Sunday, October 5, 2008

Gripen IN Prevails






Gripen International, the Anglo-Swedish consortium responsible for marketing the supplying the JAS-39 Gripen family of medium multi-role combat aircraft (M-MRCA), is reportedly the current favourite to meet the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) requirement for an initial 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (M-MRCA). Gripen International had on April 28 this year handed-over its compliant response to the RFP that was issued by India’s Ministry of Defence last year. The company has offered the IAF the next-generation JAS-39IN Gripen, powered by a General Electric F414G turbofan. The offer is supported by a long-term programme of industrial cooperation and offsets, and of technology transfer. Saab’s international industrial network will provide substantial and long-term joint venture growth for the Indian aerospace and defence sector. The Gripen IN is based on the newly-launched Gripen NG, an enhanced version of the well-proven net centric warfare Gripen multi-role combat aircraft. It has been optimised to provide freedom of choice in weapons and sensors and an unrivalled sustained sortie generation rate through high operational availability. The complete Gripen IN solution includes an AESA airborne radar and a nose-mounted IRST sensor, as well as a wide range of precision-guided munitions. The JAS-39IN’s air-to-ground configuration equips it with two RAFAEL-built Python V within-visual-range air combat missiles on Station 1, eight GBU-12 laser-guided bombs on twin-store carriers fitted to Stations 2 and 5, plus two 300 US gallon fuel drop tanks on Station 3, Station 4 fitted with the Litening-3 laser designator pod, with Station 5 remaining empty. In the air dominance configuration, the JAS-39IN comes armed with two Python Vs on Station 1, six RAFAEL-built Derby beyond-visual-range air combat missiles on twin-launchers on Stations 2 and a single launcher on Station 5, plus twin 300 US gallon fuel drop tanks on Station 3, with Stations 4 and 5C remaining empty. In the multi-role configuration the JAS-39IN would be armed with two Python Vs on Station 1, four Derby missiles in Station 2 on twin launchers, four GBU-12s on twin-store carriers fitted to Station 5, plus two 300 US gallon fuel drop tanks on Station 3, Station 4 fitted with the Litening-3, with Station 5 staying empty. The Gripen is presently in service with the Swedish, Hungarian and Czech Republic Air Forces, and has also been ordered by the South African Air Force and Thailand. The UK-based Empire Test Pilots’ School (ETPS) too is operating Gripen as its advanced fast jet platform for test pilots worldwide. Saab also recently unveiled its Gripen NG tandem-seat demo aircraft during a ceremony at its Link√∂ping site, and confirmed that the future capabilities demonstrator will use an active electronically-scanned array (AESA) radar to be developed under a collaborative venture between Saab Microwave Systems and French avionics manufacturer THALES. Saab will be responsible for leading the development and integration of the new AESA radar, which will retain the back end of the Gripen's current PS-05 X-band monopulse pulse-Doppler radar. Prepared under a programme also including manufacturers such as Honeywell, Meggitt and Terma, the Gripen NG Demo is powered by a F414G turbofan developed by General Electric and Volvo Aero. This engine provides 20% more thrust than the Gripen’s current F404/RM12 powerplant, and supports the new aircraft’s increased maximum takeoff weight. A new landing gear--moved into the aircraft’s wing root--will also enable the Gripen NG Demo (as well as the Gripen IN) to carry more internal fuel, and two precision-guided bombs on new centreline stores pylons. Interestingly, the Indian Navy has specified an identical weapons fit (of the Gripen IN) for the naval carrier-based variant of the Tejas LCA. The Gripen IN, however, will not be armed with anti-ship cruise missiles.—Prasun K. Sengupta

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

TO SENGUPTA

gripen NG costs as much as 55 millioN per piece compared to 40 milion per aircraft for mig35
also parts form various countries
not so good

both mig 35 and gripenNG can carry upto 6 tons of payload

BUT mig 35 has 40000lbs thrust to support the combat load compared to 22000lbs thrust of gripen NG

gripen NG has smaller radar nose
compared to mig35 radar nose it means mig35 can house bigger radar and hence more detection range

both aircraft have IRST and advanced sersors and avionics

both r agile

so y gripenNG is 15 million more costly

Prasun K Sengupta said...

