the M-MRCA Resource pool thread

F-14

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Compitators​


F-16 Fighting Falcon (Lockheed, USA).

JAS-39 Gripen (Saab, Sweden; marketed by Britain’s BAE).

MiG-35 (Rosonboronexport, Russia).

Eurofighter Typhoon (EADS/BAE, Europe & Britain).

F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet (Boeing, USA).

Rafale (Dassault, France).



Advantages and disadvantages

F-16 Fighting Falcon (Lockheed, USA).

Advantage

Strengths include the widest multi-role capability among lightweight fighters; its proven AN/APG-80 AESA radar; the addition of integrated IRST capability; the widest choice of proven avionics and weapon systems; a long record of proven service so all issues are known; and widespread compatibility with potential allies in Asia and the Middle East who also fly F-16s. The combination of an AESA radar on a less expensive platform is also good news for cruise missile defense efforts, if that’s considered a priority.
Disadvantage

the Indian Air Force has never seemed very interested in the F-16. Weaknesses include the fact that Pakistan also flies F-16s; the fact it’s a new aircraft type, so the entire support infrastructure would have to be developed; Lockheed Martin’s difficulty in complying with industrial offset provisions, given their lack of penetration in India.

JAS-39 Gripen (Saab, Sweden; marketed by Britain’s BAE).



Advantage

Gripen NG begins to address the aircraft’s range limitations, and would include an AESA radar among its other enhancements. Other strengths include a wide choice of integrated weapons and pods; reasonable purchase cost; the fact that it has been designed for exceptional cost of ownership; and the ability operate from roads instead of runways if necessary.

As an interesting side note, the JAS-39NG’s use of GE’s F414G engine could create future commonality with the failed Kaveri engine’s successor. The Tejas LCA will use GE’s F404 engines until an Indian substitute is ready, and GE’s F414 is one of 2 engines under consideration as the basis for the Tejas Mk2’s power plant.

With respect to industrial offsets, Saab has an excellent record in countries like South Africa, Hungary, The Czech Republic et. al.

Disadvantage


The JAS-39’s drawbacks include its short range; the fact it’s a new aircraft type for the IAF; its AESA radar’s developmental status; and a low volume of international orders to date that raises questions about the platform’s ability to modernize over the next 30-40 years.

The Gripen’s acceptance carries no spin-off geopolitical benefits, however, and that last weakness may prove to be the plane’s most critical hindrance in this competition.

MiG-35 (Rosonboronexport, Russia).

Advantage

This modified MiG-29 includes improved radar and avionics that give it multi-role capability, extra fuel in a new aircraft “spine,” and thrust-vectoring engines a la India’s SU-30MKIs. Strengths include compatibility with the existing and future MiG-29 fleet, and its ability to carry advanced Russian missiles already in service like the revolutionary AA-11/R-73 Archer and longer range AA-12/R-77 “AMRAAMski.” The presence of MiG-29 infrastructure and a new plant for license-building RD-33 Series III engines in India also makes compliance with industrial offset requirements easier.


Disadvantage


The MiG-29’s biggest weaknesses were short range, engines that produce telltale smoke (very bad in air combat) and lack of true multi-role capability; the MiG-35 largely fixes these issues, and may even add an AESA radar of its own if Phazotron-NIIR can have its new Zhuk-MAE ready in time. Technology sharing and co-production are also considered to be strengths; as one Indian officer put it: “Russians have their problems of delayed projects and unreliable spare supply but they give access to everything, unlike the Americans.” He’s referring to the IAF’s not-so-great experience with India’s existing MiG-29s, which have had maintenance problems in addition to their other deficits.
Remaining weaknesses in the MiG-35 bid include difficulties India is having with Russian firms over the refit of its new carrier, and over its orders for SU-30MKIs. There has also been legitimate speculation about the future viability of the MiG-29 family platform, which has been eclipsed in many ways by the SU-30. Algeria’s canceled $1.8 billion order adds further risk to the platform

Eurofighter Typhoon (EADS/BAE, Europe & Britain).


