Saturday, October 31, 2009

Where Is The MiG-35?

No one from Russia, it seems, can give a convincing answer to this very simple question. Earlier last February during the Aero India 2009 exhibition, Mikhail Pogosyan, who presently wears two hats—Director-General of RAC-MiG and Director-General of Sukhoi Corp—had made two interesting revelations: one, that the MiG-35’s single-seat and tandem-seat variants will be rolled from the Nizhny Novgorod-based Sokol Aircraft Plant by August this year; and two, there would be maximum mission systems commonality, inclusive of the AESA radar, between the MiG-35 and the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) that will be co-developed by India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) and Russia’s United Aircraft Corp (UAC). Both these revelations have since been contradicted with the passage of time. The Indian Air Force (IAF) had expected the roll-out of the single-seat and tandem-seat versions of the MiG-35 latest by mid-October and be made available for a week-long phase of flight evaluations within India later this year, followed by a second round of evaluations (involving test-firings of precision-guided munitions) in Russia within the first quarter of next year. And as for systems commonality, especially pertaining to the AESA radar, it became evident last August that it will be the Zhuk-AE from Phazotron JSC that will go on board the MiG-35, while the FGFA will be equipped with a variant of the MIRES Sh-121 AESA-based multi-mode radar, which is now being developed by Tikhomirov NIIP. The Zhuk-AE AESA which has repeatedly been shown on board the MiG-29M2 No154 M-MRCA (built in 1990) since 2007 is now officially described as being a functional technology demonstrator containing 600 transmit/receive modules, while the definitive series-production variant of the Zhuk-AE will have 1,000 T/R modules. And the MiG-29M2 No154, which has deceptively been painted as the MiG-35 and been used in the past for giving joyrides to some India-based broadcast media journalists and a few IAF pilots, is now being described by RAC-MiG as just a ‘proof-of-concept’ demonstrator!

It has now emerged that RAC-MiG had built two prototypes of the shipborne MiG-29 as part of the contract to supply 12 MiG-29Ks and four MiG-29KUBs to the Indian Navy. These two prototypes—a tandem-seat MiG-29KUB No947 and a single-seat MiG-29K No941—made their maiden flights in January and June 2007, respectively. (By the way, these two prototypes were the first brand-new MiG-29s to be built by RAC-MiG after a gap of 15 years!) Following the conclusion of the flight certification and weapons qualification phases, the single-seat MiG-29K No941 was and is still being subjected to a modification programme aimed at deriving the definitive single-seat MiG-35. This perhaps explains why RAC-MiG has publicly displayed (during MAKS 2007 and MAKS 2009) the MiG-29KUB No947, but has never even revealed the existence of the Indian Navy-specific MiG-29K No941 to date. It is now believed that the Russian Air Force, as part of a Kremlin-initiated bailout package for debt-ridden RAC-MiG, will place an order for 24 MiG-35s by 2012, while the Russian Navy will procure 24 MiG-29K/KUBs in 2012 to replace the existing Su-33 shipborne combat aircraft.

According to RAC-MiG, the definitive MiG-35 will have larger wings to accommodate 10 underwing weapon stations, plus a belly-mounted station to house the Novator-built 3M-14AE Kalibr-A subsonic 290km-range air-to-ground land attack cruise missile. To make the MiG-35 a truly network-centric platform RAC-MiG has already initiated industrial participation negotiations with Israel’s SIBAT, plus avionics OEMs from Italy (Finmeccanica/Elettronica) and France (SAGEM for the Sigma-95 RLG-INS, which is also on board the Su-30MKI).—Prasun K. Sengupta


Nava said...

Interesting article Prasun. It seems that the Russians don't themselves truly believe in their ability to clench the MRCA deal.

On an unrelated matter: What do you think about the recently unveiled REX
UGV? Do you think it would be useful in actual combat ops, futurism aside?

sachin_sathe said...

well russians do hav a very large piece of IAF's aviation procurment cake.FGFA,Su-30MKI,Mig29 upg,50 odd Mg29k/kibs(including follow on orders),Mi-17V,MTA to name some.
so russians are not overtley concerned where MRCA order is concerned.Though the timely arrival of Mig35 would hav allowed it to play in other markets like the malesian one where Grippen NG is front runner or the african regionwhich is the new frontier for chinese.wht r ur thoughts prasun?

Regardibg the ALH crash one thing is clear is tht the engines didn't blow & there was no fire post crash so it will help HAL a lot in salvaging key causes of crash & help in a face-saving exit.If the a/c had gone up in flame it would hav created an uproar HAL would hav found very hard to manage wht do u think?

Anonymous said...

I don't think even they believe in their chances of winning the MMRCA competition lol

& what's this thing about 11 hardpoints?? isn't it supposed to have 9 in all?

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Nava: On the contrary, the Russians have put too much faith in Israel's 'soft marketing' tactics! That also explains why the Ruskies are offering the Ka-52 Alligator (known earlier as the Ka-50-2) and not the Mi-28NE for the Indian Air Force's attack helicopter reqmt. As you may be aware, the Ka-52 variant is being jointly offered by Rosoboronexport/Oboronprom and SIBAT/Israel Aerospace Industries to the IAF. The main problem with Russia is its inability to take certain hard decisions in terms of industry consolidation. Consequently, almost every Cold War era design bureau and aircraft manufacturing plant is being bailed out, instead of only allowing the fittest to survive and prosper. This was recently admitted by UAC Chairman Alexey Fedorov himself.