Maybe because Gripen Int'l may be paying more commissions to their agents/promoters/consultants than the Russians are willing to? I'm only guessing here. The MiG-35's cost should be in the range of US$33 million. Not more than that. Russian labour costs are way below those of their Swedish counterparts.

Anonymous said...

to prasun

in this way spare parts for mig 35

must b cheaper compared to western counterperts

cuz each new rd33 v r building costs us only 2 miilion a piece
compared to 5-6 million a piece for similar western engines

Anonymous said...

to prasun

and can v use rd33mk engine for
LCA it is also uprated engine

Prasun K Sengupta said...

You must take into account the fact that Western engines have a guaranteed life of 6,000 hours whereas the Russian engines, even the newer ones, have yet to each the 4,000-hour mark. That's why Russian engines are cheaper for now. If you want to re-engine the Tejas LCA with ANY new engine (except those from GE Aero Engines), it will involve a major redesign of the aircraft's engine bay and the air intakes. This in turn will further delay the definitive aircraft's induction into service. The only engine manufacturer that has the best appreciation and knowledge of the LCA's airframe design peculiarities is GE Aero Engines. And if you put 2 & 2 together and get the Tejas LCA powered by GE's F414 turbofan and at the same time also have the Gripen IN powered by the same F414 engine, then imagine how much money HAL can make (and save) by producing a single engine for two aircraft types. This is what I suspect will happen as the IAF too will insist on this package in order to keep the procurement costs of the M-MRCA as low as possible. But then, in such a scenario you need to ask this question: What will be so different between the Tejas LCA and Gripen IN, when they both feature high commonality in terms of engine and avionics and weapons packages? What will the Gripen IN do which the Tejas LCA will not be able to? Is the IAF acquiring the Gripen IN as part of a disguised attempt to place only limited orders for the Tejas LCA and then terminate the project, just like what the Indian Army seems determined to do with the Arjun Mk1 MBT? Why not just trade-in the existing MiG-29s and acquire MiG-35s, instead of upgrading the MiG-29s which in any case will not have fly-by-wire flight controls? Why not order 80 (instead of 40) Su-30MKIs to make up for the aircraft that are now being decommissioned in large numbers? Why not just cancel the M-MRCA induction process and instead concentrate on inducting the FGFA by 2015, especially since the FGFA's first prototype will fly next year? The Army afterall wants to have the T-95 FMBT within the next five years and that's why it does not want the Arjun Mk2 MBT. These questions have not yet been answered convincingly by anyone thus far.

Anonymous said...

to prasun

u r right better scrap mrca and save money to induct more fgfa aircraft

and buy 80 more mki than mrca this is the cheapest and best option

v can't trade in MIG29s like su30k
cuz mig29s have completed half of their life compared to 1500hours of flight of su30k neither mig29s r that capable

and also ukrain has large no of
mig29,su24 which r available for export but no one wants them

not sure they r willing to sell their 80 or so su27

rd33mk engine has reached life of 4000 hours and cost 1/2 the price of similar western engines which pays off its money and engines for su35 have reached 6000hrs of life

and why not buy mig 35 cuz hal producing rd33 engine for mig29
upgrade and they will also produce
the engine for upcoming 30 more
mig29k for navy ,so v have large infrastructure for mig29,35

in this way spare parts and life cycle cost for mig 35
must b cheaper compared to western counterperts cuz
Russian labour costs are way below those of their western counterparts

max said...