Advantage

A fourth generation aircraft currently optimized for the air-air role through its performance characteristics and what is by all accounts an excellent pilot interface. One surprise plus for Eurofighter could be its Eurojet EJ200 engines, which are being considered as the base powerplant for India’s LCA Tejas Mk2 Tranche 2 upgrades are giving this plane full multi-role capabilities

Disadvantage


Weaknesses include the aircraft’s $100+ million expense, which may stretch India’s budget to the breaking point; the fact it’s a new aircraft type for the IAF so the entire support infrastructure would have to be developed; its lack of naval capability; the developmental status of its CAESAR (Captor AESA Radar) technology; and the non-existent geopolitical benefits of selecting it. Given the Eurofighter’s performance and costs, simply buying more SU-30MKIs would appear to make far more sense.
F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet (Boeing, USA).

Advantage

Highly upgraded version of the F/A-18 A-D Hornet, enlarged and given new engines and avionics. Commonality between the Hornet and Super Hornet is only about 25%. Strengths include its powerful AN/APG-79 AESA radar, which has drawn significant interest from India. This radar could allow Super Hornets to play a unique role in India’s fighter fleet as versatile “quarterbacks” (or better yet, “cricket captains”) due to their radar’s performance and information sharing abilities. Other advantages include carrier capability, a very wide range of integrated weapons, a design that is proven in service and in combat, F414 engines that may also serve as the base for LCA Tejas Mk2; and complete assurance in its future upgrade spiral, given the US Navy’s commitment to it.

The existence of a dedicated electronic warfare variant as of 2009 in the EA-18G Growler may also be a potent motivator, as the growth of sophisticated air defense systems will place a growing premium on this unique capability. Last but certainly not least, this choice offers an opportunity to create an early “win” which would strengthen India’s new alliance with the USA and prove its new status in the world. After all, when clearance for the aircraft was given, no other nation had even been offered the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet.

Since then, of course, close American ally Australia has bought 24 F/A-18F Block IIs in a controversial A$ 6 billion purchase, and even taken steps to modify the aircraft toward EA-18G Growler status. Australia’s deployment of Super Hornets gives the platform an additional selling point in the “allied commonality” department, and Boeing’s planned $1.5 billion investment in India’s aerospace market may help deal with defense industrial offset issues. The Super Hornet’s Boeing connection adds many industria options in the civil aircraft market as well.
Disadvantage


Weaknesses of the Super Hornet platform include the aircraft’s expense. Given the costs to other customers so far, it seems unlikely that Boeing can deliver 126 F/A-18 E/F Block II aircraft for just $10.2 billion, let alone aircraft plus lifetime support. The Super Hornet also offers poorer aerodynamic performance than the Eurofighter or Rafale, due to inherent airframe limitations. Finally, it’s a new aircraft type for the IAF, so the entire support infrastructure would have to be developed from the ground up.

Rafale (Dassault, France).

Advantage

Advantages include demonstrated carrier capability in the Rafale-M, which could be a very big factor if the RFP includes that as a requirement. The aircraft offers exceptional ordnance capacity for its size, and can have its range extended via conformal fuel tanks. It offers superior aerodynamic performance over the F/A-18 family. The Rafale claims “supercruise” capability, but observers are skeptical and it has been challenging to demonstrate this with the Snecma R88-2 engine. The Rafale also offers some equipment, maintenance and spares commonalities with existing Mirage 2000 fleet, which would probably increase if India’s Mirage 2000s are modernized in future. France’s reliability as a weapons supplier, good history of product support, and long-standing relations with India, offers additional plusses.
Disadvantage

Weaknesses include the continuing absence of a compatible surveillance and advanced targeting pod, the need for additional funds and work to integrate many non-French weapons if one wishes to use them on the Rafale, and its lack of an AESA radar until Thales finishes developing the RBE2. The Rafale’s failure to win any export competitions is also an issue – one that reaches beyond mere perception of “also-ran” status. As DID noted in an update to “Singapore’s RSAF Decides to Fly Like An Eagle,” export failures are already forcing cuts in future Rafale procurement, in order to pay for modernization. That dynamic is likely to get worse over the next 30 years.
http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com...ndias-mrca-fighter-competition-changes-01989/
 

F-14

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http://www.f-16.net/news_article3577.html

Egypt had requested the US to supply 24 new LF-16 Block 52 fighter jets to upgrade its existing fleet.

Sources said U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates relayed the commitment in his May 5 meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

The Egyptian request for the F-16 fighter jets and other military equipment had been denied repeatedly by the former Bush administration over Egypt's record on human rights and democracy.

The other equipment included the Longbow Apache helicopter, mobile air defense systems and the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) which is a guidance kit that converts existing unguided or "dumb" bombs into "smart" munitions.

