Rafale, really?

The India Today TV news channel just announced (April 15 evening) that the deal for 36 Rafale combat aircraft has been done. Perhaps, what is meant is that the contract worth 7.8 billion Euros has been finalized, and will await the signature of the two countries which is expected, the report said, in the next 3-6 weeks.

That the contract is ready is stale news. It has been signature-ready for some time now, especially because there were no great technical details involving technology transfer and attendant details about the mode of transfer, to which Indian party, and with what continuing/residual French supplier responsibility, to sort out. This is all a cash on the barrel head kind of transaction.

What is surprising is the Modi government, having made a perfectly horrible initial mistake with PM Modi deciding on his own to short circuit the entire MMRCA (medium-range, multi-role combat aircraft) procurement process, is insisting on compounding it by actually going through with it. This despite his regime being made aware of the aircraft in the Indian inventory turning into a liability: operationally for IAF in that because the first full squadron with its full complement of weapons won’t be flying before 2019 at the earliest (if the contract is signed by this year end), the Rafale acquisition will not immediately make up for depleted fighter strength. As has been argued by this analyst this requirement was only conjured up by IAF brass as a means of hurrying a strategic-cum-militarily myopic, if not entirely ignorant, Indian government into a Rafale contract. Should Rafale in fact be secured and IAF’s main demand thus met, Vayu Bhavan will happily turn around and acquiesce in Defence minister Manohar Parrikar’s favoured option of buying more Su-30MKIs, to quickly make up its g fighting strength. So much for a barefaced subterfuge. And, to think the enormous financial investment is for an aircraft that doesn’t have the range to fight other than Pakistan, and with a potentially high mortality rate with PAF likely deploying five or more of its cheapest JF-17 Thunderbirds for every Rafale IAF’s able to muster. What chances of Indian Rafale pilots surviving such ordeals — one against five fights? The IAF brass has made monkeys out of the Modi government alright.

The deal should it come to pass would mean its success was the result of two sets of egos being attached to it — IAF’s and, more crucially, the Prime Minister’s. Modi will thereby show he is entirely immune to good economic sense which as a Gujrati with good trading sense he’d have instinctively sensed, when his own ego is on the line. It is a pity that in “the world’s largest democracy” there’s no institutional check on the PM’s excesses — other than a No Confidence motion in Parliament — the nuclear option, and the person occupying that position at any given time can commit India to the most deleterious treaties, as Manmohan Singh did vis a vis the nuclear deal with the US, and not have to answer for it, or for that matter approve any transaction however financially onerous it may be for the country and, ultimately, for the Indian taxpayer forking out the funds, without Parliament having a say by way of right of ratification.

And the Rafale will be an enormous financial drain on the treasury for decades to come, and will put at risk other military capability build-up programmes. Where exactly will Finance minister Arun Jaitley find the funds, for instance, for the Rafale even as monies have been sequestered for all the deals President Vladimir Putin has cannily signed with India, tying up GOI to the purchase of a whole bunch of very expensive hardware in the years ahead — S-400 anti-aircraft system, the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft, missile destroyers, and the leased Akula-IIs, the one in service with the Indian Navy, and the second SSN, Iribis, under fitment, and a host of classified projects underway with Russian technical assistance? If Jaitley previously said the formation of the single offensive mountain corps to field against Chinese PLA in the north and northeast was being stretched over a longer period of time because GOI simply lacked the Rs 64,000 crores needed for raising such an army formation in the normal timeframe of 8-10 years, then imagine the problems he’ll have in ponying up the 7.8 billion Euros or approx Rs 57,0000(on life-time basis), which works out to Rs 1,584 crores per Rafale.

The weapons load on the Rafale will be only exorbitantly priced French items, in light of Paris’s unwillingness to integrate any Indian-made missile including the deadly Brahmos cruise missile with the onboard fire control system. Some deal this!

If you factor in the likely depreciation of the Indian rupee versus the Euro over the next decade (of the fulfillment of the Rafale contract), the sum total for the 36 Rafales will rocket to in excess of Rs 70,000 crores, or nearly Rs 2,000 crore per Rafale inducted into IAF.

