What use is the Rafale and the French connection?

 

Image result for pics of the rafale on factory floor

(Rafale being put together at the Dassault plant in Merignac)

Senior Air staff officers have, of late, been talking confidently of the combo of the 6,000 air defence missiles ordered as part of the S-400 system that India is buying from Russia and the Su-30MKI (hopefully upgraded to “super Sukhoi” configuration that will convert IAF’s Su-30 squadrons into a fleet of near FGFAs) as being more than sufficient to handle PLA Air Force (PLAAF) on the Tibet-Arunachal front. The front line role of the Sukhois against the stronger, more comprehensively capable adversary, China, raises the question of what good exactly the Rafale combat aircraft  in the force  will do.

It is the warplane the service hankered for and, with the BJP Govt acceding mindlessly to its demand, the country is finding that the deal comes with a bagful of troubles for the country, and for Modi. Have always maintained that the 36 Rafales in the fleet will be mainly for showboating purposes — too valuable to send into battle against the swarming PAF’s JF-17s and too few to overwhelm anybody but easy to be overwhelmed. If the IAF brass believed that 36 Rafales were merely the proverbial foot in the door to compel the govt to let more of these aircraft enter the fleet later on, then they misread the political situation. The additional Rafale option is a non-starter for two reasons: Paucity of funds and the fact that the Rafale has drawn corruption charges from Rahul Gandhi.

An empty treasury is a fact. The only major defence deal that Modi plonked for unbidden, now looks like a millstone round his neck. Not just in terms of the Rs 70,000 crores-odd crores thus committed that could have been better spent elsewhere, but in terms of the controversy attending on it. The opposition parties will go to town about Modi govt’s corruption and about Reliance Defence chosen by Dassault Avions as its Indian partner. Recall, that Dassault said it could not work with HAL or guarantee the performance of the Rafale outputted by it because of  the DPSU’s lax work floor habits and bad quality control mechanisms, but ended up choosing Reliance Defence, with zero aircraft production experience or facility, as its partner. One can be certain that to buttress its case the opposition will allude to PM’s “crony capitalists “, especially as Dassault will use the 50% offset clause to build up Reliance Defence to a basic, aircraft assembly, level, rather than raise India’s competence in the field, by investing in the augmentation of HAL’s capability.

There are the first intimations of chill coursing down Modi regime’s spine — the fear of being a one-termer. The bureaucracy being the bellwether for such transitions, things are beginning to slow down. It is the situation going awry at home and the America-tilted policy not panning out — with Trump actively targeting India and Indian industry on H1B, WTO, Indian exports of steel, aluminum and light manufactures, that forced the PM and his PMO to do a rethink, which has been happening for a while now. PM dialed up Moscow for succour, the recent summit in Sochi followed, and ties with Russia were  elevated to “special privileged partnership”. Modi and Putin agreed to set up a special rupee-rouble payment scheme to avoid getting caught in America’s CAATSA trap. While this will not pull India and Russia back to the easy credit-friendship prices Soviet era, it does reaffirm Russia as the default option for military procurement.

So, what’s all this got to do with Rafale? With Russia’s position strengthening relative to other foreign arms suppliers, IAF saw the writing on the wall and sought to make the best of a bad situation that the brass had begun to apprehend. It hoped to marry the prohibitively expensive Meteor air-to-air missile that came as part of the Rafale weapons suite along with the Scalp A2G missile, with the best aircraft in its inventory the Su-30, except the missile maker –the French-led European missile consortium — MBDA refused to integrate the Meteor with the Su-30 and, to salt the wound, refused to do it for the indigenous Tejas LCA as well.  A preliminary agreement has been signed for the Rafale but not a detailed  contract.

India can decide that because of MBDA’s pigheadedness, it will nullify the Rafale contract. Indeed, any self-respecting country would do that — the French are not handing over the Rafale as act of charity but taking home billions of euros for it. The buyer is king in the arms business. But the Indian government acts as if Dassault is sovereign and France cannot be denied. IAF and GOI are so used to thus being  jerked around by foreign countries, they think this is the normal.

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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35 Responses to What use is the Rafale and the French connection?

  1. Vishnugupt says:

    Prof. there are rumors floating around that the 70,000 cr deal for 36 Rafale has lot more than what meets the eye, apparently there is lot more than just “re-plumbing” the rafale to carry nukes or allowing BARC scientists to use the french nuke simulators.

    It is alleged that Safran is apparently helping HAL+Reliance to build an entirely new engine from “scratch” under the grab of “fixing” the hopeless Kaveri engine.

    Which if true would be a very wise move because if the LCA MK2 flys with a indigenous engine( which will also be called Kaveri) other than the GE-F414 then the export potential of the plane will be huge, specially with ASEAN nations as Uncle SAM will have no strings in his hands to pull if we don’t use his engines.And i think UTTAM radar will also be ready by then.

    To my mind 10 Billion dollars for 36 4.5+ generation fighter plumbed and primed to carry nukes + access to nuke test simulators( sorry for not using the exact term) + TOT of a proven engine like Safran M88 and help with “manik engine” is not a bad deal at all.

