Counter-response to Air Marshal Barbora, and others

Nowhere in my article – “Why Rafale is a big mistake” did I raise any question about the rigorous testing regime the IAF employed to shortlist the aircraft in the running for the MMRCA slot, and yet the former Vice Chief of the Air Staff, in what’s presumably the institutional response to my piece, makes it, nonsequiterishly, the centre-piece of his response – a tactic to divert from my main theme.

Nor is the American F-35 and its price the issue. This aircraft is a horrendously costly aircraft, which I have time and again trashed as a possible IAF option in my writings and even in a luncheon meeting (where other Indian commentators were present) with the US Assistant Secretary of Defence. F-35 is, as many in the US describe it, a boondoggle and “white elephant” – expensive to acquire, inordinately difficult to maintain in service and at, trillion dollars, unaffordable even for the United States in terms of its lifetime costing – and the last thing that IAF should have on its mind. It is another matter that in the run-up to the Rafale announcement many senior officers in the IAF and many more commentators in the media were actually gung-ho about this aircraft and championed its acquisition (in lieu of the F-16/F-18)!

But Barbora has been more honest than his service colleagues who have published their responses. Air Vice Marshal Arjun Subramaniam, was deployed by the IAF on a previous occasion when I called for terminating the Rafale deal as wasteful in extremis (See “”Stop wasteful military deals”, New Indian Express, November 1, 2013 featured elsewhere in this blog and at Subramaniam reacted (See his “Undermining national security”, New Indian Express, November 7, 2013 at, by warning that such writings undermine national security – as if national security, other than being a special preserve of the uniformed brass, was some delicate exotic hot-house orchid that can weather no critical storm. Further, his doubts about the Tejas – the weaknesses in which project is due not little to IAF’s refusal to own up and be accountable for this project – were substantively answered by a flood of on-line reaction commentaries by technically proficient and knowledgeable writers who backed my contention that Tejas can be the answer to IAF’s prayers (and which commentaries have since mysteriously disappeared from the New Indian Express website (!) but are retained for posterity on this blog – refer the air force section in this blog).

But senior airmen are in a habit of not grappling with the central issues that are raised, jagging off, for example, into this analyst’s honest mistake of spelling CAS’ name as Saha, rather than the correct Raha, etc. Consider in this respect Air Vice Marshal (retd) Manmohan Bahadur’s critique of my case for a strategic bomber “Strategic bomber for IAF”, New Indian Express, February 7, 2014 on this blog and at He veered off on a tangent saying how difficult it is to produce a strategic bomber indigenously when the country cannot even manufacture a trainer plane, etc, when actually what I had suggested was leasing (as we do nuclear attack submarines) Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bomber from Russia as the manned strategic delivery option. In this diversion, he, of course failed to address the larger point about the IAF leadership in the early 1970s fouling up by not accepting the Tu-22 Backfire bomber Russia was keen India offtake, and what it revealed about the lack of the “strategic” sense of the IAF, etc.. To the extent this was taken up, Bahadur sought to pooh-pooh it by sloghing the responsibility off to the Government, referring to the straitened financial circumstances the country was in at the time, the trend of policy, and other such extraneous factors when actually the Tu-22 could have been secured on the same terms as was the MiG-23BN, which was IAF’s choice! (“Fallacies of strategic bomber”, New Indian Express, February 11, 2014

Unlike, Subramaniam and Bahadur, the more senior and apparently more responsible, ex-VCAS Barbora, is candid in acknowledging that costs are a factor, and that the unit cost of any fully loaded 4th generation fighter is presently in the $300 million-$400 million range, which is precisely the price range I said Rafale falls in. However, notwithstanding the quite extraordinary expenditure involved, which Barbora does not dispute, he is for acquiring it because, well, the long selection process was swell, IAF’s need has to be filled and, though he does not say it in so many words (see his last para), how Rafale in IAF’s inventory will raisie India’s stock in “the comity of nations”!

The Indian defence industry was crippled at the start by IAF’s hankering for Western combat planes. The fully locally developed HF-24 and its follow-on Mk-2, were ruthlessly killed off by IAF, doing away what little chance India had of emerging as an independent aerospace power in the manner that Brazil and Israel have done in recent years. The IAF’s role in ending the Marut project in the early Seventies to favor purchase of the Jaguar Deep Penetration Strike Aircraft (which as I pointed out at the time can, ironically, penetrate deep or strike hard but cannot do both at the samke time!) and its subsequent reluctance to nurse an in-country combat aircraft R&D and production project, especially the Tejas, lest its umbilical linkage to imported aircraft be severed, is there for all to mull over. Tejas, it must be remembered is a DRDO-driven programme. These are touchy issues for the IAF that I often bring up in my writings, and which are at the core of why India, fatally for a country with pretensions to great power, remains an arms dependency, but which issues no commentators from IAF want, for obvious reasons, to tackle.

What thus ends up being reiterated is the official service line, repeated ad infinitum, for example, (again) by AVM (retd) Manmohan Bahadur (“MMRCA misgivings unfounded”, New Indian Express, August, August 2, 2014 at, who is apparently, IAF’s designated batter. He writes re: Rafale as MMRCA that “Costs, albeit important, don’t decide acquisitions; it is the capability one desires that is the driving factor and it’s our misfortune that HAL has not delivered this to the nation. The IAF just looks at getting the right product to safeguard the national skies, as it is its duty to do so.” His and IAF’s contention thus is that costs to the exchequer should be of less concern than IAF having the Rafale in its stable! And, moreover, as is the service’s wont, he covers up for IAF’s acquisition visioning and strategizing failures by telescoping IAF’s urgent needs with DRDO-HAL’s shortcomings.

The question the Indian government confronts is whether to take the easy way out and meet the MMRCA requirements but only half-way (80 or so Rafales) as is the first indication from the Modi regime, or will it bite the bullet, as it were, and decide to end for once and for all the policy of pell-mell importation of unbearably expensive aircraft, and order IAF to take charge of the Tejas programme and rationalize its force structure with just two main lines of combat aircraft, the mainstay Tejas Mk 1 for air defence, Mk 2 in the MMRCA role, and the Su-30 and FGFA Su-50. There’s no other way.

The pleas by the likes of Bahadur to “let the professionals do their job of recommending what is good for the defence of the nation” would be reassuring if the IAF brass actually knew what they were doing, or that they are even clear about the nonsense designation of the Rafale as “medium” combat aircraft. That IAF is in the dark on most such issues and the entire MMRCA schemata mainly reflects IAF’s mindless procurement thinking and confusion, may be evidenced in a 4-part video uploaded on youtube of a Vayu-Strategic Post hosted seminar on Indian airpower, July 4, 2014, the relevant 2nd part of this seminar is available at All the IAF luminaries – ACM (retd) SP Tyagi on down, it is obvious, have no clue about what “life costing” metrics are all about, and routinely talk down Russian aircraft, but are mute when informed about the intricacies of lifetime costing of aircraft and about the fact of the 44% availability of Rafale in the French AF, which matches the availability of the Su-30 in IAF. This last is in the 4th part of the above seminar at

There’s even more damning stuff about, such as the scale of “commissions””, etc. on offer or already deposited which, as one of my well-informed correspondents writes, tongue barely in cheek, would put the Rafale in the “heavy” class. And there’s lots more — all there for the BJP government to examine, enough reason, in any case, for it to revisit the matter of MMRCA, and just how and why the Rafale deal will not only beggar the country – not that the IAF cares — but take down the Tejas programme and the nascent Indian defence industry with it.

