Saturday, October 18, 2008

Making Sense From Nonsense

The following analysis has reference to the on-going ‘controversy’ regarding the Malaysian Ministry of Defence’s (MINDEF) selection of the EADS/Eurocopter-built EC-725 Cougar Mk2+ medium-lift air-mobility helicopter as the eventual replacement for the Royal Malaysian Air Force’s (RMAF) existing 26 Sikorsky S-61A-4 multi-role utility helicopters. While allegations are abounding regarding MINDEF’s competitive selection process, the following issues—especially those not yet raised by some of the bidders that have lost out to the EC-725--have to looked upon objectively. But first, a not-too-brief recap of how the requirement for the new air-mobility helicopters arose.

The Genesis
The history of the Nuri’s employment by the RMAF is a colourful but tainted one. The first batch of 16--each powered by twin General Electric T58-GE-10 turboshaft engines rated at 1,400 shp each--came into service in 1968. Not exactly the most suitable rotary-winged platform for operations in Malaysia’s hot and humid conditions, they nevertheless proved to be workhorses. However, from the very onset, the Nuri fleet encountered one calamity after another. From a peak of 44 airframes in the mid-1970s, the numbers began to dwindle as a result of crashes, and by the early 1990s only 26 airworthy airframes were left. What was once the pride of the RMAF’s rotary-winged transport force and the backbone supporting the Malaysian Army’s tactical air mobility requirements to combat the Communist insurgency in the 1970s and 1980s is today considered old and overdue for retirement. Although still employed in the transport support and VIP transport role, due mainly to the change in the RMAF’s airpower doctrine (since the mid-1990s) with regard to the responsibility for tactical air mobility requirements reverting back to the individual armed services of the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF), it has also become the primary airborne search-and-rescue (SAR) aircraft for the RMAF. Why then has the RMAF been insisting on a dedicated combat SAR (CSAR) helicopter since the late-1990s when it is unlikely to undertake such operations in future? One must realise that CSAR helicopters simply cannot operate independently of the other supporting airborne elements because even if fitted with state-of-the-art EW suites, they would not be able to survive hostile AAA. In this respect, the RMAF would stand to benefit greatly by emulating the CSAR doctrine of the British RAF instead of the USAF. To the RAF, CSAR falls under the ambit of ‘special operations’, and is only to be undertaken when the odds are calculated to be favourable. During hostilities, downed RAF aircrew are expected to avoid capture using escape-and-evasion tactics and if capture is imminent, they are to surrender and rely on the Geneva Convention for being treated humanely as enemy prisoners of war. In peacetime, however, the RAF relies solely on SAR units located in strategic locations around the British Isles run by civil agencies, but is the overall coordinator of all SAR operations. This approach, besides being more practical, makes more economic sense for the RMAF.

RMAF’s CSAR Doctrine
Before 1993, the CSAR mission did not exist for the RMAF. The Nuris then were still employed in their traditional role of tactical troop transportation, and civil/military communications flights, including SAR. For its own SAR coverage, the RMAF depended on the national SAR mechanism which falls under the ambit of the Ministry of Transport’s Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) for coordination and control. Under this system, each agency, including non-government ones, were given the responsibility of being a search-and-rescue unit (SRU) as contributing agencies allocating airborne, maritime or ground-based resources to conduct SAR whenever an operation was activated. As the coordinating agency, the DCA decided when to call off the SAR effort. Despite the obvious lack of a proper command-and-control structure, this laissez-faire approach usually worked. The mid-1990s saw a major shift in the RMAF’s thinking in respect to SAR. This change occurred when it was decided that each individual armed services of the MAF was to assume responsibility for its own tactical air mobility requirements. At once it became apparent to the RMAF that at a stroke of a pen its Nuri squadrons (comprising the Butterworth-based No3 Sqn, Labuan-based No5 Sqn, Kuching-based No7 Sqn, and the Kuala Lumpur-based No10 Sqn) had suddenly lost their raison d’etre. The RMAF was thus faced with the prospect of having to follow the way of the Australian Defence Forces and hand over the entire medium-lift helicopter fleet to the main user, the Malaysian Army. The expected transfer of assets did not actually take place, and instead CSAR and attack helicopter operations emerged as the primary helicopter-based roles of the RMAF at around the same period, this primarily being a desperate attempt by the RMAF to retain its skills and expertise in the area of helicopter operations.

Since early 2001, two things have worked in favour of the RMAF with regard to the control of its Nuri fleet. Firstly, thus far, the Army has been unable to assume responsibility for its own medium-lift tactical air mobility as it has been struggling to even operate its SA.316B Alouette III helicopters (transferred from the RMAF to the Army Aviation Corps in April 1997), much less, the Nuris. Secondly, the Army in all probability has realised that it cannot relish the prospect of losing a big portion of its annual operational expenditure to cater for the Nuris’ flight operations, flying training, and periodic maintenance, repair and overhaul requirements. As a result, the acquisition of an integral heliborne air mobility capability has been left more or less unresolved, and now dangles like the ‘Sword of Damocles’. The question on everybody’s mind today is: does the RMAF still have custody of the role of heliborne tactical air mobility, or has this responsibility passed irreversibly to the Army? If so, what has the Army been doing about it?

