Stop wasteful military deals

Reduction of the Rs 4 lakh-crore fiscal deficit will require a drastic winnowing of defence expenditure programmes. The wasteful military procurement system that fetches, as it were, as much chaff as grain, offers obvious targets for excision. Among them the egregiously wrong-headed deals for the Swiss Pilatus PC-7 turboprop trainer and the French Rafale MMRCA (multi-role, medium range combat aircraft).

Consider IAF’s priorities: It bought PC-7s for $1.5 billion, an amount the Chinese Air Force spent to secure the entire production line from Russia of the latest, most advanced, Tu-22M3M strategic bomber! This Pilatus purchase, moreover, was approved by defence minister A K Antony at a time when Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Bangalore, had its new HJT-44 turboprop trainer up and ready. Brazening out such mindless splurges, Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne advised closure of the HJT-44 line to enable purchase of more PC-7s!

IAF has at most tolerated licence-manufactured foreign fighter planes but sought stubbornly to kill off indigenous combat aircraft projects. In the past, it buried the Marut Mk-II, the low-level strike variant designed in the 1970s by the highly talented Dr Raj Mahindra, who won his spurs under Kurt Tank, designer of the Focke-Wulfe fighter-bombers for the Nazi Luftwaffe and of the original HF-24 at HAL, buying the Jaguar from the UK instead. History repeats itself.

French and Israeli pilots who have unofficially flown the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) have gone gaga over its flying attributes. The Tejas will come equipped with an indigenous AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar — the heart and the brains of any combat aircraft, enabling it to near-instantly switch from air-to-air to air-to-ground missions. The Flight Control System (FCS) of the Tejas is so advanced, it can deal with the sort of turbulence in flight that its counterpart onboard the Eurofighter — supposedly technologically superior to the Rafale, plainly cannot, as per an expert familiar with the FCS in both aircraft. This deficiency nearly ended in disaster for the Eurofighter on several occasions but was not disclosed by EADS to IAF during the jockeying for the MMRCA contract. The larger, heavier, longer range Mark-II variant of the near all-composite Tejas, in fact, fills the bill of “MMRCA”. An LCA version of Tejas has already been flown weighted down with ballast to mimic the Mk-II plan-form. The fact that the Mk-II variant was coming along well was known to the IAF-MoD (ministry of defence) combo. So, how come the tender for MMRCA was not terminated midway?

The Mk-II’s chances were scuppered by IAF-MoD on the ground that Tejas was not operational. But the LCA has been prevented from entering squadron service after it obtained the Initial Operational Clearance (IOC)-1 last year, because of their insistence that IOC-2 and subsequent clearances be done by HAL rather than permitting the clearances to be obtained by the designated Tejas squadron, flying the aircraft, at the Sulur base in Tamil Nadu. The latter procedure will allow our fighter pilots to test the plane’s flight envelope and performance, and to provide feedback to designers — normal practice of advanced air forces inducting a new locally-produced aircraft. Further, rather than restricting the initial off-take to just 46 aircraft, MoD should order the full complement of 7-8 squadrons worth of Tejas to facilitate economies of scale and the farming out of work by HAL to private industry, thereby growing it. In the interim, additional “super Sukhois” could have been procured for a total force of some 70-plus of these planes, inarguably the finest combat aircraft now flying.

The fact is the original price tag for the MMRCA deal of $12-15 billion is set to balloon to $26-30 billion. Why? For one thing, having won the MMRCA contest, the French company, Dassault, doesn’t want to abide by the contract requiring the plane to be manufactured at HAL under license with transfer of technology (TOT). Dassault maintains it cannot guarantee Rafales made in India unless its chosen private sector partner, Reliance Aerospace, is tasked with its production. The arrangement with Reliance, however, is to have it import all of the most high-value assemblies and avionics as “black boxes” for the duration of the Indian production run, keeping over 500 French firms employing a workforce of 7,000 people, according to a French newsletter, L’Úsine Novelle, in the clover for the next few decades!

The real kicker here is the fact that while India will pay for full TOT — amounting to tens of billions of dollars — no meaningful technology (flight control laws and source codes) will, as in past such deals, ever actually get transferred. New Delhi as always will pay up, not caring whether India gets what it paid for or not and, even less, whether it will ever become self-sufficient in arms. It may be better to simply buy 126 Rafales off the shelf if the IAF deems it such a critical need, when it is not, rather than pay through our ears for technology we won’t get.

The conjoined Mk-II Tejas-Super Sukhois option will make Rafale redundant, and is the reason why those Indians who have pocketed French baksheesh (which totals a very hefty sum, indeed) will resist it. But for the country’s good, the best thing that can happen is that the Pilatus and Rafale contracts are immediately junked.

What about self-sufficiency that our politicians and uniformed brass keep yakking about? Alas, that’s only public speeches and posturing. When has the government ever insisted, or compelled the military to go with, a home-made product at the expense of a foreign item, and the armed services told that otherwise they would have to make do with nothing at all?

Militarily ignorant political leaders are easily stampeded into making capital acquisitions owing to public fear of a “growing gap” in aircraft, tanks, or whatever, generated with the help of a gullible media. Rather than laying down an iron law favouring indigenous hardware Antony, like his predecessors, has played into the institutionalised distrust of the Indian military of indigenous weapons platforms. IAF is merely the worst offender.

