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F16, Gripen - Make In India Single Engine Aircraft - News and possibilities

Discussion in 'Indian Air Force' started by Averageamerican, Sep 30, 2016.

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  1. Lion of Rajputana

    Lion of Rajputana Captain FULL MEMBER

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    For me, a F-16 victory seems to be a foregone conclusion. What does Sweden have to offer anyways? They have no real international clout or geopolitical benefits to offer India, and their Gripen is heavily reliant on US and allied systems and components.

    Add in the possibility of F-35's (it's still tough to tell when PAK-FA will be ready and how good it'll be) and armed drones, as well as the US-Indian-ASEAN-Australian alignment against China; and I really don't see how the Gripen would win.
     
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  2. Sancho

    Sancho Lt. Colonel Technical Analyst

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    If any sense prevails in the government, it has to win.

    1. It's undeniably the better fighter

    2. It undeniably offers the better tech transfer

    3. It offers the most benefits and commonality to LCA and AMCA

    4. All the political advantages of the US, including the theoretical offer of F35, could be gained via an F18 deal for IN as well (F18 + catapults + S70 now = E-2D + F35C in future)

    5. Now with the US breaking with Pakistan on their own, it would be strategically smart of us, to push towards Sweden and Saab, to cut another western source for arms and techs from them (if we would play it smart, we would also try to influence Brazil and S. Africa too, but that's another topic)

    So no matter if you look at the smaller picture and compare just the fighters and the bids, or the larger one with the political implications, the F16 would be a bad decision.
     
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  3. Lion of Rajputana

    Lion of Rajputana Captain FULL MEMBER

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    Now THAT would be absolutely insane. Getting Gripens for SE, Rafales for the IAF, and F-18's for the IN. Are we building an Air Force or making Khichdi? Not to mention, the only way IN gets different TE jets for new carriers and IAF also gets more TE jets, is if they settle on the same aircraft and that aircraft is mass produced in India. That is literally the only way to make it happen.

    So no matter what anyone says or what slight twists and turns come along the way; I'd say Rafales being made in India to satisfy the requirements of the IAF and IN is the only feasible solution. And if SE jets HAVE to be bought (I was personally in favor of just working with Dassault to further develop the LCA and an indigenous engine and mass producing that); then geopolitically speaking the F-16 is miles ahead of the Gripen.

    As for cutting off weapons sellers, I don't remember Sweden ever taking a particularly hard line against Pakistan in history (if they have ever truly stood up for India in the past, others are free to correct me), and nobody is really going to sell anything cutting edge to Pakistan anyhow. Because they are on the verge of bankruptcy and seeking an IMF bailout, and more importantly, whatever you sell to Pakistan, China will get an extended look at. Then next thing you know, the Gripen gets reverse engineered and sold at half price as the "Furious Dragon" or some bullshit.

    Next, let's remember, the Gripen is not a purely Swedish product. It has American components if I'm not mistaken and there are more ways than one that the Americans can pull the plug on it if they want (during a tender competition, or a conflict).

    So for me, if an SE is DEFINITELY going to be bought no matter what, the F-16 makes more sense; plus consider how demoralizing it'd be for Pakistan that the pride and joy of their force, the 50-70 odd outdated F-16 A's and B's are not even a match for our lowest end fighter which would be the Block 70/72 F-16, and that too at least a 100 of them. Literally the F-16 fleet alone would be more than enough to handle Pakistan.
     
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  4. Sancho

    Sancho Lt. Colonel Technical Analyst

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    You clearly haven't followed the naval tender and the issues of Rafale for the carriers. And if your point is commonality for IN and IAF, choosing F16 makes even less sense, because it has no naval varient and offers the least commonality even within IAF. While the Gripen is on offer for both our forcesite, although IN won't go for it of course, for good reasons.

