Sunday, July 5, 2009

Will Goliath Prevail Over David?

When all six participating M-MRCA manufacturers submitted their compliant technical and financial bids to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in late April last year, everyone assumed that only these six would be eligible for bidding for the contract to supply close to 180 fourth-generation M-MRCAs to the Indian Air Force (IAF). What went totally unnoticed and was left unreported by India’s mainstream media was that a seventh independent bidder too had presented its detailed bid—this being SIBAT—the Foreign Defense Assistance and Defense Export Department of the Israel Ministry of Defence, and Israel’s counterpart of Russia’s Rosoboronexport State Corp, France’s Office Francais d’Exportation de Materiel Aeronautique (OFEMA), the United Kingdom’s Defence Export Services Organisation (DESO), and Pakistan’s Defence Export Promotion Organisation (DEPO). The consolidated bid from SIBAT had adopted a consortium approach just like what the other M-MRCA bidders had done. The prime contractor as per SIBAT’s submissions was Israel Aerospace Industries and included RAFAEL Advanced Defence Systems, Elbit Systems and RADA Electronics. On the other hand, the Boeing Integrated Defense Systems-led consortium included GE Aero Engines, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman; the Lockheed Martin-led consortium included Northrop Grumman and GE Aero Engines; the Eurofighter GmbH-led consortium included BAE Systems, EADS Military Aircraft and EADS Defence Electronics, Eurojet, DIEHL-BGT Defence, MBDA and Selex-Galileo; the Dassault Aviation-led consortium included the THALES Group, Snecma Moteurs, SAGEM and MBDA; while the Anglo-Swedish Gripen International-led consortium included GE Aero Engines, BAE Systems, and Saab AB, but was supplemented by the independent submission from SIBAT.

From the above-mentioned listing of the various consortiums it emerges that while the ones led by Boeing Integrated Defense Systems, Lockheed Martin, Dassault Aviation and Eurofighter GmbH had each presented a single, unified compliant bid, the submission by Gripen International, which was literally the most comprehensive and bulky of all the M-MRCA submissions, was in essence an intelligent packaging of two submissions—from Gripen International and SIBAT—all aimed at promoting a single product, the JAS-39 Gripen IN. In marketing terms, therefore, the combined Gripen International/SIBAT submission easily presented itself as the most formidable proposal since it offered, both financially and quantitatively, both direct and indirect offsets offers by aerospace OEMs that are extremely well-established in India and each of them have had a rich legacy of market predominance for the past two decades, these being BAE Systems, GE Aero Engines, Israel Aerospace Industries, RAFAEL Advanced Defence Systems and Elbit Systems.

While conventional wisdom would dictate that it was SIBAT that conceived of and articulated such a superlative marketing strategy, it was actually BAE Systems that came up with this ingenious packaging once it had become evident by mid-2007 that Lockheed Martin, wanting to have and eat the whole cake, flatly refused all overtures by SIBAT to be a significant industrial stakeholder in the F-16IN—the airframe with which Israel Aerospace Industries, RAFAEL Advanced Defence Systems and Elbit Systems were extremely familiar and had maximum hands-on experience. Soon after this initial disappointment, BAE Systems orchestrated the joint venture tie-ups between the Israeli OEMs and Gripen International, knowing fully well that in the ultimate analysis, it will be the direct and indirect military-industrial offsets and related ToT packages that will dictate the final choice of the M-MRCA. In addition, BAE Systems had correctly anticipated that the bulk of the realistically deliverable military-industrial offsets and related ToT packages would be offered not by Gripen International or GE Aero Engines, but by the Israeli OEMs that are already deeply involved in several on-going projects with guaranteed financial dividends, such as the Tejas LCA Mk2’s development phase, the An-32-100 upgrade project, the projected upgrades for the Jaguar IS and Su-30MKI, and the substantial projected participation in the tandem-seat Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) and Multi-Role Transport (MRT) projects.

Obviously highly enthused by what Gripen International had offered, the IAF’s Project Evaluation Team had by late last year adopted the JAS-39 Gripen IN’s offer as the ultimate yardstick and had begun drafting detailed supplementary queries for the other M-MRCA bidders of the kind that were not considered financially viable by them. Consequently, by last February an informal ‘cartel’ had reportedly emerged betweeen the US-based OEMs and their European counterparts that have since jointly demanded a ‘level playing field’ against the Gripen International/SIBAT joint venture. The Obama Administration has already communicated its extreme displeasure to Israel by giving it two stark choices: preserve, and not expand Israel’s predominance within India so that US-based OEMs could gain a firm foothold within India, or face the prospect of losing big-time. In other words, SIBAT is free to enhance its profile within India through participation in the Tejas LCA Mk2, FGFA and MRT projects and follow-on sales of AEW & C systems as long as it withdraws its supplementary bid for customising the JAS-39 into the Gripen IN. That SIBAT has since chosen the only available path is, however, not the end of the story and the coming weeks will most likely see the emergence of a compromise formula being worked out between 10 Downing Street and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue under which the following options will be examined:

· The revised offer of the F-16IN with US-origin mission sensors and Israel-origin weapon systems, and consequently the formation of a formal US-Israel ‘cartel’ to counter Eurofighter GmBH and Dassault Aviation.

· The option of creating a joint venture between US and Israeli OEMs for bidding for the IAF’s projected upgrade of 120 Jaguar IS interdictors, this being done to compensate SIBAT for withdrawing from the Gripen IN offer.