To sachin sathe: Actually the India-Russia military-industrial cooperation arena is totally saturated, but had RAC-MiG been allowed to get its house in order, it would have bagged lucrative orders from Sudan, Algeria, Ecuador, and Peru. Malaysia has long since lost all faith in RAC-MiG and Rosoboronexport State Corp and this was evidenced in 2008 when the EC-721 Cougar was selected instead of the Mi-17V-5, followed by loss of the ATGM competition in wich Denel's Ingwe was favoured over the Metis-M1 and Kornet-E. At the same time, due to Chinese reverse-engineering of several Russian sysems like shipborne radars, MBRLs, E-SHORADS and LR-SAMs, Russia is now unwilling to export any kind of high-tech weapons to Beijing. What has infuriated Russia more is China's almost successful attempts (with Ukraine's help) to reverse engineer the Su-33, although efforts to reverse engineer the AL-31F turbofan had not yet met with any success.
Regarding the Dhruv ALH there was no blowout precisely due to the aiecrew's resort to autorotation in order to bring the helicopter down in a controlled manner. Had the aircrew had an extra 100 feet altitude they would have brought it down almost intact. And based on the press briefing given by the EAF's No22 Sqn Cmdr it seems that the investogators are zeroing on the probability of single engine failure, which takes place either due to an integral defect, or loss of fuel flow that is caused by either faulty ground maintenance practices or man-made sabotage.

To Anon@10:05AM: No, it is now confirmed that there will be a total of 11 external weapons stations.

Nava said...

I'm not sure I understand- are you saying that they believe the Israeli equipment will get them the deal?! Seems rather desperate...

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Nava: Regarding the REX UGV, externally it resembles the Avlis Supacat logistics support all-terrain vehicle and I guess for dismounted military/paramilitary counter-insurgency operations in urban terrain I guess such a vehicle will have its inherent uses. UGVs like these and the Guardium autonomous observation and target intercept system developed by G-NIUS Autonomous Unmanned Ground Vehicles have their own niche areas in terms of application for different operational scenarios and operating terrain.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Nava: Let me be specific: YES, I'm saying that the Russians believe the Israeli equipment will get them the deal! Why should that be surprising? Gripen Int'l also tried to do the same with the JAS-39 Gripen IN.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

Russia has just announced that it will buy one Mistral-class LPH directly from DCNS and licence-build another four.

Nava said...

And didn't that work out just dandy for Gripen International...

What are the Russians actually willing to "cede" to the Israeli OEMs?

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Nava: Well, Saab's website still shows the Grpen IN's CAD illustrations sowing it rquipped with Derby and Python-5 AAMs and Litening-3 LDP. So how does one explain that? Perhaps the White House not bearing down upon Saab to make changes to the Gripen IN's webpage? I wonder.
As ro "what are the Russians actually willing to 'cede' to the Israeli OEMs?", well, where do I begin? Let's see. Tadiran SpectraLink's operational data link and related MRS manpack receiving system, RAFAEL's Recce Lite and Litening-3 LDP, IAI/ELTA's EL/L-8222 jammer pod, ELBIT Systems' ASPIS integrated EW/defensive aids suite, RAFAEL's X-guard towed decoy, and RADA's rangeless ACMI system and mission preparation/debrief system. That should suffice, eh?

On an unrelated topic, looks like some 'fallen out of favour' Russian oligarchs have found an alternative to their once-favourite Israeli destinations. Read this:

Nava said...

Perhaps they're simply on spiritual post army vacations like the rest of us swarming the subcontinent. I'm sure Gaydamak feels like he needs to clear his head...

RE the Gripen, I wouldn't give the websites much thought. One could be forgiven for,upon visiting IAI's shoddy site, reckoning that the firm was disbanded in the mid nineties, certainly before graphic design made its aliyah :)

RE the Israeli equipment, depends on what you mean by "suffice". These systems are hardly unique. Nothing that would make or break a multi billion dollar deal, methinks.

Nava said...

Oops, should have been "one could be forgiven for reckoning, upon visiting
IAI's shoddy site, that the..."

Anonymous said...

When will the Indian Navy induct LPDs? Is it going for the Mistral class too?

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Nava: All the systems I outlined above were unique in 1999 when they were selected for the Su-30MKI, and till this day remain unique for the Russians. There are no Russia-developed substitutes.

To Anon@1:06PM: The Indian navy inducted its first LPD two years ago--INS Jalaswa.

Anonymous said...

Hi Prasun good post couple of questions

1 ) What will be the percentage of composites by weight will Mig-35 use ?

2 ) What will be the percentage of composites by weight will Mig-29K uses ?

3 ) Any upgrades to RD-33MK engine available in terms of thrust ?

4 ) Will be the T/W ratio of Mig-35 when compared to others in MMRCA race ?


hacker said...

hello prasun da

MIG-35 uses MIL-STD-1553 serial data bus but it is old technology MIL-STD-1773 is the new one do you think that the production version of MIG-35 will use MIL-STD-1773?

Ka-50-2 Erdogan(Israel cooperation) is a tandem cockpit twin-seater variant where as Ka-52 "Alligator" is a two-place side-by-side cockpit,which one is offered to the indian tender the tandem seat variant or the side-by-side cockpit variant?

also is the Ka-52 "Alligator" has less armor protection due to its side-by-side cockpit ?

thank you....

SUKHOI-30 MKI said...