If there’s no technology transfer and no “Make in India” benefits, why is GOI being so generous? And what exactly has the MOD’s price negotiation committee been negotiating? May be the deal is being lubricated by Paris by dangling that old bait of providing Indian nuclear weaponeers access to its inertial confinement fusion (ICF) facility in Bordeaux. ICF assists in facilitating miniature thermonuclear explosions in order to help scientists design credible thermonuclear weapons for the Indian arsenal in lieu of explosive underground tests. If that’s the big hook on which the BJP govt is going to hang this Rafale deal they better make sure that sustained access is provided first before Delhi writes any check for the deal. And, in any case, that payments be contractually obliged to be made only after receipt after delivery of every plane along with first and second line spares and servicing support. Only Russia to-date has provided Indian weapons designers access to its ICF installation in Troitsk outside of Moscow. Is France being cultivated as an alternative ICF source with this Rafale deal?

But if the govt wants to avoid the situation of inevitably being shortchanged by the wily French, and to avoid the besmirching of his BJP regime in the manner Congress party regimes after the one headed by Rajiv Gandhi have been by the political taint of the Bofors gun deal, then there is still time for Prime Minister Modi to wake up, trash the Rafle deal, and tell Paris to take a hike, and that way regain a semblance of self-respect for himself and his government. There’s absolutely no compulsion to go ahead with the Rafale transaction. Until the deed is actually signed, India has all the latitude; once the contract is inked it will be India that will have to dance to the supplier firm, Dassault Avions’, and France’s music. Invoking sovereign guarantees, assuming the government of Francoise Hollande has relented enough to offer it, will require Paris to pay such guarantee heed. Having taken the money, where’s the incentive for France to to do so?

Be done with it, Shriman Pradhan Mantriji, drop the Rafale, for your personal reputation and the good of the country if that matters to you.

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 arms exports, Asian geopolitics, China, China military, civil-military relations, Defence Industry, domestic politics, DRDO, Europe, Geopolitics, Great Power imperatives, India's Pakistan Policy, India's strategic thinking and policy, Indian Air Force, Indian Army, Indian democracy, Indian ecobomic situation, Indian Navy, Indian Politics, Military Acquisitions, Missiles, Nuclear Policy & Strategy, Nuclear Weapons, Pakistan, Pakistan military, Relations with Russia, Russia, russian assistance, SAARC, society, South Asia, Strategic Relations with the US & West, Technology transfer, Weapons, Western militaries. Bookmark the permalink.

62 Responses to Rafale, really?

  1. &^%$#@! says:

    @BK I told you from Day-1 that the French/West have the “goods” on the “Mofi clique”. This involves bribery and treason on an unprecedented scale. Now watch the media. If this news is for real, from “omnirole” the Rafale will slowly morph into an “omnipotent” weapon system. BTW, it is Troitsk and not Trotsk!

  2. &^%$#@! says:

    BTW, there is not Bordeaux or ICF angle involved in this Rafale deal. There have been many who have attributed a strategic motive for this monstrous fleecing of a poor country by its leaders. This “strategic angle” is pure bs!

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

    Arre yaar, abhi tak jaga rakha hai mujhe. 😛

    says –
    “1) French firms to invest $3billion in India in technology transfer.
    2) India’s much-negotiated deal with France for 36 fighter jets is final – it will buy the French-made Rafale planes for 8.8 billion dollars, said sources to NDTV.
    3) France had initially agreed to a 30 per cent offset obligation to be invested in India, while India had sought a minimum of 50 per cent. France has now agreed for 50 per cent offset obligation.”

    I don’t understand how 3 billiion is 50% of 8.8 billion. French usually talk about Euros so what happens if its 8.8 billion Euros (about 10% more than dollar)

    Saurav Jha on Tweeter also says its happening.

    Eric Trappier till february was saying nothing has changed in terms of pricing since RFP. Parrikar has said that its only 36 for strategic purposes and that’s it. Then who the hell is making profits and how? If Parrikar is right then Eric does not make the profit he envisaged. And if Eric is right then Parrikar needs to re-assess his strategic purposes.

    And what can the strategic purpose be if there is going to be no Brahmos-lite on Rafale? Will we be using a subsonic wonder on Rafale?

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

    Its the same story getting repeated in every channel. Some like DNAIndia.com going on to write inane stuff like : “As per NDTV reports, the Rafales are made by manufacturer Dassault Aviation.” 😛

    I expected this level of reports from Main Stream Media.

    There is another report by IDRW that contradicts some crucial parts of NDTV report and which essentially states:
    “Sources said though France compromised, the IAF may not be able to get the desired weapons and radar systems in the reduced cost. According to a top Ministry of Defence official privy to the development, India was set on clinching the deal for 36 Rafale jets at Rs 65-68,000 crores. Besides the price, France has also apparently agreed to 30 per cent offsets in the deal, which means French companies like Dassault have to plough 30 per cent of the contract value back into India as offsets.”