In light of calls to replace the Nuris, what seemed an ordinary and unimportant decision made in the mid-1990s has now resurfaced to become a major determinant. The publicity surrounding the selection process for a replacement helicopter fleet is sure to bring to light the question of the Army’s tactical air mobility requirements/capabilities again. This time around, the RMAF is unlikely to be able to avoid the issue and will probably have to address it once and for all. It can either deal with it as part of the on-going Nuri replacement exercise, or isolate itself from it altogether and continue pursuing the CSAR agenda. If it decides on the former, however, the RMAF will suffer the risk of having the Army pursuing ownership of the helicopters acquired for replacing the Nuris, consequently splitting as it were, the capital budget allocated for acquiring medium-lift helicopters required for both air mobility and CSAR. What then is the most favourable option for the RMAF? It is obvious that for its own sake it should play down the disputed and problematic acquisition of a CSAR capability, and instead reclaim back ownership of the tactical heliborne air mobility role (that can now be enhanced to air assault for supporting the Army’s projected vertical envelopment operations) it has traditionally held thus far. For a start, it is the more substantive and desirable of two roles and it is presently the more competent armed service to undertake the job compared to the Army. Furthermore, the intended transfer of heliborne air mobility assets/capabilities is still only a paper exercise and not likely to be actualised, at least in the near-term, given the Army’s lack of support infrastructure capacity and operational interest. Uppermost in the minds of RMAF planners today should be the question of numbers.

Competitive Bidding Process
Following the Economic Planning Unit’s notification on October 10, 2007 authorising the MINDEF to issue global tenders for seeking bids to supply replacements to the ‘Nuris’, MINDEF on November 7 released the tenders, which called for the supply of 12 medium-lift air-mobility helicopters for the RMAF. As revealed by MINDEF Secretary-General Datuk Abu Bakar Abdullah on October 17, the tender offers received by February 12 this year were:

T521/07/A/001: £341.88 million (RM2.08 billion) from AgustaWestland Helicopters, which proposed the AW-101.

T521/07/A/002: RM663.189 million from an unknown party.

T521/07/A/003: €104.632 million (RM494.9 million) from Russia’s Rosoboronexport State Corp, with the Mi-17V-5 on offer through its primary agent Vertical Master Sdn Bhd.

T521/07/A/004: US$220.496 million (RM777.45 million) from Sikorsky Corp, offering its HH-92 Superhawk through its primary agent Evergreen Aviation Resources Sdn Bhd.

T521/07/A/005: US$708.305 million (RM2.49 billion) from Boeing IDS, which offered its CH-47F Chinook.

T521/07/A/006: €233.345 million (RM1.1 billion) from Eurocopter SA, which offered the EC-725 Cougar Mk2+. The company's agent in Malaysia is Sari Varia Sdn Bhd.

T521/07/A/007: US$348.17 million (RM1.22 billion) for 12 Mi-172KFs being offered by Canada’s Kelowna Flightctaft Ltd via its primary agent Mentari Services Sdn Bhd.

The tender submissions were then split up into three parts for MINDEF’s technical evaluation committee, offset evaluation committee and price evaluation committee to evaluate. However, depending on MINDEF’s methodology of determining each bid’s tender value, it appears that Sikorsky’s bid was valued at US$427.20 million (RM1.452 billion), while Eurocopter’s bid worked out to RM2.317 billion, and the Mi-172KF’s bid worked out to US$264 million, or RM898 million according to figures made public by Mentari. MINDEF has not yet explained its methodology of arriving at the actual or final bid figures, but we must assume here that MINDEF has a perfectly rational reason for arriving at the final pricing levels. The committees’ conclusions were tabled at a Tender Board meeting on July 22 and were then forwarded to the Finance Ministry on August 4. MINDEF received the green light on September 3 to proceed with contractual negotiations, and Eurocopter SA was on September 15 issued a Letter of Intent (LoI) for the supply of an initial 12 EC-725 Cougar Mk2+ helicopters. Although the RMAF has projected an eventual total long-term requirement for 74 such helicopters, MINDEF has obtained sanction from the Ministry of Finance for procuring only 27 helicopters, of which 12 worth RM1.76 billion will be acquired under the on-going 9th Malaysia Plan, with the remaining 15 being ordered under the 10th Malaysia Plan (2011-2015). Eurocopter had since 2005 been proposing its EC-725 Cougar Mk2+ for both air-mobility and CSAR operations. Up until July 2007 the twin-engined EC-725 was almost certain to bag the RMAF’s order for ten 11-tonne EC-725s configured for CSAR. After that, however, it had to compete with the HH-92 Superhawk and AW-101 from for bagging the lucrative order from MINDEF for the supply of an initial 12 multi-role utility helicopters. What probably tilted the balance in favour of the EC-725 was Eurocopter’s demonstrated capability and intention to fully localise the EC-725’s through-life product support and depot-level maintenance requirements at its sprawling MRO facility now coming up at Subang’s Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah International Airport in Selangor State.

Explaining The Anomalies
While allegations are abounding regarding MINDEF’s competitive selection process, the following issues—especially those not yet raised by some of the bidders that have lost out to the EC-725--have to looked upon objectively.

