What aircraft is this RFI for?

Image result for pics of IAF chief and staff

(ACM BS Dhanoa before a Rafale sortie)

An RFI for 110 combat aircraft was today issued by IAF without clarifying whether these are to be single engine or two-engine fighter planes. There re some technical criteria — altitude ceiling, etc. that mean nothing because most modern aircraft will meet them.  It goes on to say  that of these 82-83 aircraft would be single seat and the rest 2-seat trainer aircraft, and that the deal would  be on the basis of a strategic partnership model — with the foreign aircraft supplier collaborating with a capable Indian industry major to set up a manufacturing facility to produce 93-94 of the 110 aircraft in India, including supply chains in-country, and the remaining 16 aircraft bought off the shelf. This will mean that any aircraft producer in the world that has a single engine or 2-engine fighter plane to sell will now hightail it to Delhi.

So, what are the aircraft that will be on offer? To list the aircraft that fits this general bill the list will have F-16 (Lockheed), F-18 (Boeing) from the US, Gripen E (Saab) from Sweden, Typhoon Eurofighter (EADS) from Germany, Rafale (Dassault) from France, and Su-35, MiG-35 and the Su-57 FGFA from Russia. And had China been in the mix, it could have brought in its J-20!

There is method in the way the RFI is crafted. It (1) alienates no country or potential aircraft supplier  — the rescinding of the plan to buy 114 single engine warplanes  for Rs 1.15 lakh crores upended the schemes for the production in India of the F-16 that IAF doesn’t want, Lockheed was flogging, and which upset the Trump Administration; this RFI is a sort of corrective, (2) compensates for Modi’s buy of 36 Rafales from France for the same amount of money as was set aside for 126 of the MMRCA with transfer of technology, which justly drew flack and plunged the Modi government in hot water,  (3) reassures the IAF which has been squawking nonstop about depleting fighter squadrons in its fleet, & (4) kicks the decision to buy a combat aircraft way down the road and well after the 2019 general elections.

It is obvious the option IAF would prefer is to add 110 more Rafales. Dassault having pocketed $12 billion for 36 of these would be happy to sell the rest for another $20-$30 billion with TOT. And well connected Reliance Defence is already chosen as its strategic partner.

F-16, Eurofighter, and MiG-35 didn’t cut it in the MMRCA sweepstakes, their chances are unlikely to be revived this time around. That reduces the competition to the Russian Su-57 and Rafale. (Su-35 doesn’t count  because it is about on par with the Su-30MKI upgraded to the “super Sukhoi” configuration, inclusive of 3-D thrust vectoring nozzle, AESA radar, etc.).

But India has already invested some $300 million in the FGFA and as part of the collaboration deal can place its  aircraft designers at the Sukhoi design Bureau to pick design trends and new technologies. This will be useful in terms of the trained Indian designers being tasked to the AMCA programme.

As with TOT provisions in past contracts, Rafale TOT will come with the advanced technologies as “black boxes” — which is not helpful, and force structuring-wise will not fit in with a future coherent air orbat — of the Tejas Mk-2, AMCA, super Su-30 and FGFA.



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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11 Responses to What aircraft is this RFI for?

  1. sainulp says:

    Tyhpoon is from UK, Germany, Italy, Spain

  2. Rupam says:

    Bharat ji,
    I would like to make 3D models of all the planes mentioned above in Solidworks/CATIA and runs simulation tests on them. Is generic information on components and dimensions of jets available? Will this yield any substantial results? And is it even possible?

  3. Janjua says:

    Boss typo error in first para ” It goes on to say that of these 82-83 aircraft would be single engine and the rest 2-seat trainer aircraft”
    It should be single seat not single engine

  4. Janjua says:

    What i dont understand is why the mmrca 2.0 drama… all aircrafts have been evaluated! You dont want to diversify and act like qatar…..
    This will atleast take 2-3 more years and 15000 page evaluation and the result will be it will be deemed expensive!!!
    If it goes the same way as mmrca …. iaf will be laughing stock and the reputation of mod will go down the drain

  5. Janjua says:

    What i dont understand is why the mmrca 2.0 drama… all aircrafts have been evaluated! You dont want to diversify and act like qatar…..
    This will atleast take 2-3 more years and 15000 page evaluation and the result will be it will be deemed expensive!!!
    If it goes the same way as mmrca …. iaf will be laughing stock and the reputation of mod will go down the drain….
    But i want to know which path should it take in ur professional experience

  6. Venkat says:

    The price for 36 Rafale is not 12 busd.
    When this basic data is wrong , rest of the article does not matter.
    The quality of writing is getting worse filled with some kind of inner anger and driven by Personal be daya

  7. Venkat says:

    I have a doubt on 3rd para bullet 2.
    I set aside 5 rupees for 25 kilos of best basamati rice, you think I will get it ? If not can I take your help ?

  8. Kya says:

    US Media: F-35 is of Russian origin!!!

    American news portal the task and purpose came with paying special attention to the material on the fighter of the 5th generation f-35. The author of the article (brad howard), who is a former serviceman of the U.S. Air force, writes that the american fighter is “Russian origin”. According to howard, the real prototype of the f-35 is the soviet development – the yak-141. Recall that this multi-purpose carrier-based aircraft sv/kvp, made first flight in 1987.

    It was assumed that the yak-141 will be the basis of the wing of the soviet aircraft-carrying cruisers, including the “Tbilisi” (“Admiral kuznetsov”). According to the author, the end of the cold war has led including to the beginning of the cooperation between yakovlev and lockheed. In 1991, these industrial structures signed a cooperation agreement. Howard notes that this contract ultimately allowed american companies to those of the soviet technology, which in the end gave us a chance to make a significant step in the development program multi-purpose aircraft. The result of this program, according to the author, and became the f-35. Brad howard: they (lockheed) received from Russian mission critical information that permitted the development of engines, the heart of the f-35. Readers of the portal said that if this is so, then there is no sensation, because each company whenever possible, studying the competitors ‘ experience and may this experience to use for their own benefit.

    Source http://weaponews.com/news/27829-us-media-the-f-35-has-russian-origin.html

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