    I don’t think the Modi is so stupid to enter into a deal which prima faice has “scam” written all over it.Specially after Parrikar’s “advise” for the PM before leaving to be careful of the IAF brass or risk being misled by them.

    • The access to the French ICF (inertial confinement fusion) facility near Bordeaux was the selling point from the start. As far as I know, I was the first one to reveal it to the Financial Times (London) reporter who quoted me in his story published in the mid-2000s, and subsequently in my books and writings (including in posts on this blog). My point about ICF is that we have had continued access and lots more to the Russian ICF chamber at Troitsk outside Moscow — if we didn’t want to keep the laser unit we have in CAT, Indore, in good condition, leave alone upgrade it. This is something I commented on in a recent post. My point has always been — why not be self-sufficient even if it means refurbishing it and relying on the Indore unit, which has been allowed since R Chidambaram’s time to go to rack and ruin.

      • Vishnugupt says:

        Sorry Prof. i learnt about the French ICF from your work(books and blog), i should have mentioned it my previous comment, my sincere apologies.

        But what is your take on TOT of Safran M88?

      • The previous avatar of Safran — SNECMA, “negotiated” a collaborative deal to bring the Kaveri to fruition for years w/o bringing closure to it, and pulled out altogether once the IAF announced Rafale’s selection as MMRCA! So, what are the chances of Safran helping out?

    • Reasoned says:

      “It is alleged that Safran is apparently helping HAL+Reliance to build an entirely new engine from “scratch” under the grab of “fixing” the hopeless Kaveri engine.”

      The biggest Problem with Indians is their coolie syndrome. The fact that people think that companies would just give away their golden eggs laying goose shows the delusional thinking.
      France has only audited the kaveri engine program and stated in a report that the engine had attained sufficient maturity to be integrated with an aircraft for limited envelope flight testing.
      So we needed a gori chamdi to tell us what the GTRE guys have been saying it for years. Give them the flying testbed and sufficient funds they are more than capable of developing a jet engine.

      “To my mind 10 Billion dollars for 36 4.5+ generation fighter plumbed and primed to carry nukes + access to nuke test simulators( sorry for not using the exact term) + TOT of a proven engine like Safran M88 and help with “manik engine” is not a bad deal at all.”

      No country would give India the TOT we need to develop the jet engine. We have to do the R&D ourselves.

      ” I don’t think the Modi is so stupid to enter into a deal which prima faice has “scam” written all over it.Specially after Parrikar’s “advise” for the PM before leaving to be careful of the IAF brass or risk being misled by them”

      Modi is just another nincompoop, the only reason to vote for him is to keep the fascist (communist, Islamist, socialist, maoist, marxist, post modernist) at bay. These fascists have already taken over the institutions of higher learning, to keep India intact modi must be kept their.
      Modi may not be corrupt but anyone who thinks the same about his party must be smoking some home grown.

  2. Vishnugupt says:

    “Give them the flying testbed and sufficient funds they are more than capable of developing a jet engine.”

    Yes of course…give them more money and wait…wait and wait till their hairs turn white and then they superannuate.
    If they cant even prefect 1960s technology like Turbofan engines(manik,Kaveri) in 20 years it is highly unlikely that they will do it in another 20.
    All that the white coat wearing uncles pretending to be scientists and engineers in GTRE look forward in their sorry lives is the “next pay commission”. For they have “labour unions” and rights to protect their “sorry a**es” if they fail to deliver.

    Anyone who is thinking that Indian DPSUs will deliver any verify-able time bound result “must be smoking some home grown”.

    On “No country would give India the TOT we need to develop the jet engine. We have to do the R&D ourselves. ”

    True, countries won’t but private companies will,just that you have to offer a price which they can’t refuse.In this rafale deal i for one think Modi has done it.( Because “The Frogs” are much less crooked than “Uncle SAM”)

    Governments have hitherto shied away from outright purchase of technology because it knows rather too well that the “uncles & aunties” in DPSUs just don’t give a rats behind to absorb the incoming technology, and nobody can do a damn thing about it.(just try to recollect low long it took for OFB to make use of the bofors technology it got in the 1980s)

    Or look at HAL’s case of building Su-30s. Forget building new planes with the knowledge gained, HAL still completely rely on Moscow even for critical spares.

    DPSUs are a joke my friend.PEROID

    • Reasoned says:

      No wonder we have these ignoramuses as politician given the public who bear the responsibility of electing these politicians is just as ignorant if not more. Guys at the DRDO and GTRE are the gems of the indian scientific establishment, not only are they given meagre salary but also the funds to develop the product.

      It is a miracle in itself that we managed to build a working turbofan engine, albeit short of few things. Despite the meagre funds, lack of infrastructure and no flying tesbed we have mastered one of the cutting edge technology, and need the last push to cross the finish line.
      DRDO will develop “verify-able time bound result” if the funds and infrastructures given is sufficient. GTRE was given less than $700 million to develop turbofan engine, no flying testbed and insufficient infrastructure. DRDO was given $2-$3 million for developing Nirbhay cruise missile. Show me anyone who would build these products with such a meagre funds in a “verify-able time bound” manner and I’ll show you the unicorn farm.