1) Of all the above-mentioned bidders, the Mi-17IV was first brought to Malaysia by Russia’s Rosoboronexport State Corp during the LIMA 2001 exhibition and was extensively flight-tested after the exhibition by the RMAF. Subsequently, a visiting RMAF delegation led by the RMAF Chief to the MAKS aerospace exhibition in Russia last year was shown a civilian variant of the Mi-17V-5 (no96369) belonging to Kazan Helicopter Plant (KHP) by Rosoboronexport. The HH-92 Superhawk’s prototype from Sikorsky was demonstrated to a visiting RMAF team in the US more than a year ago. The EC-725 too was flight-tested and evaluated over a two-week period by the RMAF when the helicopter was brought to Malaysia during the DSA 2006 exhibition in April 2006, and during the LIMA 2007 exhibition in Langkawi early last December. Therefore, for some to claim that the RMAF and the MINDEF tender evaluation board did away with the practice of flight-testing the principal contenders of the contract is fallacious and wrong.

2) The Mi-17 will begin being phased out of service over the next five years by the Russian military end-users. That is why a competition is now underway within Russia between Kamov OKB (offering the Ka-92) and Mil Design Bureau (offering the Mi-38) for supplying the next-generation medium-lift helicopter to fulfill domestic Russian requirements. If the RMAF were to select either the Mi-17V-5 or Mi-172KF, while its initial procurement costs would be much lower, their through-life product support costs would be three times more than the figures quoted for helicopters like the EC-725, AW-101 and HH-92 Superhawk. This is because the RMAF will find it cost-prohibitive to maintain the airworthiness and serviceability of the Mi-17 once Russia stops producing spares for this helicopter over the next 10 years.

3) For the RMAF tender competition, there were two offers of the Mi-17: the Mi-17V-5 from Russia’s Rosoboronexport State Corp (whose factory cost is an estimated US$9 million per unit and was being offered for the RMAF for US$11.78 million), and the Mi-172KF (whose factory cost is an estimated US$11 million per unit but is being offered at an inflated marked-up figure US$22 million) being offered by Mentari Services Sdn Bhd. Interestingly, if either of the two parties were to win the contract, then they both would be sourcing the Mi-17s from the same OEM, i.e. KHP, based in Russia’s Tatarstan republic. And when it comes to military procurements from abroad, the customer (MINDEF in this case) universally requires guaranteed through-life product support from the OEM. Consequently, if MINDEF were to select the Mi-17 then the following questions would have required convincing answers:

a) While the Russian government would have given product support guarantees through its official weapons import/export agency Rosoboronexport for the Mi-17V-5, would the same guarantees be extended for the offer for the Mi-172KF?

b) If not, then who would guarantee through-life product support for the Mi-172KF? Mentari? Or its principal—the Canada-based Kelowna Flightcraft Ltd—or the helicopter manufacturer—KHP—from whom Kelowna was offering to source the Mi-172KF airframes and then retrofit them with cockpit/mission avionics sourced from Honeywell or BAE Systems or SELEX Sensors & Airborne Systems? Who would assume product liabilities in the event of a Mi-172KF accident-related Board of Inquiry establishing that the accident/crash was due to technical error? What if Rosoboronexport State Corp prevented KHP from cooperating with the RMAF during such accident/crash investigations?

c) Did the Russian government, through Rosoboronexport, authorise either KHP or Kelowna Flightcraft Ltd to supply the fully militarised (i.e. weapons-equipped) Mi-172KF to Malaysia? This question needs to be answered in detail because as per present Russian government guidelines, only Rosoboronexport State Corp is authorised to export Russia-origin weapon systems directly to foreign military customers after inking government-to-government contracts.

d) How many Mi-172KFs have been sold to date by the joint industrial venture between KHP and Kelowna Flightcraft Ltd to military customers (not for VIP transportation, but for undertaking air-mobility operations under combat conditions) worldwide? Which regulatory/flight certification authority has issued the MILSPEC-compliant certificate of airworthiness of the Mi-172KF’s military variant? Is such a CofA acceptable to the RMAF? Which regulatory authority will issue the STCs for the Mi-172KF’s customer-specified avionics suites? Will the Mi-172KF, or for that matter the Mi-17V-5, have additional built-in performance growth features, such as the incorporation of fly-by-wire flight control systems and in-flight refuelling systems, which will most likely have to be mandatory on-board systems especially since the helicopter would be required by the RMAF to remain operationally viable for the next 40 years?

Regrettably, the ‘naysayers’ and conspiracy theorists alleging irregularities in the EC-725’s selection process have yet to give rational and convincing clarifications regarding the four above-mentioned points.

4) Today, it only makes sense for countries like China and India to continue buying Mi-17s in large numbers because only these two countries have had more than 30 years of experience operating the Mi-8Ts and Mi-17s and have therefore established the huge domestic MRO (maintenance, repair & overhaul) infrastructure required to maintain and operate such helicopters. This is not the case with Malaysia, which requires either the helicopter OEM to set up extensive, brand-new MRO infrastructure to support a new helicopter-type, or upgrade existing MRO infrastructure at tremendous cost to service the new helicopter acquisitions.