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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32 Responses to Counter-response to Air Marshal Barbora, and others

  1. Shaurya says:

    One idea is to procure about 60 Mig 35 to combat the depleted numbers and invest the rest of the planned monies on Tejas and indigenous systems.

    • RV says:

      @Shaurya, let the wise and well meaning professionals do their job of recommending what is good for the defense of the Nation. In case you haven’t, I suggest you carefully study the Youtube clips whose links have been put up by Karnad. They answer all questions and quell all doubts, leaving any rational person convinced that the stewardship of National air power is in extraordinary (and not merely excellent) hands.

  2. Buena says:

    Problem is your previous article was based on ignorance . The part about the french aerospace industry was hilarious… (French aerospace industry relies mainly on BIG firms like Airbus, ATR, Safran, Zodiac, Thales , Daher etc not small firms … French aerospace industry is twice bigger than the german’s one ….With or without Rafale deal with India , export = 80% of turnover (Dassault included) .. With or without Rafale deal with India , the Rafale production line will close down in 2023 at worst …. With or without Rafale deal with India , research for Rafale’s successor has already been launched … and so on …)
    And im not talking of your speculations about the Rafale price in Brazil forgetting the only official statement by Dilma Rousseff about F-X2 regretting that the Rafale price proposed to india was much lower than Brazil’s . In fact , you do not know the price of this contract and you’re basing your argument on speculation and rumors,.. A bit strange for a so-called academic…

    • You might care to find out just how Airbus, Safran, Thales, etc outsource the development of cutting-edge technologies to. You’ll find smaller — mittelstand — firms in the picture.

      • Buena says:

        Not at all sir , it’s called subsidiaries … look at Safran for example: Aircelle, Snecma ,Turbomeca, Labinal, Hispano Suiza, Messier Bugatti … these well known Safran subsidiaries have all specialized research center at the top of the technology.

      • There are even smaller SMEs forming the technology innovation base.

  3. Rahul says:

    I have only one question to Mr. Karnad which I have asked him before also on these type of articles but was met with deadly silence….Why did the screwdriver company HAL and DRDO did a self chest thumping infront of the whole world in Jan 2011 that Tejas has obtained IOC? If that was the case, what did they achieve in Dec 2013? And from Jan 2011 till July 2014, exactly how many Tejas Mk1 has left the so called ‘world class’ production line of HAL and has been deployed to counter the enemy airforces? And exactly how many aircrafts will come out of the HAL ‘world class’ production line in the forseeable future? 4, 8, 12? Truly ‘world class’ figures after 30 years of ‘world class’ development. Now, Mr. Karnad, plz don’t put this to lack of enthusiasm from IAF, i.e. only 20+20 aircrafts have been ordered etc etc….Trust me, even if an order of 200 was placed, still the result would have been the same. Take the Su 30MKI….HAL there is doing the tightening of nuts and screws and still it has only been able to deliver 140 aircrafts over 14 years(the first 50 was fly away from Russia). And you can blame the whole world for your shortcomings(TOT and design not received from Russia) but those will not make the Indian public sympathetic to you.

    • The extent of time delays and cost escalation is normal for all combat aircraft development programmes (to wit, Eurofighter, Rafale, F-35, for instance) and Tejas’ development is no exception. The question before the Indian government really is whether India can anymore allow imports of warplanes at the expense of indigenous programmes and industry. The shortcomings of the HAL-DRDO complex are well known, which is why the private sector has to be incentivised to come in in a big way and lead the Tejas and other flagship enterprises. And IAF should be instructed to take full charge of the Tejas project and told they cannot any longer avail of the easy option of choosing from among foreign aircraft. That’s it. With IAF pushed to the wall and private sector given its head is when things will move fast and accomplish much. Short of that it will be a repetition of the past. IAF should be forced to commit — with no outs — to Tejas, just as the Pakistan Air Force is committed to the JF-17 and the Chinese Air Force to the J-10. (Corrected designations of the Pak and PLAAF aircraft in last sentence.)

      • RV says:

        Precisely! Small correction, it’s JF-17 and J-10.

      • Rahul says:

        Time and cost overruns are normal but all those examples you have stated above, they have faced delays but atleast they have delivered 4th gen fighters in 4th gen period, F-35 delays means delays in developing a 5th gen fighter when the 5th gen period has not started in a big way…Delays for Tejas means delivering a 4th gen fighter in 5th gen period which is totally unacceptable….And why didn’t we learn from the mistakes of EFT , Rafale, etc etc and made the same mistakes????

        Point about shortcomings of DRDO-HAL and private sector incentivization is well taken. But the problem is no one has done that and nobody is planning to do it in the near future…Why would ‘only’ DRDO be entrusted with the development of AMCA, why didn’t we learn from our Tejas mistakes? Is the IAF to be blamed for it? IAF does not have the authority to take such decissions or rectify the shortcomings of DRDO-HAL….If I say it is the DRDO-HAL and government/bureaucracy and not IAF which is in love with foreign products/enemy payrolls which in turn makes them underperform and hence the indigeneous defence industry never takes shape, will I be asking the wrong question?

        At the end of the day, DRDO-HAL are physcopatic liers who cannot and should not be taken at face value…..

      • One of the reasons why Indian agencies have not learned from EF, Rafale, F-35, etc is because after the deliberate killing of the HF-24 Mk-II by IAF in the early 1970s the LCA had to start in the 1980s from zero baseline in every aspect of design and development. Despite this there’s potentially a most wonderful product, in whose development the IAF was a bystander, constant critic and perennial skeptic and which plane it didn’t own up to. None of these antecedent conditions apply for EADS, Dassault, or Lockheed-Martin which had one ac program following the next, without rest or respite, and host air forces that worked hand-in-glove with R&D and production companies to produce the various aircraft yet they ultimately delivered fighter planes that still suffer from quite extraordinary deficiencies. So…..

      If you go through the following thread, the delays in tejas was not as disastrous as it is made out by people who have made it out to be.

      IAF too upgraded their specs in 2004 resulting in Full scale engineering development phase-2 which led to complete redesigning of wing, refuelling probe, complete revamp of avionics components to open architecture model that will support upgrades in batches.

      If you add nuclear sanctions, delayed fundings, and the failure of IAF to put up even a project management team in ADA till 2006, there is no way any one can expect a tejas mk1(at least equal to the upgrade Mirage-2000 as per IAF group captain Suneeth krishna who has piloted mirage-2000 and flew test flights on tejas ),
      We had 4 designers and 4 testers in 1993. No man power, no experience. No tools and 50 per cent of us were ladies. And, the government rule says that if you are woman, you can’t work beyond 6 pm. But with all issues revolving around the LCA project, we decided to give everything.