[Published in the New Indian Express, November 1, 2013 at http://newindianexpress.com/opinion/Stop-wasteful-military-deals/2013/11/01/article1866740.ece

About Bharat Karnad

Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, he was Member of the (1st) National Security Advisory Board and the Nuclear Doctrine-drafting Group, and author, among other books of, 'Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security: The Realist Foundations of Strategy', 'India's Nuclear Policy' and most recently, 'Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)'. Educated at the University of California (undergrad and grad), he was Visiting Scholar at Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies, and Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, DC.
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22 Responses to Stop wasteful military deals

  1. RV says:

    This article, despite some obviously inadvertent errors which I will try to point out, is deeply thought provoking and deals with a number of issues, which has led to the horrifying state of affairs in India. Owing to paucity of time, each issue will be detailed as Points, commencing with Point-1 which is the Pilatus saga. Subsequent Points will make treated in further posts by me.

    POINT-1: L’affaire Pilatus
    ———————————-

    It is pretty well known that HAL has been unable to rectify the faults in the HPT-32 trainer, which led to fatalities which included flight instructors. The HTT 40 (not HJT-44) is still in the conceptual design stage, and to the best of my knowledge, the last statement in para. 2 of your article should read: “…advised closure of the HTT-40 project…”. Thus, the need for such a trainer is real and desperate. What however is befuddling and dubious is the indecent haste with which “Charlie” Browne has been specifically pushing for the Pilatus-7.

    From:

    http://www.business-standard.com/article/specials/iaf-to-hal-build-swiss-trainer-aircraft-don-t-develop-your-own-113101400067_1.html

    “When the purchase of 75 trainers from the global market was approved in 2009, it was decided that HAL would simultaneously design and build 106 trainers. But, in July, as reported first by Business Standard (July 29, ‘Indian Air Force at war with Hindustan Aeronautics; wants to import, not build, a trainer’) the IAF chief wrote to Antony, savaging HAL’s proposal and recommending this order be handed to Pilatus.

    In his unprecedented attack on HAL, which builds a range of aircraft for the IAF, Browne alleged the HTT-40 trainer would cost Rs 43.59 crore per aircraft, which inflation would raise to Rs 64.77 crore in 2020. Arguing for Pilatus, Browne’s letter falsely claimed the PC-7 Mark II costs just Rs 30 crore per aircraft when, in fact, India was already paying Pilatus about Rs 40 crore (Swiss Francs 6.09 million) for each trainer supplied.”.

    Still further, the said article goes on to state:

    “Business Standard has also highlighted (July 30, ‘IAF diluted at least 12 benchmarks for trainer aircraft’) the murkiness around the decision to award Pilatus the contract. A range of crucial performance benchmarks were diluted by the IAF after it was decided to buy 75 trainers from the global market, even as HAL developed 106 trainers. Diluting these benchmarks made the PC-7 Mark II eligible for purchase.”.

    Still further, the article VERBATIM quotes a most BIZARRE statement made by Browne:

    “The 14 base repair depots (BRDs) have grown in both capability and capacity in a manner that the day is not far when it will be able to develop its own medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA).”.

    This statement only reflects on the pathetic incompetence and ignorance of the said individual, which would heap disgrace even on the Chief of the Congolese Air Force, let alone a very fine outfit like the IAF!

    The claims made in the above article have never been challenged, and have been confirmed by other sources. The crux of the matter is that the deliberate stating of obvious falsehoods in an official letter to the Defense Minister (let’s set aside for now the fact that the incumbent is extremely frugally gifted with integrity, and instead, respect the post) by the CAS, coupled with the diluting of performance metrics just to suit a particular (SWISS) manufacturer (I emphasize the word SWISS) is a court martial offense! It is not unreasonable to wonder whether this is an attempt to placate certain Swiss officials from releasing data concerning stolen money placed in Swiss and other related European banks by the criminally corrupt Indian power elite!!!

    Equally pathetic is the fact that at one of the most critical junctures of histories of the respective organizations, HAL is led by the former CMD of a helicopter rental company who makes up in sycophancy and incompetence, what he lacks in hard technical knowledge of aircraft design and/or production. OTOH, the IAF is led by a dubious and incompetent individual, who should never have been allowed to rise above the level of assistant part-time gardener in the NDA!!!!

  2. kvkolal says:

    Sri Bharat karnadji… I am disappointed as your article is truly baseless. If you are really interested in knowing the truth, you contact me when you’re in Bangalore. But every one of your assertions is baseless. Doesn’t behove someone of your eminence.

    • Yes, I erred in HTT-44 (not HJT 44). And, what I should have stated is that HTT 44 ought to have been fastracked by IAF for accelerated development. But the larger theme I was trying to put across about IAF being unenthusiastic re: home-made aircraft is surely not wrong. Nor that it killed the Marut Mk-II, and isn’t as four-square behind Tejas LCA or viewing its Mk-II variant as fulfilling MMRCA requirement, etc.

