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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. ashkum2278

    ashkum2278 2nd Lieutant FULL MEMBER

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    ACQUISITION OF SINGLE-ENGINE FIGHTER AIRCRAFT – A FEW SUGGESTIONS TO EXPEDITE THE PROCUREMENT PROCESS


    It may sound incredible but, according to official statistics, the number of fighter aircraft squadrons with the Indian Air Force (IAF) has gone up from 25 in 20141 to 33 in 2017.2 This has brought the IAF closer to the authorised strength of 42 squadrons, although the gap could widen again if induction of new aircraft does not keep pace with the inevitable de-induction of old ones.
    It is becoming increasingly certain that this gap is sought to be bridged to a large extent by acquiring single-engine fighter aircraft, in addition to the HAL-built Light Combat Aircraft Tejas. Presently, Lockheed Martin and SAAB are the only two foreign manufacturers in the race in the single-engine aircraft category. Both have offered to make their products in India for which they have already signed agreements with the Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL)3 and the Adani Group,4 respectively.

    The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has also set the ball rolling by issuing the Request for Information (RFI) to these two companies.5 But this is as good as it gets, for RFI is just the first of the eleven stages through which every procurement program has to pass before the deal is signed. Each of these stages carries within it the potential to derail the program.
    Just to refresh memory, the program for acquisition of 126 Medium Multi-role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) was aborted after more than three years of commercial negotiations. This incidentally is the penultimate stage before final approval is accorded by the competent financial authority to award the contract.

    Considering that acquisition of single-engine aircraft is susceptible to all the vulnerabilities of the existing procurement procedure, it is somewhat puzzling that MoD should have decided to adopt the strategic partnership (SP) model for this program.

    Apart from the fact that any new model throws up numerous challenges when it is implemented for the first time, the success of the ragtag SP model is critically dependent on identification of the Indian companies which could be invited as prime vendors to manufacture the aircraft in India with the help of technology transfer from foreign manufacturers of the platforms chosen by the MoD.
    The process of identifying the Indian companies has not even begun. Even if it is assumed that this process will go through smoothly despite all odds, the pre-emptive tie-ups by the two main contenders in the single-engine aircraft program with Indian companies have rendered this exercise redundant. It will be surprising if these agreements would permit Lockheed Martin and SAAB to tie-up with any other Indian company for manufacturing the aircraft in India.

    This poses a problem because under the SP model, the Indian partners, identified by the MoD as potential strategic partners, are required to approach the manufacturers of the platform, chosen by the MoD in a separate exercise, and enter into a legal agreement with the latter before submitting the bids. As things stand today, the two Indian companies with which Lockheed Martin and SAAB have entered into legal agreements have become their potential strategic partners by default.

    This should not bother the MoD. In fact, it should be welcomed for it saves MoD the trouble of having to identify the potential strategic partners and to convince the foreign vendors to get into production arrangements with them within the existing policy framework which allows FDI only up to 49 per cent on the automatic route.
    It would be frivolous to question the wisdom of the already sealed tie-ups. The foreign companies would not have gone ahead unless they were absolutely certain that their Indian partners will be able to deliver what is expected of both of them under the SP model. More to the point, it should be a big relief for MoD that they have joined hands with the Indian companies of their choice without seeking any special dispensation in regard to control over their management.

    As an added advantage, these tie-ups help in cutting short the time that will otherwise have to be given to the potential strategic partners – after they are identified by the MoD - to tie up with the foreign companies.. However, in the event of the MoD not recognising the tie-ups already formed, this could end up creating legal difficulties if the main contenders are forced into new arrangements with other Indian companies.

    For sure, this problem may not arise if TASL and the Adani Group get selected as potential strategic partners through an unpredictable and laborious selection process. But what will be the point of it all? On the contrary, MoD can take a short route to issuing the Request for Proposal (RFP) if the validity of the tie-ups is acknowledged by it.
    This also opens up the possibility of categorising the acquisition program under the ’Buy and Make (Indian)’ category or the time-tested ‘Buy and Make’ category. In essence, the difference between the two is this: under the former category the RFP is issued to only Indian vendors; and under the latter category it is issued to foreign vendors. The same end-results can be achieved under either of these categories.