    Somebody had mentioned/invented an enlish phrase ‘A Pigs Breakfast’. I was looking for an occasion to use that phrase. Its beginning to look like I may have that opportunity now. But I will desist from using it just now, with the hope that Parrikar makes a sensible decision.

  5. Ashi Sidhu says:

    apart from 3D thrust vectoring the aircraft has everything even stealth technologies
    the Russians have failed to make a AESA radar hence no point in getting more su 30s
    it will be better if india gets some TOT through offsets although that is not clear at this stage NDTV says the money comin back will help india in radar and stealth technologies
    its not fair to analyse as 5 vs 1 rafale will add to more than 300 advanced fighters

    • quickboy says:

      Just like the insane story we heard after KARGIL, like a few laser guided bombs using the MIRAGE-2000 won the war, How much fools do they all think this NATION is made of any way?. We saw the bodies of our brave army men being taken back, In fact it bleeds my heart to loose a soldier . It makes me think it is my fault, since he/she died for me and my family. Well we know very well those Mirages were under the cover of the dreaded MIG-29s. I had just thought thought for a moment what if the MIG-29s were not there, Well it would have given us low mortals the chance to see how good the coveted FRENCH HARDWARE is against the Paki F-16s……… Now you are suggesting the same thing , The so called WORLD’S BEST FIGHTER which our Air force chief certified suppliments other modern fighters, which one the SU-30MKI to be precise, means this 1000 crore crap will need SU-30s to cover its uselessness in case of another cargil and it is not even capable of firing the Brahmos, I would consider that as technical deficiency.

      • ashi sidhu says:

        who told u the weapons to be used by these rafale it is not clear at the moment but france uses sea skimming exocet anti ship missiles which we can buy anytime we want

      • &^%$#@! says:

        @quickboy, you are correct on many counts. However, for the sake of exactness, I need to state that the back of the Pakistani army was broken by the destruction of their main supply depot at Muntho Dhalo in the Batalik Sector on June 17, 1999, by Mirage 2000’s from 7 Squadron using dumb bombs. Today, this can also be achieved with the Su-30 MKI,

      • &^%$#@! says:

        @ashi.sidhu..: So, you’re suggesting that the Exocet is the equal of the BrahMos, are you? Get a life man….You’re like some ignorant and motivated 50 cent’er.

    • &^%$#@! says:

      I also heard that the Rafale has a warp drive and teleportation capabilities. Further, all Rafale’s have the latest version of Harry Potter’s cloak, and all Rafale pilots carry certificates from the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry attesting to their highest mastery in all facets of magic.

  6. Edelbert Badwar says:

    That we will have to pay 1200 crore per aircraft is daylight robbery.I believe it has been done more for strategic reasons.Even the Sukhois dont cost that much.36 planes do not make any difference.we could have 300 Tejas with that money.

  7. quickboy says:

    Raffale was chosen by some kind of magic assesment by IAF which ARM TWISTED the Govt to give in to their interests , . It was publicly stated that without Raffale India’s security is at risk, total risk, Whatever it meant, The deal never was intended to solve anything or any problem which a prudent Indian could understand . The initial USP was transfer of tech, Which after getting the contract the French simply refused, The planes costing about more than Rs1000 crore is now being touted as the ultimate weapon , The truth is it is not capable of firing our own BRAHMOS, The worlds most deadly and fastest nuclear capable, medium range cruise missile, which our older SU-30-MKIs can fire.

    Also this plane designed in 1980s is a pretty old vintage model by Fifth Gen standards and has doubtful chance against latest fifth gen and four++ gen aircraft like SU-35 and latest F-16s which china and pakistan are now fielding
    Well after all said and done there foes our TEJAS and AMCA, BJP has to pay the foreign masters too. Just like UPA, ………..lol

    Also a victory for the Mighty Indian Air Force , They have defeated every Indian with Common sense in the fight for Raffale, ALSO I post this with confidence, The same scrouges will force this same costly junk on Indian Navy too. Just wait and watch this Drama .This is not over dear.