  3. RV says:

    As long as there’s an import option, which opens avenues for large bribes, India will never develop the LCA in a serious manner. India lacks the educational and technological infrastructure and culture to develop a wide spectrum of sophisticated military equipment. WRT the LCA, the following needs to be noted:

    1. The number of flights by the LCA’s is readily available, but not the total number of flying hours.

    2. To rapidly explore the entire flight envelope of the LCA, risks taking is going to be required, and casualties may be expected, as has been the case with every modern jet fighter. Could you imagine the reactions of the likes of Dutt, Sardesai, Kalmadi, Thapar, and their ilk. if something went amiss?

    3. You are correct in your article concerning the serious troubles in the Eurofighter program. This article from Der Spiegel describes one such incident, which EADS wishes would never have come to light, and to the best of my knowledge none of the problems have been fixed, and even more have been detected since this incident (circa, 2007), many of which are FCS related:

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/safety-problems-eurofighter-costs-soar-amid-mismanagment-a-910231.html

    4. This article in French from L’Usine Nouvelle backs up the statement in your article: ” …..is to have it import all of the most high-value assemblies and avionics as “black boxes” for the duration of the Indian production run, keeping over 500 French firms employing a workforce of 7,000 people, according to a French newsletter, L’Úsine Novelle, in the clover for the next few decades!”

    http://www.usinenouvelle.com/article/le-rafale-indien-resterait-largement-produit-en-france.N180558

    In a nutshell, there will be no significant ToT. But then again, one cannot have bribes to the tune of USD 7 billion+ AND ToT. The former forecloses any hard bargaining concerning the latter!

    5. It may be helpful if the following article was read, especially with regards to the comments of Air Cmde. Parvez Khokhar:

    http://www.business-standard.com/article/opinion/a-bird-in-the-hand-113072200973_1.html

    “Says Air Commodore (Retd) Parvez Khokhar, who was for years the chief test pilot of the Tejas programme: “The Tejas Mark I is far superior to the MiG-21 fleet that the IAF would have to operate to the end of this decade. In key respects, it is a better fighter than even the Mirage 2000. The Tejas Mark I should enter the IAF’s combat fleet in larger numbers and the Tejas Mark II scaled down. This would allow the air force to retire the MiG-21 fleet sooner.”

    6. It would be helpful if the following document was read, which highlights the opinions of Air Cmde. KA Muthana:

    http://aeroindiaseminar.in/admin/technical/pdf/air_cmde_muthanna_paper.pdf

  4. RV says:

    As long as there’s an import option, which opens avenues for large bribes, India will never develop the LCA in a serious manner. India lacks the educational and technological infrastructure and culture to develop a wide spectrum of sophisticated military equipment. WRT the LCA, the following needs to be noted:

    1. The number of flights by the LCA’s is readily available, but not the total number of flying hours.

    2. To rapidly explore the entire flight envelope of the LCA, risks taking is going to be required, and casualties may be expected, as has been the case with every modern jet fighter. Could you imagine the reactions of the likes of Dutt, Sardesai, Kalmadi, Thapar, and their ilk. if something went amiss?

    3. You are correct in your article concerning the serious troubles in the Eurofighter program. This article from Der Spiegel describes one such incident, which EADS wishes would never have come to light, and to the best of my knowledge none of the problems have been fixed, and even more have been detected since this incident (circa, 2007), many of which are FCS related:

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/safety-problems-eurofighter-costs-soar-amid-mismanagment-a-910231.html

    4. This article in French from L’Usine Nouvelle backs up the statement in your article: ” …..is to have it import all of the most high-value assemblies and avionics as “black boxes” for the duration of the Indian production run, keeping over 500 French firms employing a workforce of 7,000 people, according to a French newsletter, L’Úsine Novelle, in the clover for the next few decades!”

    http://www.usinenouvelle.com/article/le-rafale-indien-resterait-largement-produit-en-france.N180558

    In a nutshell, there will be no significant ToT. But then again, one cannot have bribes to the tune of USD 7 billion+ AND ToT. The former forecloses any hard bargaining concerning the latter!

    5. It may be helpful if the following article was read, especially with regards to the comments of Air Cmde. Parvez Khokhar:

    http://www.business-standard.com/article/opinion/a-bird-in-the-hand-113072200973_1.html

    “Says Air Commodore (Retd) Parvez Khokhar, who was for years the chief test pilot of the Tejas programme: “The Tejas Mark I is far superior to the MiG-21 fleet that the IAF would have to operate to the end of this decade. In key respects, it is a better fighter than even the Mirage 2000. The Tejas Mark I should enter the IAF’s combat fleet in larger numbers and the Tejas Mark II scaled down. This would allow the air force to retire the MiG-21 fleet sooner.”

    6. It would be helpful if the following document was read, which highlights the opinions of Air Cmde. KA Muthana:

    http://aeroindiaseminar.in/admin/technical/pdf/air_cmde_muthanna_paper.pdf

  5. Rahul says:

    I am disappointed to the maximum limit with your article. LCA as MMRCA? That’s the biggest joke of the century….Ok, lets assume for a moment that it is true. Then LCA can also function as HCA(Heavy Combat Aircraft) by that same logic….So why order more Sukhoi 30 MKI’s or Super Sukhois, again, a “foreign” product??…I mean, the IAF is stupid enough to go for Su 30 MKI when the LCA is “up and ready”….No one tries to clarify the question that most of us have….If the LCA’s and HTT-40 are “up and ready”, then why hasn’t HAL been able to deliver even a single Production LCA in the last 3 years since January 2011 when HAL/ADA/DRDO patted each other for having achieved “full and final IOC”….Then why IOC2 will be given in December 2013 and why has the honourable defence minister blasted the DRDO by saying that no more slippages will be tolerated and “perform or perish”…..

