Saturday, January 31, 2015

State Of Play: Three Years Since India Chose Rafale

There are few things like defence procurement that make the passage of time seem nothing. So it shouldn't shake anyone up that its been three years today that the Indian government chose the Dassault Aviation Rafale in the final downselect of the medium multirole combat aircraft (M-MRCA) competition. The M-MRCA competition has acquired mythological status now. It has its own folklore, its own (sometimes apocryphal) anecdotes of the twists and turns. The years have almost completely transformed the programme and how it is perceived. The wisdom of years usually provides insight. The galling thing about the M-MRCA is that it has lost none of its capacity to enthral, mystify, perplex. I've already told you what currently stalls negotiations between India and, well, France. So, as we head into air show month and mark three years since the M-MRCA downselect, here's 5 developments that, in their own way, tell you where things are:

  1. Three Rafales return to Aero India 2015 this year. Dassault clearly hopes this is the last time they'll need to fly them in and show them off. Thing is: that was the sentiment right before the last show two years ago too.
  2. The public statement from India's new defence minister Manohar Parrikar earlier this month on upgraded (and additional) Su-30 MKIs could be a viable alternative to 126+ Rafales only confirmed what I'd reported here -- that the negotiations stall was bad enough for high-level messages from the political leadership to begin flying. Incidentally, the message was loud and clear.
  3. Delegations outside the contract negotiations committee (CNC) have been formed to meet and hammer out final hurdles. No specific results reported just yet but they're expected given that the French delegation is empowered to make decisions.
  4. Indian PM Narendra Modi travels to France (and Germany) in April this year. Every effort is currently being made by the French government to facilitate at least a preliminary announcement, or at the very least a positive message, on the deal when PM Modi is in Paris. The PM himself hasn't made known his view, if any, on the programme. The French government on its part made it a point to underscore the inherent 'Make in India' component of the M-MRCA, even if it is facets of precisely this that has a deal hanging fire.
  5. Sources suggest the political leadership is also pondering a compromise deal, based on a view that roughly half the number of aircraft envisaged in the M-MRCA could be negotiated in parallel as an outright purchase (flyaway) as a replacement deal for the actual M-MRCA. The IAF, it is said, has frowned upon the idea, though dynamics between the Finance Ministry, MoD and French government suggest this could be a serious face-saver in the event of total collapse. Speculation about a 'half-MMRCA' has swirled ever since the Rafale downselect, and is could be beset with problems.
  6. The empirical dynamics of the IAF's requirements have shifted per force -- they're shifting even as we speak with a fresh cloud over the IAF's upgraded MiG-27 that populates a handful of squadrons. The bean count of squadron strength (approximately 32 squadrons currently) set off against sanctioned fleet strength (42) has shifted too. On average, the IAF manages to lose a squadron's worth of fighter planes every two years. Force accretion won't, in any combination, make up for the numbers required to meet sanctioned figures. In fact, it could be just the opposite.

35 comments :

Anonymous said...

Folks ,

The introduction of f16 so scared the desi establishment that a combination of Mig 29 and M2k was felt to a minimum response to the same. The solah goes from strength to strength . So let us order just 40 Rafales and tom tom the same ; and say bye bye france .The media , intellectuals ( sic) , IAF, DRDO,ADA,HAL, netas , Kejriwal,Kiran Bedi , IAS,IFS ( not forest service ), china , secular desh ,will all do bhangra and distribute prasad . Meanwhile let us invest in an extensive array of SAM.s from Russia and Isreal.THe nation shall be lot more secure .

Anonymous said...

If our politicians are made to use aging Migs then they even try procuring the F22's. Don't worry about the price, for our politicians the nations money is their pocket money. They want to spend the nations money the way they want, not to the needs of our defense force.

Anonymous said...

The deal for Rafales should be canceled and the money used design and make the next generation aircraft in India by Indians.

Anonymous said...

@singam - I think the Govt. should set themselves as deadline to conclude negotiations or end the same. Clearly, the IAF needs new fighter aircraft inventory to keep our fighting edge ahead.

I would say look at the Sukhoi 30 MKI being the backbone of the spearhead and continue to add to it's numbers. Take the current 272 upto 700.

There is already a negotiated contract in place, just add to it and get it done with.

Anonymous said...

@ Anon @ 6:17 PM
...and "the defense force" you speak of will try to buy itself the most glamorous ride it can find on the planet , never mind the cost ! They first need to learn how to fly and not crash one per month before asking the tax payer to pay for even one more paisa. Anything you give these buggers - they will figure out how to crash them . Mig-21s a flying coffin, Jaguars one crash every year, Mig-27 one rash every year, Mirage 2000 a crash every two years, Su-30 - one crash a year ! Who are you kidding ?