    • ashi sidhu says:

      i am really disappointed by people who want to troll a aircraft without any knowledge
      first of all given this is not a 5 gen plane
      but please dont say it is vintage
      non of the planes u mentioned have the dreaded AESA radar which has hundreds of advantages over PESA (Pakistan f 16 are block 52)
      according to dassault rafale use RAM coatings which absorb radar waves and features other stealth features as well
      also it has SPECTRA system which comprises of radar warning receiver,missile warning system and phased array radar jamming measures all this and much more integrated on the body of aircraft

      • &^%$#@! says:

        Are you aware of the layered counter-measures the Russians and most possibly the Chinese already have in place against the SPECTRA? Prove to me your signal processing and data fusion credentials, and I’ll give you a glimpse!

      • quickboy says:

        “Not a vintage” how?. Tejas first flew in say about 2001, Still I read all over the net that it is obsolete, since it’s design started in 1995, Considering they all knew everything and is speaking Gospel Truth, This plane is designed at least 12 years before Tejas, So it must be like a grand nanny now….. Is it not?. As for missiles , well Indian navy successfully tested the indo-israel barak-8 which can shoot down supersonic sea skimmers, and how difficult will be for such a system to shoot down a subsonic flyer?.

  8. Venkat says:

    We can all debate before a decision is made. Once done , all Indians need to converge and back it up.
    we can ask with such high performing machines replacing plain old MiG-21 & 27 , how big airforce is necessary.
    Of course LCA needs to proceed, mk1 may have a hundred issues, operate it, improve it & continue making it.

    • By this argument lessons of wrong decisions of past are never learned. MOD should ask each services arm to produce a lessons learned report from each project undertaken. Whether acquisition project,production project or military operation. There should application of lessons learned in future projects. This is a very basic thing to do.

  9. Madhav says:

    I have been reading the comments ,I understand the power of arms lobby in India. These lobbies are desperate to scuttle this deal. Many pose as experts n try to camouflage their agenda by invoking technical jargon .who better than IAF to decide the choice of aircraft India needs. Matter ends there. Period

    • Trouble is leaving it to the Western combat aircraft-fixated IAF to make procurement choices will prolong arms dependency, which India cannot afford.

      • ashi sidhu says:

        but bottom line is rafale was the best of all aircraft in MMRCA its for MoD to decide which comes in their budget
        airforce just tells which one is the best

    • What happened to HF-24 Marut IAF knew better then? If we don’t have the money we don’t have it. “The best is the enemy of good enough”

      • &^%$#@! says:

        The HF-24 affair was a disgrace. I hope that the Tejas does not meet the same fate. I gather that after over 2000 flights by the Tejas, new “flaws” have been “discovered” – cockpit noise and nose wheel vibration.

    • ashi sidhu says:

      rafale is best but what if india cannot afford it

    • quickboy says:

      Oh Dear, well so you decided we are all ARMS LOBBY, oops. Well so what do you think we get by opposing this deal and arguing India to go for more TEJAS/AMCA and speed up the JV dor FGFA?. You really believe HAL/GOVT OF INDIA will pay us commission for doing it?.

      The thing is what we want is the industry to grow many fold in this country, So our educated youngsters can find jobs here, Our taxes are not drained by unscrupulous people who work for foreign vendors. And our military can rely on home made products which will be under their order if a war breaks out. Still if you think we are all foreign agents… I dont have any more strength to explain

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

    Reading the comments, at least one thing is sure. People who read securitywise are not punter juaree kind of people. Thank god for that. Some other places the Rafale is being credited with SSN tech, climate control.

    Thanks for that much guys, even if you are Rafale supporters.

    Anyhow, I wish to speak on the more unrelated but commonly misunderstood/misinterpreted aspect of criticism of Indian Armed Forces. Its beginning to bother me because every lazy guy simply invokes the last refuge of a loser – the armed forces know the best.

    To put things in perspective:
    1) Real politic required that British Indian Army, RIAF, RIN be given a free pass into independent India exactly on August 15, 1947.
    2) Real politic also required that while being partitioned, just like the rest of India, the bad applies of the BIA, RIAF and RIN be not agitated ever. Bad apples who put up on full display the training received by them in their respective armed force for example in Mirpur.
    3) Real politic also required that after having taken the benefit of the clean chit, these armed forces still not be criticized even when they arranged for themselves the KCIO structure that somehow had the same effect that the forty year plan (starting from 1923) to indigenize Indian Armed Forces had. Exactly the KCIO that included some of the most celebrated names with a weakness for the english lifestyle.
    4) Real politic also demanded that the Intel liaison officers from the countries that have consistently, by underhand means, derided the Indian position w.r.t. Tibet and China, be hosted with our Intel Agencies.
    5) Real politic also demanded that we keep quite when someone from the Brass derides the difficulties faced by newbies by flying a difficult plane for showbazzi, exactly at the point when he had options even while scuttling the option. Or when for several years, requirements for BPJs are stonewalled under pretexts. And this is by the same brass that has displayed its ‘excellence’ in more than one post independence war.