Lockheed Martin chief executive officer Robert Stevens confirmed that the company had been notified of the Egyptian request.

The 24 F-16s would replace some of the other 220 F-16s of varying capability that Egypt has acquired on five separate occasions beginning in 1980 under direct U.S. Foreign Military Sales and through the Netherlands and Turkey.

Egypt has been flying the F-16 since 1982, and acquired a total of 220 of those jets since 2002 (42 Block 15 F-16A/B, 40 Block 32 F-16C/D and 138 Block 40 F-16C/D).
 

Sridhar

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Tuesday, June 30, 2009
MMRCA Part 2 - The Swedish Underdog








Saab's tagline for the Gripen India campaign ("The Independent Choice") tells you a great deal about the depth of recognition by the company that the competition will most definitely be decided on political lines. Politically, the Gripen is squarely the odds-on underdog in the competition. The fact that it is an "independent choice" hasn't impressed an establishment that refuses to budge from the perception that the purchase of 126 fighters is as much a definitive politico-strategic investment as it is the topping up of depleting squadron strength of the IAF. This is not unreasonable, and even IAF pilots believe that the MMRCA contract is a chance to change a lot of things. Some view the Gripen's marketing as defensive, almost yielding too much to the overwhelming perception that India will buy American. But the aircraft itself has a great deal going for it.

STRENGTHS

Apart from the fact that is undoubtedly an excellent airplane, ironically, the Gripen's biggest play is the fact that it is a relatively independent choice. Within the government, many believe the Gripen is a safe bet at a good price, and one that (like the F-16), fits in with what the IAF had originally asked for. There also exists a belief within the government that the people at Saab have pioneered and fast-tracked the Demo NG programme principally for the MMRCA programme, and taken this to mean a level of commitment. The IAF has also received and been impressed by independent testimonials from the air forces of Hungary and Czech Republic about turnaround and ownership costs of the Gripen C/D. The IAF is also quite impressed with the Gripen's permutation configuration of systems, sensors and avionics, not to mention a quantum leap in the computer/bus (including Link 16), GCAS, satellite comms, payload capacity and EWS between the Gripen C/D and the Gripen NG. The IAF also likes the very nifty Cobra helmet mounted display system. The Gripen's pitch that it can be turned around on the ground (engine, systems) the fastest among all contenders makes it perfect for the IAF. The Gripen team has also squarely pitched the airplane as the a perfect complement to the "big-hitter" Su-30MKIs, implying that India's growing Flanker fleet could be inadvertently rendered superfluous if the heavy contenders in the MMRCA -- the F/A-18, the Typhoon or the Rafale -- were chosen for induction.

WEAKNESSES

Unfortunately, the Gripen's weaknesses are many. The biggest, I've outlined in the intro. The fact that is provides no strategic fruits is a big downer. The fact that Sweden promises not to interfere, but rather provide full autonomy to the Gripen India programme is simply too little in the Indian context. In fact, there are senior officers in the IAF who believe that Saab flatters itself in the belief that Sweden is powerful enough to fiddle with the strategic/military autonomy of a country like India, especially since the MMRCA provides for a total transfer of technology that very nearly precludes the possibility of any meaningful interference post-contract. Another weakness is the aircraft's country of origin itself. Provided that the Saab proves to be the best aircraft in the field evaluation tests (FETs) -- which it well might -- will any Indian government, let alone the Congress -- have the guts to buy Swedish ever again? If anyone has any doubts about the Bofors ghost, cast a glance at the farcical joke being played in the Indian Army's efforts to purchase 400 towed 155-mm artillery guns. It's been on since 2003, with an unprecedented four trial rounds. The final results laid out that the SWS Bofors gun was on top throughout. At the last moment, then Army chief General JJ Singh gave in to a firm political warning and called for a re-tender of the entire competition. It probably speaks volumes that he's now the politically-appointed Governor of Arunachal Pradesh. A stunned Bofors still hasn't recovered from the shock. Saab, which close links with the Bofors company, knows just what a liability being from Sweden is forever more in India. Worse, there's no sidestepping it. Worse still, even the IAF recognises that. The tragedy is, of course, that the Gripen has absolutely nothing to do with Bofors.