5) As a consequence of the above, only Eurocopter (an EADS subsidiary) can be said to have comprehensively complied with the RMAF’s helicopter-related MRO demands (which played a pivotal role in tilting the balance in favour of the EC-725’s competitive bid) since only Eurocopter has to date made unilateral and substantial investments in its own sprawling helicopter MRO facility in Subang (which Sikorsky, AgustaWestland and the Russians are not known to have done thus far) since 1998. Such facilities, which will undoubtedly expand their capabilities as the EC-725s are inducted progressively, will enable the RMAF to fully localise the EC-725’s serviceability requirements, and ensure high availability and levels for its initial EC-725 fleet, which will undoubtedly be subject to intensive usage in its earlier years due to the demands of both operational conversion flying training as well as operational flying. One must also bear in mind that such MRO facilities will be fully authorised and certified by the OEM (Eurocopter), and as such will not be exposed to the third-party MRO liabilities of the type that has plagued the RMAF’s dwindling S-61A-4 ‘Nuri’ helicopter fleet. No one thus far, including Rosoboronexport or Mentari or AgustaWestland or Sikorsky, has officially bothered to explain how much the through-life product support costs of the Mi-17V-5 or Mi-172KF or AW-101 or HH-92 Superhawk would be if these entities were to establish in-country dedicated MRO facilities. Only if such expenditure figures are forthcoming from them would one be able to make accurate cost comparisons with the Eurocopter/EC-725 tender bid. Until then it remains a case of simplistic comparison of apples with oranges.

6) As a result of the above, when viewed from a techno-economic matrix, it was ONLY Eurocopter that ‘almost fully’ complied with the ASQRs of the RMAF while at the same time offering guaranteed through-life product support for the EC-725. The EC-725 of the type selected for the RMAF is presently operational with the armed forces of France and Saudi Arabia and has already been combat-proven in Afghanistan. The AW-101 is a combat-proven helicopter (which was recently selected by India for VVIP transportation), but the problem here was that the RMAF would have had to allocate substantial scare financial resources for setting up dedicated MRO facilities from scratch to support the AW-101 fleet. Sikorsky’s HH-92 Superhawk is estimated to have come in with the second-best offer (to be detailed in the near future) but militarily this helicopter is still an untested product since it has yet to be ordered in bulk by any armed forces worldwide.

In conclusion, it would do well to the ‘naysayers’ to view the entire issue through the prism of objectivity prior to making ill-informed conclusions based merely on speculative accusations of some ‘sore losers’.—Prasun K. Sengupta


Anonymous said...

excellent piece sir. i never thought you'd cover events unfolding in malaysia. kudos

Anonymous said...


do u have any indication about the contender for second tender i.e. RM664 mil? i have heard some rumours that it was in fact for the same Eurocopter Cougar Mark 2 but to avoid people questioning the logic of paying RM1.1 bil, they hushed it up. Any comments on this?

secondly. kindly explain the difference between Oboronprom and Rosoboronexport. I can seem to draw a line between the two. I thought Mil Moscow's helicopters were sold through Oboronprom.

Thank u!

Anonymous said...

OK lah macha, we know u know about Malaysia. U wrote this article to please me is it that u know Malaysia? I never denied u know frm the very fact u r talking about Sentral / pines / cresent court n all. U know malaysia's geography n military, yes. but u don't know malaysia's food!!!!

ok leaving that aside please try ur level best to get us some coverage on launch of chandrayaan-1.. possible? Try lah ok macha..

Anonymous said...

please change this PAKI-GREEN colour theme u r using. No worries the skin is not important. whats important is the content. all we need is a eye pleasing skin. and so long is not PAKEEEE related we r fine

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Anon@8:59AM: I strongly suspect the second offer for RM664 million was from Bell Helicopters offering its Bell 412EP. It was definitely not from Eurocopter as I have myself seen the EC-725's technical/financial offer.

When the Soviet Union collapsed the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations came to be known in Russia as Orobonexport, then Rosvoorzhenie, and then Rosoboronexport. There was also another import-export company called Promexport which I recknon has now been disbanded. The OBORONPROM you mention is the new Russian entity that brings under it all the Russian helicopter manufacturers, engine and avionics manufacturers, etc. You can find more data on it at:

To Macha@10:34AM: As I'm based in Southeast Asia you will soon begin reading a lot more about what's happenbing within China, ASEAN, Taiwan & Japan. Many of the redars of TEMPUR magazine (which is published every month from Malaysia with my articles in them) wanted me to give greater coverage of military-industrial developments within ASEAN. Which is edxactly what I'm doing.

To Anon@10:36AM: The background colour is not Paki green. It is much lighter than the bottle green colour of Pakistan's flag.

Anonymous said...

to prasun for ur comment

while its initial procurement costs would be much lower, their through-life product support costs would be three times more than the figures quoted for helicopters like the EC-725, AW-101 and HH-92 Superhawk
from where u got this three time more life cycle cost of russian helos

what r those figures for life cycle cost tell exactly in numbers how it will b three times more it may b atmost 1.2 times more than others,russian labour cost is waaay cheaper than european labour cost so its spares must b cheaper than european counterparts and so its life cycle cost will not b that high that u have pridicted and fuel cost depend on oil prices

if russia can still provide spares for older mig21bison and will provide even in next decade so whats the problem with mi17 spares

india and china r buying these mi17 russia will provide spares to india and china for mi17 then what will b the problem with malaysia

and for ur info s.korea bought 24 apaches for 811million that was 60%
less than factory price even then each costed around 33million.