      “True, countries won’t but private companies will,just that you have to offer a price which they can’t refuse”

      No one would give you the tier-1 technology unless it has become obsolete. Why do you think China with such a heavy pocket is still struggling to build a turbofan engine, even the Russians wouldn’t give it to them, that’s why they bought the flying testbed from Russia to develop it on their own.
      No one would give you the golden eggs laying goose.

      “Governments have hitherto shied away from outright purchase of technology”

      Who is giving GOI full TOT anyway?.
      And OFB is not DRDO.

      “Or look at HAL’s case of building Su-30s. Forget building new planes with the knowledge gained, HAL still completely rely on Moscow even for critical spares”

      Has the GOI given HAL/DRDO funds to clone the SU-30 mki and its sub systems?

      “DPSUs are a joke my friend.PEROID”

      And who is going replace DRDO in defence sector ? Tata? Mahindra?. Even after decades of manufacturing cars these guys haven’t been able to design their own engine completely. Who else? Reliance? That would be the biggest joke of all.

      If the government wants to build a burgeoning military industrial complex then they would have to give at least $3 billion dollars annually to DRDO to do the R&D.

      • Vishnugupt says:

        @Reasoned?
        Your comment is filled with factual contradictions and naive assessments of the DPSUs.
        First of all OFB may not be DRDO but it collaborates with DRDO scientists to reverse engineer the Bofors gun for it to bulk manufacture, and secondly, both OFB and DRDO comes under MOD thus has the same lethargic “work culture”.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DRDO_Advanced_Towed_Artillery_Gun_System_(ATAGS).

        On “Show me anyone who would build these products with such a meagre funds in a “verify-able time bound” manner and I’ll show you the unicorn farm.”

        The Russians have historically had shoe string budgets, and this is because in “SOCIALIST” countries(like Russia and India(yes India is a socialist county in effect when it comes to defese)) the factors of productions are state owned and government companies don’t have to pay taxes(because, you know they are OWNED by the government).
        Workers are paid modestly(in line with socialist principles), whereas private defense companies in “CAPITALIST” countries have to pay “exorbitant salaries” to their talented workforce and huge taxes to the government and buy raw materials at market price(read high price) thus significantly increasing the cost of production. So comparing the budgets of defense companies of capitalist and socialist counties is heights of ignorance, to put it mildly.

        So the usual song of low budget put as an excuse for failure is nothing but wretched cunningness, which the uncles of DPSUs have mastered in their long and insignificant careers.

        To further debunk the theory of “low budget”, i have the below example.

        How about an Indian PSU(ISRO) which sent a mars mission on a shoe string budget, which was less than a “Hollywood” movie compared to billions spent by their western and even Chinese counterparts.
        Now don’t say “rocket science” is easy. I hope you know that developing a cryogenic engine is leaps and bounds more complex than building a turbofan engine.

        The failure of Indian DPSUs is the classic case of “bad workman blaming his tools”.

        On “No one would give you the tier-1 technology unless it has become obsolete”

        Again contradiction.

        My friend if you have been reading this blog(Prof.Karnad’s) you should have the bare minimal understanding that Turbofan engine technology, which goes into GTRE Kaveri,Manik etc is of 1960 vintage. The GE-F414 which we are planning to put in Tejas MK2 is also a 1960-70s tech and that translates into plain English as “obsolete”.( BTW this not my assessment)

        So”It is a miracle in itself that we managed to build a working turbofan engine, albeit short of few things.”
        I am baffled the way you kid gloved the failure of the GTRE to build a single applicable product.

        And i hope now you see the point that i made in my first comment, that is developed countries charge exorbitant price even for obsolete technology. And we have to no choice but to cough up the money because, you know OUR DPSUs HAVEN’T DELIVERED.

        On “Tata? Mahindra?. Even after decades of manufacturing cars these guys haven’t been able to design their own engine completely. ”

        Again, a very naive assessment.

        Are you familiar with the concept of”outsourcing”and its benefits to the parent companies?Tata and Mahindra are “for profit” companies not DPSUs, and unlike DPSUs they don’t have the mandate to make weapon platforms from scratch so that the nation could be self-reliant.They do R&D only to raise profit, not to do their patriotic duty.

        Why have you conveniently ignored L&T? What about its capacity to build nuclear submarines?And many more small and medium defense companies(MKU,Solar,Kalyani) which are doing a very good job.Cherry picking data are we?

        Animal spirit of private sector has the stomach to bring in new technology and efficiently and effectively produce goods. Just that they need to be “fairly” regulated.

        So, i suggest you use that condescending tone of yours while conversing with those who you know personally.

    • Reasoned says:

      The fact that anyone would compare DRDO with OFB, even in terms of work culture, shows the abundance of ignorance. OFB is a production cum employement generation scheme , and can be disbanded without any significant harm to the country. On the other hand DRDO is a premier defence R&D agency, and no one in the private sector has the capability (financial and intellectual ) to replace it.

      If you are talking about the soviet unions defence budget then you are far from the truth, it was anything but a “shoe string”. Even in late 80s when the soviet union was on the verge of collapsing the diminutive Gorbachev had announced $128 billion for the defence spending, and even that figure didn’t add other expenses according to marshal Akhromeyev. One can only imagine the defence budget under far more militaristic leaders before Gorbachev.