LiveFist: MMRCA Part 2 - The Swedish Underdog
 

F-14

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Boeing: Boeing Receives Contract to Develop, Test Distributed Targeting for F/A-18E/F Super Hornet

ST. LOUIS, May 20, 2009 – The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] has received a $48.9 million contract from the U.S. Navy for development and testing of a Distributed Targeting (DT) system for the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet strike fighter.

This new targeting capability is part of the Navy’s F/A-18E/F Network Centric Warfare Upgrades program and F/A-18E/F Flight Plan, a technology-insertion program that ensures the Block II Super Hornet will stay ahead of known and emerging threats through 2025 and beyond.

“Distributed targeting is a powerful new tool for the warfighter and another increase in capability for the Super Hornet, in line with the F/A-18E/F Flight Plan,” said Rick Martin, Boeing F/A-18E/F and EA-18G Flight Plan program manager. “Boeing will continue to work with the Navy as this new system moves forward to ensure our men and women in uniform have the capability they need.”

The DT capability utilizes onboard hardware and software processing to produce precise targeting solutions.

Development of the DT system began in February at Boeing facilities in St. Louis and at Harris Corp. in Melbourne, Fla. The DT development program will culminate with Navy flight tests in September 2010 at the Naval Air Warfare Center, China Lake, Calif.

The Block II F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is a multirole aircraft, able to perform virtually every mission in the tactical spectrum, including air superiority, day/night strike with precision-guided weapons, fighter escort, close air support, suppression of enemy air defenses, maritime strike, reconnaissance, forward air control and tanker missions. Boeing has delivered more than 390 F/A-18E/Fs to the U.S. Navy. Every Super Hornet produced has been delivered on or ahead of schedule.

A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is one of the world's largest space and defense businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world's largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is a $32 billion business with 70,000 employees worldwide.

# # #
 
J

John

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Boeing's Super Hornet seeks export sale to launch 20% thrust upgrade

By Stephen Trimble

Boeing is seeking an international launch customer for a 20% higher thrust version of the General Electric F414 turbofan that powers the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

The F414 enhanced performance engine (EPE) includes an all new core and forward fan to dramatically increase the fighter's takeoff performance, said Bob Gower, Boeing vice president for F/A-18E/F.

The improvements would increase the F414 thrust rating from 22,000lbs to 26,600lbs. The baseline F414-GE-400, which also powers the Saab Gripen demonstration aircraft, is itself a 35% higher thrust version of the F404 and entered service with the Super Hornet fleet in 1998.

More recently, the US Navy, Boeing and GE have been developing durability improvements to reduce foreign object damage and specific fuel consumption, Gower told reporters participating in a Boeing media tour.

While the USN seeks a new engine core to make the F414 more durable, some international customers are interested in a new engine fan that enables higher thrust, Gower said.

The 'enhanced durability engine' becomes the 'enhanced performance engine' when you put the fan on it," Gower said.

Although the core enhancements are already under contract with the USN, the programme is seeking an export customer to launch development of the F414 EPE, Gower said.

The international order would lead to follow-on sales for the USN, which would gradually replace its current inventory with the improved version, Gower said.

Several countries, including India, Brazil, Denmark, Greece and Kuwait, are considering the F/A-18E/F, with the Royal Australian Air Force already signed on as the first export customer. The RAAF has ordered 24 F/A-18E/Fs, including 12 provisioned to become EA-18G Growlers.

The improved thrust would likely be most welcomed among militaries operating in hot weather, which reduces engine performance especially at a takeoff.

Despite the dramatic thrust increase, the EPE would not require enlarging the F/A-18E/F's engine inlets to enable increased air flow, Gower said.

"We are not modifying the mould line of the aircraft," Gower said. "The current inlet gives us enough [air] in-take."

Gower also said the EPE would require changing the number of compressor stages, but he did not elaborate.

The USN is also planning to steadily improve the F/A-18E/Fs sensors, electronic warfare system, connectivity and weapons load-out over the next decade, Gower said.

"The US government and Boeing and our suppliers," said Gower, "continue to invest in the platform because we see opportunities both domestically and internationally for the platform."

Boeing's Super Hornet seeks export sale to launch 20% thrust upgrade

With the new engines the overall thrust output will increase from 44,000 lbs to 53,200 lbs.
 

F-14

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Rafale Multi-Role Combat Fighter - Air Force Technology

http://www.dassault-aviation.com/en/defense/rafale/omnirole-by-design.html?L=1




Mission-ready with low operating costs
RAFALE supportability and mission readiness capitalise on the undisputed track record of the current generation of French fighters such as the combat-proven Mirage 2000.