      During those days it was a remote building and we were scared to move around after 6, due to snakes. Permission was denied to get our two-wheelers inside, despite all these issues. Once, Dr Kalam came to the lab and he had to encounter a snake. The rest is history. We were given permission to get the vehicles.

      We had to a huge challenge to make the design document within 3 months. We used to go home sometimes at 2 am and family life went for a toss. Some of our colleagues left the job due to the tough conditions. We stuck on and from that batch, there are only 3 scientists left, including me. (The others are: Asha Garg, Sc F and Sreekalakumary, Sc E.)
      Even we impressed the GE A/C management with our ETS: Gurdev, Group Director

      The GE A/C management was very impressed with the systems given by ADE. They even invited us (ADE) to bid for developing such systems for their own projects. This was definitely a never-heard-before in DRDO. A total of 5 such ETS have been built and are the workhorse for ATP, HSI, V&V, PIL open loop/ closed loop, fault free tests at HAL Iron Birds. These systems are operational since 1995 and have been used for all DFCCs & software operational in various LCAs fling so far.We had 4 designers and 4 testers in 1993. No man power, no experience. No tools and 50 per cent of us were ladies. And, the government rule says that if you are woman, you can’t work beyond 6 pm. But with all issues revolving around the LCA project, we decided to give everything.

      During those days it was a remote building and we were scared to move around after 6, due to snakes. Permission was denied to get our two-wheelers inside, despite all these issues. Once, Dr Kalam came to the lab and he had to encounter a snake. The rest is history. We were given permission to get the vehicles.

      We had to a huge challenge to make the design document within 3 months. We used to go home sometimes at 2 am and family life went for a toss. Some of our colleagues left the job due to the tough conditions. We stuck on and from that batch, there are only 3 scientists left, including me. (The others are: Asha Garg, Sc F and Sreekalakumary, Sc E.)
      Even we impressed the GE A/C management with our ETS: Gurdev, Group Director

      The GE A/C management was very impressed with the systems given by ADE. They even invited us (ADE) to bid for developing such systems for their own projects. This was definitely a never-heard-before in DRDO. A total of 5 such ETS have been built and are the workhorse for ATP, HSI, V&V, PIL open loop/ closed loop, fault free tests at HAL Iron Birds. These systems are operational since 1995 and have been used for all DFCCs & software operational in various LCAs fling so far.

      Click to access 17threport.pdf


      The project definition phase of the programme was launched in 1987.

      In 1991,
      Full Scale Engineering Development (FSED – Phase 1) was launched at a
      project cost of 2188 Cr involving design, production of 2 technology
      demonstrators, 2 prototype vehicles, one static test specimen and associated
      ground and limited flight tests. This work was completed in 2005.[/QUOTE]

      [QUOTE]In 1999, FSED-Phase 2 was launched at a project cost of 3302 Cr involving
      3 additional prototype vehicles (including a trainer variant) and production of 8
      aircraft under limited series production.

      Currently, two TDs and two prototype vehicles (PVs) are undergoing flight
      evaluation and a cumulative of 567 flights have been completed as of end Oct
      06 covering a flight envelope of 1.4 Mach and 15 Km altitude.

      The trainer
      variant : is under build and is expected to be ready for engine ground run by
      Dec 2006. Further a programme for design and development of naval variant of
      LCA has been launched subsequently in 2003 at a project cost of 949 Cr
      involving development of two prototypes.

      During examination of Demands for Grants (2004-05), the Committee were
      informed that initial operational clearance of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) is planned by
      2006 and final operational clearance by 2008. In Action Taken Reply to the same
      Report, the Ministry furnished revised schedule stating that initial operational
      clearance of LCA would be over by March 2007 and final operational clearance by

      During examination of Demands for Grants (2005-06), the Committee were
      informed that initial operational clearance would be over by the year 2010. In Action
      Taken Reply to this Report, the Ministry informed that initial operational clearance is
      planned by 2008 and final operational configuration by 2010.

      5.4 The Ministry has furnished reasons for delay in induction of Light Combat
      Aircraft (LCA) as under:
      Reasons for delay in Full Scale Engineering Development (FSED) of LCA are
      • Technology difficulties
      • Non availability of systems design & high safety standards

      Foreign Exchange crunch of 1991
      • Revision of development strategy by increasing indigenous content in
      aircraft & ground facilities
      • Sanctions imposed by USA in 1998
      • Redesign of Composite Wings to cater for Weapon definition changes
      specified by Indian Air Force (IAF) during Jan 04.
      • Indigenous development & integration of Obsolescence-free Open
      Architecture Avionics Systems
      • Integration of interim Electronic Warfare (EW) equipment specified by
      IAF during 2005
      • Extensive on ground evaluation, simulation & testing of indigenous
      equipment, systems, software & aircraft.
      • Extensive Independent Verification & Validation (IV & V) of complex
      airborne software to ensure fight safety
      • Co-ordination & integration effort by many work centres to type certify
      indigenous equipment systems.
      The present status of this project is as given below:

      • Confidence in LCA as a flying machine is high and IAF has placed
      procurement order for 20 LCA with the manufacturing agency (M/s
      Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.) for inducting one LCA Squadron into
      operational service. Production Phase of LCA has also been initiated
      concurrently with FSED Phase to gain time advantage.

      • There was no cost over-run in LCA FSED Phase 1 programme. As on
      date, there is no cost over-run in LCA FSED Phase 2 Programme also.
      • Production Standard LCA comprises 65% of indigenous equipment (Line
      Replaceable Units).

      Following is the reply of the government in parliament regarding LCA program,

      Reply of the Government

      The programme of indigenous development of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) had been
      initiated in August‟ 1983 with the Government sanction of an interim development cost of Rs
      560.00 Cr.

      This sanction was to initiate the programme and carry out Project Definition Phase (PDP). After completing the PDP, the report was submitted to Government and proposal to build 07 prototypes was made. The Government of India split the programme into TechnicalDevelopment Phase and Operational Vehicle Development Phase.

      The Full Scale Engineering
      Development Programme Phase-I (LCA FSED Phase-I) was sanctioned in April‟1993 at a cost
      of Rs 2188 Cr (including the interim sanction of Rs 560 Cr given in 1983). The scope of FSED
      Phase-I was to demonstrate the technologies so that a decision could be taken to build
      operational proto-vehicles at a later stage.

      LCA FSED Phase-I was completed on 31 Mar 2004. While Phase-I programme was in progress, the Government decided to concurrently go ahead with the build of operational proto vehicles.

      The scope of FSED Phase-2 was to build three prototypes of operational aircrafts including a trainer and also to build the infrastructure required for producing 08 aircrafts per year and build eight Limited Series Production (LSP) aircrafts. Government sanctioned FSED Phase-II of the programme at a total cost of Rs 3301.78 Cr on 20 Nov‟2001.

