Informed reaction on Rafale a/c to AVM Subramaniam’s response to ‘Stop wasteful military deals’

Reproducing here the very well-informed reaction by @ersakthivel to AVM Arjun Subramaniam’s response article — “Ündermining national security” in New Indian Express at to my ‘Stop wasteful military deals’ NIE op/ed of Nov 1, 2013. It will help inform the interested public and advance the public debate and discussion on the Rafale deal.

I want to know what type of brainstorming went on between IAF and HAL for decades which could not solve the fuel pump issues of HPT-32? And Why with base repair depots good enough to design and make a MMRCA class fighter and assemble a Pliatus level trainer , IAF cpuld not rectify the fuel pump issues of HPT-32 And why did Arjun Subramanium failed to mention about the HPT-35 which too was developed at the behest of IAf by HAL was not pursued with interest by IAF for close to a decade ? it was shelved because IAF did not show any interest. It was this decade long delay by IAF which did not approve the HPT-35 proposal from HAL which led to this sorry state pf importing Pilatus while designing tejas!!!!!!!!!! Ajai Shukla and many other writers have pointed this out in many blogs. It is not Bharat Karnad alone.
Posted by ersakthivel at 11/09/2013 19:12

In fact this sorry state of affair between HAl and IAF which led to the shut down of Marut (the GOI refused to pay a princely sum of Rs 5 Cr to bristol Siddley to develop a higher power engine for Marut , which latter led to the DPSA contract and induction of Jaguar)led to the creation of ADA to design tejas as a multi disciplinrry team of many labs across the country collaborating and succeeding on Tejas. So how can we justify the stalling of the efforts on Marut mk-2s engines for want of a princely sum of RS 5 Crs!!! lso every one knows that corruption and acquisition of hardware goes hand in hand in indian defence purchases.So you just can not accuse Bharat
Karnad of casting aspersions of the “sky high credibility of defence purchases” which were highlighted by TATRA truck scam, Agusta westland Scam and the recent scrapping of LUH purchase by Army. So in a decision of 20 billion dollars purchase in a democracy few inconvenient questions have to be answered.
Posted by ersakthivel at 11/09/2013 19:15

And the CLAWS [flight Control Laws] of LCA is top class and conversation between test pilots of India , france and Israel could have highlighted this. this is what Bharat Karnad implied when foreign test pilots praised tejas handling abilities, Kota harinarayna the designer of tejas has said that USAF test pilots remarked that the F-16 flies much better with tejas control laws. SO it is not uncommon for pilots to know a thing or two about Claws without even flying it from discussion with fellow pilots on few parameters based on the test flight points that were being opened up in flight envelope. SO it was no bunkum by Bharat Karnad. Jaguar deal is one of the worst scams in IAF, if you wnat to know the details please go to the following link called TKS tales wordpress
Posted by ersakthivel at 11/09/2013 19:24

This is what TKS tales tells about the original jaguar before DARIN upgrade. All these problems were rectified by local talent in DARIN upgrade . The main source of inaccuracy in an inertial navigation system stems from the drift of the gyro reference platform due to unavoidable bearing friction and of course from manufacturing defects. Many technologies were tried out to reduce gyro drift. One of the techniques was to immerse the gyro assembly in a fluid bath reducing the apparent weight of the gyro and thus reduce friction and drift. This was known as a ’floating gyro’ system. The Idea was good but its execution was difficult. Fluid leak from the container, especially in hot environment, was a constant headache. Unfortunately, its performance on the field fell below the expected level. It was not accurate enough and it was very hard to maintain. When we became interested in the Jaguar as our potential DPSA, the performance of the NAVWASS was our main discouragement.
Posted by ersakthivel at 11/09/2013 19:26

Gradually, it had become clear to the vendors that though we were impressed by the Jaguar, we were not so impressed by the NAVWASS. BAe s sales pitch therefore got modified and an impression was generated that if we wanted an upgraded inertial system incorporated into the Jaguar, it could and would be done easily. Ferranti was, at that time, developing an inertial system based on their version of the dry gyro. Their platform named DINS1084 was on the Tornado. And this light , medium , heavy analogy of classifying the fighters based on weight category is not fit for the new multi role age. french are standardizing on the so called medium RAFALE with no light or heavy component and Russians have only heavies called Su-35 and PAKFA with no medium or light component. the US will have whole sale F-35 single engine fighter . So can any one classify it as medium or heavy or light?
Posted by ersakthivel at 11/09/2013 19:30

More by @ersakthivel:

The fuel fraction (percentage of weight of fuel divided by eight of the fully loaded fighter)is what determines the range of the fighter. The ferry range of all fighters like Mig-29, RAFALE Mirage-Tejas which all have varying weights is more or less the same.So for normal combat loads with normal fuel config they will all have normal ranges. Also a fully indigenous produced Su-30 MKI is already available for long range bombing. Then what is the need for medium range RAFALE which will have 10 or twenty percentage range advantage over tejas mk-2 at a huge forex outgo of 20 billion dollars? Also FGFA is slated to come in in a decade. Then what role will RAFALE do which can not be performed by combination of tejas mk-2, SU-30 MKI(upgraded to super sukhoi status) and tejas mk-2? So this medium class is totally unnecessary classification designed to fool the inexperienced political leadership and aviation enthusiasts.
Posted by ersakthivel at 11/09/2013 19:31