Anonymous said...

At current costs the Rafale is easily a no no. Make in India an Indian aircraft is the only solution. The Su-31 solution is the most logical and correct and quickest solution the $20 billion thus save should b e best spent in developing state of art avionics for the su 31 for future needs, increasing the Su 31; building production capacity in order to quickly reach the 42 sqdn levels.

Anonymous said...

Time to replace the MIg21 and 27 has arrived and just over the shoulder its Jags in next 10-15 yrs what we have here is a Gr8 Indian procurment circus

Dalip Bhati said...

The French are trying to play tough by not toeing Indian line as customer is supreme. By not buying Rafael Other nations have not died or lost a battle i SAY lets buy or design better Assault rifles or improve their terminal effect (Barrier blind round) please don't neglect the Infantry because everything is designed or made to see its success on the battle field may it be a tank, aircraft,artillery gun and what have you -- because behind every rifle a super computer is working the brave soldier

Anonymous said...

Shiv you deleted the entire article on SU Pak-Fa...?

Vivek said...

Livefist @livefist · Dec 19

There's been some epic bickering between Dassault & HAL that hasn't been reported.

Details soon on Livefist. #MMRCA

_________

No report yet. What gives?

Anonymous said...

Here some person has mentioned the Indian Air Force to be a glamorous force. Well Sir do you think the pilots crash and lose their lives intentionally. Our institutions and colleges might be decaying but if you think the professionalism displayed by the IAF is low then I am sorry to say that you are not aware at all. IAF demands aircrafts because the HAL does not deliver, they are just a bunch of lazy people eating the taxpayers money.

Mahendra Singh said...

Split the 126 MRCA order between 63 extra Su30 and 63 Tejas MkI. Work on reducing the weight of MkI. Work seriously on the AMCA.

Anonymous said...

NSR says ---

At $25 to 30 billions for 126 fighters and not taking responsibility for quality and delivery is a big no no no and humungous future trouble...

At least India can bargain hard with Russia for further transfer of TOT and MOTs for not only SU-30MKI and Mig-29K, Smerch, T-90S, etc by dangling a big carrot of additional Super Sukhois and Mig-29Ks...

At least this way India will have worthy planes by the time Tejas II and FGFA comes in...

So use the money wisely to build up fighters and even get some batteries of S-400 at friendly prices...

Russia will be too happy to do because of the severe recession and not losing an old friend like India...

So don't wait...get to action...

Anonymous said...

@singam - If Dassault is playing hardball and not complying with the RFQ, then dump L1 and go for L2. Is not the 2nd Organization (Eurofighter) Plan B.

If both L1 & L2 are wasting time, dump them too and go for additional orders of SU-30MKI's (another 500).

All the while I felt the Gripen NG or F/A-18 Super Hornet were the better options in the MMCRA review. so what if they came in at 3rd & 4th place. Atleast they stick to their commitments and deliver on time.

Anonymous said...

Rafale shall give a lot of confidence to our flyboys against new and still newer F16's .The pakis by virtue of their close relationship with the chinks must have mastered SU 27 ., So Rafale is the only answer here although in reduced numbers

Anonymous said...

Rafale shall give a lot of confidence to our flyboys against new and still newer F16's .The pakis by virtue of their close relationship with the chinks must have mastered SU 27 ., So Rafale is the only answer here although in reduced numbers

Satpathy said...

Not sure why the timeline on FGFA was taken down. Would like to see it re-posted with any additional information that you may have.

Prashant said...

Batter to cancel this make this jet in india idea and purchase 50 rafale straightaway from France. Bargin hard on this deal and try to get the best deal.Use the saved money to increase the Tajes mk1 production rate per year and aquire batter SAM systems to protect our Skies.Please note our IAF is already good enough for PAF without rafale but if our leaders thinks that Rafale can help fighting China then its a big mistake. China has insatalled layer of some of most deadly SAM(Like S300/S400) system around and it will be a suside for any indian Jet to enter Chinese skies.Also instead of playing the number game i think IAF should immediately take Mig 21 and Mig 27 off service. They are too old and destorying the IAF image amoung Indain Youth.

prashant said...

Sukhoi30 mki used to cost around 40 to 60 million earlier but now the one which nasik plantis chunking out is 102 million per jet so its not cheap either.I still think we should buy Rafael.3 years for selection hmm looks like till we decide,France will close the Rafael plant as well...

