MMRCA parallels: 1970 and 2000 - History Repeating itself for better or worse?

Discussion in 'Indian Air Force' started by icecoolben, Dec 26, 2010.

  1. icecoolben

    icecoolben Regular Member

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    A watershed moment in Indian Military Aviation history is set to befall us India is all set to join a race piggy bagging on Russia to challenge USA and Europeon domination of the international military aircraft building industry. In the process, New Delhi has struck a political understanding with Moscow as its premier security partner in Asia. In the domestic arena, India has completed design and development of its second supersonic fighter aircraft upto the most mordern standards. But the time of these two incidents meant that time has caught upto us and we are again in a limbo to import more on an ad hoc basis till FGFA with Russia is a reality or work further on Tejas to develop into a better platform. Due to long standing commitments, geopolitical realities and sheer necessity overwhelming we have made the decision to go for all the three solutions at once. While such an approach may seem practical, it seldom works. Though India now has a booming economy and Indians are wealthier than ever, our resources are finite and exahustic towards achieving the ends with the available means. Such occurences are not rare in the Indian context, I wish to bring to attention such a moment, leading to incidents resulting in the procurement of the Specat Jaguar.

    The HF-24 marut had been a failure due to the inability to procure a suitable turbo jet engine. The nature of aircraft development had shifted from airframes being developed around next generation turbofan engines. There was need to procure a complementary ground attack fighter to the mig-27.

    In 2001, Indian Air Force projects a shortfall of six and half squadrons that would result from retirement of venerable mig-21. LCA Tejas program facing emminent delays, IAF goes on quest for 126 Multi-role combat aircraft with Mirage 2000 as the baseline. Delays in issue of RFP and Tejas coping up with original ASQR, its touted as logical replacement for remainig mig-21 bison of 125 in number, compounded with a ill-advised declaration in parliament that nations around the world prefer light, medium and heavy combat aircraft. IAF pushes MRCA bar to MMRCA. Now, next in line for repacement are our premier ground attack fighters, India requires replacement for obsolete combat aircraft with still 7 and 15 years to retire mig-27 and jaguar respectively,hence most believe MMRCA would lay emphsis on strike capability to replace these aging jets.
    The evaluation starting in 2001 ended with an RFP relaese in 2007, decision expected in mid 2011 for downselect. The selection within 2 years after that. We have actually exceeded our capacity to drag evaluation and negotiatons by a considerable margin. our capabilities have improved so much atleast in this area quantitatively!
    A need of 126 aircrafts, 18 supplied by original equipment manufacturer with our legendary aerospace enterprise, HAL licence producing 108 with option for 64 more. No matter how much hue and cry no manufacturer other than the Americans have deployed AESA radar which are presumed as the latest technology for aerial warfare, the latest aircraft in terms of airframe and avionics like Eurofighter and Rafale are not completely optimised for combat deployment. There is no authentic information to suggest that Eurofighter has ever launched a cruise missile and only now has it started dropping LGB, so infers not even a good enough air to ground platform at all. Despite news of target designator "damocles" development being complete, there is still no news of it being operational Rafale. Hence even in 5 years time Rafale would not be the most reliable air to ground platform to take over tactical or deep strike let alone carry Indian nukes as part of strategic forces command. With very few orders from french forces and no bright export prospects like the mirage2000, the french plane doesn't have the advantage of economies of scale to keep its costs tied down. Every new upgrade like AESA radar would cost an arm and leg for the buyer. The present mirage2000 upgrade stands testament to that. The next two Gripen NG and Mig-35 are as much paper planes as F-16 xl. Though very good aerodynamic platforms they suffer from a hanicap which is most important for any combat planes to be fielded, "lack of orders". The sweedish government will not order the plane till 2017 and reportedly it was revealed in the Brazil evaluation to be a risky option. The sweedish military industrial complex too has been shrinking drastically, the consolidation of aircraft platforms to the JAS-39 grippen has left its industry without much choice than to prop up this programme in an effort to keep up its experience in aircraft design engineering field from fading away like that of its europen counterparts, following the end of cold war sweeden's effeort to fund its national military programmes has also been curtailed, the JAS-39 Gripen A/B, C/D had a pulse doppler radar developed by Sweedish firm Erickson whose development was funded by the sweedish tax payer, but the new AESA radar would rather be built by a british company SALEX galileo namely the Vixen AESA radar. In essence any new radar deveplopment has been foregone by the sweedish government and is at the disposal of the british company according to market requirement we need to make for them, in this case the development cost would be fed throuh increased unit upgrade, which would be unacceptable (see mirage upgrade). The Russian plane is held hostage by the financial books of mikoyan design bureau, the patron country itself not ordering the plane puts critical questions on its viability for mordernisation and upgrades, which may lead to its demise from the competition itself. I don't need to point out the exact nature of Indo-american dealings given the fact that our political understanding is not on level with NATO partners, Indian politicians would find it a hard pressing choice to conform ourselves within american interests to advance the election of an American platform.
    The design philosophy too plays quite a major part in terms of relevance of aircraft to contemperory circumstances, which the Eurocanars themselves evolved as a counter to soviet flanker threat, the design of the platform to address the threat belongs to the 1980s, If not for the post cold war budgets, both the Rafale and Eurofighters would have made their debut even before the Grippen. Essentially we are evaluating an answer spelt out in 1990 to a question of the 1980s, considering these atleast the LCA whose ASQR spelt out in 1985 are mordern thus little more relevent to the Indian context. The American Fighters F-16 , F-18 belong to an era as old as the Jaguars themselves and are only shown to be relevent because of American air doctrine realignment for the post cold war scenario. The only american fighter exclusively designed for mordern 21st century warfare is the F-35, on whose selection we have already made a foregone conclusion(read FGFA), atleast for the time being. The mig-35 would very much remain a still born, not that the Russians don't see the american threat any more to field 1000s of point defence fighters to provide local air-superiority, but hard pressed for resouces to keep teir niche in combat aircraft industry the Russians are putting their entire weight behind PAK FA to stay in the race against American JSF, leaving Mig-35 to fend for itself. The Gripen though projected as a cost effective option against the JSF for a threatless europeon sky, is willing to cast its lot against the big boys in the highly electrified atmosphere of Asia. No matter how much improvement on avionics and range, the gripen is unbalanced interms of airframe, stealth etc that characterise the features of next genration of aircraft to be fielded by both Americans,Europeons and Asians over the course of next decade.
    Considering history as a subject to be learnt from, the disaster of procurement the Jaguar was for the Ministry of Defence, and Indian air Force needs to be acknowledged.