    Same with HTT-40…Why has it not flown yet? Do you admit your son to a swimming school to learn swimming where there is no pond or water?

    If the IAF is so averse to indigenization, then why has it ordered a large number of Aakash SAM’s or large number of radars from DRDO? Maybe, by mistake….They need to correct it….

    LCA flown by Israelis/French? LOL, another joke of the century!!!!…When??? Where??? Can you ask your South Block friends to declassify this state secret???

    Instead of highlighting where the actual issue is, i.e. underperforming PSU’s, non-performing bureaucracy and sleeping political class, you have hit the nail in the foot instead of the head….

    • First of all, as elucidated in an earlier column, the qualifier “light”, “medium”, or “heavy” combat aircraft is a uniquely IAF invention. No other air force has such categories for the same genus of aircraft in its inventory. It is meant, as I have argued, essentially to bamboozle netas and babus into buying more, the latest warplanes from abroad. Starting with Marut, IAF has not bought into any indigenous aircraft project — its attitude being “show me” rather than, “OK, how can we together improve on this”. That Marut was underpowered was a wellknown aspect of the aircraft. But why didn’t IAF support the BOR 12 engine that Bristol-Siddeley Co. of UK developed for the British version of the standard NATO aircraft, which didn’t win the NATO race, but was offered for adaptation for the HF-24? It is a history of IAF hankering for foreign aircraft that we need not go into here; suffice to say it is long and inglorious. The Rafale deal is a boondoggle that may soon unravel and the aircraft is both unnecessary and unaffordable and only adds to the nightmarish diversity of aircraft — which I have repeatedly commented on — and exacerbates the hellish logistics problem the IAF and the country is faced with.

      • Rahul says:

        I am not old enough to argue with you regarding engines of Marut and I take your point on this. I also take your point on “light”, “medium” and “heavy” being IAF exclusive terminologies. But the logic behind this is quite rational and true. Look at any airforce worth its salt. Lets say PLAAF. Why are the Chinese investing and building various categories of aircrafts, belonging to different weights? I mean, why do they need both J-10(MMRCA) and J-11/Su-27/SU-30MKK/Su-35/J-15(Heavy Attck Aircraft) and J-7/JF-17(LCA)? to defend their airspace? Look at USAF…Why do they have both F-15(HCA) and F-16(MMRCA)? Look at Russian Air Force. Why do they have Flanker series(HCA) and Mig35/Mig29(MMRCA) and Mig 21(LCA)? I think, after reading your article I can presume that they are literally fools going in for such nightmarish diversity of aircrafts which will eventually lead to hellish logistics problems…. They have absolutely no knowledge of modern air warfare, certainly less knowledge than some armchair Indian defence experts…I think you and other so called Indian defense experts should ponder over this question before writing the next article on “nightmarish diversity of aircrafts which will eventually lead to hellish logistics problems”….

        No experts(and not ‘only’ you let me clarify) have been rational enough to understand that to meet depleting squadron numbers, it is better to have more than one operational production line with producing different aircrafts. Look at our main threat China. They have over 300 Flanker series aircrafts and 300 J-10. Also they have modernized J-7 and H-6 strategic bombers in large numbers. Now for a moment lets restrict our argument to only 4 and 4++ fighters. Pakistan on the other hand is on course to have over 250 JF-17 , 40-150 J-10(if budget permits) and 70 F-16 Block 50/52. So at the bare minimum, we are challenged by 1200 4th and 4++ gen fighters. What do we have in response? 272 Su 30 MKI, 100 odd modernized Mig 29+Mirage 2000 and hope, and only hope, 140 LCA Tejas. So we are loosing 1:3 incase of a two front war scenario. Now you will argue that why can’t be increase LCA numbers to 300 instead of 126 Rafales? For that, you need to ask yourself and the government the question which I had posed. If HAL has not been able to deliver even 1 production LCA in 3 years, guess whether it is possible for them to deliver 300 Tejas….But then, people like you or our mindboggling hyperactive bureaucracy/poloticians will never ever hold HAL and other defense PSU’s accountable. It will be foolish to assume that our Su 30 MKI will be able to shot down every aircraft type thrown in by the enemy…Plz note that China also flies the Flanker, though less powerful than our’s. But they can easily decipher out the Flanker mystery. They will not be able to do it for Rafale/Typhoon because that aircraft type is not operated by anyone in our vicinity.