      If anything the defence companies of capitalist countries should be more affordable than the socialist countries. Because capitalism lowers the production cost of the product all the while increasing the quality/value of the product. And therefore capitalist product costs less.
      That’s why we are replacing the “socialist” OFB with the “capitalist” private sector, to lower the cost of the production and to increase the quality of the product.

      “To further debunk the theory of “low budget”, i have the below example.”

      Let’s be clear you are not debunking anything.

      On to the” isro”
      Indeed ISRO is doing phenomenal job. But just compare the portfolio of ISRO and DRDO and you’ll get your answers. They are anything but equal in terms of scale and scope of expertise. DRDO’s annual report of 2017 has been published, you can familiarise yourself with it.

      Indian politicians stake their and countries sense of prestige on the ISROs achievements. ISROs mission are taken as national mission. Thats why it gets all the funds it needs. ISRO can waste money on projects(mangalyaan) which has very little scientific value and still hope to get funds. DRDO doesn’t enjoy any of these perks. How many politicians have staked their prestige on the development of turbofan engine?.

      ” Now don’t say “rocket science” is easy. I hope you know that developing a cryogenic engine is leaps and bounds more complex than building a turbofan engine”

      Building cryogenic engine is hard, but so is building a turbofan engine.

      Russians are considered as the master of rocket engine and yet their jet engine technology is behind that of their western counterpart.
      Chinese also can boast of their powerful cryogenic engine and yet would turn quiet when asked about their turbofan engine. Despite spending billions of dollars, flying testbed and the relevant infrastructure, they still don’t have a robust turbofan engine.

      ” On “No one would give you the tier-1 technology unless it has become obsolete”
      Again contradiction.
      My friend if you have been reading this blog(Prof.Karnad’s) you should have the bare minimal understanding that Turbofan engine technology, which goes into GTRE Kaveri,Manik etc is of 1960 vintage. The GE-F414 which we are planning to put in Tejas MK2 is also a 1960-70s tech and that translates into plain English as “obsolete”.( BTW this not my assessment)

      Turbofan engine technology, which goes into GTRE kaveri and GE-F414 may as well be obsolete to the USA but not to the rest of the world. China would spend billions to get its hands on GE-F414. Not just china even the france would be happy to acquire so called 60s-70s technology.

      The reason to visit this blog is to witness the bold and unapologetic espousing of realpolitik policies, not to learn about the technology. As a matter of fact i entirely disagree with prof. Karnad on the purchase of S-400 and Pak-fa, these purchase would usurp R&D funds of other projects. Rather than wasting money on building foreign MIC we should give those tens of billions of dollar to DRDO, to develop XRSAM, AMCA and their variants.

      ” So”It is a miracle in itself that we managed to build a working turbofan engine, albeit short of few things.”
      I am baffled the way you kid gloved the failure of the GTRE to build a single applicable product. ”

      You seem to not get the enormity of the task here, which is compounded by the lack of infrastructure and funds.

      ” Public vs private sector”

      Defence R&D of the cutting edge technology must always be done by the public sector. Exploring the furthest ends of science and technology has always been done by the public sector. Traversing this landscape one would encounter lot of uncertainties and failures, only government has the capability to digest that and still keep on moving forward. Public sector must act like a cutting edge of the knife, doing the hard work of getting in and then letting the private sector in.

      Private sector should do the following :

      1. Doing the innovation that requires low capital.
      2. Manufacturing products that are required in large quantities so that it can make profit. It can take over the entire portfolio of OFB.
      3. becoming production partner of DRDO.

      Regarding private sector:

      Let me give role of
      Some things must always be done public sector.
      Knife edge
      1 low capital
      2 repitive
      3 production partner to drdo.

      • Vishnugupt says:

        On : “If you are talking about the soviet unions defence budget then you are far from the truth, it was anything but a “shoe string”.

        Buddy, the Soviets had the Americans as adversaries, i called the Soviet budget shoe string when compared to the Americans.The US has defense budgets running into more than 600 Billion even back then(in terms of current value adjusted to inflation).

        And the absolute value of defense budgets are notoriously misleading, what counts in an effective Defense budget is “Capital expenditure” i.e on R&D,and making new weapons etc on the other hand revenue expenditure is all about paying salaries of military personnel. So the capital expenditure is the most crucial part.

        The Soviet union collapsed not because of a 128 billion dollar budget, but because of the fact that they COULDN’T AFFORD it. Their economic growth was at a meager 3-4% The budget was very much justified to take on an adversary like the US during the cold war.

        “Capitalism lowers the production cost of the product all the while increasing the quality/value of the product.”

        Nobody is contesting this, but without free market competition capitalism is no good,and much of the equipment sold to the US military by their industry is grossly overpriced.
        Read up on the fiasco surrounding the prohibitively expensive but useless weapon systems like F-35 etc( there are many more, insanely expensive weapons in the US military arsenal)

        ISRO vs DRDO.

        Again pal, ISRO’s budget should be compared against NASA. Then you will see for yourself if it is shoe string or not. My point was, shoe string budgets are not “THE MAIN” reason for the failure of a project.

        On: “Not just china even the france would be happy to acquire so called 60s-70s technology.”

