Tejas — Pak Thunder(bird) fearing comparison/competition in Bahrain, pulls out

The word is the Pakistan Air Force has decided to pull its MiG-21 Chinese derivative — JF-17 Thunder(bird), built at the Kamra Air Complex from the forthcoming Air Show in Bahrain. (For the list of aircraft on static and dynamic –flying–display, see http://www.bahraininternationalairshow.com/trade/Content/Aircraft/5_7/.) It suggests that PAF both fears comparison with the Indian Tejas, flying under DRDO (not Indian Air Force) aegis, at the air show — they were allotted the same exhibition pad (Number 15) to park the planes in — and competition in terms of flight performance at the show. There were some doubts about the Sino-Pak JF-17 taking to the skies, now it will not even be seen in Bahrain. Discretion being better part of exhibiting a fairly antique combat aircraft, it would have been damned difficult for PAF to sing their plane’s praises and maintain a straight face while seeing the 4th-Gen Tejas pull tight 8-g turns above them, and otherwise impress with its manoevereability and stealth attributes that the Thunderbird can’t match. It would have highlighted the generational difference between these two aircraft. The PAF is apparently prepared to forfeit the unrefundable half a million dollars to reserve exhibition space than risk exposing their bird to expert criticism, and negative contrasting with the Tejas.

Incidentally, of the three test pilots that will be putting the 5th and the 7th of the Tejas prototype series deployed to Bahrain, two are from the Navy, emphasizing the Navy’s belief in and support for the indigenous navalised version of the Tejas aircraft under development. The Navy needs to be commended; IAF needs to hang its head in shame.

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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21 Responses to Tejas — Pak Thunder(bird) fearing comparison/competition in Bahrain, pulls out

  1. akash says:

    Looks like they really really wanted to avoid a comparison at any price whatsoever! They have spent $500K just like that. I hope we have a security force to ensure the LCA safety. Wouldn’t trust the Pakistanis one bit.

  2. ~!@#$%^&*()_+ says:

    ^^ ditto that.

    Air Shows do not imply a risk free airspace. Any unforeseen event could easily be a sabotage dressed up as an accident.

  3. prabhat says:

    What and why should IAF feel ashamed. IAF is the most professional arm of indian def .If they feel Tejas is not worth inducting in AF so be it . Don’t weaken the air defence in a ploy or design to keep the most inefficient defence organisation DRDO relevant. .

    • @Prabhat — All advanced air forces of the world feature in their orders-of-battle and promote their own technologies, especially weapons platforms such as combat aircraft. The IAF, with pretensions to being a modern great power force is unique in not only not taking pride in indigenous products but in actively showing antipathy to home-grown hardware, doing everything possible to frustrate all such programs. Tejas LCA is the most recent example and follows the pattern, as I keep iterating, set when it deliberately killed the first such combat aircraft designed at home — the Marut HF-24 Mk-II in the mid-70s. This should be intolerable to the Indian people and government. But the Indian government is often party to such decisions in the main because of the “benefits” liberally doled out to one and all (including in IAF) in the decision loop by vendor firms and states.

      • Shaurya says:

        Also, there is a severe lack of audit of the processes and decisions of the executive by Parliament. A CAG report way post the decisions taken does not cut it. Parliament needs the ability to call the executive to account. But then Parliamentarians cannot be the stature of Raj Babbar, who was heading the parliamentary group on defense in UPA 2. There is a severe dearth of meritorious talent across the executive, parliament, administrative and even the judiciary.

        A revolution on governmental affairs is needed. Thought people voted Modi to achieve the same but looks like he is bent on trying to extract the last juices from the existing system.

      • Amol says:

        Agree !! Insted of working on improving Marut we stright headed for mig-21. That’s how we have to start from the begining again for tejas. Same goes for other products like HD submarines from germany. They were built at mazgaon dock and chage of corruption we stopped the productin and all the skill /knoweldge earned is gone. Look at Bofors, money paid for TOT is all gone in gutter as we never tried to learn and build more on the technology acquired. Mig-21 , for years we were doing the licensed prodcution but never thought of making good out of it. Actually we don’t have the R&D culture and used to of finished imported goods. We forget that even western countries goes throgh the pahses of product developments and keep improving over time.