Prasun da,
As month of november begines, home minister P.chidambram warns pak to "Stop meddling" and not to play "26/11 type game again" or else India will retaliate.
Although I don't think our WEAK P.M. will ever order Surgical Strikes if Mumbai type attack occurs again, but
1. Is our forces prepared for Surgical Strikes on POK today?

2.After 2014 elections if we get a courageous P.M.(Na Mo) and our forces will be better prepared, as per your opinion should we wait till then for Surgical Strikes?

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Anon@10:23PM

1) What will be the percentage of composites by weight will Mig-35 use?
Less than 10%, but 30% of the covered skin surface.

2) What will be the percentage of composites by weight will Mig-29K uses ?
Same as above.

3) Any upgrades to RD-33MK engine available in terms of thrust ?
There is potential for future upgrades to thrust.

4 ) Will be the T/W ratio of Mig-35 when compared to others in MMRCA race ?
T/W ratio is 1.35. Same as that of the MiG-29K.

To hacker: The MiG-35 will use the existing MIL-STD-1553B digibus. But software upgrades can modify it to Hyper 1553B-standard.
The Ka-50-2 is available in two versions: the side-by-side seating Ka-50-2 co-developed by Kamov OKB and Israel Aerospace Industries, and the tandem-seat Ka-50-2 Erdogan, which remains only a paper design with no prototype built. Only a full-scale non-flying mockup was built. Therefore, it is the side-by-side seating Ka-50-2 (now called the Ka-52 Alligator) that is being offered for the IAF. Armour protection of the Ka-52 is the same as that for the Ka-50. In fact, it is the most heavily protected attack helicopter being offered and if suitably equipped with Israel-origin avionics, mission sensors and defensive aids suite (from ELBIT Systems and IAI), it will out-perform any other existing helicopter. No doubts about that. Will upload 13 slides of the Ka-50-2 later tonight.

Nava said...

Does the K-50-2 stand a chance against the abundantly proven Apache in the tender?

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To SUKHOI-30 MKI: I don't think India has to ruffle any feathers but just sit tight and focus on improving her homeland security apparatus. If Hillary Clinton's recent outburst in Islamabad is any indication, it means that US patience has already run out and the stage is being prepared to NATO/ISAF forces to undertake surgical strikes by ground and air forces deep into Quetta in the south and in the Northern Areas.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Nava: Indeed, it does, as the IAF has specified a heavy attack helicopter (which disqualifies the AH-1Z and the A-129), and Eurocopter has already decided against bidding with the Tigre, thus leaving only the AH-64D and Ka-52 in the fray. And if you read my earlier post at:
, one cannot dispute the superior combat hit survivability features of the Ka-52. And that was with the previous TV3-117VM engine. Now, the uprated VK-2500 engine is available (and is already on board the 80 + 40 Mi-17V-5s being acquired by the Indian AF) and with it a special Russia-developed liquid coating (already being used since 2004 by all in-theatre US Army and British Army/RAF helicopters in Iraq and Kuwait) which increases engine TBO by a factor of 3 while operating under dusty environment.
In addition, you should ask yourself the following questions: why is the Mi-28NE not being offered by Russia? Is it because the Mi-28NE is devoid of any Israeli content, while the Ka-52 on offer is in fact a co-developed Israeli-Russian product?

Nava said...

I see no other explanation. What about the Apache's vaunted MMW radar though? Is anything like that available from the Russians or indeed the Israelis?

Nava said...

BTW, WRT helicopter survivability, I wouldn't be surprised in the slightest if in the coming years Rafael were to unveil a hard kill helicopter-mounted APS...

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Nava: The millimetre-wave radars are available with both the Longbow AH-64D and AH-1Z (from Northrop Grumman) but I'm very much doubtful about its utility in any decisive manner. I would rather see a passive LORROS-type sensor on the masthead or even the chin! Kindly bear with me until I upload the 14 Ka-52 slides and it will emerge that the Ka-52's nose section is big enough to house a scalable AESA (just like the EL/M-2052's fron-end AESA array). All you got do is add a weather radar mode to it. Furthermore, such a radar can also act as an obstacle avoidance system when flying in the terain hugging mode. That's the sheer beauty of the EL/M-2052's design concept.
Regarding heliborne APS, I remember seeing as far back as 2008 a DIRCM developed by RAFAEL for both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters. Isn't it a laser-based hard-kill APS?

Nava said...

Well, I heard that the operational feedback is very positive WRT the MMW radar. Ultimately, RF's all weather performance cannot be matched by EO systems.

I don't mean a laser based system. And in any case those would be considered "soft kill". I speak of a Trophy derivative...

Vikas said...

Hi Prasun ji.
Strategy page says that India is financing Su-35. How much of it is true? I never heard about it. Here is the link:

It says that:
"But now India has agreed to invest money, and other resources, to move the Su-35 project forward."

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Nava: Well, all-weather is a rather vague term as far as attack helicopters go since bad weather conditions would keep the helicopters (unlike combat aircraft) grounded. In addition, the availability of defensive aids suites for armoured vehicles (inclusive of radar/laser warning receivers) would tend to diminish the effectiveness of any radar-based target detection/designation sensor. I would still tend to place my bets in favour of passive medium/long-range optronic sensors.
Regarding 'hard-kill' airborne APS, while laser-based DIRCMs would tend to be effective against air-to-air missiles, Trophy-type APS is definitely reqd when it comes to neutralising the threats posed by RPG rounds and MBT-launched anti-helicopter guided projectiles (like the Refleks or LAHAT).