· Agreeing to a win-win option under which Gripen International and the two US-based M-MRCA OEMs would not present competing bids in countries that are expected to procure new-generation combat aircraft, albeit in far smaller numbers than what the IAF will be procuring, with these countries including Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Greece, Malaysia, The Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia and Switzerland.—Prasun K. Sengupta
20 Principal Issues Defining The IAF’s Techno-Economic Matrix For Selecting The M-MRCA

1) Which is the most technologically advanced and readily available M-MRCA in the world as of today?
2) While the IAF procure a single-engined M-MRCA or a twin-engined M-MRCA?
3) Will the majority of the M-MRCAs be single-seaters or tandem-seaters?
4) Will the choice of the M-MRCA be predicated by any political compulsions or weightage?
5) Which of the M-MRCA OEMs will guarantee total operational dominance and operational sovereignty for the IAF?
6) Which of the M-MRCA OEMs have offered guaranteed unrivalled access to source codes for software-defined mission sensors?
7) Which of the M-MRCA contenders has substantially lower real life-cycle costs than its nearest competitor?
8) Is it a big deal for the IAF to select as its M-MRCA an aircraft-type that has not yet been introduced in South Asia?
9) Which is the only M-MRCA option that will fundamentally shift India’s defence-industrial technology prowess to one that is able to realise its ambition of being an independent global player?
10) Which M-MRCA will be the perfect match with the IAF’s Su-30MKI and a true force multiplier while using the IAF-specific operational data link?
11) Is the IAF giving any serious credence to parameters such as proven superiority in combat missions?
12) How important are capabilities like super cruise and supermanoeuvrability? Will they offer any kind of “game-changing tactical advantages in offensive and defensive spectrum, and also contribute to “lowered IR signature, rapid theatre presence, evolutionary sensor/weapon kinematics and denial of enemy reaction time”?
13) Which M-MRCA OEMs are offering customer-specific mission avionics suites and weapons packages to the IAF?
14) Which of the M-MRCA contenders has the operational range, payload and built-in net-centric warfare (NCW) capability to meet all the roles as defined by the IAF, both national and regional expeditionary?
15) Which of the M-MRCA OEMs has offered a level of ToT that will enable India to manage all aspects of the M-MRCA’s life-cycle?
16) Is it true that in combination with the milutary-industrial cooperation programmes offered, such offers will make India by 2020 completely independent of the need to purchase combat aircraft from other countries and make it an exporter of combat aircraft?
17) Which of the M-MRCA proposals promise to deliver industrial offsets equal to the contract value?
18) How many M-MRCA OEMs have proposed ToT programmes that will guarantee full involvement in future capability development and maximise Indian industrial autonomy through the transfer of unique and highly advanced and multi-tier MRO-related competencies?
19) Will the ToT packages include: design, development and integration of avionics, software, armaments packages and mission sensor systems on the M-MRCA; and guaranteed incorporation of pre-planned product improvements and related key high-tech competencies for example in areas of sensor fusion, low-observability (LO) and stealth?
20) What are the linkages, if any, between the M-MRCA programme and the Tejas Mk 2 LCA’s R & D phase?

60 comments:

Bobs said...

nice article ...is this the full report or are you planning to add more details.

Mehdi baba said...

prasun, tell me one thing...why is obama reluctant to allow israeli tech in an a/c proposed to India? is it :

a) because he is afraid that the israeli offer is the winning combination and thus his companies may lose out on the deal

OR

b) he is averse to selling sensitive tech to India and want to keep the India's growth in check vis-a-vis pakistan

Anonymous said...

prasun, how do u get such insider info ?

Anonymous said...

probably US may say no to SAAB for selling thier engines or other US manufactured equipment to india with tech transfer

Anonymous said...

anon @ 5:00 pm wrote :
prasun, how do u get such insider info ?

Its simple...he uses the two important tools of trade : sleaze and cash.

Nava said...

Great article Prasun. Do you know what were the sticks that the Americans threatened SIBAT with? Not that they're short on those, I'm just
wondering what "extreme displeasure" actually entailed.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Bobs: As you are well aware, this is still a developing and morphing issue that will require updates on A) whether the single-engine or twin-engine standard will be selected, and B) will the majority of the M-MRCAs be single-seaters or tandem-seaters. So yes, as the issues get clearer I will be posting the updates.

To Mehdi Baba: This has nothing to do with denial of any kind of technologies. It is purely a commercial issue.

To Anon@5:03PM: You forgot to 'list' one other possibility: President Obama keeping me periodically updated via his SMSes to me from his Blackberry! The truth is: the facts are always staring at our face and all that one has to do is talk to the officials who are directly involved in the bidding process (from both the buyer's side and the supplier OEMs' side). US industrial displeasure over the Gripen IN-related offers were quite well-known as far back as last February and it only took some more time (90 days) for such 'displeasures' to be translated into the Obama Administration's official policy-level expectations of creating a 'level playing field'.

To Nava: The 'sticks' were essentially the 'options' that I've mentioned above with regard to future market penetrations by SIBAT into India. Afterall, one must not forget that at the critical MIL-SPEC component-levels there are several such US-origin components which are still acquired by Israeli OEMs for incorporation into weapon systems, avionics and mission sensors destined for India. Therefore, all that the US-based MNCs have to do is deny Israeli OEMs the advantages of being part of the global supply chain of such MNCs and one begins to feel the financial hurt. I'll give you one example: all the chips with embedded encryption that go into the GPS receivers of the rangeless ACMI pods built by both Elbit Systems/BVR Techologies and RADA are directly sourced from the US.

Nava said...

I see. By the way, what is this (potential) substantial participation in the FGFA that you mention?

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Nava: Primarily the incorporation of avionics/mission sensors utilising sensor-fusion technologies on both the FGFA and the Tejas Mk2 LCA, and also on the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) and possibly on the to-be-selected attack helicopters as well. Now do you see how big a cake the Indian military procurement market is? Therefore, it is always pragmatic to prioritise, define-and-confine, and make pragmatic compromises in one's business strategies. That way one may lose some, but may win more in terms of business volume.

Nava said...

Oh of course there's no point to being fixated over one contract or the other, however in such a fundamentally unleveled playing field as the one between Israel and the US, I think we're going to see a drop in the predominance of Israeli firms in the "Hi-Tech" segment of the Indian market.

Not to venture off into reverie, but I think the way forward for the Israeli industry is massive investment in the UAV and air/missile defense sectors and overall making some hard choices to reduce the dependence on uncle Sam.