that was the main reason boeing left indian tender for 22 combat helos cuz it was just 500million
contract and boeing was unable to sell apaches for that much less

malaysia already bought su30mkm because singapur bought f15sg,it rejected f18 superhornet despite it had older f18,

by the way canada bought 17 c130j for 1.4billion and v bought just 6 c130j for 1.2billion

neither c130j deal shows life cycle cost included in this deal and if just spares itself cost much more then the aircraft itself then its not a good deal

still russian helos r cost effective and russia imposes no arms embargo,

look at iran it still uses c130,p3,f14 despite US not supplying spares, so y u r yelling at mi17 for spares knowing that spares will always b provided for mi17

Anonymous said...

to prasun

neither i think russia is going to retire these mi8,mi24 soon,it still has large number of these helos and replacing them will cost tooo much so it will b operating those past 2020,

just c russian airforce just too big and enough till 2025 even if no fighter aircraft gets inducted,they just need to upgrade their existing aircraft etc
thats y russia is not inducting any new fighters it is selling to foreign countries and same thing going to happen with helos so they r ecporting them

Prasun K Sengupta said...

What makes the Mi-17 three times more expensive to operate than its Western counterparts are its direct operating costs. Since you won't believe my figures, I suggest you do the calculations yourself by finding out:
1) After how many hours will the Mi-17's engines will have to be removed for hot-section inspections?
2) How many man-hours of maintenance per flying hours have to be devoted to the Mi-17?
3) How many days/weeks/months does it take for a military operator of the Mi-17 to RECEIVE the spares from Rosoboronexport after they have been ordered and a line of credit has been opened?
4) After how many flying hours will the Mi-17's airframe be required to undergo inspections for signgs of metal fatigue and cracks?
5) Are flight simulators available for the Mi-17 in order for an aircrew team to undergo flight conversion in the simulator instead of flying the helicopter?
6) How many Russia-certified MRO centres have been established to date for the Mi-17, when compared to such centres that are operational on behalf of Bell Helicopters, Sikorsky, Eurocopter & AgustaWestland?
7) Is the Mi-17V-5 available with the same type of defensive aids suite that helicopters like the HH-92, EC-725 and AW-101 have on-board as standard fit? Is there any operator flying such a Mi-17?

Lastly, no one from Russia is providing any product-support/spares for the MiG-21Bison. All that WAS supplied were the upgrade kits for SOKOL Aircraft Plant in Nizhni Novgorod and by Phazotron JSC. Even the MiG-21Bison's non-steerable nose landing gear was changed by the IAF to a steerable one provided by HAL, which obtained that technology from Lucas Aerospace way back in the early 1990s.

RAJ said...

How come NH-90 was not offered?

Anonymous said...

to prsun

in indian air force these is no such problem of man hours,officers and technicians get paid monthly irrespective of hours,and same thing is also true for private firms in those people get paid monthly irrespective of hours

this "MAN HOUR" term u coated
better suites to western countries cuz in those countries people get paid hourly but not in india but not sure about malaysia.

safety record of mi17 is proven even without fly by wire,and there is no equivalent of mi24 in the west

mi8-17 r proven machines,used in kargil as well,iaf never complained about them so they better know that when there is need for check for cracks and repair.

and yes there r SIMULATORS FOR MI17,MI35 u can c those videos on utube,actually on video shows upgraded mi35 with digital electronics

russia provided simulators for
MIG29K as well to indian navy

now russian helicopters also comes with defensive suites LIKE RWR,CHAFF & FLARES,MAWS etc
digital electronics as well,it depends on customer what they want

there r hunderds of mi17-8 in the world so there is no such problem of spares and russia will continue to provice spares

the mig21 bison upgrade was done
in russia and then hal upgraded rest of them,radar system,structural upgrade,engine support all these things require spares,all u coated about mig21bison can b counted as spares,and still some spares for radar,engine,and for airframe come from russia

Anonymous said...

to prasun

is navy intrested in A319 MMA

what happened to the spares of sea king helicopter in 1999 of indian navy all fleet of helos was not air worthy without spares,and other program also crippled

now US wants 197 light helicopter contract,MRCA what will happen when in most critical time US stop supplying spares

when v needed arrow antiballistic missiles from israel in most critical time who denied the sale,now US is selling patriot when v don't need it and when better systems r available to us like s400

look at iran no spares for aircraft,

US stopped supplying spares to venezuela and indonesia for f16

can US give us their f22,nuke subs
simple fact no

US/UK r not reliable in most critical time

what about end user agreement,US want logistic support from us will they pay for it

whenever v go against US wish v will become their oppenent.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To RAJ@11:02PM: The NH-90 was not offered because the tender specs called for a helicopter with a capacity for 26 troops and a cruise speed of 150 Knots in fully loaded configuration.

To: Anon@7:05AM: Contrary to what you may be led to believe, maintenance man-hours plays a very critical role in the IAF's way of doing the math. It is not a question of payment, but how efficiently one utilises the human resources. Every man-hour saved can be utilised for some other taskings. That is the very reason why the IAF is looking seriously at total life-cycle costs instead of procurement cvosts. In the good old days of the USSR there was no such problem since spares were provided at ridiculously low prices. That is no longer the case. Previously when a TV3-117 engine had flown for 1,500 hours there was no need to re-life them, but simply throw them away because thr USSR was more than ready to ship in a brand new TV3-117. But no more.
The Mi-17 and Mi-35 simulators you mention were not built by Russian companies, but companies in Austria, Canada, Czech Republic, etc. The MiG-29K simulator for India is not being built and delivered by Russia, but from the German company Rheinmetall. Regarding defensive suites for the Mi-17 and other helicopters, those from Russia are not state-of-the-art and do not include elements like MAWS. These still have to be sourced from companies in the UK, Israel and South Africa.
Regarding the spares situation for the Mi-17, just wait for another five years when the Mi-38 enters service and then you will see how expensive it will be to buy spares even from the international market.