To Vikas: During MAKS 2009 it was officially announced by the Director-General of Russia's state-owned Vnesheconombank that it would give a loan worth US$111 million to KnAAPO as tart-up costs for building the first 48 Su-35s for the Russian Air Force. There's therefore no truth in any claims about India bankrolling the Su-35 programme. Furthermore, India is not even being seriously targetted for the Su-35 marketing campaign, which is presently limited to Brazil, Indonesia, Libya, and Venezuela.

Li hung said...

to vikas,
India is now sitting in american camp so no su 35 may be F 18 caz pakistan has F16.Plus russians dont need partner in already extablished technolgy.

li hung said...

re vikas
countries always get partners involved if the believe that what they are trying design could end being a junk so why invest money so they get partners involved but m35 is proved 5th generation fighter so no partners required.Like what we did to pakistan they were partner with us in jf 17 and we were not sure if we gona have jf 17 in our pakistan can have jf 17 middle class i right prasun

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Li Hung: The only 'middle-class' element on the JF-17 is the RD-33 Series 2 turbofan (with a TBO of 700 hours). The avionics suite of the JF-17 is contemporary and will be improved even further in future. The glass cockpit design of the JF-17 is like that of the Gripen, and is much better than that of the Tejas LCA.

Anonymous said...

Hey, i know this is OT, but seriously do you think that the LCA has an inferior glass cockpit design??and overall which aircraft is better

Anonymous said...

Hi Prasun,
The Mig-35 has already completed its scheduled trials in India and this has been confirmed by no less than the ACM himself. It has also been spotted by many in the HAL airport in Bangalore. Prototype or the real thing, atleast the Russians were convinced that the two birds could impress the IAF which had just about concluded the trials of the teens and the French Squall.
What say?

Ju² said...

Hi Prasun,
You say that EL/M-2052 radar can act as a terrain avoidance system. Cannot all AESAs help as well for low level flights?? I wonder why this radar doesn't have more success on export market. Can we say that it is outdated now? Or does it have US components hampering its marketing abroad?

Anonymous said...

hi Prasun tnx for the reply.I came across an article in the Hindu by a former ambassador who discredited the string of pearls theory and the alarmist nature if the Indian media personnel.many seem to say that china's string of pearls simply doesn't exist .it seems to be true that china at present is concentrating on the economic development and might not be actually posing any threat to anyone directly or covertly acting in its extreme nation interests that might be detrimental to others but in say 2020 china could already be going the us way consolidating in its backyard and stitching up friendly neighbors and other higher than mountains and deeper than the oceans all across the globe even if for purely economic reasons which might be are we really going to go the alarmist way to stop Chinese rise in our neighborhood while cooperating with other against the Chinese elsewhere across the globe.eventually the Chinese with their long term perspective and fully market based economy will have her place.afterall this is supposed to be an asian century!your thoughts on this.

Ju² said...

Hi Anonymous @ 10:27 and hi everybody!
Maybe alarmism justify defence investments... Objectively, PLA's Navy doesn't seem to have other choice than passing over the Indian peninsula to establish a bridgehead in the Arabian Sea in order to secure its energy supplies. Don't you think?
China has some interests in doing that. This way, they show that, contrary to many other countries that it doesn't need to subcontract to the US the security of its supplies.

I think that the game is balanced between India and China: if the PLA deploys some of its ships in the Indian Ocean, the Indian Navy also deploys some warships in Beijing frontyard in the South China Sea!... which is a crucial area for Beinjing vital supplies. And India also has allies in the area (Singapore, Vietnam). Delhi is kindly tickling Chinese whiskers in the South of Beijing's first defensive islands chain, going from South Japan to Spratly.

But what I find disturbing is the Chinese opacity. Thailand, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Seychelles... Chinese "pearl necklace" seems very well adjusted around India's neck. So encircling? This unhealthy debate will continue until China become more transparent.
Someone said one day: “Disarmament requires transparency. And dictators do not withstand long transparency”... maybe here is the problem.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Anon@12:34AM: To my knowledge there's only one person from India who claims to have flown the MiG-35 and that is Vishnu Som from NDTV (he actually flew the MiG-29M2 No154). Do check out all other Russian newmedia reports on the MiG-35 and they will tell you exactly what I have above: the MiG-35's single-seat and tandem-seat variants have yet to roll out from Sokol's Nizhny Novgorod-based facility. The situation is the same with the JAS-39 Gripen IN, which is still "under fabrication".

To Ju²: The EL/M-2052 AESA-based radar has already been selected for both the Tejas Mk1 and Mk2 M-MRCA. The selection was done two years ago. Other scalable AESA-based radars like the Northrop Grumman-built SABR to can go on the Ka-52, as can Selex Galileo's Vixen 500e.

To Anon@10:27AM: The 'string of pearls' doctrine presently applies only to the South China Sea, and not in the Indian Ocean Region. And as Ju² says, the game is balanced between India and China at the moment. There's no reason for any alarm.

Ju² said...

Hi Prasun,
I didn't know that the EL/M-2052 was firmly selected for the Tejas Mk.II. I thought that nothing was definitive and an EADS solution was also examined. Same thing for the M-MRCA: I thought the Isralelis were ejected from the Gripen offer by US pressure. Indeed, Washington said Israeli systems were too cheap and too competitive with US products, while radar and EW systems thought for the Gripen contained US components (cf. Jerusalemn Post). So Israel not independant on MMICs?
Now, apparently, the Indian market could become more difficult for Elta as the US is imposing its products with political pressure. A friend recently gave me a Middle East Newsline news showing that India is trying to help the Israelis to stay afloat in the defence market: the FGFA could be equipped with Israeli avionics and EW systems (not the radar which is being made by Tikhomirov's NIIP). The Russians are ok, at first glance.
Maybe it is only an interpretation but, Prasun, do you think we can say now that India and Israel are struggling together against US pressure to remain partners on the defence market? And do you think the US could be an invasive partner?