Anonymous said...

Not worth spending so much money on an old has been fighter which no one has purchased just for the sake of an acronym.Instead we should find a better alternative.

Mayank Acharya said...

As awesome as the Rafale is, I still think we should invest our millions in the LCA program and expedite their induction. We really need NUMBERS now, and Tejas has just enough bells and whistles on it to get the job done.

Anonymous said...

A few thoughts from a perplexed frenchman maybe Dassault interest in mmrca was always weak in the first place.. too much TOT. Nothing such with UAE or Qatar. Then there is the french politics ..Dasault family hostile to socialist party of Hollande. So Dassault actuallly might be ready to screw the deal with India, as long they have hope of selling to arab customers.

Anonymous said...

Je Dis Aurevoir Rafale.

Anonymous said...

Modiji wants to scrap this deal and instead wants it to give to Obama.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why people talk about producing LCA when we cannot produce it. Hal does not have the technical acumen or organisational standards required to implement such a large project on its own. Instead it tries to stop the IAF from going in for alternatives even at the cost of endangering our security. The light trainer Sitara and the primary trainer are the tragic examples.
THe IAF chiefs are only too happy to go along and not one has taken the fight to the PM / President / Public and demand the planes he requires be supplied.
Rafale and associated technologies are required by us no matter what the cost. Let it be complemented by Mig 29/Gripens

Anonymous said...

IAF needs to put it's foot down for the Rafale. It's the pilot who are going to face the heat during the battle and not bureaucrats or politicians who will just point fingers.

Anonymous said...

Indian MoD has cancelled Medium Lift Transport tender and cleared the decks for MTRA with Russians to move forward.
Great going.

Scrap all these off the shelf buys including that of the Rafale !

Mayank Acharya said...

Organizational standards and technical acumen have to be mustered. HAL must evolve into a "printer" from being just a "copier". They must deliver LCA or face administrative consequences. But the only way that will be possible if we stop buying everything from abroad.

Anonymous said...

Not clear what Rafale and its associated technologies are so in demand. Stealth, nope does not have. Engines, not best in class. AESA, not best in class. Electronic warfare, again far from best in class. Range, too short. Let's be real. Against China, Rafale is not going to be able to penetrate China air defense. Even with air to air refueling, Rafale may not even get to the beach since the J20 will push the tankers so far back.

A better much more cost effective defense/offense for India should focus on A2/AD with long range stand off stealthy weapons in massive numbers. by long range I mean at least 300km and preferably 1000 km+. Even the US pivot to Asia is emphasizing those. After all, none of us want war but to achieve that, India needs persistent persuasive dissuasion.

Anonymous said...

One thing I would like the experts to tell this ignorant pleb. What makes the Rafale so expensive over MKI or Su 30/ 34/35 which are equally sophisticated .Is it the western overpricing/ lack of volumes / only or is there something we dont know about. The ruskies are equally big shylocks when it comes to charging for a weapon system.

Dalip Bhati said...

The FRENCH KISS is turning out to be too costly when one can have better and longer fun with other aircraft's like Typhoon, SU&MIG 35 the other Europeans are equally good just taste them they also have vector thrust to enhance the fun

Anonymous said...

As an uncle whose nephew wants to join IAF and fly fighters ( and like some youngsters , nothing else), I am very happy that the IAF has stuck to its guns for primary trainer pilatus and hawks. It is our national duty to give them top of the line equipment like Rafale to boost their confidence when defending the country . We have the technical expertise but need political will and give a boot to the politicos,media,analysts,accountants and administrators who stand in the way. Rafale as of now is vastly superior to Eurofighter , the teens and the Russian wares . Rafale should replace our Navy Jags , Navy harriers , IAF Mirages and Mig 21's and the Mig 29's . An airforce flying the Sukhois coupled with Rafales shall give our defense forces the strength to face the lizards and the munnas .

Anonymous said...

Rafale is needed to replace not Mig-21s & 23s its replacment for Mig-27s and some early Jags thats why it is needed.

Raahul Kumar said...

The RAFALE is too expensive. Cancel the tender, this sorry story has gone on for too long.

Instead pour the money into developing the AMCA, Tejas Mark 3, and the DRDO AURA. We can go from importing planes to making them ourselves.

Time to bet big on Bharat.

Anonymous said...

The French position is clear. It does not need to nor will it provide any guarantee as to any Rafale manufactured in India. That is today a statement put out by French government agency DGA.