      The Phase-II programme has been split into two phases namely, Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) and Final Operational Clearance (FOC). Standard of preparation of operational aircraft was finalized in 2004 with changes in weapons,sensors and avionics to meet the IAF requirements and overcome obsolescence. (Original design was made in 1990s). This contributes to additional time and revised cost for Phase-II.

      Governing body of ADA in its 41st meeting held on 22 Nov 2007 had detail review of the
      Programme and deliberated on achievements vis-à-vis objectives of LCA FSED Phase-II
      programme and recommended the extension of FSED Phase-II likely date of completion till 31
      Dec 2012 (IOC by Dec 2010 & FOC by Dec 2012) with GE-F404-IN20 Engine and to develop
      & productionise the Mark 2 variant of Tejas aircraft and also recommended the constitution of Cost Revision Committee to assess additional requirement of funds.

      The need for extension of PDC for LCA FSED Phase-II was due to :

       Complexity of the system design and very high safety standards lead to extensive testing to ensure flight safety.
       Incorporating the configuration changes (for example R60 close Combat Missile (CCM)
      was replaced by R73E CCM which required design modifications) to keep the aircraft

       Due to non-availability of indigenous „Kaveri Engine‟ design changes were carried out to
      accommodate GE404 engine of USA.
       Change in the development strategy of Radar and associated changes on the aircraft.
       Major development activity of Avionics was undertaken in order to make aircraft
      contemporary, which took time but yielded results (for example, development of obsolescence
      free open architecture avionics system).

       US sanctions imposed in 1998 also led to delay in importing certain items and
      developing alternate equipment, since vendors identification and development to production
      cycle took time. The need for revision of FSED Phase-II fund sanction was mainly due to :
       To neutralize the effect of inflation/delivery point cost against the sanctioned level at
      2001 and the increase in manpower cost of HAL.
       To meet the programme management expenditure due to extended time line till Dec 2012
       Maintain and operate 10-15 aircraft for four years upto 2012
       To maintain & upgrade the design, development and test facilities upto 2012, in keeping with modern technology.
       To complete the activities which were not costed in the original estimates.

      Cost Revision Committee after careful consideration of the projections made and taking into account the increase in the cost of material, manpower, additional activities to complete the IOC & FOC, maintenance of facilities and expanded scope of the programme etc.

      , recommended additional fund of Rs 2475.78 Cr for completing FSED Phase-II activities with PDC Dec 2012, Rs 2431.55 Cr for developing Tejas Mark 2 with alternate engine (LCA FSED Phase-III Programme) and Rs 395.65 Cr for Technology Development Programme (Total additional funds of Rs 5302.98 Cr).

      Recommendations of the Cost Revision Committee was accepted by Government and in November 2009, sanction was accorded for continuing Full Scale Engineering Development of LCA till Dec 2018 with an additional cost of Rs 5302.98 Cr.LCA (Tejas) Programme is progressing satisfactorily as per schedule mutually agreed with IAF to meet their requirements.

      Flight Test phase on nine Tejas aircrafts to obtain IOC for Tejas, which is mandatory for induction of Tejas into IAF is in advanced stage. Establishment of Tejas production facilities for the production rate of eight aircrafts per annum is progressing concurrently with development activities. On 31 Mar 2006, IAF has executed the contract with HAL for production of 20 Tejas aircraft (series production) powered by GE-F404-IN20 engines in IOC configuration and production activities are in progress. Follow on order of another 20 aircraft is in an advanced stage of negotiation between IAF and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

      here is what P Rajkumar (IAF) who was involved with the LCA says –

      quote –

      Philip Rajkumar on May 1, 2012 at 6:01 am said:

      philip rajkumar

      I worked in the LCA project for nine years from 17 Sep 1994 to 31 Aug 2003 (actually 17 days short of nine years!). I was deputed to ADA by the IAF to oversee the flight test programme of the Technology Demonstration phase of the project. Having been on both sides of the fence i have a few points to make.
      1. Development of a capable aeronautical industry is a small step by small step evolutionary process.Infrastructure and skill sets of the work force have to be built up over decades with considerable effort. All this requires investment of money and managerial resources. Mainly due to financial constraints and lack of vision in the IAF, HAL and the GOI we allowed capabilities built up during the Marut and Kiran programmes to atrophy. While the world leapt ahead with several technological innovations like fly by wire,digital avionics and use of composites for structures HAL did not run a single research programme because it was not the practice to do research unless it was linked to a specicific project.
      2.The LCA project is where it is today thanks to one man-Dr VS Arunachalam who as the SA to RM in 1985 had the gumption and clout to go to the GOI and convince them that India could build a fourth generation fighter. It was a leap of faith no doubt.
      3. HAL feels wronged about being asked to play second fiddle to ADA. This pique continues to hurt the project even today.
      4. Without help from Dassault of France,BAE Systems UK, Lockheed Martin of the USA and Alenia of Italy we would not have succeeded in developing the fly by wire flight control system,glass cockpit,and composite structures for the two TD aircraft.
      5. So far the flight safety record of the programme has been good. I pray every day that it remains that way. The loss of an aircraft early in the programme would have surely lead to its closure.
      6.All pilots who have flown the aircraft say its handling qualities are very good. It means it is easy to fly and perform the mission.

      7.It needs to be put into IAF sevice as soon as possible to gain more experience to iron out bugs which are sure to show up during operational use.

      8.Programme management could have been better. IAF is to blame for washing its hands off the project for 20 years from 1986-2006. A management team was put in place at ADA in 2007.

      9.Dr Kota Harinarayana and all those who have worked and continue to work have done so with great sincerity and dedication.
      10.Indian aeronautics has benefitted immensely from the programme. It is a topic for separate research.

      11. It was a rare privilege for me to have been given an opportunity to contribute to the programme by setting up the National Flight Test Centre and putting place a methodology of work which has ensured safety so far.

      12. According to me the project can be called a complete success only when the aircraft sees squadron service for a couple of decades. We will have to wait but it is progressing on the right lines and we as a nation have nothing to be ashamed of.


      Also tejas mk2 wont be delayed since,

      But tejas mk-1 will sort out close to 90 percent of the issues of tejas mk-2.There will be no fuel line butting, brake redesigning, pilot seat redesigning and FSED phase-2 to delay the tejas mk-2 project.

      Already drawings are being sent to production agency as per ADA release. And only redesigning the fuselgae for new engine is the task.

      Since tejas mk-2 is going to keep the same wing loading, most of the test points will be same. It is going on from 2009 itself.weapon testing and wake penetration and all weather testing which took so much time in tejas mk-1, wont be an issue in tejas mk-2 as all of them have already been validated.

      Even spin testing points of tejas mk-1 and mk-2 will overlap with each other.

      But the most important thing is unlike the snail pace of tejas mk-1 PV and LSP productions(from older jag production lines, with joints juttin out and wing undersides with bumps, which alone contributed to 6 percent underperformance as per ADA chief) tejas m-2 LSPs will roll out from the brand new mk1 production line with faster pace and fewer quality issues.