To Anon@7:21AM: Let me share an interesting bit of information with you. As you know the US sanctions were imposed for only three years. Now the main reason the serviceability of the Indian Navy's fleet of Sea King helicopters was affected was simply due to the Navy's refusal to maintain an inventory of spares for the mandatory three-year period. It means the Navy DID NOT maintain an inventory of spares that would be required for three years of trouble-free flight operations. Now, is this the fault of the US, UK or India? At least in the case of the US India knew that this country had imposed a spares embargo. In the case of Russia even after India made payment in full in lieu of receiving the ordered spares, the spares arrive in India aftere a minimum of six months, when the contract calls for the spares to be delivered within 21 days. Now which of the two--Russia or the US--is more unreliable when it comes to spares support?

Regarding Venezuela, it was not the US that stopped supplying the spares unilaterally. The supplies were terminated AFTER Venezuela openly threatened to sell its F-16/J-79s to Cuba. That was also the reason why EADS refused to supply CN-235 and C-295 tactical transports/MPAs. And by the way that is also why BrahMos Aerospace is unable to sell the BrahMos to Venezuela. Similarly, HAL too will not be able to sell the Dhruv ALH to Venezuela. Regarding Indonesia, the spares supplies were never stopped, only suspended. The supplies resumed in early 2005. Lastly, realistically speaking, India never was and will never be able to adopt any kind of anti-US posture as the very foundation of any successful industrialised economy is built upon the US$. Indian forex reserves are also counted in US$, not the Rouble, or Euro or Yen or Yuan or Francs. That's the reality and there's no running away from it unless some whizkid comes up with an alternative currency that will match up to the US$.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Anon@7:21AM: By the way even during the Cold War, military academic institutions in Western Europe and North America always opened their doors to senior Indian military officials for various training course modules. But this privilege was NEVER extended to India by either the USSR or any other Warsaw Pact countries. Even today, if you ask any senior officer of the Indian military where he or she wants to go for higher command courses the answer will be either Europe or the US. But never to China or Russia or Ukraine or Belarus.
Regarding the S-400 air defence system, I'm afraid it is way too backward when compared to India's own PAD/AAD systems simply because the Indian system (co-developed with Israel) contains several cutting-edge technologies (like AESA and network-centricity) that are not even mentioned in contemporary Russian military-technical journals, let alone exist. Interestingly, the Russians are now seriously looking to procure Israel-built UAVs like the Heron TP and Hermes 1500. Contractual negotiations are currently underway. That explains why IAI and Elbit Systems had huge exhibition areas during the last MAKS 2007 exhibition.

Anonymous said...

to prasun

sanctions were imposed only for three years,three years is not a small amount of time and specially when ur country is in its most critical time when US imposed sanctions and refused to israel not to sell its ARROW,spares for seaking

imposing sanctions in most critical time is something to b very aware of when a country leaves u in critical time so that country can't b reliable

russia want to switch to euro because its more stable currency than american dollar,and many oil exporting countries want to switch to euro cuz its value remain more stable

if value of US dollar goes down so the value of our reserves

venezuela threatened to sell f16 only after US refused to provide spares

in indonesia US stopped or suspended is same thing

at least v had countinous support for spares from france,russia,just think US wants many reserves on its parts about it arms sales
like end user agreement,on site inspection, something not good

Anonymous said...

Good day,

Sorry, but are you the same Mr. Prasun Sangupta who is affiliated to YB Tuan S. K. Devamany?


Indain said...

And Mr PRasun,

Wot abt the activity in IN towards inducting the same tonnage LPD`s?

IN decided to go with around 12000 ton LPDs as its future amphibious operations are concerned.

IF u have any idea abt the construction of those and the relevant work going .......can u pliz shed some light in public here.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Anon@9:53AM: No, I have NO affiliation to the person you've named. I don't even know who he is. I have no relatives or family members anywhere in Southeast Asia and I have no business interests in Malaysia as a matter of principle.

To Indain: There are no plans for the time-being to acquire new LPDs/LHSs. They will be acquired only after 2012. One will be built abroad and two more in-country under licence. The IN presently favours the LHD option instead of the LPD.

Anonymous said...

to prasun

Regarding the S-400 air defence system, I'm afraid it is way too backward when compared to India's own PAD/AAD systems simply because the Indian system (co-developed with Israel) contains several cutting-edge technologies (like AESA and network-centricity) that are not even mentioned in contemporary Russian military-technical journals
its he most advanced russian SAM system
it has 400km missile range,and its radar is able to detect stealth fighter,PESA tech is not inferior any way just look at irbis e radar it outclasses
apg79,80,81,63(v2),amsar,rbe2 aesa

AESA radar does't make a system
cutting edge and there is no such system like s400 in the west for export

russian systems r also net cent their command and control communication stations r fully digitized and net cent

and indian AAD/PAD still in testing and israeli/indian barak2 will have range of only 60km thats all,but current russian s300 has better range about 90km

Prasun K Sengupta said...