If more weapon weight is needed we can use two tejas mk-2s in place of one RAFALE if both have the same range .The real question is what does IAF gain by inducting so called 20 ton class RAFALE as a meium weight fighter ?The french are standardizing on on all RAFALE fighter force with twin engined 20 ton RAFALEs Meanwhile russians are standardizing on 30n ton twin engined PAKFA and Su-35, The US is inducting single engined F-35 in large scale. Unlike IAF the above mentioned airforces need to fly long distances to fight the enemy. It is not the case with IAF.Where most of the targets are well with in short range. And when it comes to air defence of Indian airspace tejas mk-2 will have no shortfalls compared to RAFALE on account of range or weapon load. Also work is already going on ASEA radar miniaturization and LRDE has fair experience in it.
Posted by ersakthivel at 11/09/2013 19:34

And we are no longer under crippling western sanctions so we will find partners on that count with no restrictions. Even RAFALE has just put on ASEA radar for trials. We don’t how fully developed it really is PAF is going for 120 light class Jf-17, are all these airforces buy any light medium or heavy fighter that is missing from their fleet from any third country? Certainly they won’t do such a stupid thing . Fuel fraction (weight of fuel/loaded weight for normal combat sorties in design weapon loads)determines the range not the fighter being named light or heavy. if tejas mk-2 has same fuel fraction as RAFALE it will also have th same range. Most probably it will end up ten to twenty percent shortage in range nothing big, Also we can employ three tejas mk-2 with 15 ton weapon loads with same radar diameter and long range BVR missiles of RAFALE for the cost of one RAFALE.
Posted by ersakthivel at 11/09/2013 19:36

So no shortage when it comes to weapon load. Infact tejas mk-2s will deliver double the weapon load with three times more sensor capability if costs are taken into account MMRCA contract originated as a proposal to buy 126 Mirage -2000 in the late 90s. To avoid the single vendor situation GOI asked it to be a global tender in 2004. Before that there was no long felt need in IAF for so called 20 ton medium weight fighter. tejas mk-2 will have at the most a twenty percent shortage when it comes to weapon load and range requirements over RAFALE. But ordering a few more squadrons of very low priced(because of the 100 percent indigenization) Su-30 MKIs in super Sukhoi versions or increasing the numbers of FGFA to by a few squadrons will be equal to having RAFALEs. Certainly there is no such thing that Su-30 MKi, Tejas mk-2 and FGFA combine can’t do that RAFALE can!!!
Posted by ersakthivel at 11/09/2013 19:37 Reply to this Report abuse
If you spend the same 20 to 30 billion (considering high maintanece cost)in the two coming decades on such tejas mk-2 and and a few extra squads of FGFA or Su-30 MKI IAF can improve its attcaking capability in a substantial manner. We can have more than 300 fighters in such combo compared to just 126 RAFALEs for the same cost. Also the MMRCA contract was changed form life cycle cost based buy to per unit fly away cost mid way. And the winner Dassault which entered the competition knowing well that the HAL is to be its local partner is saying HAL is unfit for the job. if a a no experience private sector firm gets choosen by dassault as local partners then all the TOT norms go for a toss. The MMRCA was not an original need . It was born from the 126 Mirage-2000 buy proposal which was shot down because of single vendor situation by MOD in 2004 , thus it became MMRCA. If MOD promptly accepted the 126 mirage-2000 buy from IAF there would be no MMRCA.
Posted by ersakthivel at 11/09/2013 19:39

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.
This entry was posted in Asian geopolitics, Cyber & Space, Defence Industry, DRDO, Geopolitics, Great Power imperatives, India's strategic thinking and policy, Indian Air Force, Indian Army, Indian Politics, Military Acquisitions, Pakistan, Pakistan military, russian assistance, russian military, South Asia, Strategic Relations with the US & West, Technology transfer, Weapons, Western militaries. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Informed reaction on Rafale a/c to AVM Subramaniam’s response to ‘Stop wasteful military deals’

  1. RV says:

    on November 11, 2013 at 5:07 pm
    @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:

    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:

    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.

    . .

  2. Shail says:

    umm..The HPT-32 fuel pump WAS discussed sirs, many Many MANY TIMES with nil results. The widowmaker claimed many lives including close friends. Sorry, the pain is personal, HAL, human experimentation is frowned upon in most civilised cultures.
    The Marut was the brainchild of Dr Kurt Tank of Focke Wulf 190 fame. The HAL teams had actually not much contribution at vital levels. BTW with the underpowered engine and poor integration, it was also known as a “Flying Coffin ” and “Widowmaker” before the MiG-21 and HPT-32
    So..spare us the jingoistic stuff, Indians need to deliver, GoI needs to kick butt, Tejas is also much below specs. An indigenous fighter aircraft, without indigenous engines, indigenous radar, indigenous weapons, lacking the range, weapon load and manoevrability required way back in 1980 as per the original ASQRs ( incidentally drafted in conjunction with ADA!!!!)
    We need to stop this self congratulatory bull-shit and wake-up

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