From the early beginning of the development phase, French MOD assigned very stringent Integrated Logistic Support requirements on RAFALE programme, well exceeding the prowess of Mirage 2000. Through concurrent engineering and Computer Aided Design (CAD) techniques, the best technological choices were made in order to favour reliability, accessibility and maintainability.

These extensive ILS studies, together with bold technological choices, led to supportability features exceeding the preliminary requirements:

Strengthened by more than 20 years experience of integrated testability through Mirage and Atlantic programme, RAFALE features a comprehensive and accurate Integrated Testability covering all aircraft systems and allowing Printed Circuit Boards exchange at flight line: Testability targets call for a 95 percent fault detection, plus the ability to detect all safety-critical failures,
Ergonomic (CAD) studies were conducted in order to check for main components accessibility within aircraft bays, ensuring that all flight line operations would be swift and error free, yielding very short repair times,
A unique (automatic) centralised weaponry safety system gets rid of all safety pins and end-of-runway actions, and contributes to achieve outstanding Turn Around Time in operation,
Advanced manufacturing techniques together with CAD uses eliminate long conventional boresighting operations after gun, HUD or radar exchange.
All these maintainability aspects have been thoroughly assessed and validated by French Navy and French Air force users. RAFALE is already well in service and enjoys from day one a very high availability and sortie rate (close to 300 FH/year/aircraft) in the confined and stringent aircraft carrier environment.

For self-supportability, the RAFALE is designed to require the minimum of ground support equipment: it is equipped with an on-board oxygen generation system, and with a closed-loop cooling fluid system for on-board coolanol and nitrogen circuits. The built-in Auxiliary Power Unit provides electrical power until the engine-driven generators come on line. During exercise "Trident d'Or", French Naval Aviators validated the RAFALE hot refuelling procedure.

Affordable high-tech fighter
A reliable and easily maintainable fighter invariably translates into considerably lower maintenance costs:

There is no complete airframe or engine depot level inspection required throughout the aircraft service life, and only specific components such as Shop Replaceable Units (SRUs) are returned for maintenance/repair. The same philosophy applies to the M88 turbofan composed of 21 modules, interchangeable without needing full balancing and re-calibration. For maintenance and repair, only modules or parts are returned to the depot/manufacturer.
The decision to eliminate the complex systems from the early design phase (a fixed refuelling probe, but removable, fixed air intake, no airbrake, no constant speed drive due to variable frequency,...) ensures spare, maintenance man hours and support equipment reduction. Also, the full interchangeability between elements due to the mastering of manufacturing techniques (no need of fitting during element installation, no boresighting) along with standardisation approach during design (reduced number of screw types, interchangeability between left-hand and right-had foreplanes, servo-actuators, standardisation of electronic modules,...) induce a reduction in spares inventory. Similarly, changing, at flight-line level, printed circuit boards within a LRU instead of replacing the LRU itself lessens the need for complete spare units (radar, SPECTRA, modular computers).
The fighter needs reduced ground manning levels (30 percent gain compared with the Mirage 2000), and lowered personnel training requirements. For instance, the side-opening canopy facilitates ejection-seat removal (ex: 10 min, 2 men for a seat exchange).
Logistic footprint reduction results from the elimination of heavy external means required with conventional aircraft. For example, no flight-line external tester is now required due to the extensive use of integrated testability. Also the elimination of engine run-up test cell is a unique achievement.
Experience of maritime design with Atlantic MPA and Super-Etendard carrier-based fighter benefit to the RAFALE advanced corrosion protection.
Finally, maintenance monitoring concept results to a limited scheduled maintenance plan. Throughout its life, the aircraft will never leave its Operational Base for maintenance reasons.
 

Soham

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Especially for supersonic compression, the engine compressor needs to hit a SUBSONIC airflow so anything supersonic have to be slowed down by mean of creating shocks.

 

Soham

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Low operating costs.

© Dassault Aviation – F. Robineau
Mission-ready with low operating costs
RAFALE supportability and mission readiness capitalise on the undisputed track record of the current generation of French fighters such as the combat-proven Mirage 2000.

From the early beginning of the development phase, French MOD assigned very stringent Integrated Logistic Support requirements on RAFALE programme, well exceeding the prowess of Mirage 2000. Through concurrent engineering and Computer Aided Design (CAD) techniques, the best technological choices were made in order to favour reliability, accessibility and maintainability.