        France is very much capable of building a good engine if they feel they need to do so of their own.BTW the French Safran M88 is very much comparable to the GE-F414.

        The Chinese are a joke, they are like the school kid who don’t study because he is confident of cheating to clear the test. They don’t really try to buy at exorbitant prices, all they do is try to steal it through hacking and espionage.So no one sells them anything no matter how high they bid.(other than Russia,but then that is for political reasons)

    • Reasoned says:

      @Vishnugupt

      The fact that anyone would compare DRDO with OFB, even in terms of work culture, shows the abundance of ignorance. OFB is a production cum employment generation scheme , and can be disbanded without any significant harm to the country. On the other hand DRDO is a premier defence R&D agency, and no one in the private sector has the capability (financial and intellectual ) to replace it.

      If you are talking about the soviet unions defence budget then you are far from the truth, it was anything but a “shoe string”. Even in late 80s when the soviet union was on the verge of collapsing the dimunitive Gorbachev had announced $128 billion for the defence spending, and even that figure didn’t add other expenses according to marshal akhromeyev. One can only imagine the defence budget under far more militaristic leaders before Gorbachev.

      If anything the defence companies of capitalist countries should be more affordable than the socialist countries. Because capitalism lowers the production cost of the product all the while increasing the quality/value of the product. And therefore capitalist product costs less.
      That’s why we are replacing the “socialist” OFB with the “capitalist” private sector, to lower the cost of the production and to increase the quality of the product.

      “To further debunk the theory of “low budget”, i have the below example.”

      Let’s be clear you are not debunking anything.

      On to the” isro”

      Indeed ISRO is doing phenomenal job. But just compare the portfolio of ISRO and DRDO and you’ll get your answers. They are anything but equal in terms of scale and scope of expertise. DRDO’s annual report of 2017 has been published, you can familiarise yourself with it.

      Indian politicians stake their and countries sense of prestige on the ISROs achievements. ISROs mission are taken as national mission. Thats why it gets all the funds it needs. ISRO can waste money on projects(mangalyaan) which has very little scientific value and still hope to get funds. DRDO doesn’t enjoy any of these perks. How many politicians have staked their prestige on the development of turbofan engine?.

      ” Now don’t say “rocket science” is easy. I hope you know that developing a cryogenic engine is leaps and bounds more complex than building a turbofan engine”

      Building cryogenic engine is hard, but so is building a turbofan engine.

      Russians are considered as the master of rocket engine and yet their jet engine technology is behind that of their western counterpart.
      Chinese also can boast of their powerful cryogenic engine and yet would turn quiet when asked about their turbofan engine. Despite spending billions of dollars, flying testbed and the relevant infrastructure, they still don’t have a robust turbofan engine.

      ” On “No one would give you the tier-1 technology unless it has become obsolete”
      Again contradiction.
      My friend if you have been reading this blog(Prof.Karnad’s) you should have the bare minimal understanding that Turbofan engine technology, which goes into GTRE Kaveri,Manik etc is of 1960 vintage. The GE-F414 which we are planning to put in Tejas MK2 is also a 1960-70s tech and that translates into plain English as “obsolete”.( BTW this not my assessment)

      Turbofan engine technology, which goes into GTRE kaveri and GE-F414 may as well be obsolete to the USA but not to the rest of the world. China would spend billions to get its hands on GE-F414. Not just china even the france would be happy to acquire so called 60s-70s technology.
      The reason to visit this blog is to witness the bold and unapologetic espousing of realpolitik policies, not to learn about the technology. As a matter of fact i entirely disagree with prof. Karnad on the purchase of S-400 and Pak-fa, these purchase would usurp R&D funds of other projects. Rather than wasting money on building foreign MIC we should give those tens of billions of dollar to DRDO, to develop XRSAM, AMCA and their variants.

      ” So”It is a miracle in itself that we managed to build a working turbofan engine, albeit short of few things.”
      I am baffled the way you kid gloved the failure of the GTRE to build a single applicable product. ”

      You seem to not get the enormity of the task here, which is compounded by the lack of infrastructure and funds.

      ” Public vs private sector”

      Defence R&D of the cutting edge technology must always be done by the public sector. Exploring the furthest ends of science and technology has always been done by the public sector. Traversing this landscape one would encounter lot of uncertainties and failures, only government has the capability to digest that and still keep on moving forward. Public sector must act like a cutting edge of the knife, doing the hard work of getting in and then letting the private sector in.

      Private sector should do the following :
      1. Doing the innovation that requires low capital.
      2. Manufacturing products that are required in large quantities so that it can make profit. It can take over the entire portfolio of OFB.
      3. becoming production partner of DRDO.

      • Reasoned@ — Just to take off on your belief that I back acquisition of S-400 and FGFA — wrong. In my writings I have stressed indigenous above all else. That said my contention is that as an anti-missile system there’s nothing in the world that boasts of any kind of credible hit probability, and it is a waste of money. But as an anti-aircraft AD S-400 is the best. And I share the confidence of CAS Dhanoa’s that in conjunction with the Su-30MKI it will more than adequately deal with PLAAF.

        Re: PGFA PAK-FA, always considered it as fallback. Indeed, in my forthcoming book — Staggering Forward: Narendra Modi and India’s Global Ambition– have supported DRDO’s contention that post-Tejas development, they have a grip on the 5th gen aircraft tech, and that this’d be featured in AMCA.