    Again, your are actually making a point for the opposite of what you are saying.
    If Sweden didn't made a stand against Pakistan in the past, this deal gets us in the position to leverage them to do it!
    Also if you follow the recent Swedish government ruling on defence exports to non democracies:

    http://www.iiss.org/en/militarybalanceblog/blogsections/2017-edcc/july-c5e6/sweden-arms-export-2a37

    You see that this is a chance for us to convince them, to get Pakistan on that list too.
     
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  5. Lion of Rajputana

    Lion of Rajputana Captain FULL MEMBER

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    No, I've been following it, I just don't think any and every twist and turn in a longer running issue always necessarily amounts to something or ends up being consequential. There is no other choice for India than to go with Rafales when it comes to TE jets now, and unless Dassault is monumentally foolish, they will also have little choice but to find a way to make this deal work.

    I don't see how the lack of a naval variant for F-16's is even remotely relevant. The only plane the INAS needs is the Rafale M. And it's frivolous to even mention the offer of the Sea Gripen, it's not even in existence, and even if it were, it'd be an unnecessary plane. Naval fighters have to be bigger and capable of several roles like the Rafale M or the F-18; that's why I was never on board with the idea of a Naval LCA (which for all practical purposes seems dead and buried, except maybe as a testbed) and that's why I think even the idea of the Sea Gripen is laughable, let alone Saab actually offering it to us.

    As for your points on Sweden, who honestly cares? They're a non entity in the world. I asked if they have ever stood by us in the past, they haven't, and you honestly shouldn't expect countries of the nature of Germany and Sweden to stand for India against Pakistan in any meaningful way either (have you heard how certain German Arms companies apparently don't sell to India due to Human Rights concerns?). The most you'll get out of countries like that is to agree to vague general statements like "terrorism is bad."

    As I said already, nobody is gonna sell anything of significance to Pakistan anyways due to the presence of China and due to Pakistan's dire financial status. If anyone will sell Pakistan advanced jets (outside of China), it'll either be Russia selling them some variant of the Su-27 or MiG-29; or it'll be that option for used Eurofighters from Austria (although those would be way too expensive for Pak when it comes to maintenance).

    Neither plane is particularly necessary for the IAF, I'd personally just add some upgrades to the LCA, give it a Safranized Kaveri and mass produce; but the geopolitical and future tech benefits that'll come with the F-16's far outweigh any tangible benefits Sweden can offer us (obviously aligning with the US versus China, some more crackdown on Pak by the US, greater relationship with US allies, Armed drones, F-35s so on so forth).
     
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  6. ashkum2278

    ashkum2278 2nd Lieutant FULL MEMBER

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    India desperately needs E2D and kawasaki PI for maritime surveillance along with P8I's.
     
  7. Sancho

    Sancho Lt. Colonel Technical Analyst

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    That's an opinion, but it's not based on the ground realities of suitability to our carriers, nor does it include the same strategic benefit arguments, that you point out in favor for F16. So even if you argue only for these benefits, the F18 not only beats the naval Rafale, but also the need to buy F16.

    The naval tender has much higher stretegic implications for India, since it will open the door for a CATOBAR carrier and the necessary aircrafts. Since the US is the only source for catapults and catapult capable AEW, a political decision is the most likely scenario, even if Rafale would be suitable.

    You brought up the claim that IN will select the same fighter as IAF.


    Anybody that doesn't want them to give latest GaN radar or EW technology to Pakistan! Apart from the US, Sweden is the only western source to provide them with that, so cutting them from Sweden, would be a major strategic win for India, since it makes Pakistan fully dependent on China alone.
     
  8. Lion of Rajputana

    Lion of Rajputana Captain FULL MEMBER

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    Pretty sure the argument about Rafales not fitting on the upcoming carriers has been debunked on the Rafale or IN tender thread already. Not to mention, it's probably not very hard for Dassault to design folding wings if India is serious about Rafales for the IAF and INAS.

    And not really, the strategic benefits are gained from ordering the F-16's already, and it's been repeated on multiple occasions that they would eventually lead to F-35s at some point in the future as well (which I had already imagined India might be interested in since the PAK-FA has been obscured for a while and add to that the IN's purchase plans for LPD's). There's no need to buy F-18's to reap the strategic benefits I mentioned, India can happily order Rafales for the TE role(s), the F-16 order will take care of the strategic benefits.