    What however Real politic never demanded and need not be conceded is that the people of a country whose armed forces have seen 25000 deaths after Independence, yes sir, the very same people who have taken their benefit already, at least rake their brains as to how it all came about.

    Is it too difficult to keep ones eyes and ears open about how the succession plan ensures that the needs of these 25000 and others like them are never provided for even while the naked bundlebazi by a selectee class in the armed forces is allowed to go scot free.

    Off course we will ‘love’ the Rafale if and when it comes into service. But seriously bro it has not yet come into service.

    So what exactly is it that prevents you from saying as it is? 😛

    But not to feel ashamed, a lot of these selectee class officers retire into foreign countries. So you may be in your desired company. Peace.

    • ashi sidhu says:

      western aircraft dont crash like mig 21

      • quickboy says:

        Okay Dear MIG-21 is about 40years old, But the Saudi and UAE f-15s and F-16s are newer and as per your suggestion being west they should not crash too, But the reports from Yemen war and the recent crashes at NATO excersices in Spain etc… does prove they crash much earlier…Well the only way to not crash any military aircraft is not to fly them, And as for MIG-21 the ratio of accidents to flights is nothing extra ordinary, Even today this plane is used for actual combat training by IAF, The statistics are actually much in favour of the vintage mig-21. Everyone knows at least half of the crashes were always bird hits(mostly), pilot error (cant blame them fully, this plane needs a lot of care to fly, because of its tremendous take off and landing speeds). a few were detected to be technical and maintainance problems too.

      • ~!@#$%^&*()_+ says:

        Please check out the crash record for Mig-21. It will open your eyes about the real problem. Don’t forget to tell us about the ranks of those piloting the Mig-21s that crashed, over the years. Also bear in mind that Mig-21 was a high flyer that was converted to a low flyer in IAF, something that FRG did to their F-104 with even worse results.

        Dikhawe par na jao, thodi akal lagao.

  11. Rahul(Kolkata) says:

    “Kutsa”, “opoprochar” by the opposition willnot yield any results…These are the favourite words of Mamata Banerjee against the political opponents…”You do kutsa, opoprochar, we will go on doing the job” is what she advises the opposition…”Kutsa” means bad mouthng, spreading false lies…”Opoprochar” means negative publicity…

    I sincerely believe that these words will be a true learning experience for you guys and your ‘biradri’ before starting the same against another weapon purchase which is not from “RUSSIA”….

  12. andy says:

    Need to scrap the Rafale deal & buy 100 MIG 35,cos the IAF wants a MMRCA & still have some money to spare from 7.8 billion Euros.

    • ashi sidhu says:

      MoD must look at mig 35,su 30/35 to give the airforce the rest of 126 aircraft if rafale does not come in budget

  13. We should drop Rafale aircraft and Bankroll R&D in Russia.What difference does it makes!!!

  14. andy says:

    The Mig35 is already a complete package,currently undergoing flight trials by the Russian air force, so no need for bankrolling any R & D for the same, a la FGFA.Point is ,why buy a super expensive Rafale, when a similar aircraft is available at a fraction of the cost,with some unique features like 3D thrust vectoring ,Optical locator system & 15% carbon composite airframe(partial stealth feature)MIG 35 has some systems which are better than anything available on Rafale.

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

    (Rao Inderjit) Singh told reporters here, “I can only tell you this that most of the hitches that were there, have been addressed. A few (remaining) issues will be addressed, when possibly the matter comes up before DAC. They shall be addressed in the next DAC. And thereafter I think the road shall be clear.”

    The junior defence minister brushed aside a suggestion that at least six indigenously made Light Combat Aircraft Tejas can be bought for the price of one Rafale plane, saying both the aircraft were totally different in nature and that IAF needed both.

    Read more at:

    With this singular deal, NDA has saddled India with far more future liabilities for next 60 years, than the UPA had done in the last 60 years.

    But must say these westerners have an excellent read on our establishment.

    Now we must love Rafale. http://www.sherv.net/cm/emoticons/sick/barfing-smiley-emoticon.gif

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

    (Rao Inderjit) Singh told reporters here, “I can only tell you this that most of the hitches that were there, have been addressed. A few (remaining) issues will be addressed, when possibly the matter comes up before DAC. They shall be addressed in the next DAC. And thereafter I think the road shall be clear.”