    Of the two, however, the ‘Buy and Make’ category seems more appropriate in the present case because the success of the entire project hinges on the conduct of the foreign manufacturer, be it with regard to transfer of technology, quality assurance, maintenance, and the like, for which it will be jointly responsible under the terms of the contract along with the Indian partner.
    It is difficult to visualise any objective that cannot be achieved under the ‘Buy and Make’ category but which can be achieved only under the ‘Buy and Make (Indian)’ category or by adopting the SP model for this acquisition program.

    In any case, the tricky part will be the drafting of the RFP in a way that serves the objective of the program, which should primarily be to ensure that the Indian company is not only able to manufacture and maintain the aircraft but is also in a position to undertake its life extension/up-gradation in future without being unduly dependent on the foreign manufacturer or being constrained by IPR issues.

    To illustrate, rather than specifying the scope, range and depth of technology required to be transferred by the foreign manufacturer, the RFP could simply seek information as regards the technologies and capabilities that the manufacturer will not be able to transfer as also the reasons for being unable to do so.

    The selection of the foreign company should be linked to the MoD being satisfied by the reasons proffered, and assessment as to whether the IAF can live with such denial of technology or capability, and what impact it will have on manufacturing/life-extension/up-gradation of the platform by the Indian company in future.

    It should also be possible to compress the time required for carrying out the trials if the platforms are trial-evaluated only in respect of the parameters which have been added to it by the manufacturers after these platforms were last evaluated in the context of the now-aborted program for the acquisition of 126 Medium Multi-role aircraft, provided it is technically feasible to do so.
    All these measures will help MoD leapfrog to the commercial negotiation stage and, with some bold decision-making, even to the contract signing stage much before the end of the next financial year, which is effectively all the time that is available before the next general elections. It goes without saying that all this trouble will be worth the while only if there is a reasonable certainty of the program not being stymied by the funds-crunch.

    Amit Cowshish is a former Financial Advisor (Acquisition), Ministry of Defence and presently a Distinguished Fellow with the Indian Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses


     
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  2. halloweene

    halloweene Major MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    Better have Rafale delivered for 5th tranche (2023 i think) no? With F4 harware?
     
  3. Sancho

    Sancho Lt. Colonel IDF NewBie

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    Why wait 6 to 8 years for F4, we should upgrade those 36 x Rafales right away with Saab GaN EW, RBS15-ER and SDB / SPICE 250 don't you think?

    The possibilities if Airbus, Saab and Thales would work together, would be fantastic!
     
  4. Picdelamirand-oil

    Picdelamirand-oil Lt. Colonel MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    F4 hardware will be available in 2021, F4.1 software in 2023, and F4.2 software taking into account of all possibilities of the new hardware in 2025.
    F4 hardware will be on the 28 last Rafale of the current tranche and will perform with F3R from 2021 untill 2023 then F4.1 will be retofitted on all operational Rafale then in 2025 we will be producing Rafale of the 5th tranche and it will be with F4.2 with retrofit of the 28 last Rafale of tranche 4.
     
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  5. Picdelamirand-oil

    Picdelamirand-oil Lt. Colonel MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    SAAB and Thales will never want to work with Airbus for such a program.
     
  6. The enlightened

    The enlightened Lieutenant FULL MEMBER

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    Pie in the sky
    Good for them. We are talking about India here and potential ToT. So France is irrelevant. 90 Gripen E is more than what Sweden has ordered and looking at the Brazil deal, it stands to reason that if we are getting advanced technology like that from anywhere, it is from SAAB.
     
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  7. randomradio

    randomradio Colonel REGISTERED

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    IAF has likely negotiated for that. The Russians had initially asked for 60B rubles extra for a radar that wasn't part of the original program.

    Later, they negotiated for a new sum via contract under Parrikar, so it is possible this radar is part of the FGFA.

    The Russian R&D budget increased from 270 billion rubles to 330 billion rubles. So there was an increase of 60B in R&D expenses, which matches their initial offering. This is separate from their own PAK FA R&D budget.

    If we go for Rafale MII, we will be getting French GaN.

    Whatever Sweden has developed, we have the same tech already, it will be part of Uttam. There is a pretty good chance we will end up with Uttam on LCA Mk1A also.

    So the potential for getting cutting edge tech is greater from France than from Sweden.
     