      Hope that the legendary squabbles within IAF-HAL -ADA combo which crippled tejas mk-1 for decades, will be sorted out by the new Modi govt . IAF refused to put a project management team for tejas mk-1 till 2006. It took no initiative in suggesting any design chanes from 1993 to 2006 is the main reason for delay according to Air marshal Philip Rajkumar

      Another issue is it wont be crippled by piss poor funding and sanctions issue.Now since india is a semi offiicial member of NSG and other big boys club , no tech denials will be there.

      And consultancies from foreign biggies too can be availed of if needed.And navy is a commiited supporter to this project unlike the fickle ways of IAF.Navy was the first to chip in with funds for tejas mk-2 project. IAF agreed only reluctantly later.

      Also parts for tejas mk-2 can be easily made from the established vendors of tejas mk-1,

      If only IAF and navy confirm a total of 250 plu tejas mk-1 and mk-2 combined indian private industry too will be more than willing to join in vendors list. but the IAF is restricting mk-2 orders to just 84 is the biggest impediment here.

      gripen C took more than 20 years to arrive , but once developmental funding was given gripen NG came with in tow years.

      Also all the changes asked for by IAF in rafale will also make it consume a couple of years to integrate them all.

  4. Himankan says:

    A simple question for Bharat Karnad, if you do not want the IAF to procure the MMRCA, what better ideas do you have? Please do not talk about LCA, fgfa or another deal because that will take another 6-7 years or even more to come.

  5. RV says:

    RIL and other private sector entities should be invited to take an equal stake with HAL in the LCA production, and directly interact with ADA (which is essentially a design bureau) and other agencies. As correctly stated, the IAF needs to be in complete charge of the Tejas project. This will substantially reduce, if not break the DPSU stranglehold.

    Hopefully, in the near future, competing design houses will be developed in the private sector to do basic and applied R&D and D&D in the aerospace and related sectors. These design houses could compete among themselves and ADA to get their weapon systems designs accepted (Like MiG & Sukhoi, Lokheed-Marin & Boeing, Shenyang & Chengdu, etc…) These developments will have a substantial and possibly a civilization/cultural changing effect in India, with science and engineering education and careers in general given a drastic and much needed boost. But first, the wretched Nehruvian L1 system MUST GO ASAP!

    • Angiras Rishi says:

      Reliance? LOL! they have invented nothing in their life. A bogus corporation which depends on foreign technology.

  6. Rahul says:

    Message for Mr.Karnad and all those naysayers who criticize IAF and their penchant for importing foreign products as bringing to a death indigeneous defense industry: Plz read today’s article from TOI…

    Next time you think of opening your mouths on this subject, this article should stop your mouths from getting opened….

    Moral of the story: If healthy good food is availaible at home that takes care of all your needs, no one fancies importing the same from outside….

    • RV says:


      The contempt in which science and engineering is held in general as a career choice in India is nauseating. Unlike China, Indians returning from the best possible centres of learning outside India and with experience are held in contempt, because the general feeling is that they couldn’t hack it overseas. So, the only alternatives are to “swallow/cop it”, or flee the system!

      Look at the who’s who in India. Many (and this number is growing) of them send their prodigious sons and daughters to do undergraduate studies overseas. What surprises me is the some of these prodigies are studying engineering overseas. The Indian engineering undergraduate system (IIT’s and some REC’s) is far better than that in many top Western universities, because in India the professors teach instead of concentrating on publishing and running off from one conference to the next, leaving the students in the “care” of inexperienced TA’s.

      Most if not all Indians would like their children to become FIRST MBA’s (iwho are Gods gift to humanity. It would help if they were employed by a foreign financial institution), cricketers (IPL stars preferably), Bollywood actors, stock brokers, ladies/men of the night in high society, and if they fail to become any of the aforesaid or anything else that is acceptable…, even a postal clerk, then maybe and regrettably they take to science and engineering. Now the chickens are coming home to roost and the Indians don’t even know the cause. The present situation is fast approaching stage where India will either go bankrupt, or lose a major war.

      I do not believe that anybody has the right to point a finger at the IAF, or any other entity. When and not if the inevitable (described above) comes, each Indian who is part of the system should go to a mirror and see the cause of the shame and disgrace.

    • RV says:

      @Rahul: Yes, this article is true, and I hope it is not an isolated event. OTOH the Indo-Israeli Barak 8 for which India has shelled up large sums of money for its co-development seems to be going nowhere as far as benefiting India is concerned. Operationalization of costly Indian ships such as the very fine P-15A destroyers are held up because of the absence of a credible SAM.

    • healthy food takes some good farming technique. Just see that the same farming techniques that were done in harvesting Akash should be applied in harvesting the bountiful number of tejas mk1s and mk2s.

      • Rahul says:

        Dude, even Akash took 25 years to be completed…So I am sceptical about farming techniques…But since the end product is looking good, IAF has gone ahead with it which proves my point that if viable alternatives are present at home, IAF will not import from abroad….Time to silence the critics of IAF who don’t forget to criticize the IAF in order to hide the deficiencies of DRDO-HAL….

  7. Rohit Vats says:

    Mr. Karnad,

    It would have been better if you’d some research of your own on that 44% availability rate rather than take the word of Saurabh Joshi from the 4th part of video you refer to. You see, quaoting a number whose context you don’t understand makes you as look as ignorant as Saurabh Joshi.

    A gentlemen here (look for handle Olybrius)
    has explained this availability concept in better detail.

    Allow me to quote relevant excerpt from his post:
    “The French Air Force has two concepts of availability:
    (a) DT (disponibilité technique/technical availability) is the availability rate with regard to the entire existing fleet.
    (b) DTO (disponibilité technique opérationelle/ operational technical availability) is the ratio between the number of aircraft available and the number of aircraft needed to achieve the planned activity, that is to say the ability to achieve the operational goal, the mission.

    The first indicator, DT, is generally around 50% for the Air Force and actually around 30% for the Navy. This is not because there are maintenance issues on the Rafale fleet, this is simply because a part of the existing fleet is not immediately needed to achieve the operational contract: ie a 100 percent DTO rate. France did not need 100 or 150 Rafale immediately available for training and air policing; thus, over a year, a part of the fleet, usually composed of the aircraft that have, at the moment, the highest number of flight hours, is temporarily parked or even sometimes temporarily mothballed at Chateaudun air base. (Similarly, there are no specific maintenance problems with Rafale M, the difference (DT) between Air Force and Navy is mainly due to the ongoing modernization of 10 Rafale F1)

    Each country has its own constraints. What is really important and significant is to achieve a high DTO rate. And especially during real operations (like Lybia, Mali …) when all committed aircraft must operate at maximum efficiency over long periods. In that case the availability rate for the Rafale is close to 100% ; see 2nd chart below.”

    You can see the charts he refers to in the link or Page 29 and Page 31 of the PDF document linked here:

    So next time, please ensure you double check your facts. Frankly, such mistakes lead one to question the entire thrust of your argument. Which I as it is disagree with.