    The junior defence minister brushed aside a suggestion that at least six indigenously made Light Combat Aircraft Tejas can be bought for the price of one Rafale plane, saying both the aircraft were totally different in nature and that IAF needed both.

    Read more at:

    With this singular deal, NDA has saddled India with far more future liabilities for next 60 years, than the UPA had done in the last 60 years.

    But must say these westerners have an excellent read on our establishment.

    Now we must love Rafale.

    • andy says:

      Can we know your name?I know it’s your ‘nom de plume’same as mine, but at least it should be legible to us lesser mortals.Kindly oblige.

  17. Well dear friends, Mig 35 is trash when compared with Rafale technologically.Rafale’s radar is based on gallium nitride tech.Russians may have this technology after 2030 or maybe never.Mig 35’s Phazotron Aesa radar is 1980’s Vintage technology.French engine M88 has a TET of 1577 celsius.Russian RD-33 is a pile of Shit.Rafale’s mainframe is made of Aluminium-Lithium alloys with friction welding.Now for all you tech experts, Aluminium-lithium alloys are the materials of the FUTURE.They are even better than Composite materials.Rafale has Integrated modular avionics with Power by wire FCS.It is basically a generation ahead of Mig 35.

    Mig 35 is developed from Mig 29.Mig 29 was developed in 1970s as an Air-Superiority platform, with no Air-to-ground Consideration.For air to ground job Russians developed Su-25, Su-24 and later on they developed Su-33.Indian Airforce wants a multirole aircraft, and in that role Mig 35 cannot compete with Rafale.

    Mig 35 has been developed only for Indian MMRCA competition.Apart from this it has no future.Russian Airforce itself WILL NEVER BUY MIG 35.RUSSIAN AIRFORCE IS BUYING ONLY 14 PAK-FA.Then just forget about Mig 35!!!

  18. andy says:

    Is it being implied that the Rafale is a fifth gen aircraft?point is ,its in no way a generation ahead of the MIG 35,qualitatively the Rafale might have an edge over the MIG 35 ,but why should we pay such a high price for only some marginal differences?

  19. andy says:

    The Rafale can only dream of 3D thrust vectoring, this one system on MIG 35 overrides all else that Rafale can come up with,for your kind information,during the kargil war, top cover for the Mirage2000 was provided by the Mig29 this singular aircraft kept the F16 of the PAF at bay while the others could make their bombing runs.The Indian Navy is pretty happy with the MIG29k,unlike the IAF which is always on a fault finding mission as far as Russian aircraft are concerned. The biggest drawback of Russian kit is poor after sales service, which probably they would be happy to offer if only the MOD would offer them a separate contract for the same.Can you imagine a one year wait for some spare parts,?then we complain that the availability of the SU30 is only 57%,all this is MOD fault,not the OEM supplier.As regards the RD33 engine ,it has 10% more power & 50% more fuel efficiency than the older version.

    • I am not a Supporter of Rafale.Well I do not want India to buy Rafale.But I also do not want India to buy Mig 35.

      #1 Rafale does not need to dream about 3d thrust vectoring.Rafale was never designed to be an air Superioroty platform.It is a good machine for the air-to-ground bombing.Even with 75KN Snecma M88 engine, rafale can Carry more Payload than Su-30 mki.

      #2 Even RD-93 cannot match Snecma M88 engine.As far as jet engine technology is concerned Russians are being coached by French with Powerjet SAM 146.French are developing it’s Core engine, FADEC and Russians are developed its low pressure Section.This is the kind of arrangement DRDO wanted to have with Snecma for upgrading Kaveri engine from 80 KN to 90kN+ for Tejas Mark 2.

      #3 I can advice India to buy Tejas instead of Rafale.But we need French help in Nuclear Submarine or marine propulsion.So we may have to buy a few Rafales.IT’s OKAY!!!

      THANK YOU!!!

      • andy says:

        Thought India needed a multirole aircraft,for dedicated ground attack we have the Jaguars & MIG27(till they are phased out).

  20. andy says:

    In 2012,the Brazilian air force calculated ,before rejecting Rafale, that per hour cost of flying this white elephant is $14000{probably $18000 by now}unbeknownst to all us poor Indians ,India has transformed into the richest country in the world, where cost doesn’t matter at all.

    • Well Brazil rejected Rafale.Now France has nowhere else to go apart from India to sell their Rafale and keep their aerospace industry running.