The Barak-2 is being developed in two versions: the ship-launched version with a 70km-range; and the land-launched version with a 120km-range for the Indian Air Force. Both missile versions will use the EL/M-2248 MF-STAR AESA-based radar for target engagement. This will be a full generation ahead of the S-300/S-400.
The Irbis-E cannot be compared as yet to the AESA-based radars like APG-79 or RBE-2 or Caesar or EL/M-2052 simply because the AESA-based radars for new-generation combat aircraft have only now begun entering service whereas the Irbis-E is derived from the NO-11M BARS which has been in service since 2002. The superiority of AESA over PESA will be convincingly proven within the next 24 months when the Su-30MKIs engage in exercises (hopefully in Kalaikunda) with the Republic of Singapore Air Force's F-15SGs equipped with the APG-63(V)3 radars.

Anonymous said...

so whats next? making nonsense from sense??

Anonymous said...

to prasun

The superiority of AESA over PESA will be convincingly proven within the next 24 months when the Su-30MKIs engage in exercises (hopefully in Kalaikunda) with the Republic of Singapore Air Force's F-15SGs equipped with the APG-63(V)3 radars.
su30mki is not equipped with
irbis e radar cuz irbis e has twice the dtection range of bars currently on su30mki,and by the way none of the country is going to show their cards for sure

Anonymous said...

to prasun

barak2 missile versions will use the EL/M-2248 MF-STAR AESA-based radar for target engagement. This will be a full generation ahead of the S-300/S-400

only stupids will beleive this

s400 system has unmatched range and barak2 doesn't comes close and it also uses aesa radar that is
"NEBO VHF" in cunjunction with PESA

Anonymous said...

to prasun

The superiority of AESA over PESA will be convincingly proven within the next 24 months when the Su-30MKIs engage in exercises (hopefully in Kalaikunda) with the Republic of Singapore Air Force's F-15SGs equipped with the APG-63(V)3 radars.
both f15 and su30mki r non stealth fighters they can't hide themselves from adversary radars all depends on fighter pilot skills and who got longer range

and also singapur will not keep their radars switch on because of US pressure

Indian said...

Hey Prasun,
this is the same i posted on shivs blog.but he didnt responded.If u got answer pliz let me know.

can u get us a brief descri regarding MCA its time frame,budget,tech incorporated,and the total no.of being inducted.

As far as i know,this MCA is single seater but dual engined LCA with two tails as opposed to the proposed tail less design.

IT will accumulate the same same stealth capabilieties to evade low freq and high freq radars.And will incorporate the DRDO developed Cockpit stealth tech.As well as a couple of internal bays on its belly and 2 more on sides of air intakes(jst like F-22).

And the engine development is already in progress with a no aim and description but just to fine tune the present kaveri and later uprating it to go supercruise.

MCA is to replace both the JAGs and Mirages as well as MIG-29s

And this is my trillion dollar question:

230 MKI(being inducted with replacing nothing)
200Tejas(replacing MIG-21s)
126 MMRCA(SUpossed to be replacing 21,but now as an interim measure according to both babus and IAF)
....................These are to be procured

50 Mirage 2K
63 MIG-29
140 JAguar
130 MIG-27
Here you might be repalcing the above 4 types with 2 stealthy ones

FGFA is to replace MIRAGE and JAguars while MCA is to replace the rest of MIGs as a matter of fact the indigenous ones are always to replace MIGs .

And now get my math.
procurement before 2017 are MKI,MMRCA and Tejas
which add upto as many as 556.
And with the IAF now making each sqad having as many as upto 20 A/C the above number makes to approximately 30 sqadsincluding trainers and everything(~20 each)

and now the future developed ones to replace the existing ones are MCA and FGFA
Both has to replace as many as 383 A/C it means as many as 20 squads.

And the total stereotypes of a/c in indian arsenal still counts as
MKI,MMRCA,TEJAS,MCA,FGFA--------->5 types

And there been speculations that IAF may order the rest MMRCA to make it a round fig as 200.This gives an additional 76 a/c which counts to ~ 4 sqads and the total squads in IAF inventory adds upto

And the projected aqad strength is 45.
And if IAF fills the rest gap with MCA and FGFA the total strength goes upto 55 squads.

Are you gonna shed some light on my math.If IAF wants some 12-15 a/c per sqad in case the total strength goes upto 60 which people say is good enough to defend against china and move aggressive against paki at the same point of time.

And another question is that,is IAF have enough weaponry in its inventory or is it just aircraft?