These extensive ILS studies, together with bold technological choices, led to supportability features exceeding the preliminary requirements:

Strengthened by more than 20 years experience of integrated testability through Mirage and Atlantic programme, RAFALE features a comprehensive and accurate Integrated Testability covering all aircraft systems and allowing Printed Circuit Boards exchange at flight line: Testability targets call for a 95 percent fault detection, plus the ability to detect all safety-critical failures,
Ergonomic (CAD) studies were conducted in order to check for main components accessibility within aircraft bays, ensuring that all flight line operations would be swift and error free, yielding very short repair times,
A unique (automatic) centralised weaponry safety system gets rid of all safety pins and end-of-runway actions, and contributes to achieve outstanding Turn Around Time in operation,
Advanced manufacturing techniques together with CAD uses eliminate long conventional boresighting operations after gun, HUD or radar exchange.
All these maintainability aspects have been thoroughly assessed and validated by French Navy and French Air force users. RAFALE is already well in service and enjoys from day one a very high availability and sortie rate (close to 300 FH/year/aircraft) in the confined and stringent aircraft carrier environment.

For self-supportability, the RAFALE is designed to require the minimum of ground support equipment: it is equipped with an on-board oxygen generation system, and with a closed-loop cooling fluid system for on-board coolanol and nitrogen circuits. The built-in Auxiliary Power Unit provides electrical power until the engine-driven generators come on line. During exercise "Trident d'Or", French Naval Aviators validated the RAFALE hot refuelling procedure.

Affordable high-tech fighter
A reliable and easily maintainable fighter invariably translates into considerably lower maintenance costs:

There is no complete airframe or engine depot level inspection required throughout the aircraft service life, and only specific components such as Shop Replaceable Units (SRUs) are returned for maintenance/repair. The same philosophy applies to the M88 turbofan composed of 21 modules, interchangeable without needing full balancing and re-calibration. For maintenance and repair, only modules or parts are returned to the depot/manufacturer.
The decision to eliminate the complex systems from the early design phase (a fixed refuelling probe, but removable, fixed air intake, no airbrake, no constant speed drive due to variable frequency,...) ensures spare, maintenance man hours and support equipment reduction. Also, the full interchangeability between elements due to the mastering of manufacturing techniques (no need of fitting during element installation, no boresighting) along with standardisation approach during design (reduced number of screw types, interchangeability between left-hand and right-had foreplanes, servo-actuators, standardisation of electronic modules,...) induce a reduction in spares inventory. Similarly, changing, at flight-line level, printed circuit boards within a LRU instead of replacing the LRU itself lessens the need for complete spare units (radar, SPECTRA, modular computers).
The fighter needs reduced ground manning levels (30 percent gain compared with the Mirage 2000), and lowered personnel training requirements. For instance, the side-opening canopy facilitates ejection-seat removal (ex: 10 min, 2 men for a seat exchange).
Logistic footprint reduction results from the elimination of heavy external means required with conventional aircraft. For example, no flight-line external tester is now required due to the extensive use of integrated testability. Also the elimination of engine run-up test cell is a unique achievement.
Experience of maritime design with Atlantic MPA and Super-Etendard carrier-based fighter benefit to the RAFALE advanced corrosion protection.
Finally, maintenance monitoring concept results to a limited scheduled maintenance plan. Throughout its life, the aircraft will never leave its Operational Base for maintenance reasons.
 

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Rafale Converted Into A Satellite Launcher

November 5, 2008: Following the example of Russia and the United States, France plans to use its Rafale fighter to launch small, low orbit, satellites. The ten ton launcher would be hung from three of the Rafales hard points (one on the fuselage and two on the wings), and be able to put a 300 pound satellite into an 800 kilometers orbit.

The U.S. and Russia pioneered this sort of thing three decades ago. Russia developed an ASAT (Anti-Satellite Missile), in response to the United States program that actually resulted in the destruction of a low flying (555 kilometers up) satellite. Russia has since revised this system to launch low flying satellites using Su-30s fighters or Tu-22m bombers.

