Typhoon, both are the latest airframes and ample scope for upgrades and additions. AESA is in the pipeline very shortly even before India inducts them and this gives a chance to collaborate.
We need a plane to win wars not for airshows. There are no strings attached with Europe and this is a chance to strengthen our strategic partnership with Europe which has stood with us in times of need and with which the relation has off late taken a side track.

Shiv, actually I wrote an article "Answering the critics of MMRCA deal" and looking for a place to publish it. Any suggestions for that?

SmestarZ said...

This is my view for reply to Mr.Dinakar Pheri

Firstly your statement "F-16 is 70's airframe." is incorrect,
USA would not be giving us airframe made in 70's but it would be more correct to say
that F-16 is a 70's design with some revisions/upgrades

F-18 is also 70's 80's design to be fair, it was an unrefined F-17 that was competeting against
F-16 for the USAF contract which F-16 won Then the US Navy wanted to have an aircraft to replace
its A-6, A-7 and F-4 and they selected redesigned F-17 as F-18. Ultimately it also replaced F-14 Tomcats

Also F/A-18 is not fully carrier based plane, It has different versions for US Airforce and Marines which does take off
and land on normal Airfields and there is a carrier version for US Navy (with stronger landing gear and hook attachment)
I hope I am clear of this point.
USA had offered F-16 Block 60 and F/A 18 with AESA radar but as per normal standards, firstly USA does not give its top of the line systems , those are mostly downgraded for exports, further there will be lot of treaties to sign and there will not be total transfer of technology as americans do not want technology to filter down. There might be rider that the US plane should not be used to attack their ally (read pakistan) hahahah

Gripen is a light weight multi role fighter, it is a nice fighter, but in the wrong category, India upgraded its request to Medium MRCA and Gripen is light weight. Also Gripen having US Engines and single engine was its downfall
IAF was looking for twin engine, planes so F-16 and Gripen were outright losers and they should have known that, but maybe they thought some "convincing" might help them get the cut.

Mig-35 as I know does not have engine problems. Mig 29 had problem of engine smoke and this could be detected from distance. Mig-35 comes with an upgraded Engine with Full 3 plane thrust vectoring, Even the Russians are not buying Mig-29 as they are trying to focus on PAK-FA and they do have MiG-29, if we want we can upgrade and as a matter of fact we are upgrading our Mig-29 with AESA radar and other new upgrades which might put them very close to possible Mig-35 configuration.
The difference between Mig-29 and Su-30 is size, Mig was small sized medium weight MRCA and Sukhoi was bigger Heavy medium MRCA.

About the Rafale and Typhoon started as same project and from which France withdrew and started its own project RAFALE,
Both are new designs but Typhoon is more of Air superiority fighter with limited strike capability (we have HAWKS for that) And Rafale is both Air superiority and Strike plane but Typhoon seems better in Air superiority than Rafale and in strike roles Rafale is far better than Typhooon.

Hope my answers and corrections are acceptable, and if there are any corrections to this, I would gladly accept them