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Ju²: The Israeli offer from SIBAT was not specific to any particular airframe as such. SIBAT's offer to India was to equip either the JAS-39 Gripen IN or the F-16IN Super Viper with any array of Israel-designed and developed missions sensors/avionics, defensive aids suites and precision-guided weapons. What the Obama Administration did was to object to SIBAT offering all this to any US-made platform such as the F-16IN. It never objected to all this going on board the Gripen IN. As for the Tejas Mk1 and MNk2, the entire navigation-and-attack system has been designed around the EL/M-2052 and therefore the issue of the CAESAR AESA from EADS does not arise. But on board the FGFA it will be Tikhomirov NIIP's AESA-based MIRES radar, and not the EL/M-2052. That was already agreed to last month between India and Russia simply because elements of the MIRES will also eventually find their way on to the Su-30MKIs dring their mid-life upgrades, starting 2012.
I don't see the US as being an invasive partner as it the US itself that never gets tired of referring to India as its long-term strategic partner and what the US wants is a level playing field to compete on equal terms, but when such a level playing field is created, the US will easily and inevitably win any contract simply because of its sheer industrial-financial clout, which enables US companies to offer the kind of direct/indirect industrial offsets that others simply cannot match.

Anonymous said...

Hi Prasun,
You say that the Mig-35 is still under production. So can you please tell us which aircraft came to India for flight trials? I personally know people who have spotted both the single seat and the twin seat variants of the aircraft in Bangalore HAL airport. They came here for the flight evaluation after the Rafale and the teens. Our ACM NAik too has confirmed that the Mig has completed its flight evaluation. He further went on to say that all aircrafts whose evaluation are done (including the Mig) are "going neck to neck".
Here check this link-
Are you claiming that the ACM is fooling the nation when he says that the Mig-35 has completed the trials? Or do you admit that your info is completely outdated?

Anonymous said...

Hi Prasun couple of questions

1 ) What will be the unit cost of Mig-35 and what about its operating cost ?

2 ) What is the level of TOT and offset is Russia willing to offer for Mig-35 MMRCA deal ?

3 ) Can the large number of Mig-29 in the IAF now under upgrade and Mig-29K for the IN can offer logistics advantage of Mig-35 MMRCA bid and sway thing in its favour ?

4 ) Can HAL join the Mig UCAV Skat program as part of offset ?

Thanks in advance

Ju² said...

Hi Prasun!
I'm quite dubitative concerning IAI and the Gripen. Here is a part of the JP article: "Under pressure from the Pentagon, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has been forced to back out of a joint partnership with a Swedish aerospace company to compete in a multi-billion dollar tender to sell new multi-role fighter jets to the Indian Air Force[...] after the Pentagon expressed concern that American technology, used by Israel, would be integrated into the Gripen offered to the Indians".
Here is the link:
So Washington pressure directly concerns Gripen and not F-16IN!! It is difficult to know what are these "American technologies", however.

Concerning the F-16IN, as strange as it is, the US proposes the APG-80 which was financed by the Emiratis... However, when I questionned Mr. Walsby of Northrop Grumman during the last Paris Air Show, he told me that the APG-80 has been proposed to India as a basis for study partnership on AESA technology for 3 years. If it is really the case, the EL/M-2052 has never seriously been evoked for the F-16IN! I have never heard anything about this partnership before... And you, Prasun?

Concerning the MiG-35, things are unclear, indeed.
To Anon@5:16: I don't think that what Prasun said and what you heard from ACM Naik are 2 incompatible things. The aircraft indeed flew, but it is neither a serial product nor a definitive design. It is the same case as the Gripen IN: it is the Gripen Demo, a prototype, which will participate to the field trials.
Concerning ToTs, I wonder what the Russians will propose. Currently, the Zhuk-AE radar has 680 T/R modules and this number won't change, apparently. At least, it is what Phazotron-NIIR's production manager recently said (see Defunct Humanity blog). He precised that the radar is powerful and efficient enough with only 680 modules, and that no increase of this number is planned.
Do you think that Phazotron is trying to persuade India that a 680-module radar is good enough? If MoD is OK that could allow Russia to make concretely 100% ToTs with an obsolete design? No?

Thanks for your quick answers, Prasun, you are really efficient and reactive!! ;)