    • The links re: Rafale may well be depicting the truth, but it does not in any way dent my main argument that the MMRCA is not needed and is unaffordable and there are far more economical and rational (in terms of cutting down on aircraft diversity in the inventory) alternatives. And in any case, IAF, as far as I know, does not conform to the FAF’s metrics of availability, and its own logistics system needs mending (which will be helped by a much smaller variety of aircraft on hand).

      • Rahul says:

        But the basic question still remains….Why are journalists and others commenting on the MMRCA now, 14 years after project initialization???? They did not speak up till 2009 end when all 6 contenders were in fray, I don’t remember a single article cropping up anywhere over the internet and print media criticizing the need for MMRCA….Only when it got downselected to 2 vendors, various news about how corruption may have played a part in downselect started appearing, however their number was lower….In the last 2 years after the winner was declared, suddenly everyone started having an opinion of their own, some covertly criticizing the deal by denigrating the capabilities of the winning vendor and most criticizing the need of MMRCA on the economic point….If the French are blackmailing the Indians by hiking the prices by an exoribant degree in the last 2 years, let the Indian govt call the bluffs and the journalists should post such news by giving proper evidence….If not, then they should keep shut, atleast till the time they find evidences of some malpractices in the selection process, they should learn to keep their mouths shut on the economic and technical front and stop acting as a spokesperson for the defeated vendors….

        At the end of the day, wars will be fought and won by whatever is availaible in your hands, not by some fancy tools of future which DRDO-HAL claims to be developing….

  8. Rafale was opposed by some even then. I remember discussing this matter with very senior IAF brass. It became controversial only after the shortlist for the MMRCA was made public and there were news reports about AKA’s concerns about “corruption” related to this unfolding deal.

    • Rahul says:

      Just read the Swiss airforce evaluation of Rafale, Gripen and EFT during the competition to find a next gen fighter for Swiss airforce…It is avalaible on the internet…Rafale beat the competitors hands down on all parameters…Eventually Swiss settled for Gripen because it had the lowest cost….Also infering from Mr. Barbora’s statement that Swiss does not have 2 nuclear armed neighbours….So time to put the record straight on Rafale once and for all….It is simply the best of all the 6 that participated in the MMRCA competition….

  9. The 4 part video posted on the MRCA deliberations is very illuminating. Some highlights ,

    1.The evaluating group doesn’t know how to calculate life cycle costs.SP Tyagi says they asked E Sreedharan for that. SO their evaluating metrics are made up on the fly, Just think about the monumental stupidity of this method.

    Guys evaluating platforms without the clear idea of life cycle cost , Don’t they know that IAF has a budget and it never gets 60 percent of what it wants. SO if you buy a super expensive fighter for just six squads how is that rational? Do they think that the 126 rafales good enough for the all future needs of IAF. Where eill the budget for FGFA and AMCA will materialize?

    2.The only reason for the weight cut of of 30 tons in the contract was named as “medium” was to keep the “heavy fighters” out !!!!. but there is nothing wrong in evaluating fighters with empty weight of 7 tons, 9 tons, 10 tons, and any tons till 30 tons for the MMRCA,What is the strategic doctrine behind this?

    3.The RFP written had the objectives of meeting the requirements of the IAF and serve in building an industrial-aerospace infrastructure in the country!!!!![/U].[B]By killing reasonable tejas mk2 numbers our MMRCA RFP writers are trying to build the aerospace industry of the nation!!!! Is there a better joke than this?

    They want to build our trainer tech with pliatus, heavy fighter tech with SU-30 MKI, medium fighter tech with Rafale and kill of the only original 4.5th gen product tejas mk2 in high numbers. These guys don’t know what building techsis all about.

    They built their DPSA tech by killing off efforts for HF-24 marut engine by importing Jags and Mig-23s,27s. No they want to reduce tejas mk2 to lab rat status and build the fighter tech with french help .

    Modi should put these guys in charge of DRDO and HAL and they will build indigenous indian tech with each and every 126 number fighter purchase from every fighter making country in the world. And we will be leaders in tech development. Envy of the world.

    It is no wonder that another tech dummy former IAF chief once boasted that they can pulla a MMRCA winner rabbit from their magician hats called base repair depots within a decade!!! Immediately contradicted by his deputy though.

    SOme one has to tell these guys that with 8 per year roll out 120 IAF tejas offers no incentive to any private sector giant to enter into mil aviation industry. And it will be stunted for two more decades. And the same sordid drama will be played out again after two decades by crushing AMCA between the FGFA and another future product from TOT donating western country, in the same way tejas mk-2 getting crushed by mirage-2000 upgrade contracts and Rafale buy.

    4. 6:30: AM Jimmy Bhatia: We will need 50 squads to deter Pak + China

    .With 126 rafales at 20 billion dollar , we wil never even reach 40 squads in any immediate future.

    5. 7:25: Brig G. Kanwal: If a war breaks out 80-90% it will be in the mountains. 60-70% chance it will remain in the mountains. To achieve these military goals, india will need massive air fire power – since ground forces would be limited to maneuver in the mountains. Is the IAF ready for this?[/U]

    War will be mostly fought on the border mountains IAF knows it. but it is the IAF which is fantasizing in fighting a war deep inside Tibet with 126 mythical beasts called rafales in a territory filled with S-300, S-400 Awacs and 5th gen J-20s and J-31s.

    By diverting 20 billion dollars towards their own mahabharatha war IAF will critically deprive Indian Army soldiers their much needed support in the form of tejas mk2 which was built exactly for that purpose. the tejas mk2 cleared the leh cold high altitude trials with ease and four of the 6 MMRCA contenders failed this test of taking off with meaning full loads from Leh within a specified runway length.

    And 300 to 400 tejas mk2 will be excellent for this purpose with a bigger ASEA radar than rafale , Range does not count here as most of the actions will be border strikes. We can always have Su-30 MKI, Nirbhay for deep strike.

    6.12: 30: Nitin Gokhale (NDTV): Priority to build what we need. We do not have funds for 45 squads (perhaps he meant 42)

    The IAF’s 20 billion rafale buy is just opposite of that. When 300 to 400 tejas mk2s will bolster the airspace of india and will be of immense help in close air support to the ground troops facing the music , IAF is spending 20 billion dollar on rafale , whose each and every job can be performed by Nirbhay and SU-30 MKI

    7.13:43: Maj Gen A. Mehta: 1999 IAF was not prepared to fight in the mountains

    Only Mirage-2000 was fit for bombing in Himalayas. IAF found that out in the hard way. And for the LGB requirement it was the same DRDO guys along with israelis who helped it out, while french played cool. If IAF does not learn their lesson even after this.

    God knows when it will learn. SO IAF will miss the numerically superior fleet of tejas mk2 by pumping forex into rafale. Is it wise. With FGFA just around the corner why is IAF splurging on rafale whose very job an be done by other platforms in IAF? Has IAF forgot that 126 rafales can not be in all the places all the time where 300 to 400 tejas can be present? IAF is not fighting some esoteric war like the one french fought with non existant enemy airforce in mali, Libiya and Afganistan. In a two front war for india it will be the numbers that count. Not 126 rafales.