India should negotiate with Russia: Russia gives us engine technology for Klimov RD33 and Aviadvigatel PS-90 (including design blueprints) and India will give them the $10 bil Mig-35 contract. And with the engine technology we can concentrate on building our own 5th generation fighter and long range heavy bomber. In the mean time Russia can use the 10 Bil to revive their cash starved defense factories. But its a wet dream i know.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Max: Actually if you compare the reliability and technology of the Kaveri with that of the RD-33MK or AL-31FP, the Kaveri comes out superior. The Kaveri turbofan's R & D is still on-going. The project isn't and shouldn't be scrapped. For the Tejas LCA the problem is not the engine itself. Foreign collaboration with GE, SNECMA or EUROJET is being sought to make the configuration weight-budgeted. The problem was never the turbofan's design or performance. The problem was the ASQR from IAF HQ that kept on shifting the goalposts till as late as 2005. The IAF now wants the LCA to carry a heavier weapons load than what it had specified earlier, hence the search is on for an uprated powerplant. Also, you must bear in mind that financial allocations from the MoD were accorded sequentially for each stage of the LCA's R & D process, and it was not a simultaneous allocation as has been the case in other countries. The IAF is perfectly willing to acquire about 40 LCAs in the air superiority configuration armed with WVR & BVR air combat missiles and using the existing GE powerplant. But the IAF wants the bulk of the LCAs to be as formidable as the Gripen IN and it has made this request knowing fully well that such a challenge is achievable now that India's aerospace industry has achieved the necessary core technological competencies.
What has not yet been clarified is whether the uprated Kaveri, once it arrives, will also be considered for powering the FGFA instead of the AL-31FP. Afterall, if a homegrown turbofan is flight-qualified on the LCA, there's no reason why it can't be done on the FGFA.
Also, let us not forget that the Kaveri's marine industrial gas turbine variant has great potential and may be ordered in large numbers by the Indian Navy.

Anonymous said...

to prasun

the comment by max is totally unjustified russia is in better economic stste now then it was 10 years ago

russia didn't even transfer the AL31 ENGINE TECH TO CHINE EVEN FOR LOT OF MONEY and v r critisizing russia over al31 engine tech

so y will they transfer it now cuz they r in better situation

AND BY THE WAY WHICH COUNTRY SELL ITS TECH TO OTHERS LOOK AT USA HOW IT BEHAVES WITH ALLIES OVER TECH TRANSFER E.G UK OVER JSF

infact no country sells its tech to others y u expect russia

Anonymous said...

to prasun

as u have said that each mig35 costs no more than 33 million

then 126 will costs us=4.16 billion

and if the price is 40 million

126 will cost us = 5 billion
==================================
126 f18 each for 55 million
will cost us =6.930billion
and same for gripen NG
==================================
rafale=126*67million per aircraft
= 8.442billion
==================================
typhoon=126*100million per plane
= 12.6 billion
===================================
so if russian labour wages r waaay lower than their western counter parts and if mig 35 has 2.5 times lower operational cost per hour and if its engine has life of 4000
hours it means

spares of mig 35 shuold b cheaper and so its life cycle cost compared to other contenders

Kannan said...

to prasun:
Can you speculate with information you have on why Indian Army and Indian Airforce behaves strangely when it comes to indigenous projects like Arjun and LCA.
Is this becoz of corruption or mindset issues? I would like to know your take on this.Thank you

max said...