  3. vivek says:

    any comments about K Vijayaraghavan who is apooionted as a scientific adviser to GOI?

  4. odis123@gmail.com says:

    I do not see the problem if some new companies get experience in building airplanes in India, We require at least 4-5 new companies to have the abilities to build planes, and it is not going to happen if we keeping re-using the old players all the time. Everyone has to start at some place and some time. HAL and DRDO should not be the only players with experience.

    • Agree. But wouldn’t the better option be to have Tejas LCA technology — know-how and know-why passed on to 2-3 private companies, as I have argued? That way the pvt sector too develops a stake in indigenous products, programs and projects.

      • odis123@gmail.com says:

        Your are correct, if the talent from the Tejas LCA technology Know-how & Know-why project have the bandwidth they should pass it to 2-3 private companies. Everyone is short of time and we need at least a few more (companies).
        Most countries like USA develop more than one PLANE and have more than one COMPANY/ORGANIZATION developing planes at more than one LOCATION.
        It is important to create an ecosystem where talent(consultant) is available-interchangeably and can move as per the changing dynamics.
        This obviously calls for investing more(not less) for a number of years(not forever though) on critical technologies(not just planes & submarines).

  5. andy says:

    India has wasted scarce armed forces resources by opting to buy 36 Rafale,mostly due to the pigheaded insistence by the IAF.About $9billions for just 36 fighters is exorbitant to say the least.

    The apologists of the deal say that the cost of each fighter is just about $100 millions a click, the rest is for India specific enhancements and requisite infrastructure including training to be set up for this new aircraft.Really?When a proven and considerably more potent platform like the Su30 MKI,with all the India specific systems,requisite infrastructure and trained personnel is available at $75millions a click, without the headache of a new platform being inducted adding to the logistics and maintenance nightmare,not to talk about the spare parts inventory,what was the need to induct this white elephant?

    To make matters worse the IAF brass is pushing for 36 more Rafale because “the cost would be 40%less”since India has already paid for the enhancements and the two airbases which can accommodate 2more squadrons.Very logical but the same logic does not hold true for the SU 30MKI!!!In fact HAL has just offered 40 more SU30 at the SAME old cost, without any escalation,but the IAF outright rejected the offer stating that the SU30 was too expensive and maintenance heavy to fly.Just one question,how can the IAF be so sure that the Rafale wont be more or equally expensive to fly?This is just a red herring ,like the bogey of Su30 serviceability raised during the MMRCA tender.The argument was that the SU30 suffers from serviceability issues and only 48% of the fleet is available at any given time,turns out this was due to not ordering adequate stocks of spares on time,otherwise what explains the serviceability of around 65%now and more than 80%during the recently concluded Gagan Shakti exercise.

    Also the same IAF deliberately overlooked the fact that serviceability of the Rafale in French air force was also less than 50%at around the same time.So why the double standards?

    The Rafale agreement has a clause of 75%guaranteed availability ,but was that for free?knowing the French I am sure they charged huge amounts for this guarantee.And why not negotiate a similar performance guarantee from the Russians for the SU30 fleet?When we can pay the French for something why not the Russians?

    Overall the Rafale deal raises more questions than it answers,the only ones gloating over it would be the IAF brass after all they are the ones getting retirement benefits out of it.

  6. Rahul(Kol) says:

    Prof Karnad, are you sure it is 6000 missiles for S-400? Can you provide any news link confirming the same? If the number is true, do you have the numbers for the individual missiles that will be part of the deal?

  7. Siddharth Joshi says:

    The S-400 will require the Pantsyr for protection from cruise missiles and long range standoff missiles that the PLAAF has. Hopefully the Govt will negotiate for a complete package including the Pantsyr otherwise the S-400 Batteries will remain vulnerable

  8. devraj says:

    Sir.look at any defense aviation site.it simply tell us merits of best aircrafts in world.rafale is technically best then su35 leave alone main. Top ten fighters in world ranked raffle highly better to su35.in bvraam combat raffle can track su35 quickly as of high assault radar and shoot it simply by one of best meteors missile.however in dogfight su35 has good chance. If u see non Americana combat aircraft raffle is best for india.as France is second reliable partner after russia.most important point is French weapon technology gives clue about western technology to india which even benefits russia which implement it in its weapons like assault radar on su35.

    • devraj says:

      Russia developed su35 after reading Indian su30 main which was fusion of russian su30mki with latest French.israel.and Indian avionics resulting su30 mki.before that russia belive that high speed roughness .super cruisibility can beat western jets.but after realising bvraam tech it gets idea who ever aircraft see first will destroys enemy jets by best bvraam like meteor

  9. AD says:

    The most rational, if unpleasant, explanation for IAF’s peculiar insistence with paying close to 10 billion dollars for three dozen Rafales goes something like this…

    Many in senior administrative positions within IAF and procurement bureaucracy have been promised massive sums of money (discretely deposited in offshore accounts, of course) in exchange for their “assistance” with making this deal happen. It helps that Rafale is a reasonably good platform and certainly better than the Eurofighter or F-16. But ya.. it is mostly about kickbacks.