  8. The enlightened

    The enlightened Lieutenant FULL MEMBER

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    Nope. No contract has been signed between India and Russia w.r.t FGFA since the preliminary design contract. This radar technology hasn't yet been demonstrated outdoors. No prototype. Nowhere close to production which Russians don't particularly excel at anyway. Just a nice pie in the sky.
    IFFFFF.......
    Clearly not the case as that program was cancelled and we are now working on a different direction (hint: thread). Besides we need the technology, not just the radar which MII or not, French wouldn't want to share anyway.

    Certainly not. We don't have any GaN radar anywhere near the horizon. SAAB already have them in production since at least 2014

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    http://saabgroup.com/sv/Media/news-...-Surface-Radar-is-on-track-and-in-production/

    See, we are nowhere close.

    Thence, gazing into the vast universe from our vantage points behind our keyboard, SAAB is the clear choice for India

    [​IMG]
     
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  9. randomradio

    randomradio Colonel REGISTERED

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    This is what's called R&D.

    The entire FGFA program is a pie in the sky. So is AMCA. So is the new American F-X. They are all pies in the sky.

    Every single technology in PAK FA is yet to be validated, so the entire program is a pie in the sky.

    Whatever Sweden will share, France will share. Both will share the minimum amount required for MII, nothing more.

    You will be surprised if you realize the heights we have reached in radar technology.

    Anyway, there's a huge difference between land based radars and fighter aircraft radars. India's development of Uttam is ahead of Sweden's. What the Gripen E uses right now is a much simpler GaAs radar from Italy.
     
  10. The enlightened

    The enlightened Lieutenant FULL MEMBER

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    You can have R&D for realistic projects based on realistic timelines. Just because it's in development doesn't mean anything. If tomorrow somebody starts developing Starship Enterprise, would you (hopefully not ) take them with the same seriousness as against say developing a sounding rocket. Photonic radar right in 2018 sounds just like 'LCA in 2009' level of trolling.

    This makes no sense. MII is a competition between Sweden and USA to see which will share more. France already managed to sidestep that competition. It has no need to share anything other than some screwdriver-tech which given its beneficiary (Ambani) is pointless.

    Everyone will try to share the least possible but Sweden is far more desperate for orders than France and thus will be compelled to share more.
    Please. Surprise me.
     
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  11. Bloom 17

    Bloom 17 2nd Lieutant IDF NewBie

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    more on this please
     
  12. randomradio

    randomradio Colonel REGISTERED

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    Yes, if someone starts developing Starship Enterprise and puts billions of dollars into it, then I will believe it.

    The photonics radar will be in a prototype form in 2018, it will be ready for production only after 2021. But FGFA is not expected until after 2026. So you can put two and two together.

    Not in the current setup. We need Rafale MII for it to happen. The SE MII is independent and naturally Gripen is the better candidate. But the French have the better technology.
     
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  13. randomradio

    randomradio Colonel REGISTERED

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    Lots of new AESA radars have started coming in. Pretty soon we will never need radar imports ever again.
     
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  14. Bloom 17

    Bloom 17 2nd Lieutant IDF NewBie

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    I need your opinion on the following questions -
    1) are we getting more Rafales for sure? last DM said no more will be bought and there are too many conflicting reports regarding the additional acquisition.
    2) compared to China in the quality of the technology curve where are we?
    3) Can the airforce and the army by the end of the next decade reach quality and quantity landmarks to be called as a major military power?
     
  15. Sancho

    Sancho Lt. Colonel IDF NewBie

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    That's the important point that some people simply don't want to accept. There is only 1 licence production tender (under the Make in India marketing) and that doesn't include Rafale!

    So all that matters here is...

    F16 B70 vs Gripen E - capability
    LM vs Saab - industrial and ToT
    US vs Sweden - political

    Besides, when you read statements like these:
    You can tell the level of knowledge and credibility behind these arguments. :disagree:

    Sweden is a class ahead of our radar R&D capabilities and even in Europe they are at least the first to field GaN in operational applications, like you pointed out. Rafale F3R was planned to have GaN too, but then it was pushed back to the F4 upgrade (in 6 to 8 years), which makes it irrelevant too.
    So if we want to make a technological leap ahead in this area (for our forces as well as our industry), Saab is the only option.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2017
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