    8..14:15: Barbora: Agrees. many IAF fighters could not fire certain ammo beyond a certain altitude, but at Kargil IAF was innovated. On Squads: Old sqauds are limited in what they could carry (1 ton as an example). Today the new platforms carry 10 tons. Over time the # of squads sanctioned varied from 39.5 – 42 – 44 (and in 1974 there was a report suggesting 55 squads – if required). But the newer platforms can carry a lot and change their requirements in the air. States that he feel that IAF cannot afford more than 30 squads (??????????).

    But how much they carry when taking off from Leh and other future high altitude makeshift air fields in two front war? That is why this rafale can deliver 9 tons across 3000 Km BS is totally irrelevant here. IAF has Nirbhays, Agnis, SU-30 MKIs and in future UCAVs for such deep strikes, FGFA is following hot on the heels(it will start entering squadron service just when rafale induction is over!!!) , which is especially made for this role . But by spending this huge 20 billion dollar on rafale IAF is killing off the prospects of 300 to 400 tejas providing invaluable service in the Himalays in any two front wars. Is it well thought out?

    certainly No. because MMRCA started out as a straight 126 Mirage-2000 buy after Mirage did well in IAF, But the tragedy is MMRCA is going to do the exact opposite of this capability that was previously sought. It is going to kill 300 to 400 tejas mk1 and mk2 which will be far far better than Mirage-200 at those altitudes by diverting money to Deep strkie rafales.

    SO modernizing jags and delaying tejas is not going to do any world of good for IAF in any future IAf war , for which tejas was designed with exceptionally low wing loading than Mirage-2000, higher thrust to weight ratio than mirage-2000 ?

  10. people asking why tejas was delayed should know that it was due to turf wars, inter agency apathy and many other things , besides the tech l, attrition due to software boom . But over all if you compare it to gripen Ng or E’s IOc or FOC date projections , tejas mk2(its equivalent is not that far behind). ofcourse every one wants a faster delivery. but ground work must be done for that.
    if IAF refuses to set aside a single rupee from their budget from day one till 2009 , when tejas mk2 programs starts after navy’s seed funds, it says about the torrid tie tejas had.
    It was 20 years ago when Kalam took the decision to form the national CLAW team with scientists and engineers mainly chosen from the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) and National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL).

    “In 1992, ADA floated a global tender seeking consultancy for developing six critical technologies, including developing CLAW for Tejas. They got responses for all five technologies, barring CLAW, which nobody was willing to part with India due to its strategic nature,” recalls NAL’s acting director, Shyam Chetty.

    It was on June 2, 1992, when Kalam had his first meeting of the CLAW clan in Bangalore, with CSIR-NAL as the nodal centre. “We started everything from ground zero and (Dr) Kalam had a huge impact on us.

    Most of the team members worked for close to 18 hours every day. We are delighted that today our CLAW is one of the successful part of Tejas that is getting into the Indian Air Force’s inventory. We have completed all parameters for the initial operational clearance (IOC) phase,” said Shyam.
    In the process, the CLAW team also mastered Wake Encounter Simulation – a critical area for the Tejas programme. “Wake simulation is a very complicated and challenging modelling control problem. Aerodynamics is simulated by splitting the aircraft into seven components and computing forces and moments on each component,” said NAL sources.

    ADA sources told Express that the CLAW team has made the life of pilots simpler. “He is fed only what he needs. The HOTAS (Hands on Throttle-And-Stick) ensures that the pilot is at absolute ease during his mission,” sources said, adding, “Tejas is an unstable platform and it is CLAW that acts as its brain.”

    The success story of CLAW did not come easy for those involved. The bad publicity that Tejas got in early days and low salaries ensured that most of the team members (men) had a tough time in finding suitable brides. “Yes. It’s true and many of our team mates faced this problem.

    Our job profile was such that no father dared to give her daughter. Some of my colleagues even had to undergo counselling. All that is past and we are all happily married now. But can’t believe how 20 years flew past,” said a senior NAL scientist.
    There were many stumbling blocks in this entire chronology of testing the DFCC OFP at Iron Bird test facility. It started with the sanctions, post Pokharan – II, which made the path tougher and darker and then it was Y2K havoc, which led to providing jobs to anybody who could operate a computer.

    These disturbances blew off many experts from within the Tejas program and especially those working on FCS and particularly at Iron Bird. The Iron Bird saw an Avalanche breakdown and was left with just a handful of inexperienced engineers.

    But that didn’t stop the ‘left out team’ to continue with it efforts as it was the zenith of the project. Dr. B Subba Reddy singlehandedly took the completion of Iron Bird testing as a challenge and with those handful HAL engineers and few scientists from ADA delivered the DFCC hardware and the software to the aircraft.

    The team used to put almost 16 hours a day to utilise the system as per the schedule, to analyse the mammoth data captures, to go through each and every plots and figures before clearing the tests and offering the results to the certifying agencies. There were many problem reports / snags generated in the process and finally the product came in the form of OFP V4019, declared almost bug free.

    The team was so cautious in its approach that with a single failure at the end of the prescribed 50 hours of fault free testing at Iron Bird, the clock was reset to zero and the entire test was redone amounting to a total of almost 110 hours of fault free testing. This enormously boosted the pilot’s confidence and made them eager to take off the actual wings.

    Prior to this fault free tests the team of Tejas pilots have undergone rigorous closed loop failure testing covering all the possible IFCS, electrical and hydraulics failures and studying and responding to them.

    This exercise also made them aware of handling the situation for possible failures on aircraft as they were to fly for the first time an indigenous fighter plane with fly-by-wire technology. Such an exercise was possible only at Iron Bird and the team left no stone unturned to offer it in totality to the pilots.
    And the first flight happened, the nation applauded it, but nobody hailed Iron Bird team.

    Dr. B Subba Reddy was transferred to other division for administrative reasons and the program suffered another setback as he was also the deputy director of National Control Law (CLAW) team of Tejas. Some temporary arrangements were done from HAL side to fill the void left by Dr. Reddy, but to no avail.

    However the core Iron Bird team with the support of ADA was strong enough to deliver the products (the software versions with updates) in time. The HAL saw the Iron Bird team as an unproductive group of people since they were not directly contributing to the production targets of HAL and the approach continues till today. ADA celebrated the milestones of Tejas project with its scientists and between these two approaches, the Iron Bird team was left out unacknowledged at every occasion. The question still remains unanswered: “Whose baby is this Iron Bird, anyway?”

    With the project directors of Tejas raising their voices at various forums, the Iron Bird team was finally augmented with HAL manpower in the year 2007 and currently boasts of 18 engineers of various domains.

    The team is headed by one Mr Sanjay Sharma, who has been associated with Iron Bird testing from the early days. It was his initiative that Iron Bird team still remains capable and efficient despite various setbacks. He also guides a team of 7 highly skilled engineers deputed to National Control Law (CLAW) team of Tejas at NAL. A big section of HAL higher management still remains unaware of the facts, potential, pains and achievements of the team.