    The only way I see the F-18 running away with the deal, is if Dassault doesn't play ball regarding MII and the Kaveri engine development. If they manage to fritter these deals away, it would be quite unprecedented and they may be the biggest fools in history.

    Regarding your second point, I still don't see how that makes any sense at all. Also, I very clearly said that the Navy and Air Force would have to go for the SAME TWIN ENGINE (TE) FIGHTER. Which is the truth. The F-16 and Gripen are not TE's and have nothing to do with that tender or requirement. For the IAF the Rafale is already the winner, and for the IN the real contest was only ever between the Rafale and F-18, and due to MII and economies of scale, the only real sensible solution here is to set up an Indian line of Rafales that'll make IAF Rafales and IN Rafale M's. Otherwise the IAF will be left without the amount of TE's it wants, and the IN may end up stuck with nothing but MiG-29K's.

    And what on Earth gives you the idea that they'd give those to Pakistan? Sweden has no political alliance or interests with Pakistan that they'd give away free or discount hardware. Pakistan doesn't have any money, they're on the verge of seeking an IMF bailout. And with the world's biggest technology thief China having unrestricted access to anything in the Pakistani arsenal, there's no question of a country like Sweden selling its top technology to Pakistan. Otherwise Saab will soon get knocked out of business by some cheaper Chinese copy of their own plane, radar etc.

    And frankly, I'm really not too bothered with anything Sweden could give Pakistan (absolute cutting edge stuff like GaN is out of question, it'd be suicide on the part of Sweden). Let them sell to Pakistan if they want, the most significant source which could be cut off from Pakistan, was the US, which is beginning to pull the plug. Other than that, there's China who will always sell to Pak no matter what. The only real X-factor is Russia. We'll see what happens there.
     
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  9. ashkum2278

    ashkum2278 2nd Lieutant FULL MEMBER

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    SURELY, THE TIME IS OF ESSENCE


    Arresting dwindling combat strength of the IAF will be a priority for Sitharaman. Each category of the aircraft has specific roles and only a naïve would suggest replacement of one category with another

    Arresting the dwindling combat squadron strength of the Indian Air Force (IAF) will be a priority of the new Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. This will not be easy since it would involve correcting a politically expedient decision; and, restoring the minimum possible mix of heavy, medium and light weight multi-role combat aircraft categories. To be fair to the Air Force, each category aircraft has specific roles and missions, and only the naïve would suggest replacement of one category with another.

    The IAF wants 42 fighter squadrons (each with 18 plus two attrition aircraft) to be able to maintain a dissuasive posture on one front when the other is active. At present, it claims to have 33 squadrons, including the obsolete MiG-21, MiG-23 and MiG-27. Adding to operational problems are (a) India’s lack of credible defence industry to provide timely logistics support, especially of spares and ammunition; and (b) the fact that both quality and quantity of aircraft in a desired mix would be necessary.

    Given this, the tender for 126 medium-weight aircraft (seven squadrons) was floated by India in 2007, where, after an excruciatingly long technical evaluation, twin-engine Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon were shortlisted in April 2011. The IAF wanted twin-engine aircraft for three reasons: One, since these aircraft would be required to go on the offensive deep inside Tibet Autonomous Region, single-engine aircraft would be extremely vulnerable; two, given that civilian habitation has come around most Air Force stations, chances of bird and kite hits during peacetime training have increased impacting on the survivability of aircraft; and three, twin-engine is preferred for overall aircraft safety.