    • Manoj says:

      Prabhat, It not that we hate IAF. But just see that records. IAF can buy a imported fighter plane with still-to-be-fitted-and-tested-missile while they want the most modern missile in own aircraft. They point at accidents in case of Indian made systems while totally ignore the accident records of imported items. They are happy to see pilots die in an old antique aircraft while refusing to use a new modern aircraft with 3000 hrs of accident free flights. They like to pay in millions for refurbishing imported fight that was never used while point at maintenance issues with new fighter. They ignore the superior firepower of arjun tank and point at higher weight of a ‘TANK’. there are unlimited pointer to indicate how IAF fails us on daily basis

    • saagar says:

      if that professional arm dont get imported item, it become sitting duck. iaf not supporting tejas or any other indian plan to make Fjet,is same like shooting ur own legs.

    • Socho says:

      DRDO HAS been a great success story of Indian technology.
      That despite the fact that traitor Sikh unelected Pm mN singh deliberately underfunded DEFOE and pressurised it not to go ahead with missile tests and other things.
      Only traitor and agents of Anglo American criticise DRDO.

  4. K Pillai says:

    To claim ownership the IAF needs to get involved in the design, construction and testing of aircraft. The Navy has Admirals and a Navy Team in all shipyards in addition to a Design Team at NHQ. Put the IAF in charge of Aviation Centres and hold them accountable to their QSRs and project deadlines. Give the IAF the ownership because they are the final users. At the moment they can hide behind civilian incompetence.

    • The navy is way ahead in the indigenisation aspect as compared to the other two services. But IAF has kept itself institutionally aloof from all design and R&D programmes lest they be constrained from importing requirements. In fact, HAL had two Service chiefs (PC Lal & LM Katre) as chairman and any number of Air Marshals heading it but in their respective tenures they pushed local combat aircraft design and development NOT an iota. Indeed, in my past writings and in my latest book — ‘Why India is not a Great Power (Yet)’, have recommended precisely what you suggest — ensure IAF is put in charge and made accountable for all indigenous projects and their success (or lack thereof).

  5. james baldwin says:

    How interesting. If the PAF really did make a non-refundable $500k deposit to reserve the spot then it debunks all the BS the Pakis are trying to peddle about “operational requirements elsewhere” or “we were never going to attend in the first place”. These losers are SCARED and it is funny that aside from some intial comparisons when the Thunder first entered PAF service, since then EVERY SINGLE comparions between LCA and JF-17 has been by Indian sources/media.

    It’s like the Pakis actually sat down and looked at the LCA and were like “shit, this thing is the real deal”- extensive carbon composite usage as opposed to ancient steel frame they use on their Suped up MiG-21, full quaduplex FBW, as opposed to in pitch only on the “Thunder”, fully intergrated HMDS and IFR probe present from DAY ONE on the LCA MK.1- these features won’t even be on the first 20 Block TWO Thunders, and only the IFR then- still no HMDS to be seen. Twin seat version has been devloped (a BIG plus for any would be export market) no plans for this with the “Thunder” and it’s the same story for the naval version. How painful must it have been to see the N-LCA launch from INS Hansa’s SBTF ramp!

    The ADA/HAL has effectively designed, produced and tested FOUR planes whilst they are beating their chests about inducting junk even the producing nation (China) doesn’t want.

    I’m pretty sure they now realise the true beast that is the LCA and saw that HAL/ADA were ramping up to let it off its leash at BIAS so have chosen to save themselves the unflaterring comparisons.

    + the part about the IN vs IAF comparison is silly- with 3 test pilots (an odd number) there was always going to be an unbalanced represenation between the two services here. The NFTC is made up of both IAF and IN test pilots, whilst under the NFTC, they don’t differentiate between them- a pilot is a pilot irrespective of their parent services. There is no way to judge a service’s commitment to the LCA program through this metric- it’s rather silly really.

    The IAF has nothing to “hang in its head in shame” about- how unfair to say that about a professional service serving the nation 24/7.

  6. quickboyAnand says:

    It is a long debate that NAVAL airarm pilots perform better in most cases, since they are trained in a very difficult environment (read rocking Aircraft carriers on high seas) and are most respected for their control and agility. If Indian Navy’s pilots are performing, there is nothing for IAF to be ashamed of anyway. But I do agree with you on one point. No other airforce in the world makes so many unfavourable comments about indigenous aircraft in press and media like our air force does regarding Tejas. The news items appearing in our own media quote sources in IAF (always un named). So either this media is paid up or as you said our own force does not support our own weapon system. Do not really know which is true. However I would prefer to think our forces as loyal and to believe that our Western- friendly media is being allowed to manipulate things as they deem fit.