Raghav said...

1. What exactly is Technology transfer? Now suppose IAF selects the Super Hornet, what technology will Boeing actually transfer to India? I am sure we will be given tech to construct the airframe. Now will Boeing tell us how to make the AN/APG-79? Will they tell us how to make GE/F-414 engine? Will we be able to make them from India sourced raw materials or just assemble the radar and engine from knocked down kits. Or will it just be the source code for the software used in the mission computer?

2. In industrial offsets are there any conditions specifying the technical sophistication of the components to be procured from Indian firms. Example: An OEM can simply procure low tech items from Indian cos. like landing gear, LCD displays, parts of the airframe/cockpit, electric wires, batteries etc. whereas all hi-tech items like radar, engine can be made by the OEMs entirely in their country thereby not bringing any benefits to Indian cos. in terms of technology. So are there any conditions in industrial offsets that specify for example that a few components of the radar should be procured from Indian cos.

Anonymous said...

If this is the pressure Israel is facing for offering a joint bid with Gripen imagine what will happen if we buy F-16IN or F/A-18 Super Hornet. If USA is 'highly displeased' with us, they will refuse to sell spare parts to us to arm twist us. We have learnt no lessons from what Pakistan faced or our own experience with the Sea King helicopters. We keep buying P-8I, C-130J, C-17 and so on. We are taking a huge risk and in future I am sure we will regret all these decisions.

BENGAL UNDER ATTACK said...

Prasun Da,

Thanks for this - at least the "dynamics" are clear.

Though I think the leak to J Post was deliberate - and there will be more play before Goliath wins.

I hope, though, that it does not.

Kaushik said...

With reference to point(2) of Raghav:

I think it would have been really wise if the IAF had been specific like this in its offsets condition:If an OEM is selected then there must be some Indian made components in every major subsystem of the aircraft.
In the engine, only the hot components like the single crystal blades etc.need be made by the OEM. All other components in the engine that can be made in India should be made in India.
In AESA radar, the T/R modules should be made in India. And so on.
The IAF should have compiled a list of components in the plane that must be made here by taking into account the abilities of Indian companies to make them and then presented the list to the OEMs rather than simply saying that 50% of the money be spent in India.

sachin_sathe said...

prasun,

Nice post.Atleast it will avoid having almost identical capabilities on two diff platforms(Tejas Mk.2 and Grippen IN).

The indian defence market is indeed a one BIG Cake and US are masters at eating such cakes also with india slowly shifting from a pro-russia procurement lobby to a more liberal procurement policy with increasing co-op with DRDO and the likes India can reap real rewards (not just in military capability) IF it plays her cards right.

My guess is F-18 will take MMRCA competition with Russia being kept happy through additional 29K's(both carriers are expected to arrive with less than 2 yrs betn each other and 45 aint enough) and FGFA.

If the helo order has such offset clause then it can help in further improving LCH performance by getting Know-why.

Also shiv's report on ATV stated tht 2nd ATV is bigger thn first one is this the SSBN?also can u make a possible comparison in therms of physical capabilities with the Nerpa?

subroto said...

Thanks Prasun,

Nice article. I did not know about the SIBAT.


1.Did SIBAT formally announce it’s withdrawal from the Gripen Project?


2.What kind of impact it will be on the LCA Tejas MK2 Project with India.

subroto said...

The revised offer of the F-16IN with US-origin mission sensors and Israel-origin weapon systems, and consequently the formation of a formal US-Israel ‘cartel’ to counter Eurofighter GmBH and Dassault Aviation.
-----------------------------------

Is their any possibility of a combine Boeing Integrated Defense systems / SIBAT joint venture promoting F-18 IN?