        IAF or the aam admi of the country is not against LCA and myself, as an aam admi wants IAF to induct LCA in large numbers. But fact of the matter is, the so called “up and ready” LCA, especially the more powerful Mk2, on which one of your friend has impressed you by writing large article on Indian express, is nowhere near the horizon even after 30 years in the making. Now you cannot hope to fight a modern war with a future imaginary weapon. The main problem politicians/bureaucrats/defence experts have with MMRCA is its somewhat huge price. Always having bought aircrafts with small base prices, like 2 crore/Mig 21 (only to realise that life cycle costs is something like a colossial figure) and siphoning off the rest of the money to Swiss accounts, now they want an escape route when confronted with buying a top class weapon having the price range 100-120 million USD/piece. Because they will not have any leftover money for siphoning off to Swiss accounts.

        And for all the comparisions of Rafale vs Tejas, which people are putting forward to debunk the Rafale theory, my simple advice to them will be not to compare a real tool with a future imaginary tool. I wish the best of luck to LCA Tejas being an Indian, let it beat not only Rafale/Typhoon but also J-20/J-21/F-22/F-35 when it matures but I am not willing to hedge my bets against something which can be best described at this moment as “paper plane”. And people do call me rational I can assure all of you that.

      • RV says:

        @Rahul: Your comment is most puzzling. Russia retired the MiG-21 ages ago and the PLAAF is in the process of planning the phasing out the F/J-7. As of this year, production has ceased and the a/c is being solely retained to keep up squadron strengths, despite an increasingly troubling attrition rate.

        Next, WRT your wise pronouncement:

        “Plz note…………But they can easily decipher out the Flanker mystery. They will not be able to do it for Rafale/Typhoon because that aircraft type is not operated by anyone in our vicinity”,

        you need to be humbly reminded that the Saudi RSAF is one of the largest operators of the Eurofighter (EF) Typhoon, and an overwhelming proportion of the competent air and ground crew in the RSAF are either serving PAF (on deputation) or ex-PAF. Further, the PAF regularly carries out exercises with the RSAF. So, with regards to the EF, there are no secrets from Pakistan and by default other nations too. .Next, WRT to the Rafale, I would like to humbly remind you that Quatar is being actively lobbied as a possible Rafale client. This has taken desperate proportions owing to the fact that the Indian deal is still in the works. See:

        http://supersonique.blogs.challenges.fr/archive/2013/10/09/rafale-le-qatar-avant-l-inde-107656.html

        Here again, an overwhelming proportion of the competent air and ground crew in the Quatar Air Force are either serving PAF (on deputation) or ex-PAF. You may be absolutely certain that during the qualification trials, the Rafale will be thoroughly scrutinized by the Pakistanis, and by default other nations too. Further, I am personally aware of the fact that the RBE2-AA AESA radar has been demonstrated to quite a few countries, though I have no evidence that can be cited to that effect! In fact, the French are even planning to place it as part of an upgrade of the Atlantique maritime patrol aircraft, which Pakistan operates. Please see:

        http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/17956-017956/

        Next, WRT to your astute and wise observation:

        “The main problem politicians/bureaucrats/defence experts have with MMRCA is its somewhat huge price. Always having bought aircrafts with small base prices, like 2 crore/Mig 21 (only to realise that life cycle costs is something like a colossial figure) and siphoning off the rest of the money to Swiss accounts, now they want an escape route when confronted with buying a top class weapon having the price range 100-120 million USD/piece. Because they will not have any leftover money for siphoning off to Swiss accounts.”.,

        I must admit that your logic is refreshingly unique. I wonder as to how a proposed defense acquisition (Rafale) which started off at USD 10-15 billion + full ToT has now acquired a price tag of USD 25-30 billion + no ToT worth mentioning! Further, I cannot recall the last time the IAF acquired a plane costing merely INR 2 crores.

        Finally, a comment on your glowing self-appraisal:

        “And people do call me rational I can assure all of you that”,

        I’ve heard that inmates of certain institutions never admit their malady, but insist that they are absolutely sane, and everybody else needs to be admitted but them.

        . .

      • RV says:

        @Rahul: Your comment is most puzzling. Russia retired the MiG-21 ages ago and the PLAAF is in the process of planning the phasing out the F/J-7. As of this year, production has ceased and the a/c is being solely retained to keep up squadron strengths, despite an increasingly troubling attrition rate.

        Next, WRT your wise pronouncement:

        “Plz note…………But they can easily decipher out the Flanker mystery. They will not be able to do it for Rafale/Typhoon because that aircraft type is not operated by anyone in our vicinity”,

        you need to be humbly reminded that the Saudi RSAF is one of the largest operators of the Eurofighter (EF) Typhoon, and an overwhelming proportion of the competent air and ground crew in the RSAF are either serving PAF (on deputation) or ex-PAF. Further, the PAF regularly carries out exercises with the RSAF. So, with regards to the EF, there are no secrets from Pakistan and by default other nations too. .Next, WRT to the Rafale, I would like to humbly remind you that Quatar is being actively lobbied as a possible Rafale client. This has taken desperate proportions owing to the fact that the Indian deal is still in the works. See:

        http://supersonique.blogs.challenges.fr/archive/2013/10/09/rafale-le-qatar-avant-l-inde-107656.html