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Indian: Are yaar, whatever you're hearing about the MCA is just political sparring between ADA and HAL. This is because ADA will become redundant after the Tejas LCA is developed as per the IAF's GSQR by 2015 (with the definitive turbofan to be selected by the IAF by this December) and will have to close shop unless it has a new project. This is where the MCA comes in. But the MCA, which was originally conceived by ADA in the mid-1990s, now has to contend with the FGFA (which was offered after the year 2000) for which HAL is in the driver's seat and will engage with the DRDO labs only as sub-contractors. Therefore, be prepared for a slug-fest between the DRDO and HAL about the scarce R & D resources available now. I personally would like to see the ADA take up the development of unmanned UCAVs after it washes its hands off the Tejas LCA.
Now, coming to IAF squadron strength, the present formula is 16 operational aircraft plus 2 as attrition replacements. The M-MRCA requirement was conceived in 2001 and the IAF's original plan was to acquire about 80 ex-French Air Force Mirage 2000-5s (some of which have since gone to Brazil). But now that the original procurement timetable has gone haywire, the on-going M-MRCA competitive bidding has been undertaken. In addition, the bulk of the new M-MRCAs will stand-in for the Tejas LCA as the latter will begin being inducted in bulk only from 2015. In my view, the entire M-MRCA acquisition process is a waste of time and money and things would have been better had additional Su-30MKIs been procured (about 80) in order to greatly simplify operational logistics. The money saved from this exercise could then have been invested in the FGFA project and also on the project to develop a common turbofan for both the FGFA and Tejas LCA, and lastly on technology convergence synergies between the two platforms, all of which will enormously benefit India's aerospace industry given the greater volume of business. Whether the IAF, DRDO and HAL collectively realise this is anyone's guess.
As for future replacements, the IAF's official statements call for the M-MRCA to replace the MiG-21Ms, MiG-23BNs and MiG-27Ms. The Tejas LCA is now being looked at to merely replace the MiG-21Bisons. The FGFA is being projected as the successor to the Jaguars, Mirage 2000s and MiG-29s. Now, what I find unconvincing is the IAF's arguments in favour of the M-MRCA. No one can explain convincingly exactly what is it that the new M-MRCA will be able to do that the Su-30MKI cannot, especially since future air warfare will be network-centric and not platform-centric.

Anonymous said...

The money saved from this exercise could then have been invested in the FGFA project and also on the project to develop a common turbofan for both the FGFA and Tejas LCA, and lastly on technology convergence synergies between the two platforms, all of which will enormously benefit India's aerospace industry given the greater volume of business.


Prasun K Sengupta said...

Much as I would like to I cannot as I'm not an Indian passport-holder. India ain't my homeland either.

Anonymous said...

v better scrap MRCA and slash numbers of LCA and make room for
300 PAK FAs,MCA,MRCA r getting uncertain

it was not govt. it was IAF indecisiveness to select the aircraft for MRCA

Anonymous said...

to prasun

can u explain that france offered 40 rafales on fast track but y india turned that down

Anonymous said...

to prasun

just like two seater version of LCA has to b flown in last year june but it has not flown yet,naval version will not b ready
untill 2015 that y navy gone for additional mig29k

LCA too getting farce if china can operationalize fc-1 in 4 years and its been 8 years since first flight of lca y can't ADA operationalize LCA now

Anonymous said...

Much as I would like to I cannot as I'm not an Indian passport-holder. India ain't my homeland either.







Anonymous said...

can u say whens next article gonna be/ nex week or nex month? so i no need 2 waste my time coming here over n over again

Shaky said...

Mr, Prasun,

Guess what, this article got featured in Malaysiakini: see

Kudos to you!! As what others said you should start a website. You can make good money!

Shaky said...

...or were u the one who submitted it?

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Shaky: Yes, I had submitted the letter to all the english-language Malaysian national dailies as well as Malaysiakini, since the article in the blog is lengthy and no one would bother to publish it as a letter. Am glad you noticed it. Thanks.

shaky said...

Welcome.. don't 4get to call on me when u come this side next..

shaky said...

"all the english-language Malaysian national dailies"

you mean star, sun and nst? i don't recall seeing it in today's star though? do u know whether i came out in the other 2? the latest I heard on this is a police report has been made to investigate this deal and Altantuya's massacre connection with Najib.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

I sent the letter on the very same day to every english-language newspaper. But that does not mean they all will publish it. The newspapers usually want to publish the letters exclusively, Thus, if anyone first publishes it, then the others won't.
I very much doubt lodging any Police report against the helicopter deal will do any good to anybody. Simply because no one is complaining about the way in which the Eurocopter offer was selected. What folks like those who lost the contract are complaining about is why their offers were not selected, despite being cheaper. And that's because they don't know as yet what exactly are the industrial offsets offers made by Eurocopter to MINDEF, which will greatly offset the actual value of the procurement value. Once the actual contract is signed by December, all these offsets offers will be made public by MINDEF & Eurocopter. Right now it is just a case of the pot calling the kettle black. Afterall those whose offers were rejected have nothing to loose and therefore they are just being spiteful and trying to sabotage the helicopter deal by making spurious claims which cannot be substantiated or proven by irrefutable evidence of any wrongdoing.

Anonymous said...

to prasun

y don't y talk to some IAF pilots which fighter they want

shaky said...

yes, that malay guy who's kicking up the ruckers is, you know, the middle man for Kelowna's Mil-17. He's just trying to play on the public's sentiments by highlighting the vast price difference because as you know, Malaysians are very sensitive about money / spending. People are very suspicious about current government after so much money has been misused (like purchase of 14 E-200K cars for Terengganu govt, building of houses for mayors etc.). And ofcourse everyone's suspicious about Najib. So this guy, feeling sore he lost, is trying to spark public sentiment using these cheap tricks. I never said Najib's an angel, but I don't see any faults with this deal.

Anonymous said...

to everyone

F-22, F-35 Comparison (PDF),

F35 is only 50% capable of F22