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Raghav: A very good question indeed, the answer to which is the source of several conjectures and erroneous assumptions and is even now being assumed to be something similar to what was acquired by India from the Soviet Union during the Cold War era. Therefore, in order to understand what ToT related to military procurements are all about, we have to begin from what the MoD's Defence Procurement Manual (DPM) specifies.
The first thing to note is that the DPM only specifies in percentage terms the minimum amount of the total contract value that ought to be ploughed back as direct offsets. But the DPM does not quantify in percentage terms exactly what will be the maximum permissible amount of the contract value can be re-invested within India as either direct or indirect offsets. In reality, this means it can go even as high as 130% provided BOTH direct and indirect offsets are taken into consideration and as is the norm in North America, Europe and Scandinavia. It was for this reason that when the M-MRCA RFPs were released by the MoD, they were floated/issued as GLOBAL TENDERS and not Restricted Tenders (for which the MoD pre-selects the recipients). Consequently, the last time I checked, more than 112 copies of the GLOBAL TENDER were collected by various MoD-registered vendors directly from IAF HQ, and not just the six or seven recipients as some would like to assume!
Secondly, in terms of what exactly is the MoD's definition of ToT related to the M-MRCA procurement, it is quite a simple one: all that it calls for is "acquisition of the werewithal to maintain persistent operational sovereignty" over the assets to be acquired. Simply put, it means the end-user--in this case the IAF--should be supplied with all that is required to ensure the guaranteed reliability, serviceability and airworthiness of the chosen M-MRCA and related hardware (like flying training aids/ground handling equipment/weapons packages/3-tier MRO infrastructure) throughout the projected total technical service lifespan of the M-MRCA. To all this one must add the incorporation of pre-planned product upgradations that will be introduced as they become available. Now, all this can be done even without building the complete aircraft in-country with India-sourced raw materials. The only thing that makes sense to to in-country is licence-assemble the aircraft that arrives from abroad in completely knocked-down condition. As for the rest like AESA radars, turbofan hot sections/engine cores, landing gears or other accessories, unless one envisages the procurement of up to 600 M-MRCAs like the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, it will be next to impossible to recover the sunken costs and non-recurring expenditure that will be required to set up localised aircraft production-related infrastructure. Ultimately, in financial terms it is all a numbers game and it is only for this reason that all the efforts aimed at developing and producing avionics (like AMLCDs or RWRs or MWS or RLG-INS) will only become a success when they are incorporated on board a large number of aircraft (like the Su-30MKI, Jaguar IS/DARIN-3, Tejas Mk2 LCA, FGFA, etc).
In conclusion, what I'm trying to say is that we should never approach the issue of ToT from India's past experiences with the Soviet/Russian aviation industry, which was grossly inefficient and was artificially priced in a way so as to enable a customer to purchase a full-fledged aircraft rebuilding plant to progressively indigenise various on-board components. As it is, in the case of the Su-30MKI, several sub-systems are being imported off-the-shelf till this day and this will be the case even with the FGFA. The AL-31FP turbofans and NO-11M Bars radars are coming in off-the-shelf in semi knocked-down condition only to be assembled by HAL. For depot-level MRO of these sub-systems they all have to be flown back to Russia.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Sachin Sathe: As far as 'Project Aakangsha' goes, only one ATV was sanctioned simply because it is a technology demonstrator for validating the structural hull integrity and the nuclear propulsion system for the submarine. The ATV is thus not an operational submarine, but merely a technology demonstrator that will never be delivered to the Indian Navy as it will be owned by the DRDO. And do rest assured that by no means is it based on any kind of 'ancient' technologies/designs of the type characterised by the ex-Soviet Charlie-1 SSN of 1960s vintage. I don't understand why India-based news reporters continue to mkake such erroneous assumptions. Therefore, to conclude this point, there will be only one (single) ATV as there's no point in fabricating three technology demonstrators when one alone will suffice. This has been the case with all other nuclear submarine manufacturers and I have no reason to believe that India's case will be any different.
Now to the issue of production-standard nuclear-powered submarines: the first such vessel will be a nuclear attack submarine, and not a SLBM-equipped SSBN. A small number of modules making up the frontal hull section of the SSN have already been fabricated by L & T and are gradually piling up at Vizag. But by no means will L & T buold all modules of the SSN's hull. MDL too will be involved in hull fabrication and to this end, more than a year ago it inked an industrial JV with Fincantieri for this purpose. The optronic masts will be supplied by a joint venture of L & T and Italy's Riva Calzoni. The combat management system is being jointly designed and developed by TATA and BAE Systems. But India is still several years away from designing and building a SSBN and only when one hears any news about the DRDO initiating R & D work on a 8,500km-range SLBM will one get to hear about parallel R & D efforts being initiated for an operational SSBN.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Subroto: SIBAT will not announce any such thing as (since I explained above), there's still high-level haggling going on between the US, the UK and Israel about a potential 'consolation gift' being allotted to Israel as part of the M-MRCA project. By now it should be obvious that a single-engined M-MRCA will soon emerge as the preferred solution, but in all probability the majority of the M-MRCAs will be tandem-seaters.
The Tejas Mk1 and Mk2 LCAs will not be impacted upon at all. In fact, I'm led to believe that GE Aero Engine's formidable marketing clout both in Delhi and Washington DC will likely result in the F414 going on board the Tejas LCA Mk2, while the F110-132A will go on the F-16IN. In the end, it is all about achieving marketing/financial synergy in a way that will allow the OEM to engage in high-value ToT.

Nava said...

Prasun:
Has there been any significant Indian response to this whole affair?

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To BuA Da: Both Goliath and David will jointly prevail in India, just as sugar dissolves into milk without causing any spillage.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Nava: As I explained above, the issue is not yet a closed affair and behind-the-scenes lobbying by the involved/affected vendors is still underway. It is therefore better for India to just sit back and watch the situation evolve along with time. Afterall, there's still another five months to go before a selection is made. So what's the rush to respond at all?

Nava said...

Perhaps there isn't a rush per se, but you indicated that the IAF was rather enthusiastic about the Gripen IN bid so I wondered what they might be thinking. Also it seems to me from my admittedly biased viewpoint, that it is in India's interest to ensure that the Israelis aren't pushed out of contracts that the US has its eyes on. In the long term India won't benefit from that...

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Nava: I don't think it has developed into an issue of any vendor being 'pushed out' of any contract. Afterall, no contract award has taken place as yet. If at all it was the US intention to marginalise the Israeli OEMs then the US would have 'vetoed' even the marketing of Israel-origin weapon systems within India. For instance, the US never objected to the creation of NOVA Integrated Systems, the JV between India's TATA Group and Israel Aerospace Industries, which will series-produce all components of the Barak-8/Barak-8ER MR-SAM/LR-SAM, and whose contract value is far more than what SIBAT is expecting from the M-MRCA project. The way I see it, this is strictly a trilateral affair involving the govts of the US, UK and Israel. As such, India should not make any move or comment until the US officially briefs India on this subject. As India remains a lucrative market for weapons procurements it doesn't matter from where exactly the weapons originate (but definitely not from Russia in large quantities for sure), be it from israeli or Europe or the US. The more the merrier.

Anonymous said...

Hi Prasun, I want to know about a omplete different story! It is the arms drop case in Purulia way back in December 19995! Actually I hav very little knowledge about the incident,just read about that incident from some journal a few days ago! Do u Have any xtra information or fact about the incident to share with us? Then please rply.

sachin_sathe said...

prasun,

Indian news media is not called DDM for nothing.They view and promote LCA as just a replacement for mig-21 when the Mk.1 itself is as good as the M2k if not better.

the indian scientist community does tend to be a bit too conservative while producing something unique like this so i won't be surprised if the first ATV(even if it is a testbed) has a ordinary performance specs(such as speed below 30kts and max deapth of around 300-350 mtrs).
The final ssn design is where we can expect them to go all out.

I may sound like a broken record a bit but the indian built SSK can use similar or if not the same non nuclear systems tht r being produced with Foreign design houses like BAE, Fincantieri and Riva Calzoni thus the indian SSK looks quite possible by 2020.

as far as SIBAT is concerned the focus is mainly on reducing russian influence on india so US,Europians and off-course Iseraelies will tripple team.

subroto said...