    The IAF may be awerse to risk taking, but to field platforms that are most suited for our services for a required period of time with upgrades throughout its life, it is imperative to be involved and integrated in the development right form the technology demonstrator stage to keep it relevent to the force's exacting requirements.

    In the MMRCA context, we need to understand the context for introduction of the program was quick procurement, which has obviously been seriously compromised beyond repair and induction of these platforms starting 2015 will be fraught with serious difficuilties that would need to be fought off to avoid creeping obsolesence. Unfortunately every procurement can only be subjected to scruting by the premier auditing body CAG after every transaction is complete. It is time we looked at this procurement as a broader picture regarding the security situation surrounding Inida and not as an ad hoc purchase to pluss up squadrons which could be better served by leasing Rafales totalling 90 of 18 squadron each for 10 years to be replaced consequtively by Tejas mk-2 and FGFA respectively. After all the French are willing to fast track 40 Rafales, they would be amiable to a double the number leasing too considering that of the 294 projected program not even 100 have been inducted as of yet. In such arrangement the only loser would be Hindustan Aeronautics Limites(HAL) whose whims of establishing a new production facility with extensive technology from western industries have to be foregone. Since the Enterprise was created only in the sense of national interests, it wouldn't be unfair to ask them to be subservient to the greater interests of the Indian state.

    From the above information and analysis, we may infer that Indian security interests would be best served by placing our weight behind FGFA programme with 100 more orders commitment and further more if AMCA falls behind, than to go aircraft of the previous century that by all standards are obsolete compared to our own programmes in the pipeline. Depending on 126 odd balls in a battlefield of 2030 filled with EW happening in an invisible spectrum is akin to sending pawns to the fight with arms tied behind their backs, which we would be wise not to do. We are schedulled to keep Jaguars till 2025, when the British have chosen Tornados over them and Oman had decided to scrap them. In future, we should not find ourselves holding the buck for these 126 combat planes, when their OEM's country had shifted to an entirely new platform. Its not uncommon for any country to leap a particular development to grasp the oppurtunity afforded by a better one in our case FGFA vs MMRCA.

    Hope someone in the decision making apparatus is thinking broadly along such lines to steer Indian defence acquisitions form such pitfalls we regularly face but seldom try not to fall in.
     
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  3. jstcvw09cd

    jstcvw09cd New Member

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    It will be very interesting to see which candidate is chosen to be the tender winner.......


    I would like to see Mig-35 to the one.:emot157:
     
  4. icecoolben

    icecoolben Regular Member

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    So that IAF will be stuck up with a maintenance nightmare.

    Basically Mig-35 is a point defence fighter, did u read livefist report Mig-35 in trials were hardly imroved on any aspect from the last time it featured in Aero india.
     

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