      Brazil wanted to buy only 36 Aircraft.It makes no sense for them to buy Expensive Rafale.They do not face any Potential invasion or threats from Argentina, Bolivia or PEru.Brazil needs an aircraft just for the sake of having an Airforce.SAAB Gripen will do them just fine.

      • andy says:

        We shouldn’t be buying Rafale only to keep the aerospace industry in France running, that would be the most atrocious thing to do.

  21. andy says:

    Indian Navy was the first to fly the MIG29K & SU 30 MKI was flown by the IAF before the Russian air force, doesn’t make them lesser aircraft. IAF has flown MIG planes for the last almost 5 decades & won all the wars since,suddenly they have a big problem with the same,it really is very puzzling to say the least.

  22. andy says:

    If the future of any aircraft is such a big criteria then why has the IAF gone in for upgrades of the Mirage2000 & MIG29?They are willing to fly these obsolete aircraft of 1980s vintage for the next 20 years but have big problem with the MIG35,which is comparable to the best available today.They also have huge problems with the LCA TEJAS, with new ones being pointed out every day,like noisy cockpit etc,even after more than 2500 trial sorties.The Mirage2000 upgrade will cost around $50 million per aircraft,without new engines,while a brand new Tejas costs a few million less & MIG35 available around the same price.

    Test pilots of the Tejas vouch for the fact that it’s a much better aircraft than the Mirage2000 & has been so for the last few years,What exactly is the IAFs fetish with the Rafale is a big mystery or is it?

    • Well as far as Mirage 2000 and Mig 29 is concerned, these aircraft were purchased in 1980s.They were good aircraft to buy for a 3rd world Country Like India.Now 30 years down the road they need upgrades like any other Aircraft will need.

      # Mirage 2000 and Mig 29 were purchased by their respective airforces in large numbers.Mig 35 is based on Mig 29 and is being devleoped.It has not even yet passed its state trials.

      #2 Mig 35 will be a humongous burden on India as far as service and Spare Parts are concerned becasue Mig 29 has not been purchased in large numbers after 1990.

      #3 Mig 35 is based on Mig 29 which Russians claim can satisfy Indian Airforce Multirole requirements.One can claim anything.Mig 29 itself was never designed to be a multi-role aircraft with good air-to-ground capability.Russians developed Su-33 for air-to-ground Job.

      #4 Su-33 can be a substitute for Rafale but Mig 35 cannot be!!!

      • andy says:

        MIG 35 recommended only cos the IAF wants a medium aircraft, otherwise the SU30 MKI & Tejas would be the best options in every aspect. Ultimately it’s all about the price of the Rafale ,1700 crore for a single aircraft is just too much.

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

    @BK would I be wrong to suspect that the game has shifted to Offsets manipulations.

    The mandated 30% was ok because our cost based indiginization was about 40% which has to be taken to 60% in future. About the only reason it is not already at 60% is the miserly budget allocated to “Designed & Manufactured In India” (1500 loadouts capacity on windtunnels vs. 8000 required, no flying test beds, second hand imported windtunnels, second hand RCS testing facilities and what not).

    The only way the French could have offered at current prices was:
    1) with a little bit of honesty which is too much to ask of them
    2) strip down the aircraft and separate contracts for some crucial part (like the F-35 without engine 😛 costing)
    3) get deeper into the Indian MIC and position for milking of future benefits.

    There is chatter in the media that they have offered 50% offsets because our people asked them to. So is it that in future Americans can probably be offered 60% offsets to ensure it that the “Designed & Manufactured In India” becomes a perfect jumla for India.

    I was surprised by the “Designed & Manufactured In India” idea in the new procurement policy, did not look sincere, with both Parrikar and Jaitley announcing separately that R&D budget is not insufficient.

    Kya “Designed & Manufactured In India” hoga?

    Now all the air marshals can polish this thing all day long and chamkao their face in the rear view mirror. 😀

    • mongrelji@ — You know this better than I that vendors, at this state of the game wth a contract in their grasp, will accommodate on anything. With offsets ranging from 30% to 50% of contract value, Dassault is free to meet whatever percentage the PNC insists on but deliver whatever fits into their bigger technology development scheme and cost parameters, which the Indian negotiators — none of them, as far as I know but I may be wrong on this, is technically competent to judge the value of technologies, if any, coming within/falling outside of the offsets ambit — may not be too concerned about, as long the PNC chief can report to Parrikar that the French have met this or that level of offsets GOI has mandated. Knowing the French, they’ll make India pay extra for every little high value tech item featured in the Rafale, or sell a stripped down aircraft.