To Prasun,

There are Political sensitivities involved in the F-16IN issue.

India – USA relationship is growing weaker. Obama Administration has shown greater interest in engaging with long- term allies Pakistan and Japan, followed by, China. India does not figure on the US radar. US Administration is also close to review the Indo-US Nuclear deal and there are indications to extend such a deal to Pakistan.
Then, there are two military pact issues with the USA.
1.End-use monitoring Agreement (EUMA)
2.Communication Interoperability and Security Memorandum Agreement.

These are important to smoothen India acquisition of military and software from USA. Other issue on signing the Logistics Support Agreement (LSA) is there. USA continues to pressure India to conclude the LSA agreement. LSA envisages Indian and American militaries providing logistic support, rufuelling and berthing facilities for each other’s warships and aircraft on barter or an equal-value exchange basis.

Out of the 20 Principal issues defining the IAF‘s techno Economic Matrix, GRIPEN IN fulfills/fit maximum of them. I will still hope GRIPEN INTERNATIONAL / SABIT joint venture promoting the Gripen IN (India- specific mission avionics suites and weapons packages to IAF).

Anonymous said...

Whats the logic of going for a twin engined tandem seater when India has already invested so heavily in Su30 MKI's? After all it is quite a capable platform with significant upgrade potential.

Anonymous said...

Why does yhe IAF want to turn Jaguars into interceptors? Werent they were primarily designed for deep penetration strike missions?

Anonymous said...

which radar is better apg80 or sabr aesa raars

Raghav said...

Thanks for your comprehensive reply. I have a few points to make

The MoD might state that that the OEM should provide full product support for the entire operational life of the fighter. But this is dependent on the relationship we might have with the host country of the OEM.
Now assuming we buy the Super Hornet. It is not economical for us to import all the engines and other spares that we may require to maintain our MMRCA fleet airworthy over its entire lifetime. So we must import the engines only as and when they are required. This gives on opportunity for the US govt. to exploit our dependence on Boeing. In future there might be sanctions on us or at the least Boeing might be asked to raise the cost of spares for the Hornets to unreasonable levels simply to harass us and make us obey their dictates. USA in entirely capable of doing this as was demonstrated in the cases of the Sea King copters, F-16 for Pakistan, fuel supply for Tarapur reactors and now recently SIBAT. In most of these cases USA went back on written agreements.
So my point is that in such a crucial contract with many implications for the future we must resort to as much de-risking as possible in ensuring the continuous supply of spares and product support. So it does seem wise to make sure that all components of an aircraft engine other than those which we cannot yet make must be made in India by HAL. We must procure only those components from GE that we cannot yet make here like the single crystal blades. We can pay a royalty to GE for every engine we make. The different components can be integrated into a full engine here. This will bring down the cost compared to importing knocked down engines.
We have already made the Kaveri here and so we must already have some facilities to make engines. Any additional facilities can be constructed. Moreover since it is obvious that MMRCA and Tejas will have the same engines, we will definitely be needing 1000+ engines over the lifetime of both planes. So any additional costs incurred on setting up facilities can be recovered. Moreover our factories can learn a lot about QC procedures by manufacturing a foreign designed engine here under supervision by GE personnel. We will also learn about building the engine from scratch and so when in future we develop single crystal blades ourselves, the whole engine can be made here without any imports.
This is a very lucrative contract and no company would like to miss out on supplying the IAF with fighters. If a majority of the engine components are going to be built in India, GE will have may of its facilities freed up for other uses and moreover will earn a royalty for each engine we make. All they need to do is supply a few crucial components. They are not going to leak any critical technology to us as we already have experience in designing and making the Kaveri. We also stand to gain by gaining experience in making an advanced engine and also reducing risks. It is a win-win situation for all.

What I mean to say is in such high cost purchases, the MoD must make sure that OEMs do not invest just monet in India but also technology. Indian cos. must not gain just financially but also technologically.

Anonymous said...

Will Tejas have any IRST?

Anonymous said...

are there any reasons for IAF to prefer single engine planes.
single engine planes are more prone to crashes and can carry only less load.
mmrca role will be between Su-30mki and lca tejas. so its capabilities must partially overlap both planes for which we need double engine.
best choice is eads typhoon.
Prasun what u think?

subroto said...

To Anon@July 07, 2009 7:25:00 AM

single engine planes are more prone to crashes and can carry only less load.

-----------------------------------

Dear,
From where did you get such things?

Indian Mirage 2000H fighter is the single-engine aircraft and has excellent less air-crash history compare to Mig-29 and Jaguar.

UAE Mirage 2000-9 single engine(Modified version of Mirage2000-5 Mk2) aircraft carries a payload of 7 tons (7000 Kg).

Anonymous said...

i'm anon at 7:25 AM. what i meant is if in single engine plane if the engine fails like in bird hit then the whole plane is lost. but in two engined plane u can fly back to base with only one engine.

Anonymous said...

Prasun sir,

1. you are talking about the tandem seat FGFA. Some time ago you denied reports of the development of an Indian FGFA by DRDO / ADA. As such is this an update?

2. can you shed light on Malaysia's plan to sell their Mig-29s? They are good planes that India and other countries are purchasing and it seemsd insane to sell them. Unless **ahem ahem** wanna make some quick bucks.

(obviously i'm a m'sian)

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Sachin Sathe: An excellent point, as you yourself may have realised by now that the DDM still xan't tell the difference between Gripen IN and Gripen NG! An this despite Gripen Int'l's website very clearly hosting illustratiopns of both the Gripen IN and Gripen NG, with the former being shown with Derby BVRAAMs, Python 5 WVRAAMs, Litening 3 LDP and Griffin 3/Spice 1000 LGBs (my previous posting in fact reproduced the photo of the Gripen IN's scale model with Israel-origin weapons that was shown at both Aero India 09 and the Paris Air Show last month). The Gripen NG, now being proposed for Brazil and Malaysia as far as near-term marketing prospects go, on the other hand is shown by Gripen Int'l to be armed with Meteor BVRAAMs and Iris-T WVRAAMs. Now, if despite such revealing proof, if the DDM still cannot differentiate between Gripen IN and Gripen NG, then god help them!