@anon - October 06, 2008 6:46:00 AM

Yes Russia is in a better economic condition today. I heard from CNN they nett $1 bil a day from oil/gas revenues alone. Russia has always been tough on China because of China's growing influence in central Asia (Russia's stronghold) and in future it may pose a danger to Russia. This insecurity isn't present with India and that's why Russia has helped us in various fields. Can you tell another country who'd sell us mini reactors + blueprints for ships / subs? or anyone who'd lease us a nuke sub? As you know Russia was also willing to transfer cyrogenic technology for GSLV but eventually backtracked due to US objections based on MTCR. Frankly speaking Russia has been quite kind to us. And don't compare any country to US as they are the most insecure. What I said about the engine TT should just be taken at face value.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Kannan: The problems are not with the armed forces. They are always left with no options but to react (instead of being pro-active) to the knee-jerk reactions of the respective political coalitions in power, who don't even understand the meaning of STRATEGIC VISIONING, which is what Kautilya's Arthashastra is all about!!!. If you walk down memory lane back to the early 1980s you will find out that the infamous Larkins brothers espionage case was not about stealing or selling the country's secrets, but the French were really horrified by the sudden about-turn made by the then Congress-I govt in power and they then decided through their Embassy in Delhi to get to the bottom of this sudden volte face and find out what really happened. When the Confress-I govt first came to power in 1980 it had given the IAF the green light to go in a big way for the Mirage 2000H/TH (up to 150 units) and also retain the option for the heavier Mirage 4000 twin-engined heavy MRCA. Then, all of a sudden, the IAF was told to abruptly change its long-term force modernisation perspective plan and instead go for a small batch of 40 Mirage 2000s and hundreds of MiG-23MFs, MiG-23BNs, MiG-27Ms and eventually the MiG-29Bs. Just imagine what an enormous strain on operational logistics this skewed procurement policy eventually imposed on the IAF, in comparison to what it would have been had the IAF been allowed to implement the earlier approved policy of standardising on the Mirage 2000 M-MRCA. And all this was happening at a time when the Soviets clearly failed to intervene militarily against China when Beijing attacked Vietnam in 1979 and again in 1984 over the Spratly Islands issue. Therefore, by the mid-1980s it was clear that the days of the Soviet Union were numbered and it was no longer the superpower that it was made out to be. And when Mikhail Gorbachyov in 1986 stated publicly in New Delhi that he did not foresee a future round of Sino-India limited hostilities and that the Soviets would not take sides in the event of such hostilities taking place, the political leadership in India failed to draw proper lessons from such remarks. The large-scale diversification of weapons technology imports should have begun way back in the mid-1980s, but then again due to acute myopia and lack of STRATEGIC VISIONING the country's decision-makers and decisively failed to read the writing on the wall.
This then brings us to 2001 when the then CAS of IAF, ACM Krishnaswamy, first identified the need for additional M-MRCAs and again identified the Mirage 2000 as a possible candidate. This was because the French Air Force at that time had begun retiring its Mirage 2000s from service and the IAF could then have acquired them for a song even AFTER upgrading their avionics to the same standard as that on the Su-30MKI. This then would have enabled the IAF to rapidly phase out the MiG-21FLs and MiG-21Ms, along with the MiG-23BNs and early-build MiG-27Ms, and possibly even the MiG-29B-12s, thereby removing the enormous financial strain and acute product support problems that were being faced by such Soviet-origin aircraft fleets. In addition, had things gone this way, then enough money would have been available to invest in the Tejas LCA project and accelerate its flight certification and at the same time expedite the joint R & work with the Russians on the FGFA. That was the original well thought-out roadmap created by the IAF when ACM Krishnaswamy at the helm of affairs. But as you are now well-aware, when the UPA coalition party came to power in one swoop and without any sane justification it got rid of the non-lapsable rolling defence acquisition fund that was set up by Jaswant Singh (the Union Finance Minister of the previous NDA coalition govt) after exhaustive deliberations with the armed forces and was aimed at expediting the force modernisation processes DESPITE the prevailing dysfunctional nature of military procurement practices. All this only serves to prove one point: the principal enemy of India is not external, but within.

Anonymous said...

Prasun,
isnt the Super Hornet also using the GE F414 engine?

Prasun K Sengupta said...

Yes it is, indeed.

Anonymous said...

I have one question on the LCA and Gripen issue. It is said that the LCA and gripens maximum take of weight is same so is the engine and gripen is just 1 mtr longer in length , then why LCA has a lesser payload of 4000kgs whereas gripen has a payload of around 6000kgs. why this difference ?
Can anyone please tell me?