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Anon@5:16AM: In the weblink you've given as the reference material, nowhere does it say that the F-16, F/A-18 Super Hornet, Rafale and MiG-35 have visited India, although it is already known that the F/A-18F Super Hornet and F-16F Desert Falcon flew in to India for Phase 1 of the evaluations. As to the alleged visit to India of the Rafale or MiG-35, kindly guide me to any weblink showing photos of the Rafale and MiG-35 flying inside Indian airspace over the past 90 days. And contrary to what you're claiming the IAF Chief NEVER said that the Rafale and MiG-35 had already been to India. All he said was "We finished the trails of F-16, F/A-18, Rafale and the MiG-35. They (all aircraft) are going neck to neck". To me this only means that technical paper evaluations of the submitted RFPs have been completed. The IAF Chief never used the words 'flight evaluation', contrary to what you've claimed. Therefore, it is not that the IAF Chief is lying, but it is you that is misinterpreting the IAF Chief's remarks. And I too never said that the MiG-35 is under production. It cannot enter production until a customer places an order large enough to commence production. And even Russia's own orders won't be placed until 2012. Now after all this exhaustive explanation, if you still don't get it, then kindly pick up the October issue of AIR FORCES MONTHLY or the MAKS 2009 show preview issue of FLIGHT INTERNATIONAL, both of which contain feature-length articles on Russia's prospects regarding India's M-MRCA competition and all written by Russia-based authors. In all these articles, it is clearly explained what the MiG-29M2 (No154) is all about, why it is not the definitive MiG-35, and what is preventing RAC-MiG from rolling out the two MiG-35 prototypes. Since folks like you and those nerds at BR are more inclined to believe Russian Caucasians instead of me, I strongly urge you to buy these two magazines and find out what the 'truth' is.

To Anon@6:33AM: As I explained above, it is impossible for anyone to engage in any guessestimates about pricing levels about a M-MRCA whose true existence has yet to be revealed by its OEM! As for te Skat UCAV, it is not being offered to India as of now. As for ToT, the only thing the IAF has mandated is that it retain full operational sovereignty over its assets in peacetime and wartime, which means unrestricted supply of spares and life-long product support, plus the ability to undertake all four levels of MRO in-country. To this end, Rosoboronservice India and Indo-Russian Aviation Ltd have already been established to provide such thorugh-life product support for the 16 + 29 MiG-29K/KUBs and the IAF's 62 MiG-29s due to be upgrtaded, and also for the 80 MiG-27Ms that will be re-engined with AL-31F turbofans.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Ju²: I did read the JP story and find its contents to be contradictory and without any basis. Regarding the EL/M-2052 for the F-16IN, the offer was made by SIBAT, which hoped that India would mandate that this radar be offered by Lockheed Martin with the F-16IN. If this were to become reality, then it would create a precedent under which IAI would at last get the chance to qualify the EL/M-2052 on the F-16 airframe. This is clearly unacceptable to the US Defense Dept since it has been US standard policy that whatever weapons platform Israel procures from the US under military aid (i.e. 100% financed by the US), it should have 'almost' 100% US content, and no mix-and-match with systems developed in-house by Israel is allowed. Therefore, even the F-16I Soufa doesn't have the EL/M-2052 on board. It is because of this institutionalised policy that led to the Obama Administration to inform Israel that no US-origin F-16 airframe will be made available to IAI for flight-qualifying the EL/M-2052.
Now, coming to the AESA for F-16IN, the IAF has been offered two alternatives: Northrop Grumman's SABR, and Raytheon RACR. It is highly unlikely that the APG-80 will go on the F-16IN. Both the SAVR and RACR are also being offered for the IAF's Jaguar IS upgrade programme.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Anon@5:16AM: Here's something 'elementary' for you to share with your 'informants' who you know personally and you may have claimed that they saw both single-seat and two-seat versions of the four contending M-MRCAs go to Bangalore for competitive flight evaluations: any of the six contenders going to India will have to be only tandem-seaters. Why? Simply because no IAF ETP is flight-qualified to fly solo on either of the six contending M-MRCAs (it takes a minimum of 40 flight-hours to flight-qualify and that too preceded by 40 hours of simulator flying training). Therefore, every M-MRCA contender will have to send a tandem-seater along with its own type-rated flight instructor or ETP. The same also applies to those weapons evaluation sorties that will be flown abroad by IAF flight evaluation ETPs. In all cases, tandem-seat aircraft will be used. Now please go ahead and 'personally' educate your 'friends' abiut this very basic and elementary point.

Ju² said...

Thanks very much for your points of view, Prasun!! I like your reactivity, this way your blog really looks like a conversation... with only a few minutes latency. :) Very appreciable.

What is your feeling concerning Russian ToTs? Personally I don't think they are less credible than any Swedish offer. Both airframes are still to be finalized, both have AESA radar at completion/integration stage... but the MiG-35 has no US-made components. There is much fantasy concerning US components and possible restrictions. Do you think it is a true problem, even in the frame of commercial discussions?


Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Ju²: Many thanks for your compliments. Deeply appreciate them. Regarding ToT from Russia, there's really no need for them at all as they're parting with the kind of systems that no one else will even think of giving. Is there anyone else who will part with weapons like the BrahMos? Will anyone else teach India how to design and fabricate up to six nuclear-powered submarines, and even supply the raw materials and design know-how for bullding such vessels? Has any other country even offered to co-develop FGFAs or MTA tactical transport aircraft or new-generation multi-role medium-lift and heavylift helicopters? Quite frankly, the Russian plate is overflowing and they don't have to walk the extra mile with any offsets commitments. Even if the US were to win the M-MRCA contract, the Russians will bag follow-on contracts for at least another 40 MiG-29K/KUBs to give the Indian Navy the planned four functional M-MRCA squadrons.
Regarding the paranoia surrounding US-built weapons, it is definitely over-stated and over-hyped. At a time when the US is overjoyed with labelling India as its enduring strategic partner, I wouldn't give much credence to any kind of anti-US paranoia. Just give it the M-MRCA contract along with the contract for supplying the F515 turbofans for the Tejas Mk2 M-MRCA, buy about 60 shipborne ASV/ASW helicopters from Sikorsky, purchase a follow-on batch of eight P-8Is, and all this will score a lot of symbolic points in the barometer of India-US bilateral relations.

Anonymous said...