To Subroto: I had already covered the EUMA and CISMA I had already explained a few months earlier that even during the Cold War era India had agreed to far more humiliating EUMAs that the Soviets had insisted upon and what the US is now proposing is a walk-in-the-park compared to what the Soviets sought and got. The LSA too is very important for India, as is now evident from the logistics-related support that the Indian Navy is getting from the US in the Horn of Africa during its anti-piracy patrols. In fact, believe it or not, the US firmly believes that it is countries like India that are indeed its true and time-tested strategic allies. India today is on par with the UK for the US policy-making establishments at the State Dept and Pentagon. And the US has gone a long way indeed to accommodate India's wishes. One prime example of this India's official participation (through senior liaison officers) at three US commands (CENTCOM, PACOM and AFRICOM). Incidentally, no other country has such an unprecedented participation, and India is the only exception. This, by the way, is another issue that has the DDM's attention!!!

To Anon@6:02AM: Who ever said the Jaguar IS will be turned into an interceptor? Just because it will have an on-board multi-mode AESA radar doesn't make it into an interceptor, as the radar has several other ground attack-related functions to perform.

To Anon@6:18AM: Definitely the SABR. The APG-80 was developed in the early 1990s.

To Anon@7:20AM: The Tejas Mk2 LCA will have IRST.

To Anon@8:27AM: There are several parts of an airframe that are vulnerable to bird-strikes, not just the engine air intake. Even a cockpit canopy can be badly damaged by bird-strikes. Modern-day turbofans incorporate several technologies that make the engine highly resistant to bird-strikes. But statistically, in terms of air crashes, far more twin-engined have crashed to date than single-engined aircraft. And aircraft like the MiG-21, MiG-23 and MiG-27M have a poor safety record simply because they simply do not incorporate flight safety/survivability features that would be considered standard in Western aircraft. One prime example is the sorry state of the MiG fleet prior to mid-1999 and it was only after OP Safed Sagar that the IAF was forced to install countermeasures dispensers on all operational Soviet-origin MiG-27Ms and An-32Bs!!! On the other hand, when the IAF bought the Jaguars and Mirage 2000s these aircraft came with built-in countermeasures dispensers.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Raghav: You're absolutely right. Written contracts can be abrogated by either party and India cannot but has to accept such terms and conditions, as beggars cannot be choosers. Now, with regard to ordering spares in batches or stages, things do not work out like that for anyone simply because these items are made-to-order, and are not stockpiled in warehouses and available off-the-shelf like perishable commodities are in a hypermarket. The only country which stockpiled hardware in large numbers was the former USSR, today even Russia does not do it. Therefore, like it or not, if India orders the Super Hornet, it will have to contractually commit to orders for the entire inventory of the spare engines reqd in one go, and these engines will be progressively built in stages over a six-to-eight-year period. As far as rotables and consumables go these will be ordered in phases in accordance with the integrated logistics package (ILS) schedule already prepared by the US Navy/Boeing in advance. As for the US unexpectedly raising the cost of spares this is an impossibility and is totally unnecessary, since it is the US Congress that has the final say on the supply of spares or termination of the spares support. Therefore there will never arise a situation where the spares pricing levels will jump to unacceptably high levels as the US will have no need to resort to such hikes. But like it or not, when one is importing a weapon system (be it from Israel or the US or Russia), there's no such thing as de-risking of the kind you want. And it is far far more cheaper to import completely built turbofans than to build even parts of them in-country. And it is precisely for this reason that the MoD decided against HAL trying to progressively indigenise the AL-31FP (in any case the Russians refused to part with ToT for fabricating the turbine blades and hot-section parts within India). Even if GE Aero Engines were to set up a manufacturing facility in India it would not make things any better as the US Congress can anytime instruct GE to shut down this facility and walk away in case the US Congress wants to impose any kind of sanctions. This also applies to Israeli companies now working in India as much of israeli military know-how, even if developed in-house, was developed with US financial assistance and this gives the US the required leverage. It is thus a no-escape zone for India. Finally, regarding the Kaveri turbofan, till this day neither GTRE nor MIDHANI have been able to develop the kind of critical technologies required to make the turbofan fly in any kind of combat aircraft. It thus remains only a laboratory design/model devoid of any practical applications. And even if one were to select the EJ-200 or M88-3 turbofans for powering the Tejas Mk2 LCA, they both have enough US-origin components on board and they too will be vulnerable to US sanctions.

subroto said...

Prasun,

Definitely the two-US based companies are also bidding for the Indian MMRCA project that has a whopping cost of US $12 billion but it cannot only be in term of marketing strategy say financially or quantitatively that US want SIBAT to back out with the Gripen Project, actual reason could be the ToT related package that Pentagon really concern.

Pentagon is closely monitoring the situation. They are also analyzing the capability the Indian Air force will have in the South-East Asia region after acquiring the MMRCA aircraft.

My only one concern with the statement of the Jerusalem Post and I quote:
The Israeli Defense Ministry ordered IAI to back out of the deal after the Pentagon expressed concern that American technology, used by Israel, would be integrated into the Gripen offered to the Indians.

The stated concern was that western technology in Israeli hands would make its way to the Indians," The Jerusalem Post quoted an Israeli official, as saying.


1.What kind of sensitive technology Pentagon does not want India to incorporate in the MMRCA through Israel.

2.Does US offering F-16 IN and F-18 IN to India are inferior to the next generation Gripen IN fighter (JV between SAB Int’l and SIBAT).

Ramsesh said...