    Since the politically-heavyweight AK Antony was not known to take timely decisions, it was left to the Narendra Modi Government to close the deal on Rafale. In the operationally bizarre decision, days before Prime Minister Narendra Modi was to visit France in April 2015, the Air headquarters was handed the fait accompli: India would buy only 36 (two squadrons) Rafales. This added to the IAF’s woes. On the one hand, given the small numbers, it would be unviable to build maintenance and repair facilities in India. Sending aircraft to France would be costly and operationally risky since the service would have to fight with assets in hand at short notice. On the other hand, two squadrons would be dangerously inadequate for desired multi-roles and missions.
    According to sources at the Air headquarters, ‘the critical operational necessity is minimum five squadrons (90 Rafale aircraft) and ideally six squadrons (108 with no attrition aircraft)’. For this reason, Dassault Aviation chief executive officer, Éric Trappier, is now in talks with the Indian Defence Ministry for purchase of additional twin-engine Rafale aircraft.
    In the light weight multi-role category with single-engine aircraft, the choice is between the US’ F-16 Block 70 and Sweden’s Gripen-E. The Defence Ministry is expected to issue the request for proposal for this category soon so that technical evaluations can begin. Simultaneously, as the IAF does its job, the Ministry could deal with the commercial and procurement policy (guidelines for strategic partnership) aspects. To be sure, time is of essence.

    While sources at Air headquarters refused to share aircraft preference with this writer, they were willing to compare the two contenders. According to them, F-16 Block 70 is fourth generation proven aircraft which will be easy to evaluate and will cost up to 20 per cent less than its contender. And, with production line in India, they would be able to deliver up to 14 aircraft a year. Gripen-E, on the other hand — claimed as fourth generation plus platform — is an integrated aircraft which is still evolving.

    Since all F-16 technologies are totally owned by the US, one source could decide expeditiously on what technologies can and cannot be given to India. Given that India is named as a major defence partner, and the US, under the Defence Trade and Technology initiative, is pushing for joint research, development and production, especially in engine technology, the possibility of technology sharing by the US is high.

    Technology sharing is of three types: Transfer of know-how or assembling of kits; transfer of source-codes; and of object-codes. The source and object codes are akin to ‘before’ and ‘after’ versions of a computer program. While source codes are the core which gives out the creation of a technology, the object codes give out the sequencing of the programme which would help in re-programming a computer to specific needs. To be sure, no nation will give away the source codes. However, bargain could be made for object codes with the US, which, in itself, would be a leap in technology for the Indian industry, especially for the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Mark-1A and the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA).

    In case of SAAB Group, the owner company of Gripen, technology sharing is a fuzzy area since it does not own nearly 30 per cent of the aircraft technology. It is powered by the United States’ GE-414 engine and uses the electronically scanned Selex Raven-05 radar (Leonardo Aerospace, erstwhile Finmeccanica). While SAAB claims that it has developed the Gallium Nitride Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar (incidentally, the US too has developed Gallium Nitride AESA, which is more effective than the present one. There are two issues here.
    One, it has made sharing of Gallium Nitride radar technology conditional on India selecting the Gripen-E. SAAB officials, who are upfront in saying that Sweden is a small country which needs India to sustain its growth, wants to be a part of LCA Mark-1A and AMCA. “It is all about business”, is what SAAB India head, Jan Widerström said to the writer. And two, Widerström conceded that it would be ‘if and but’ regarding transfer of US technology used in Gripen since it would be guided by the US export regulations. What he did not say is that it would be a political decision.
    On the viability of the F-16 airframe being four decades old, while it does not affect the manoeuvrability of the aircraft, the question is whether the airframe can sustain the structural developments. Following the US Air Force authorised F-16 Service Life Extension Programme structural modifications, the service life of the aircraft has been increased to 12,000 equivalent flight hours, far beyond the aircraft’s original design service life of 8,000 hours. The US Air Force can now safely operate even Block 40-52 aircraft to 2048 and beyond.

    Moreover, there is strong possibility of US sharing spin-off technologies of F-35 aircraft with India. And, not to forget the political heft that F-16 will bring with it. Given this, the choice before India is between a partner nation which will be dependent on it; or the partner country, which, despite lows and highs, will remain a strategic partner in Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean region.


    http://www.dailypioneer.com/columnists/oped/surely-the-time-is-of-essence.html
     
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  10. Sancho

    Sancho Lt. Colonel Technical Analyst

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    As you have admitted yourself, you haven't followed the tender, so you can't know of course, that the only way to make Rafale suitable, is a re-design of the wing to get a folding system.