    • Per chance, the Western-friendly media are prompted by those within IAF.

      • quickboy says:

        To be very frank, Being an Indian first and foremost, I still like to believe that IAF is really fed up with both their own and the PSU mismanagement. Did you notice or ever realised what is the biggest problem in procurement of anything in India. I can say from my experience as a practising Advocate, that 70% of so called corruption cases are being filed against officials who refused to bent to the whims of POLITICIAN-BUSINESSMAN cartel. We do have something called “losses due to tender” issues. To explain it in simple terms, We know steel safes and cupboards. We also know one company “Godrej” makes very famous high quality safes and cupboards. I had a case where a principal of local school deciding to buy the better Cupboard from “Godrej”. instead of buying cheaper local made ones. She had to pay Rs. 8000/- because the audit found that she did not call for tender from 100 or so available local makes before buying. So this fixation on Raffale may be to overcome all those. The beauty of law is if you call for a tender for “Godrej” cupboard only, and issue it to the dealer quoting 0.50 N.P less you are right. So Modi may have decided to have an international deal between Governments so that this Ghost wont try to shadow him and his Government. That is happening to every purchase including defence deals. No media or online community will help an officer when some idiot funded by vested interests go to courts with some allegation. IN fact the whole issue suddenly becomes the “witch hunt” and every one starts crying “Crucify him”. Whsy should any officer take a risk of trying to get the best for the Nation, when he knows he can be crucified later on some super technical legal ground, especially when this Nation has so many laws which even the most senior practising lawyers cannot be sure of as to “How to comply with all of those” (In fact I dont think even we lawyers can say for sure, how many laws are lying around ready to be used to torture innocent and honest people in the first place.

        My only complaint is that none of the media or so called “Geniuses” never even try to explain to the public why there are so many legal hurdles and issues in anything useful for this Nation, I have read somewhere that even during the Tejas development HAL or ADA or whatever wanted to use a HF-24 plane as a test bed which was opposed on ground that , in the event of this project being cancelled there will be audit objection as to the wastage of a plane. “shit” at the best……….that is being charitable…………..(My Grandparents wont be happy if they read that word I used…..but please tell me another decent word to describe that)

      • If the idea was to advance the national interest with the Rafale then the proof is in the deal on the anvil. Leave aside the fact that Rafale is suspect for many qualitative reasons, does forking out Rs 63,000 crores for 36 aircraft w/o TOT make the vaguest sense from even the Make in India-angle that is the PM’s calling card?? Especially in the context of the spectacular showing of Tejas at the Bahrain Air Show, and the fact that with the 2052-based AESA radar it will be a 4.5 gen plus plane with the kind of manoeuverability the Rafale cannot

  7. quickboy says:

    What is your take on Russian offer of technical know how + three flying prototypes of FGFA?.
    Is there a chance that we can take it and start our own modification and build an intermediate AMCA out of those?. Am I missing anything.

    I have my specific questions. We have seen how long will it take to build things from scratch. Here we are being offered the design and knowhow to build the prototypes plus three flying examples (well it looks they are already super manoeuvrable even from what I can see over internet air show videos). The only thing remains is the lack of correct engines which Russians say will be available about 2018. Can we have a joint project to build a proper jet engine for those?. How do you see that?. IN the meantime even with the current AL-41F engines these can at least be made in a few couple of hundreds and can be used for supplementing the MIG-21/27 squadrons straight away?. Or Am I blundering. I did expect to see an article from people like you on this one. It looks like the stage is somewhat the Tejas had in about 2007 or 2008, First few flying prototypes ready to be modified. Also it seems we have an AESA project with Israel. Cant that be used for our FGFA?. Of course I dont find any common-sense on IAF attributed comments on ” current Missiles dont fit in internal bay”. If you want to use 5-gen jets, Why use antiques and cannonballs on it anyway. Since you know how to make missiles now, Just make them and try out. In any case you will never learn without trying. There will not be some nation always ready to spoon feed you anyway.

  8. Madhav Das says:

    So many experts saying so many contrary things. Can we have an independent assessment from somewhere? I suppose with aircraft building being such a hugely profitable business, it will be difficult if not impossible to get a fair assessment. Geopolitics is sure to get in the way.

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