    We may be happy with the participation of private industry in the field of aeronautics, but the crude fact is that whenever an aerospace company or a venture has been established, it has eaten away the cream of the industries like HAL, ADA, and ADE etc. There are many who have been offered plum positions and fat salaries for similar work in these private establishments. And believe it or not, some of the delay in the Tejas project can be attributed to this very fact also. People of the level of project director, AGM etc. had redefined their loyalties and jumped to a world of leisure and comfort. In spite of these alluring offerings to the core people associated with the Tejas program the program had continued without much deceleration and the ‘Tejas Loyals’ came out with flying colours. Most of these crazy people have even never seen their salary slips from past many years.

    Ask them their basic pay even today and they will start looking at the skies, not for a clue but to tell the world, Tejas is our actual pay that we have earned. The soldiers at the borders have the obsession of dying for the country, we, at Iron Bird live with that and are always ready to die with that furore.

  11. E.R.Sakthivel says:

    Two french rafales with two external fuel tanks each and no weapons ,

    needed 5 refuelling for their 10.5 hour long 10000 Km trip from france to reunion islands

    Sure they must have had their tanks full at take off.

    So it amounts to a total of 6 fuel loads for a 10000 Km flight with no weapon loads and only two external fuel tanks for each plane provided that each plane had five refuellings enroute.Rreport does not states whether the 5 refuellings were for each rafale. But since it is an odd number it is safe to assume that it is five refuellings for each plane . Becuase both planes need exactly the same amount of refuelling . SO an odd number can not denote total refuelling for both the planes.

    Then range in tropical climate with two external fuel tanks in optimum altitude conditions(high altitude )comes only to 1500 Km around.


    But AVM has claimed that tejas has just one third of rafale range. Even in IOC-2 press information bureau release the farthest tejas can fly without refuelling for tejas was stated to be 1700 Km. ANd its combat radius 500 km, means with weapons it can have close to 1000 Km range with needs for AB thrusts and fuel penalizing lo altitude flight and a few minutes of close combat needs.

    Looking at the fact they flew 10K Kms and needed 5 refuels + 1 to begin with i.e a range of 1600 km with no weapons and two fuel tanks quite clearly shows Rafale doesn’t have the famed deep legs as claimed since the start. Also such long range distances are covered flying at very high altitude i.e over 30K feet at optimal fuel burning cruise speed to minimize fuel consumption, these claimed long ranges would be much lower when slung with weapons flying in low in deep strike missions.

    whatever the optimum flying conditions if you add weapons worth their price, and do a lo lo penetration with reservation for AB thrusts and close combat and take off needs, the result will be the same

    Even if we believe such rafale brochure range of 3600 Km , the hi-lo-hi missions that can use this ,exist in libiya and mali where open skies with no enemy air defence spreads for a vast expanse of 1000s of Km.

    But on india -pak borders and india-china borders enemy air defence is just a couple of hundreds of KM away.

    SO practically those much vaunted 3600 Km ranges has no relevance to two front wars or in Tibet deep strikes.

    Reality is sobering. As I said before in lo-lo penetration flight the differnece between tejas and rafale combat range will hug a figure closer to their difference fuel fraction ratio.

    Dangling more and more external tanks and stuff will add to immense drag in lo-lo strikes . So the Rafale has thrice the range of tejas like statements made by people is just irrelevant in indian air space where enemy air defences are just next door.

    SO this issue needs to be looked into,

  12. E.R. Sakthivel says:

    Which tech rafale has like

    1. 4 channel relaxed static stability fly by wire airframe,

    2. tail less delta with low wing loading, and high thrust weight ratio to excel in high altitude himalayan theater where taking off with meaningful load within the specified runway length depends on these factors

    3. All glass cockpit, and avionics that minimizes pilot loads and designed with active inputs from test pilots through out the flight test regime,

    4. RCS reduction mechanism,

    5.latest engine tech(present engine on rafale is more than two decades old in thrust levels)

    6.Ability to fire 120 Km range BVR missiles with a decent sized radar,

    7. A fly by wire airframe with wake penetration and all weather clearance,

    8. Ability to fire the deadly HMDS enabled visually cued R-73 E WVR missile? (described as one of the best in the world by Air marshal and former HAL chairman MSD Woolen. Even tejas mk1 has it now but it is proposed to be added to rafale later at extra cost to ourself).

    9. Higher percentage of weight reducing , radar refection minimizing composites that enable high thrust to weight ratio for a given airframe mass?

    10.The combination of high TWR and low wingloading RSS delta airframe which enables agile turns to evade BVR missiles and get a first shoot ability with Visually cued R-73 E like WVR missiles in close combat, which is a must have option in modern 4.5th gen airframes

    11.Ability to carry a mini brahmos like cruise missile weighing close to 1.5 tons on its center line pylon.

    12.OBORG for extended refuelled flying in high altitude with the aid of refuelling,

    13.A 1.8 mach top speed in its service ceiling with 9 G limits.

    14. A must have less than 1 sq meter clean config which enables to drop away from long range radars once heavy external weapons and fuel tanks are released.

    15. A good fuel sipping engine that is reliable and modern for some time to come.

    16.Ability to fire ramjets 120 Km range missiles like meteor with an ASEA radar that can track long enough,

    17. Modular in design and Ability to be upgraded in batches as and when new techs like better sensor fusion, better ASEA radar and better IRST devices arrive.

    18, An option to upgrade to a higher thrust engine,

    19. A flow separation postponing arrangement like ,

    canard or levcon or cranked delta which generates vortex over the top of wing leading edge in high angle of attacks to enables air suction over the top of the smoothly blended upper wing body fuselage,

    there by delaying the onset of stall and enabling the wing to reach designed max lift coefficient of the wing which is not present in older delta platforms like mirage-2000.

    Also these lift enhancing mechanism along with flawless Relaxed static stability 4 channel fly by wire tech that allows the hassle and easy flying at sea level which is not the case with earlier tailless deltas which did not have the above mentioned techs .

    That wont be present in tejas mk2 and( mostly present in tejas mk1 with a few exceptions like G limits, OBORGs and topspeeds and a bit lower TWR)?

    Answer -NONE.

  13. entropy says:

    The IAF, is most likely, to sit out any confrontation with China, like it did the last time, the reason, because it would be reluctant to ” escalate the war by deploying air power against Chinese army INVADING India” So it’s most likely to escape unscathed, in the event of war with China. While the infantry does all the fighting and dying. IAF want to spend money that the nation does not have. You fight with what you have and you make do with what you got. And you win or you die trying, some thing the IAF can learn from the Army specialy the infantry. In case the IAF has not noticed, you are an airforce of India. India has been and will be a very poor country for a long time to come. So you fight like the infantry, you make do with what you got, and you some how manage to win. A single Rafael will end up costing upwards of 300 million. You can field 3.5 Tejas for less than that amount. And by the way what about CAS?

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