    Again, the same happens if we go for F18 and Catobar carriers, because the F35C is the only 5th gen stealth fighter on the market. So if they sell us catapults, they also will make suitable fighters aviable in future, F16s doesn't play any role there.

    The simple fact that Pakistan already has the Erieye AESA AWACS, which will need upgrades soon and the fact that Pakistan wants to order more AWACS. If they get the new Global Eye AWACS of Saab, which is based on GaN AESA technology and upgrade the older systems to the same level, they will further enhance the edge they already have in the AWACS field.
     
  11. itkin

    itkin IDF NewBie

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    i'm not usually posting since i don't have personal knowledge, but i just wanted to let you know that i red on a french forum that rafale would fit by inclining the plane (of something around 15° if i remember correctly), a custom trailer to perform this operation would be needed which is not that much of a cost
     
  12. Sancho

    Sancho Lt. Colonel Technical Analyst

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    Will reply in some minutes in the naval MRCA thread.
     
  13. Lion of Rajputana

    Lion of Rajputana Captain FULL MEMBER

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    Don't make things up, I never said I didn't follow the tender. And I clearly mentioned that the wings could be re-designed if it is 100% established to be necessary.

    Next, it makes absolutely no sense at all. If you do not have the same TE fighter for the IAF and IN, and that too from an Indian line, then it becomes far too expensive a proposition. At that point, IAF gets left with no more Rafales, and IN gets stuck with MiG 29's. The only way to order that many advanced TE fighters is if you order the same aircraft for both services and produce it in India. Otherwise it is not financially feasible. It's a very basic fact of Economics, called Economies of Scale.

    That's a big "IF". Last I checked, Sweden even refused to overhaul the AWACS that they had already sold to Pakistan, and you're talking about selling them new, cutting edge stuff. Also, I'm pretty sure these were bought in 2006, there's a big difference between Pakistan's financial condition and stability back then vs. now. Your fears are unfounded.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2017
  14. Sancho

    Sancho Lt. Colonel Technical Analyst

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    My fault, I misread your statement, but still you haven't informed yourself correctly.

    That's what the SE tender about! It is the replacement of the MMRCA, so it is already clear, that IAF will have a 2nd type of medium class fighters in higher numbers than Rafale and the only relation to the naval tender is, that Gripen as well as Rafale are contenders there, but there is no aim on commonality, because IN has it's own requirements and other aims.

    http://www.airforcesmonthly.com/2017/05/19/pakistan-to-get-more-erieyes/
     
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  15. Lion of Rajputana

    Lion of Rajputana Captain FULL MEMBER

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    I'm informed on the topic, I've been aware for a while that there were questions regarding wingspan and the lifts on the Vikky and IAC-1. And I have been aware for some time that one of the French users with experience on the matter clearly said that it wouldn't be particularly hard for Dassault to come up with folding wings. The only issue here is whether Dassault is ready to play ball in terms of MII and if India is really serious about the Rafale for both services.

    This is not true, I don't know if you've been following Parikrama's posts in the various tender threads, but you should check those out. He mentions that the MOD and IAF have essentially struck a deal where the IAF gets a set amount of real MMRCA's (Rafales), meanwhile the MOD also strikes a political deal for F-16's for the SE tender (which didn't even exist until Parrikar came along), but the SE jets are closer to being a substitute for the LCA's which still haven't been built in the numbers anticipated. And on top of that, LCA's will also be produced, but because that project is lagging so far behind and they aren't being produced in significant enough numbers already, the Government is basically going with 3 parallel projects to make up for the shortfall of jets.

    And those are the planes which we already knew had been sold to Pakistan by Sweden, that's not a new capability. As US aid continues to fall, I'll be surprised if they can even afford to continue buying those.
     

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