Hi Prasun,
Great Blog, Keep Going.
Frankly speaking, I do not know much about the technical names used here. Anyway, I've couple of queries.
Now it is almost certain that India's MoD will not go for MiG35. In that scenario, will Moscow deny the engines and parts to Su-30MKI? Will they refuse to assist India in developing 5th Generation Fighter Plane? What about other defense cooperation between India and Russia, like BrahMos? Nuclear Deals? Already India-Russia relations are not so smooth. I guess the loss of MiG35 will have a blow to Russia and I am bit skeptical here.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Malaysian Anon@8:43AM: You got me wrong on Point 1. What I has said that the FGFA and the MCA are one and the same thing. While the FGFA is being jointly developed by HAL and Russia's United Aircraft Corp/Sukhoi OKB, the MCA is being PROPOSED by ADA as an ALTERNATIVE to the FGFA. Secondly, you should also be aware that the 17.5-tonne FGFA is not the same as the heavier 22-tonne T-50 PAK-FA which is being developed solely by United Aircraft Corp/Sukhoi OKB for only the Russian Air Force, and is not meant for export as yet. This is something that has confused several journalists worldwide till this date.
Regarding the MiG-29Ns of the RMAF, it was decided last February to dispose them off and even when they were acquired in 1995 they were quite shitty, especially if you were to compare them to the F/A-18D Hornets that were delivered in 1997. These 'shitty' MiG-29Ns will most probably be offered to Myanmar or Bangladesh or will be 'traded in' with Rosoboronexport and in return the RMAF would like to acquire an additional six Su-30MKMs. As far as MiG-29N replacements go, it was decided way back in 2003 (during one of Tun Dr Mahathir's visits to one of BAE Systems' facilities when he was still PM) that the JAS-39 Gripen will an ideal replacement for the F-5E/Fs. Presently, plans are afoot to firm up a JAS-39 Gripen NG purchase along with four Saab 2000 AEW & C platforms. Initial planning on all this within the RMAF began as far back as 2006.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Subroto: In my personal view, I get the feeling that you and several others have put way too much faith on the utterances of the JERUSALEM POST and have assumed it to be the gospel truth. Well, my advice to you, is don't assume any such thing and don't jump to any conclusions that may be erroneous. You remember an earlier story by one of the DDMs about the LM-2500 gas turbine engine fiasco regarding the Project 17 frigate? While everyone automatically assumed that it was the Obama Administration that was playing devil, it ultimately emerged that it was just a case pending paperwork and bureaucratic fuck-ups!!! Therefore, kindly don't jump to any conclusions as yet. Also, ask yourself this question: if the US does not have ANY OBJECTIONS to Israel supplying India with cutting-edge systems like the Barak-8/Barak-8ER, A-50I/PHALCON, and the EL/M-2052 AESA for the Tejas LCA, then why on earth should the US object to the supply of cutting-edge mission sensors, avionics and weapons for the Gripen IN? It doesn't make any sense, does it? Therefore, I can only conclude that the 'revelations' of the JERUSALEM POST were totally false and misleading. In a few days it may well emerge that the Israeli OEMs 'failed' or 'forgot' to obtain US State Dept export approval for certain critical components that are on systems like the EL/M-2052 or the Derby or Python-5 or Litening-3. It could well be that while SIBAT already had approval for exporting these DIRECTLY to India, it did not have the US State Dept's approval to export them to Sweden for incorporation on board a JAS-39 Gripen IN prototype aircraft. Give it another week or so and it will emerge that all this temporary fuck-ups were the results of bureaucratic procedural errors either from SIBAT's end or from the Swedish FMV's end. But US technology denial to India by pressurising India? No way can this be true.

Nava said...

I don't think people were buying the stated reason for US pressure- some blather about concerns that western technology might fall into Indian hands (Maybe the JP made this up, as it sounds so ridiculous). Its about the big bucks involved no doubt.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Ramsesh: Many thanks for your compliments. Actually, Russia has nothing to fear or lose from India's M-MRCA's decision as it is already sitting on something way too bigger: the FGFA programme. The FGFA too will use AL-31FP turbofans (but 20% uprated) and therefore Russia has no reason to fiddle with either the Su-30MKI or the AL-31FP engines. In fact, by the year's end when the two IAF Su-30MKIs go to Irkutsk for depot-level maintenance and airframe strengthening (in order to carry the BrahMos), the uprated AL-31FPs too will be flight-tested on them and this will then kick-off the mid-life upgrade of the early-model Su-30MKIs. So, as you can see, Russia is already sitting on guaranteed business commitments from India and Russia has also decided now against upgrading its own MiG-29s and instead going for the Su-35BM and the T-50 PAK-FA. Therefore, whether or not India buys the MiG-35 does not bother Russia at all.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Nava: You're spot on. I too just don't buy this shit about US technology-denial to India by pressurising Israel. It is too ridiculous to be true.

Anonymous said...

to prasun

navy upgrading sea harrier with 2032 radar and python4,derby missiles

but there could be zhuk me radar with r77 and r73 missiles and along with russian PGM/STAND OFF weapons

Nava said...

BTW, you mentioned the el/m 2052 on the Tejas. Has this been finally settled?

Prasun K Sengupta said...

A simple look at the Sea Harrier's avionics bulkheads and nose section reveals that there's simply not enough volume to accommodate the Zhuk-ME.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Nava: It was 'settled' two years ago.

Anonymous said...

SABR is a low power AESA that requires no cooling and therefore can be integrated to older F-16 that provide insufficient power to support more powerful radars. New F-16 including F-16IN continue to be offered with AGP-80 AESA.

sachin_sathe said...

prasun,

As far as south asia is concerned India is the only logical choice for US in long terms as it has a liberal economy which is in better shape than almost all europian ones in this finantial meltdown and has a very stable and robust Governing infrastructure.

Also as the russians have agreed to let American troops through russia i think US will slowly exit through Pakistan and its idia of Pak as a counter-balance for india.

Also US has realised the indian military procurement policy is not skewed towards any specific lobby.

Can u make a more detailed post abt the proposed F-16 upg of PAF.