        Here again, an overwhelming proportion of the competent air and ground crew in the Quatar Air Force are either serving PAF (on deputation) or ex-PAF. You may be absolutely certain that during the qualification trials, the Rafale will be thoroughly scrutinized by the Pakistanis, and by default other nations too. Further, I am personally aware of the fact that the RBE2-AA AESA radar has been demonstrated to quite a few countries, though I have no evidence that can be cited to that effect! In fact, the French are even planning to place it as part of an upgrade of the Atlantique maritime patrol aircraft, which Pakistan operates. Please see:

        http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/17956-017956/

        Next, WRT to your astute and wise observation:

        “The main problem politicians/bureaucrats/defence experts have with MMRCA is its somewhat huge price. Always having bought aircrafts with small base prices, like 2 crore/Mig 21 (only to realise that life cycle costs is something like a colossial figure) and siphoning off the rest of the money to Swiss accounts, now they want an escape route when confronted with buying a top class weapon having the price range 100-120 million USD/piece. Because they will not have any leftover money for siphoning off to Swiss accounts.”.,

        I must admit that your logic is refreshingly unique. I wonder as to how a proposed defense acquisition (Rafale) which started off at USD 10-15 billion + full ToT has now acquired a price tag of USD 25-30 billion + no ToT worth mentioning! Further, I cannot recall the last time the IAF acquired a plane costing merely INR 2 crores.

        Finally, a comment on your glowing self-appraisal:

        “And people do call me rational I can assure all of you that”,

        I’ve heard that inmates of certain institutions never admit their malady, but insist that they are absolutely sane, and everybody else needs to be admitted but them.

        . .

    • RV says:

      Since there is no readily available proof that French and Israeli pilots test flew the Tejas unofficially and found the FCS first-rate (and may never be such), and from the gist of the comments, I see there is a requirement for proof that a White Man has given his “stamp of approval” to the Tejas FCS, this might suffice for the time being. From:

      http://tejas.gov.in/featured_articles/dr_kota_harinarayana/page02.html

      Kota Harinarayana explicitly states: “We tested on a modified F16 aircraft in USA. One of the comments of the test pilot from the Pentagon was that the F16 flies better with LCA control laws.”.

      This was when then LCA CLAWS was being tested on a modified F-16 in the US (I believe Rakesh Sharma was involved in the tests), with the Indian CLAWS replacing the US equipment. Then, as is well known, the US perpetrated what amounts to theft of the Indian equipment after POK-2, and the Tejas CLAWS was redesigned, modified, and fine tuned over the years. The present CLAWS on the Tejas is much more advanced than what was being tested in the US, but still better than that of the F-16 (both then and now). I think this should suffice as pro-tem proof of the “white man’s stamp of approval”. Unless, of course some people come back with the theory that Harinarayana too is a liar!

      • RV says:

        CORRECTED SENTENCE
        _____________________

        The statement in the comment above:
        “The present CLAWS on the Tejas is much more advanced than what was being tested in the US, but still better than that of the F-16 (both then and now).”
        should read as:
        “The present CLAWS on the Tejas is much more advanced than what was being tested in the US, which itself was better than that of the F-16 (both then and now).”

  6. RV says:

    This article by Air Cmde. Parvez Khokhar, former chief test pilot of the Tejas program, is certainly worth reading. From:

    http://www.forceindia.net/ABetterAlternative.aspx

    A Better Alternative
    Before Tejas Mk II is brought in, experts should weigh all the pros and cons

    By Parvez Khokhar
    Now that sounds coming from the ministry of defence (MoD) and Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) seem to be suggesting that the Tejas Mk I is just around the corner, the focus seems to be shifting to the Tejas Mk II. This variant appears to be gathering momentum in the eyes of clairvoyant chair-borne pundits, who profess that this will be the panacea for all the ills that beset the indigenous aircraft industry and will also address the desire of the Indian Air Force (IAF) to have a super-duper fighter.

    ADA and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) have even widely publicised a time schedule for the induction of this aircraft (too fictional to be mentioned). The granting of permission by the MoD to commence this project and its acceptance by the IAF by placing some initial orders, is not in the public domain. In order to take an educated decision on what the Mk II aims to be and the challenges involved therein, it is imperative to comprehend the facts, as they exist today.

    ADA and HAL have made public statements that work on the airframe will begin by end 2013. Whilst it is apparent that the qualities envisaged in the Mk II are all commendable, they require a closer examination to comprehend the challenges involved in reaching this target without unacceptable time and cost overruns. So what are the major changes envisaged in the Mk II in order to be a quantum leap over the Mk I?

    These are: More powerful engine F-414-GE-INS6; New Flight Control Computer; Upgraded avionics; Retractable In Flight Refuelling probe; On Board Oxygen Generating system (OBOGS); AESA radar; Cockpit upgrade; New Electronic Warfare(EW) suite; and Ability to super cruise (fly supersonic in level flight in dry power).

    These changes will lend value through Higher thrust; More ordnance carrying capacity; Better avionics; Longer endurance with On Board Oxygen Generating System (OBOGS); State-of-the-art radar; Better man-machine interface and situational awareness through larger displays in the cockpit and easier management drills; and Better survivability through better EW suites. This factor will also enhance the operational performance.

    ADA’s contention that all this can be done within two years is based on the example of the Swedish Gripen NG (called Gripen E for in-service usage). ADA has also sought guidance through consultancy from Saab for the Mk II. Before proceeding further, we need to factor in some extremely relevant points, otherwise this comparison becomes rather odious.