      • ~!@#$%^*()_+ says:

        @BK, my concern now is less focused on Dassault. They have obviously well played the game. My concern is w.r.t. those on the inside.

        Just to give you a feel of what I am concerned about, I am saying the following w.r.t. LCA.

        LCA when mooted with the full support of the then PM, IAF Head and R&D Bosses was criticized from the get go within the IAF.

        Subsequently we have already had:
        1) Air Marshals qoute without shame the ex defence secretary against the LCA indigenization
        2) People like Matheswaran and Fali have supported laughable ideas like “The idea is to join the global supply chain” and advocate R&D by IAF directly while in the same breath sing paeans for the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) of US. So you know what that means. Remember the same man who was inventing PGM for WAC was also recently in charge of something else too that failed miserably. Some of these people cannot do their own job but are more than willing to go sit in Stratfor meetings to excoriate LCA.
        3) Ex-ADA bosses come forward with clear claims that LCA was sought to be killed by insiders.
        4) The IFR and Radome for a fact were supplied only after the Hawk upgrade was extracted even while the IAF people were reported to be visiting UK to ‘facilitate’ delivery of these items.
        5) A bunch of people suggest formally in govt. sponsored reports that all acquisitions should be decided by armed forces.

        China has already made JF-17, J-10s and successive Sukhoi variants and is well on its way to J-20s and J-31s basis the same Govt. lead model that is claimed by IAF worthies to have failed in India. How can that be?

        The same govt. lead R&D that has already churned out stuff that was sanctioned is sought to be besmirched elsewhere. How can that be?

        No sir, with such an environment, the increase in offsets sounds like a trap being laid for our collective future. The french are not going to be honest even about 30%, we should forget about the 50% offsets. My concern is that the present govt. has walked into a trap where ideas like “designed and manufactured in India” don’t give much confidence. What, for example prevents the next UPA or Khidi govt. from enhancing offsets even further to restrict the core Indian R&D in future. And mind you if a supposedly nationalist govt. of NDA can enhance offsets then how can future Kejriwals and Rahul Gandhis or XYZ can be prevented from doing the same. Such an environment can easily turn the AMCA too, into another LCA.

        For those who don’t remember Rao Inderjit Singh is an ex-congressi and a surviver from the highly foreigner infested constituency of Gurugram. He has earlier been also the Minister of State for External Affairs, and as Minister of State for Defence Production among other things, climbing to become a cabinet minister too. Remember his role about new INS/Guidance for the Brahmos:
        “Following this, I raised the issue with the French minister and he told me that he did not see a problem in this technology being given to BrahMos and now Sagem will have to apply for the permission to the French government for the technology transfer to happen,” a confident Singh said. – refer – indiatoday.intoday.in/story/brahmos-missile-france-safran-sagem-navigation-system-drdo-indian-army/1/445663. html

        Since DAC is yet to meet, my humble suggestion to Parrikar would be to connect the dots and do what is within his capacity. If however this Rafale+50% offsets is really meant to be for the good of the country then Parrikar should ensure that India R&D bosses esp. the retired ones, are shown to in agreement. This is a simple case of creating faith.

  24. andy says:

    Dear Mr.Karnad,
    One is loathe to admit certain things but the lucidity of your arguments is certainly compelling, the power of conviction your words carry ,have the magic to transform even a non believer,certainly one came to your blog spot as a partial believer, but like a true Guru ,your thoughts & forceful arguments have the ability to induce a new & fresh thought process.More strength to you Sir.

  25. andy says:

    Don’t mean to sound condescending but the feelings are heartfelt,hope you can feel the essence behind them.

    • We are not buying Rafale to keep French Industry running.As a quid pro quo for buying 36 rafales, I think India is negotiating Submarine nuclear reactor technology.French K-15 reactor.

      • andy says:

        Seems like wishful thinking, the French are too shrewd to part with anything strategic for love or money.Even if it does happen, India will have to pay an arm & a leg for the same.

  26. JPS says:

    There is no tactical appreciation or understanding and despite being brought in the earlier replies. The writer still rumbles along on the same generic path. No sheen left and no point in continuing with meaningful arguments in this case. People will loose interest if articles are written like this.

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



    Thats 7.25 billion euros or around 8.25 billion USD or around 230 million USD to one fly away jet without weapons.

    While mortgaging 50% of certain parts of our defence industry to them for perpetuity.

    Aasman sey gire Khajur par atke.

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