    The recent interest expressed by IAF bureaucracy in buying F-16s and F-18E/Fs is, also, almost certainly due to similar considerations. It seems that, unlike China, India has no shortage of modern-day Mir Jafars. Perhaps somebody should try to find out what aspect of Indian culture makes it such a prolific producer of greedy and insecure people willing to rob and betray their own.

    On a side note, I agree with those who believe that the French have no interest in helping India produce indigenous turbofan engines for any aircraft, let alone the LCA. It is however amusing to watch so many grownup people believe that buying three dozen aircraft for 10 billion will somehow magically result in France transferring technological know-how to them.

    • Vishnugupt says:

      @AD
      “Perhaps somebody should try to find out what aspect of Indian culture makes it such a prolific producer of greedy and insecure people willing to rob and betray their own.”

      Again self loathing, i bet you too believed in the “HINDU RATE OF GROWTH”theory once.

      The reason Indian bureaucracy is corrupt because, unlike their Russian,Chinese and other counterparts they don’t get fired or jailed if they are caught in these scandals.(During the soviet days, they used to send their bureaucrats to GULAG if they failed to deliver, so did the Chinese, in India we promote them and give them higher perks)

      So, you see it is the “job security” which empowers them to be corrupt.Because once UPSC selects you, then not even god can fire you.(even traitors like KV Unnikrishnan( an IPS officer), the guy who leaked R&AW secrets to CIA in the 80s, was imprisoned for hardly “a year” and then let off to enjoy the fortunes he got from the CIA, on the other hand you know what KGB,CIA does to traitors from their side?)

      This is all the side affects of “socialist mindset” of Indian government from the past 70 years.Employees have more “rights” than duties.And ironically not even the Russians gave any such sweeping rights to their bureaucrats)

      There is only one thing which is wrong with us Indians today, and that is,

      WE LACK SELF RESPECT.

      It has nothing to do with culture.

      On”I agree with those who believe that the French have no interest in helping India produce indigenous turbofan engines for any aircraft, let alone the LCA.”

      Well my friend, you are right when you say they have no interest, to help build a rival company, but at the end of the day they all they care about is profit, so if Indian government pulls out its head out of its arse and buy technology(albeit a little dated), then it will do us immense good in the long run.
      If we have our own engine for LCA, the we can easily export it to ASEAN counties, without taking permission from engine makers.

      • AD says:

        @Vishnugupt

        No.. I never believed in the “Hindu rate of Growth” or anything else along those lines. I always saw it as the result of a deep-seated mental problem caused by the unwillingness (and cultural aversion) to think through problems objectively. To give you one example.. ask 100 people in India why eating beef is “bad”. I can guarantee you that over 95% will try to make up totally hilarious reasons.

        In reality, most cultures who practiced agriculture around the world seldom ate beef (and, yes, that includes UK) prior to the 17th century because cattle were far more useful for their ability to provide milk and till fields. People in India just converted that it into a religious belief. The problem, though, is that most people today just don’t want to acknowledge it. Unwillingness to acknowledge reality is the opposite of pragmatism.

        How does this apply to the Rafale saga? Well.. under what conditions would you risk an airplane costing almost 250 million USD per piece? Maybe, only as a nuclear weapon delivery system? In that case, why not just use an appropriate ballistic missile since the later is cheaper and basically impossible to intercept. Is Rafale significantly better as an air-superiority fighter system than Su-30 MKI? If not.. why buy it?

        Now tell me if you have ever seen people involved in purchasing the Rafale system make a rational and objective argument to support their decision? Have they ever properly defended their multiple attempts to kill the LCA project? So why is almost everybody around them unwilling to point out that the proverbial emperor has no clothes? Why is there no pushback from their colleagues- even the ones not getting rich from it..

    • Vishnugupt says:

      @AD this is a comment to your last reply, but i couldn’t post it under it as the reply option was disabled.
      “To give you one example.. ask 100 people in India why eating beef is “bad”. I can guarantee you that over 95% will try to make up totally hilarious reasons.People in India just converted that it into a religious belief. The problem, though, is that most people today just don’t want to acknowledge it. Unwillingness to acknowledge reality is the opposite of pragmatism.”

      I presume, you are advocating beef consumption in India because cattle is no longer a “utility” with the coming of mechanized farm equipment like tractors, harvesters etc.

      You may be right, most Hindus put arguments that are religious,but the final effect is positive.
      You see cattle is a “useful” farm animal, but to cultivate/breed them for meat is a very “water intensive” practice.

      So now imagine a water deficient country like India with 1.3 BILLION people relying on beef as their “source of protein”,On the other hand LENTILS, also a source of “poor man’s protein” takes just 1% water of what the same weight of beef requires, this is why my friend Indians are “vegetarians”.Not because of some “utility” concept, which is now defunct with the coming for mechanized farm equipment.

      So i would still discourage beef consumption on these grounds.

      And BTW beef is very delicious,and once you eat it, you will get hooked to it very easily and thats why my friend “religious stigma” was used as a deterrent.( Just like human, flesh which is also rumored to be very delicious, so now you know how “stigma” works right)

      So,Indian culture might be rile with illogical stories, but they are based on ends justify the means concept, one just need the “cerebral capacity” to see through them to see the bigger picture.