The United States ASAT program used a specially equipped F-15 to zoom to a high altitude, and launch a 1.2 ton ASM-135A missile, which then homed in on the satellite and destroyed it. The missile had two stages, plus a homing warhead. Development began in 1977. The first, and only, live test took place in 1985, when a worn out communications satellite was destroyed by the missile. Shortly thereafter, Congress shut down the program, believing that ASAT violated treaties regarding the military use of space. This did not discourage the Russians, who began working on their own ASAT after the U.S. program was cancelled. Progress on the Russian ASAT was kept secret, although it was known (or believed) to exist.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, many previously secret Russian weapons projects were revealed, if only briefly, and often in little detail. One of them was the Russian ASAT. Now, the Kazcosmos company, in Kazakhstan, which developed the Russian ASAT (in cooperation with a Moscow based research institute), is putting together a satellite launching operation. The Russian ASAT used a MiG-31 recon aircraft to test launch the missile. Such a system can only launch small satellite (no more than a few hundred pounds.) But such "microsats" have become quite popular, due to cheaper and more effective miniature electronics. Many regular satellite launches now include one or more microsats as part of a multi satellite package.
 

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Here is a snap of a hoarding of a bus-stop in Delhi.
Desperate campaigning.. don't you think ? :D

 

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Specs about the contenders
(I had posted these on IDF and NDR, and they were appreciated so I thought my might as well post 'em here)

Rafale

Rafale optimisation is not a vain word or empty commercial argument.

The aircraft aerodynamic is way more developed than that of the previous design, the Rafale A.

After Rafale A flew first on 4th July 1986, it served its purpose as demonstrator, validating the close-coupled delta-canard formula.

In particular, it meet all of ACX requierements for high maneuvrability and STOL performances, climb rate, sustain dash speed etc.

The proposed Navalised version, ACM was to meet more stringuent requierement from Marine Nationale after a Carrier trial period:

Increased sink rate with a 16* AoA and better downward visibility than the A were among MN demands after Carrier trials.

Design have to evoluate further and Dassault designers didn't do things half-way.



The A wings were similar to that of the Mirage IIING, a crancked delta plan which allowed the A to sustain M 2.0 and provided with good qualities at high AoA.
 

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In some instances (as in the case for the EAP), this wingplan can lead to assymetric dispacement of Cl at supersonic speed, the center of lift of the two parts of the wings moving back backward at a different rate. (It depends on wingsweep).

There were also gains to be made by repositioning the wings from low-shoulder to mid-fuelage and this unlocked several other design options starting with a reduction in wave drag:



1) This allowed the designers to give the aircraft a sharply sweept LEX which not only gives an increae in lift but also is shaped for supersonic performances.

2) The surfaces of the canard was increeased by 30* and their root shaped so that they can deflect fully at 30* and increase the effect of the deflected airflow above the wing.

3) The LEX leading edge were designed sharper with a tri-dimentional shape, a constant sweept and progressive adrenal



The LEX are rooted at the point where the inlets diffuser shock hits the inlet leading edge, and beneficiate from the same weaker shock wave which triggers their own while minimising its intensity.

At lower speeds they provoc several vortexes, one of which is clearly visible here, resulting on a significant increase in lift.

4) There was a marqued increase in wing-fuselage junction volume too, with a more blended shape which reduces wave drag and increases internal fuel volume.

Accessorly this feature is also reducing the aircraft RCS.

While this would have been more than enough for most design houses, it wasn't so for the Dassault aerodynamicians.

During the Mirage 4000 flight-tests, they notices that the nose cone and front fuselage could be used to accomodate better pressure control and increase overal aerodynamic efficiency around the inlets.

This resulted in the characteristic V-shaped fron fuselage and inlet arrangement which optimises the airflow in front of the diffusers

This arrangement allows for a higher supersonic performances and a less complex inlet design.

But AGAIN this wasn't enough for Dassault, when they were given the word "OPTIMISEZ"!!!

Using their experience on the Mirage series they developed the conceipt of pressure and wave control even further:

Using the principes of compressive and expensive waves they channeled the boundary layer to the exact point where they wanted these phenomenons to occur: At the limit of the wing root.

There are sdeveral advantages in doing so:

First they do away with the Mirage 2000 strakes, as they are notably unstealthy and offers less control over the boundary layer.

These are normaly rooted at shoulder-level and dynamises the airflow around the fin at high AoA offering increased Yaw stability.

In the case of Rafale, by shaping the inlets in a V, they made it possible to energise BOTH that of the wing at its root and the fin's simultaneously, retain a sleek aircaft and low RCS.
 

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