Dear Prasun , Thanks for your prompt and proactive response.

If you have the October 2009 AFM issue detailing Mig-29 by Pitor can you please scan and put it up here ?

Thanks once again

Ju² said...

Hi Prasun!
Yep, I totally share your points of view concerning the Russians, as well as the US.

But concerning an M-MRCA deal given to the US, I wonder 2 things:

1) With this symbolic contract (given such as high cost!), it could be understood by the World as: "We, Indians, decided to trust the US to protect our airspace". It could sound like "we subcontract a part of our defence to the US and their technology". Maybe is it idiotic, but I think this huge deal will give a picture of how India perceives itself on the regional stage. If Delhi choose a Russian or a European solution, I think that could be more 'neutral' from an historical and geostrategic point of view. Don't you think?

2) From a technological point of view, and even if dealing with the US doesn't seem to me risky, I wonder what will really be the ToTs. F-16 is old, F-18 is heavy for a 'medium' aircraft and very expensive in terms of exploitation costs (but not in terms of sale price). Moreover, US export rules are harsh and will likely cripple Lockheed, Boeing, Northrop, etc. None of them is free to deal with India as it would like to. Once again, a European solution could be more easy to manage. I don't know which one because all of them have particular competitive advantages... and European companies such as Saab, Dassault and EADS are hungry!!

According your own feeling and appreciation, Prasun, what would be for you the optimal choice(s)? Your short-list?
Personally, basically, I would bet on Rafale and SH.

A recent interview of Chris Chadwick let us understand that Boeing sees MMRCA tender the same way as the Brazilian one. He said MiG, Lockheed and Eurofighter will be eliminated like in Brazil. In such a 3-aircraft race, I don't think that Gripen has huge chance because of its 'similarity' (maybe this word is exagerated, sorry) with the Tejas.
This 'Communication' approach is funny: Saab's representative tries to dissociate Brazilian and Indian deals. Boeing, which first showed it didn't want to enter in such a debate, says today the 2 deals have similarities.
... and Dassault, meanwhile, keeps being silent... desperately phlegmatic... Don't know what to think about this French communications strategy, definitely.
What's your mind?
(oops, sorry I made a looooong question, once again) ;)

Have a nice day, everyone!

Anonymous said...

To Prasun K Sengupta comment@11:20:00AM: Looks like your ignorance is not limited to the Mig-35 only but encompasses everything non-American. Probably that is why you are inclined to believe that the teens were definitely here while you seek photo proof for others. Guess what? I am in no mood to disappoint you! Here are photo proofs of Rafale in Bangalore-
Now don’t tell me that these aren’t definitive proof coz it is impossible to discern the environment from these photos. Here is an article from ‘The Hindu’ which too confirms that the Rafales were in Bangalore-
Now coming to the ACM’s comments; you believe that his comments were with regards to the technical paper evaluations? We all know for a fact that the technical paper evaluations for all six aircrafts are OVER and this was confirmed by no less than our ex-ACM Fali Major last year! Now use you common sense and tell me why the current ACM will pick out just four out of the six aircrafts and say they are going ‘neck to neck’ based on the evaluations completed last year that too when specifically questioned about the ‘field evaluation trials’? Also he says- “We finished the TRIALS”, don’t you see any difference between ‘TRIALS’ and ‘technical paper evaluations’?

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Ju²: Regarding your Point 1, I don;t think India needs to prove any kind of neutrality in the post-Cold War era. Those days are long over and even in those days (in the early 1980s) India had procured several high-tech systems of US-origin such as variable depth sonars and submarine sonars and combat management suites (for the four Class 209/Type 1500 SSKs).
2) Regarding Point 2, US export-control regulations are the same for everyone and India won't be an exception. If you were to do a comparative analysis of technology-driven cut-throat competitive bidding in countries as demanding as Singapore and the UAE, you can only conclude that superior products and packaging won the day, with the Europeans and Scandinavians lagging far behind. I don't think the F-16IN Super Viper is old, neither is it a legacy design since, just like the F-15SE, it has evolved steadily over the past three decades and even today, these two designs are in the forefront when it comes to introduction of cutting-edge technologies. Therefore, based on these points, I will be more inclined towards the F-16IN Super Viper. ToT isn't a problem at all since the winner will convert an entire existing IAF Base repair Depot to handle all 4 levels of MRO and through-life product support.
Boeing IDS, I'm afraid, is trying to both both leags in different baskets: in countries like Malaysia the F/A-18E/F has tried to compete against the Su-30MKM heavy-MRCA while in India it is being offered as a M-MRCA! I'm afraid one contradicts the other and this will disastrous. In Brazil, on the other hand, the Rafale has as good as won the contract.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Anon@1:51AM: How can you accuse me of being ignorant about the MiG-35 when you yourself have not yet posted any weblinks showing the single-seat and tandem-seat MiG-35s flying inside Indian airspace over the past 90 or 120 days? Do take the trouble to do your homework and post those weblinkls, just as you posted those for the Rafale. And if you can't, it would only mean that you and your Bangalore-based 'friends' are smoking something that I for one would definitely desist from!!!
As for being able to or unable to spot any difference between ‘TRIALS’ and ‘technical paper evaluations’, it depends on what the question posed to the IAF CAS was. Can you contact the reporter (writer of the story on which you're basing your misinterpretation of the news report) concerned and ask him/her what exactly was the question that was asked? Because when one hears the words "we finished the trials" no one can discern whether the remark refers to one aircraft, four aircraft, or six aircraft. And that's also the difference between you and me. You like to presume and assume, while I prefer to be far more discerning. Now here's your one and final chance to prove me wrong: guide me and other fellow bloggers to the weblinks showing the single-seat and tandem-seat MiG-35s flying inside Indian airspace over the past 90 or 120 days. If you can't, then the least you can do is admit that you're rather presumptous and gullible in such matters.