Shiv's blog mentioned tht the Lush upg is now going to test the silent attack capability(i.e. launching Derby with radar guidance from a diff a/c.) does this indicate the IN and IAF deliberately leaking details of the ODL?

regarding the mmrca i think it would be interesting to see the f-18 Growler equipped with the iseraeli jammers instead of american ones which are said to be out of production(thus not available).

Anonymous said...

Dear Prasun KSengupta,

By what means are MiG29s shitty, you answer me? They are still serving around the world excellently. If it was so shitty then why did RMAF buy it in the first place? Russia itself is upgrading their fleet of the planes, and as the other buddy stated, India is taking delivery, along with other countries. When all these countries are making good use out of it, does the ''more qualified'' TUDM find it shitty? Give a break Mr. KSengupta. This aircraft has been ''made shitty'' as now as mentioned by the other guy above someone wanna make some quick money by procuring new planes.

Regaring Saab Griffin, this is not even in the same class as the MiG29. Griffin is a single engine 14 tonner while Mig29 is double engine 20 tonner. And not to forget Griffin is a single seater. Makes 0 sense to me.

And let me bet you that nobody is going to buy any Saab airplanes. We are going to buy French stuff like the hefty Dassault Raffale, as we know our current lineup highly favours French stuff. If you are in Malaysia and follow local newspapers you would have learnt that the French have already come down for talks the minute Najib came in to power. Tenega Nasional's plans to commission a nuclear plant has already been hinted to be developed by the French. And 2 days later, news comes out about this replacement shit.

bet your sweet ass.

Anonymous said...

I have also noted that you are very pro government in your leanings. i witnessed it from your Eurocopter article to date. Some fair opinions would be greatly appreciated. I hope you have nothing to fears.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Anon@2:04AM: If you took the trouble to find out exactly how many MiG-29s are in serviceable and airworthy condition with all existing operators worldwide you would not have contested the term 'shitty'. Also, you cannot compare the Indian experience with the Malaysian experience as India has been operating USSR-supplied aircraft since the mid-1960s and has over the years made enormous investments to set up a domestic military-industrial infrastructure reqd to support USSR-designed aircraft. In Malaysia's case it would be foolhardy to make such investments for just 16 MiG-29s and 18 Su-30MKMs. If you want to compare Malaysia with any other air force's sordid experience with the MiG-29, then I suggest you seriously examine the Algerian experience with the MiG-29SMTs.
Now, as to your ill-informed comment on twin-engined versus single-engined aircraft, what matters nowadays is not the weight of the aircraft or that of its ordnance, but the aircraft's network-centric capabilities and its ability to carry out effects-based operations (precision strikes under all weather conditions), which can be carried out by even 150lb laser-GPS-guided bombs instead of heavier gravity bombs. Furthermore, the MiG-29Ns of the RMAF are configured for only air superiority, and are not multi-role. They're thus definitely worthy of being junked.
Finally, as far back as 1998 when the Rafale last landed at TUDM Subang, it was quite evident even then that both the Rafale and EF-2000 Typhoon were cost-prohibitive and beyond Malaysia's reach. And as for whether the Daab 2000 AEW & C/Saab JAS-39 Gripen NG will be bought or whether this is just my imagination, only time will tell and until then I hope you don't jump to any precise conclusions unless you happen to roam the corridors of power in Putrajaya.
Finally, I have no reason whatsoever to be either pro-govt or anti-govt as far as Malaysia goes since I don;t stand to benefit in any manner either way. Maybe you have an axe to grind and hence your rather biaised view of my article on the EC-721 Cougar, which several others have complimented for as it was balanced and objective 'from their point of view'. You of course are free to believe whatever you want to and I have no monopoly over that, and likewise we can always choose to differ. So let's leave it at that and stop analysing my 'leanings' as it will get you nowehere.

Anonymous said...

Prasun,

First of all - great blog! I enjoy reading it very much.

But allow me do disagree with you on the point of how much does MiG-35 deal is important to Russia. It's indeed important, since MiG corporation has some serious financial difficulties, and also because MiG has to improve its image that sank very low in the last years (especially after Algerian scandal). Right now, it seems to me that only by winning the MRCA contest, MiG can continue to be a second fighter aircraft producer in Russia. If MiG-35 will not win, the company will possibly cease to exist in the form we know it. So this deal very important to Russia, because, while for other contenders it's merely a financial issue, for the MiG it's a question of survival.

In regard to steps that Russia can take to "punish" India if the MiG-35 won't be chosen --and especially if an American fighter will-- in my opinion it will probably have some (minor, perhaps) consequences on other deals, especially Su-30MKI and FGFA, since Mikhail Pogosyan is presently a head of both MiG and Sukhoi design bureaus.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Anon@7:48AM: Do rest assured that RAC-MiG is not in any kind of dire financial straits as it is no longer a standalone company as it once used to be. Today it is part of United Aircraft Corp, which also includes Sukhoi Corp. And in the years to come UAC will have its hands full with the T-50 PAK-FA and FGFA projects. It is precisely for this reason that the MiG-35 will never enter service with the Russian Air Force, nor will existing Russian Air Force MiG-29s be upgraded. Therefore, India, like the Ruskies, will have to choose its priorities and options carefully.

Anonymous said...

The US just wants to 'lock' India into its second tier yes sayer nations perpetually dependent on them .. its not unlike colonial British who destroyed the native industrial infrastructure.India should realise its own strength and potential and deal with the US accordingly.

F said...

Prasun,

I'm just hoping the RMAF manages to persuade 'the powers that be' to eventually order the Super Hornet. My only problem with the Gripen is that it has yet to be used in combat. The good news with retiring the Fulcrums is that the RMAF will have one less type to support, but unless the Fulcrums retirement is followed up with an order for new fighter, the RMAF will be seriously short of fighters. Have you heard anything about a plan to fit a new radar on the Hawk 200s?

F said...

Something else for you Prasun. In the mid-90's, Malaysian placed a USD50 million order for South African EW gear for the army. This was reported in the newspapers. Any idea what was bought and from which South African company? I've tried online searches but have found nothing. Thank you.