      There is an old proverb “The speed of a herd of sheep is the speed of the slowest sheep”. Things are dumbed down in our culture for the lesser brains to chew. Because the smarter ones should be able to think of their own, right?

      So coming back to the our initial discussion,there is nothing wrong with Indian culture, just that we had governance with “NO ACCOUNTABILITY” for 70 years.

      • AD says:

        In trying to counter what I said, you validated my initial observation about how Indians think.. or don’t think. To be clear, this is not a personal critique..

        So, let us talk about the linked video. I could not help notice that it was made in USA, a country which does not practice anything its self-anointed “global public intellectuals” preach. Isn’t it odd that the most compelling argument you came up with was a glossy production made by a bunch of hypocrites who do not practice what they preach? More importantly, did you actually think through and validate their version of the “narrative” or just accepted it as holy gospel.

        Let me explain it a bit better..

        1] Depending on which reference source you use, India has the largest or 2nd largest arable land area for any country in the world. Yes.. you heard that right. Now ask yourself, how come there is still so much malnutrition in India? Clearly, there is no shortage of arable land or people to work it. So why is overall agricultural productivity so low and transportation/ storage losses so high? Could it be poor resource management? And if that is the case, why is it so?

        2] Let us now talk about the availability of water. If you compare the average rainfall patterns in India to other parts of the world (USA, Europe, China etc), you will notice that most regions of India get a pretty decent amount of precipitation. And yet every single year, there are perpetual water shortages in many parts of India – even the ones which get very heavy rainfall during the Monsoon. Could it be due to abysmally bad water management? And why is that so?

        3] I have noticed that many Indians like to invoke the allegedly poor quality of coal in India when trying to explain why there aren’t enough power stations for supplying relatively inexpensive electric power. Well.. did you know that most of Europe and USA (west of the Mississippi) use sub-bituminous coal for power generation. Also, India has very large reserves of such coal. So.. what is holding it back? Could it be poor governance? And why is that so?

        Perhaps if people in India spent more time trying to improve the quality of their own lives rather than obsessing about the dietary habits and precise ancestry of their fellow countrymen, it would be a much better place to live for everybody.

    • Vishnugupt says:

      @AD replying to your last comment.
      Accepting facts without prejudice is very important my friend.

      Just because the Americans are hypocrites, that doesn’t mean their research is wrong.( I am sorry but your argument is an ad hominem)

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem

      And the motive behind posting a “glossy Made in USA” was just because it was short and precise without any drag(of a TED Talk). If i had any clue that you would blatantly questioning the premise of the video,then i would have added a few more sources.
      https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2013/jan/10/how-much-water-food-production-waste
      http://www.gracelinks.org/blog/7858/beef-has-a-big-water-footprint-here-s-why

      Not only these two but there are a lot more research out there which proves my point.Feel free to do your own research if you are not convinced.

      Coming to your other explanations.

      yes, India can manage its resources in a much much better way.But India hitherto have had dysfunctional governments, and that combined with illiteracy, small land holdings, no irrigation spelt doom for India.

      Beef eating is the part of western food culture, which merit their arid and cold countries, but is a recepie for doom in a tropical country like India, where it is not a staple and have lots of other sources of protein “for the poor man” which are way more eco friendly.

      BTW red meat isn’t the healthiest of proteins either, so that combined with its other cons.I for one think it is pretty clear objectively, why beef is not in India’s interest.
      If Indian start eating beef with the staple rice, India will soon become the world cholesterol and heart condition.(It is already the world number one in diabetes)

      Since it is pretty clear that there is no health benefit of eating red meat, nor there is any ecological advantage, so now its all about engaging ones taste buds.And that my friend is a rabbit hole.

      I don’t know about you, but i for one am against my countrymen picking up a bad habit.

      Peace!

  10. sanman says:

    I came here to see if Mr Bharat Karnad has any comment on the latest ridiculously high price quote from HAL for Tejas Mk1A. It would be nice to see his assessment of this.

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

    Tejas was set up for zero-induction since the time it was promoted as a light plane. Forever. Historically speaking You can check out what the scientist proponents of the ‘light’ in LCA are doing these days, where they are based, what projects they promote today and what their stint is known for today the most. Modi ji spent 9 billion USD for Rafalecure in a french spa in the first 2 years. For LCA there’s nothing even in the 5th and instead all we get is a panchbooth-vichran.

    China never went in for the ‘light’ and their J-10 has been flying since more than 10 years now including from Tibet.

    Lets now see Modi order 1000 planes from USA as Dharmesh Pradhan says they will do to placate their major defence partner and ally. Pradhan Sahib that is not enough for you to earn the 2-on-2 meet that you seek. With all due respect, you must do more.

  12. Rahul Gautam says:

    Sir ,have a look at this:

    https://theprint.in/national-interest/thanks-to-modi-governments-laziness-indias-military-is-still-marching-in-the-past/83003/

    The aritcle raises some very good points,the mess around our command struture seems so serious.
    Any thoughts?

    • That India’s armed services are industrial age and remain that way has been a pet theme of mine for 20 years, most recently elaborated on in my last book — ‘Why India is not a great power (yet)’.

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