    • The Gripen E is an off-shoot of the highly successful Gripen A/B/C/D. The Tejas Mk I is yet to enter service.

    • Saab has over 75-year-old history of design and development of fighter aircraft vis-a-vis ADA/HAL’s nascent experience in producing fighter aircraft.

    • ADA’s record of non-adherence to consultants’ recommendations, especially when it runs against their grain and involves redoing certain aspects of work, is well known.

    • Then there are consultants who merely review your work and either tell you that it is okay or withhold comments that may rock the boat. It is to be seen how much Saab would be involved; ADA should be absolutely clear that Saab will neither build/design this aircraft for them nor give them a blueprint to follow.

  7. RV says:

    This interview of Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Trapp in:

    http://www.vedomosti.ru/library/news/17428901/my-ponemnogu-vyzdoravlivaem-erik-trappe-prezident-i?full#cut

    explicitly highlights the spiraling costs of the Rafale deal. The overall Google Russian-English translation isn’t great, but the relevant portions below are reasonably transparent.

    Question – What is the total amount of the contract?

    Eric Trapp – That’s confidential information, you must ask this from the Indian government.

    Question – As far as the estimate of $ 20 billion?

    Eric Trapp – No, it’s much more.

    This is a data point that confirms the trend made by claims that the Rafale deal will be in the range of USD 25-30 billion.

  8. Rahul says:

    Dear Mr RV,
    @RV and presuming not RGV(that flop director Ram Gopal Verma)
    “I must admit that your logic is refreshingly unique. I wonder as to how a proposed defense acquisition (Rafale) which started off at USD 10-15 billion + full ToT has now acquired a price tag of USD 25-30 billion + no ToT worth mentioning! Further, I cannot recall the last time the IAF acquired a plane costing merely INR 2 crores”.

    The day you will understand this, you will become a wise man and won’t have to stay as mental asylum inmate. The requirement by IAF was laid down in 2000, the RPF was issued in 2007. Rupee probably was 37-38 at that time in 2007. Thanks to the incompetence of the govt which unfortunately ran the country for the last 10 years, rupee is now 63. So if you continue to go on believing that USD 10-15 billion of 2007 will remain USD 10-15 billion of 2013, then you are a fit candidate for Agra mental asylum. And moreover these figures that media always quotes(10-15 billons, 25-30 billions) etc etc will at the end of the day remain mere media figures. I have never seen people close to the project, which means the govt or bureaucrats having ever disclosed the original figure. So the gameplan is simple. Delay the acquisitions, inflation is bound to happen, increase the amount the exchequer will have to pay for the same product and then siphon off a substantial part of that increased amount to Swiss banks after striking a deal with the arms vendor. Regarding TOT, I wonder why our navratna PSU’s like need TOT. We insit on rafale full TOT. Fine. But what are we going to do with it? The day the last Rafale comes out of HAL’s production line, Lockheed/Boeing/Dassault(themselves)/Chengdu etc etc will reveal their 6th generation fighter. Now you cannot build 6th gen fighter with 4th gen Rafale technology. So Indian govt/HAL will again have to run to buy a 6th gen product with “full TOT”. Meanwhile, the HAL and MOD babus and politicians will pat each other on the back and smile as to how they have fooled the nation and this shrewdness to hide their incompetencies and impotencies will pass off from one generation to another generation.

    Last time IAF acquaired a fighter for 1-2 “USD” and not “INR” was Mig 21 in the 1960’s. It was the flyaway cost. Plz check figures before illogical commenting.

    Next WRT to another illogical comment:

    “you need to be humbly reminded that the Saudi RSAF is one of the largest operators of the Eurofighter (EF) Typhoon, and an overwhelming proportion of the competent air and ground crew in the RSAF are either serving PAF (on deputation) or ex-PAF. Further, the PAF regularly carries out exercises with the RSAF. So, with regards to the EF, there are no secrets from Pakistan and by default other nations too. .Next, WRT to the Rafale, I would like to humbly remind you that Quatar is being actively lobbied as a possible Rafale client. This has taken desperate proportions owing to the fact that the Indian deal is still in the works. See:

    Here again, an overwhelming proportion of the competent air and ground crew in the Quatar Air Force are either serving PAF (on deputation) or ex-PAF. You may be absolutely certain that during the qualification trials, the Rafale will be thoroughly scrutinized by the Pakistanis, and by default other nations too. Further, I am personally aware of the fact that the RBE2-AA AESA radar has been demonstrated to quite a few countries, though I have no evidence that can be cited to that effect! In fact, the French are even planning to place it as part of an upgrade of the Atlantique maritime patrol aircraft, which Pakistan operates. Please see:”

    PAF cannot overrun IAF at any point even in distant future, PLAAF can. And also when PAF and PLAAF strike a deal and attack at the same time. So PAF is not the ultimate threat for IAF, it is PLAAF. Doesn’t matter whether PAF pilots are serving in Saudi/Qatar airforces. PAF itself does not operate the aircrafts on a daily basis. But PLAAF does for Flanker series. So it would me much easier for PLAAF to decipher the Su 30 MKI mystery than PAF/PLAAF deciphering Typhoon/Rafale. Also we should not follow the Mig 21 route again as the author wants us to follow. I mean fill up the airforce with one type of fighter, namely Su 30 MKI/super Sukhois. Without a productive avaiation industry to fall back on in times of need, 30 years down the line, every aircraft acquisition process/manufacture will be touted as a replacement for Su 30 MKI. Meanwhile, Su 30 MKI’s will fall off the sky in alarming frequencies leading to reduction in squadron numbers/combat potential.