Anonymous said...

What is AFM mentioned by one of the anonym in his/her comment "... October 2009 AFM issue detailing Mig-29 by Pitor.."

Could anyone tell me what magazine is this? AirForce Magazine?


Prasun K Sengupta said...

It is AIR FORCES MONTHLY, a magazine published by UK-based Key Publishing. The story referred to is called FULCRUM FUTURE written by Pyotr Butowski.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Prasun for the quick comment.

I wonder why China did not opt for MiG29? I am not sure whether China negotiated with Russia for MiG29. But anyway, it preferred Su-30 over MiG29.
Moreover, Malaysia said it is returning its MiG29 because of high maintenance bill. I guess the same things apply to India too. Why to buy a fighter which is very expensive to maintain? Is it the same reason why PLAAF preferred Su-30 over MiG29?

Once again thanks in adv for your comments

Prasun K Sengupta said...

The PLAAF and PLA Naval Aviation did evaluate both the MiG-29 and Su-27 back in 1989, but opted for the Su-27SK/UBK as both operators wanted a heavy MRCA, and not a M-MRCA (since the indigenous J-10A/B was then being developed as the M-MRCA).
In Malaysia's case, given the rather small number of aircraft ordered (be it the MiG-29, Su-30MKM, F/A-18D or Hawk Mk209), it would have cost a lot more if Malaysia were to set up the industrial infrastructure required for servicing all these aircraft in all four levels. Therefore, Malaysia has no choice but to restrict its aviation MRO activities to only two levels of maintenance, i.e. squadron-level and intermediate-level. In India's case, given the much larger aircraft inventories, it makes economic sense to have dedicated Base Repair Depots specialising in a particular aircraft-type. In addition, since HAL licence-assembles the aircraft, it then becomes economical for it to progressively achieve import substitutions of a large number of fast-moving components (rotables and consumables). And finally, it also makes economic sense for Russian companies like Rosoboronservice India Ltd to be created on a JV-basis that is responsible for stockpiling spares in bonded warehouses within India. In Malaysia's case (or for that matter even in Indonesia or Vietnam) all such industrial investments are not economical since the number of aircraft to be serviced is quite small, hence tere are no appreciable returns on such investments.

Anonymous said...

Great! Thanks for your comments.

Anyway, since some people cannot view (including me) Mr. Piotr's article on MiG-29, could you summarize what he wrote about this plane?

Prasun K Sengupta said...

What appeared in AFM regarding the MiG-35 was more or less identical to what my blogposting above is all about. The article by Pyotr Butowski too questions the existence of the single-seat and tandem-seat variants of the MiG-35, and also lists out in detail the financial debts of RAC-MiG.

Ju² said...

Hi Prasun,
Thanks for this point of view. Actually, I wouldn't have bet on the F-16IN. It is only my opinion, but if the Super Viper in an evolved version of the Block 60, it will also be more expensive... and Block 60's unit cost is VERY high for a single engine 3++Gen aircraft. Nearly the price of the Rafale. Dunno if it would be a good deal... it will depend on the commercial and industrial package.

Concerning the choice of "superior products" in Singapore and South Korea, I'm not sure. Singapore and Korea chose the F-15 instead of the Rafale for political reasons, clearly. In terms of technology, the Europeans are not lagging far behind the US. But in terms of Marketing efforts and diplomatic power, they do, indeed.
I recently saw an article in the German press where the German defence attaché in India said that the Europeans have credible political and technological alternatives, but they don't have enough punch. As you said, the "packaging" is crucial, and the US is really the boss in this field.

Concerning the meaning of the MMRCA program, I would like to know your mind. Actually, I do not really understand what is reasonnable in it: IAF alraedy has Su-30MKIs, Mirage 2000s, MiG-29s and Jaguars, i.e. 5 types of aircraft. Tomorrow, it will have FGFAs and probably upgraded Mirages. Today, modern countries have harmonised aircraft fleets. And imagine the government succeeds in negotiating UAE's M2000-9s, that would delay again M2000H/THs upgrade program... and also would increase the number of jet models into service! Not a good point for taxpayers... In this perspective, do you think that ToTs are the true 'reason to be' of the MMRCA program, beyond the MiG-21s replacement issue?

WGP said...


Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Ju²: The F-16IN Super Viper is the cheapest of all the M-MRCA contenders at the moment, and is being offered with the kind of on-board sensors and avionics architecture that only the Russians have promised to deliver (with israel's help) on the MiG-35. I wouldn't bet much on Europe's ability to deliver as promised, since the EF-2000 is mired in political problems, while the Rafale continues to be financially unviable even for the French, as a result of which till today the Rafale is not even qualified for usage of helmet-mounted dispkay and cueing system. I will elaborate further on this in my next posting tonight.
As for the types of aircraft in service with the IAF, I agree there's a lot more belt-tightening required and it is for this reason that I have consistently opposed the upgrading of Mirage 2000s and MiG-29s and instead invest that money into the procurement of additional Su-30MKIs and into the FGFA, and accelerated procurement of tandem-seat Tejas Mk1s (the same standard as the LSPs) for being employed as lead-in fighter trainers.