    However as you have chosen to ignore(because I presume you have no answers) the main points which I had raised while replying to the author’s bizzare logic expressed through this article, I will not prolong my reply to your insane funny comments.

    • RV says:

      @Rahul: I am not only ware of the situation, but have actually witnessed it from both the Indian angle as well as that of the foreign vendors/manufacturers. You’ve answered none of my counters to your imbecile replies, and added some more nonsense I don’t have the time or inclination to respond to/correct. Perhaps, you need to stop sniffing turpentine and get a real iob and a life!

      • Rahul says:

        Can you jist down your questions one by one in jist point by point without writing Mahabharata? I will then reply back to your’s point by point. Trust me, when I will ask counter questions, you will not have anywhere to hide except those malfunctioning HAL bunkers….

      • RV says:

        @Rahul, I’m not paid nor am I interested in educating imbeciles and genetic freaks like you. Read what you’ve written, my counters, and then PERHAPS you will understand your stupidity after a few million years when you’ve reached the starting point of human evolution! Meanwhile, stop peddling the 300 + kg. womenfolk in your household to buy turpentine to sniff! It’s bad for the brain and you don’t have much to play with for starters!

  9. RV says:

    This article by Air Cmde. Parvez Khokhar, former chief test pilot of the Tejas program, is certainly worth reading:

    http://www.vayuaerospace.in/images1/The_Tejas_LCA_and_Beyond.pdf

    It isn’t true that the entire IAF is anti-Tejas. There are, however, some elements who occupy posts in the higher echelons who harbor such opinions (the reasons for which I do not wish to delve into herein). However, their prejudices have been given ample fuel by the incompetence of HAL, related agencies, and the MoD.

    The fact that all the test pilots in the AF version of the Tejas are ex-IAF is ample proof of the what I’ve stated above. These people wouldn’t be putting their lives on the line on a daily basis, if they didn’t believe in the Tejas. In the above mentioned article, there is some candid talk about the all-important issue of documentation. I have personally witnessed such careless and pathetic approaches to documentation in Indian ventures, and surely this malaise cannot be attributed to a plot by vested interests!

  10. RV says:

    This article by Air Cmde. Parvez Khokhar, former chief test pilot of the Tejas program, is certainly worth reading:

    http://www.vayuaerospace.in/images1/The_Tejas_LCA_and_Beyond.pdf

    It isn’t true that the entire IAF is anti-Tejas. There are, however, some elements who occupy posts in the higher echelons who harbor such opinions (the reasons for which I do not wish to delve into herein). However, their prejudices have been given ample fuel by the incompetence of HAL, related agencies, and the MoD.

    The fact that all the test pilots in the AF version of the Tejas are ex-IAF is ample proof of the what I’ve stated above. These people wouldn’t be putting their lives on the line on a daily basis, if they didn’t believe in the Tejas. In the above mentioned article, there is some candid talk about the all-important issue of documentation. I have personally witnessed such careless and pathetic approaches to documentation in Indian ventures, and surely this malaise cannot be attributed to a plot by vested interests!

  11. Shail says:

    Its 2015.
    Rather sad to note that each and every assertion in this article is wrong.
    The HAL effort on the trainer was stillborn. The IJT was a complete aerodynamic disaster, imagine not knowing a B/A ratio, and getting stall & spins right!! what incompetence.
    The Pilatus saved our bacon, The HAL cooks geese. Its 2015 and only a half baked SP1 has seen the light of day with far too many concessions and waivers. The IOC/FOC is to force HAL and DRDO into accountability. Documentation non existent, manpower not trained, TTGE not delivered, only impressive sums of money spent and building raised and equipment purchased.
    The Mk2 exists only on paper. The chinese bought the Tu22?? best of luck to them sir, the host designer nation has phased it out. incidentally it was a failed design (based on the loser in the B1B design contest)
    Also no foreign pilots have officially or unofficially flown the LCA. You see you need to convert on type before flying solo, but facts dont really stand in your way Mr Karnad, do they?
    Your articles give the impression that the IAF is a living entity, which has been screwing the nation since its inception. Sir, the people who rejected the Marut are now DEAD of old AGE, not merely retired. There must be some running rite of passage that teaches all hotshot IAF people to reject indigenous equipment, perhaps a real conspiracy theory for you to follow.
    Also, you need to check facts, the first mig-21s, Hunters etc costed a few lakh not crores.
    Dont buy the Rafale, it will be obsolete soon anyway, but get your facts straight, and for gods sake hire a military consultant before you spout this nonsense. Guess what? even the lowly Kiran is a copied Jet Provost minus the tip tanks. and we needed the Pilatus because the HAL forgot how to make it and lost all the drawings. Check it out with your buddies. We couldnt even service the engines, they had to be sent abroad. How come you missed that one ?

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