Saturday, April 02, 2011

"M-MRCA Selection To Showcase Independence & Professionalism": Indian MOD

"If you think extraneous factors are going to guide our decision, then you may be surprised by the result." The words of a senior MoD officer who spoke to select journalists recently about the Indian medium multirole combat aircraft (M-MRCA) competition. As the decade-stretched competition plods toward a decision, tentatively scheduled in the next few months, the near unanimous sense -- from rumours, reports, leaks, hearsay, background briefings -- is that the big European twins, the Dassault Rafale and the Eurofighter Typhoon -- are the IAF's two most preferred aircraft, and in that order [It was news station Times NOW's senior editor Srinjoy Chowdhry who first suggested this in a report last year].

The MoD officer quoted above also said, "There is no political pressure. This is such a large deal that it is apt for showcasing the excellent and professional job India has done in making an informed decision which is independent of any factors, including strategic and geopolitical. The air force is the customer, not the Ministry of External Affairs."

The question now is whether there will be a full-fledged down-select -- where two, or three, aircraft will be kept in the game -- or if only the one leading aircraft will be picked out for commercial negotiations and the others asked to have a good flight home. Both possible, say sources. In the first scenario, there is speculation now about the third spot. Different versions suggest that in third place is either the Gripen or the F/A-18.

After a decade of staying studiously below radar, and quietly emerging a supposed frontrunner, the Dassault campaign will be kicking itself for the ugly mess it now finds itself in -- the blacklisting of the company's Indian face for "embarrassing" the air force. Last heard, the French Embassy in Delhi was doing everything it could to get the IAF to reconsider, and allow Dassault's PV Rao to meet them. For what it's worth, the MoD has said the development doesn't in any way affect the M-MRCA selection process, seeing as it has nothing to do with the competition, but let's face it -- what Dassault has in effect done is to seriously piss off the customer in a competition it simply cannot afford to lose.

Taking off from IAF chief PV Naik's fears expressed during Aero India in February that losing vendors could delay the competition with protests and appeals, Defence Minister AK Antony has reminded the M-MRCA team to ensure that the companies are kept briefed about all decisions at every step. Once a final decision is made, the Minister has directed, that an extensive briefing will be held with all vendors, and all questions/queries sorted out in the shortest possible time.

If the Chief of Air Staff had his way, we'd have a decision on a downselect/elimination by April. The month has begun. Don't hold your breath too much.

41 comments:

Anonymous said...

oh great! IAF is the customer. finally.......

Paladium said...

Shiv Babu, Yeh hui naa koi baat.

SSG said...

Professional and Indian MoD ??? is this an April Fools joke Shiv ? LOL

Rahul Reddy Pogula said...

Blah! Nothing new in this new MoD leak... same old, same old... I hope they get their act together with legal and financial aspects of signing the ToT and manufacturing deals with Dassault for the Rafale.

Murali said...

Expensive, but would give us complete control.. i guess i could agree to that.

But, it ain't done till it is done.

Anonymous said...

Thats a brave statement.. but we can always find arguments as to why one was chosen ahead of others.

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

The MoD officer quoted above also said, "There is no political pressure. This is such a large deal that it is apt for showcasing the excellent and professional job India has done in making an informed decision which is independent of any factors, including strategic and geopolitical. The air force is the customer, not the Ministry of External Affairs."
-----------------------------------
TOTALLY WRONG!!! The IAF is NOT the customer, but merely the operator. It is the GOI's MoD that is the customer. And any so-called informed decision which is independent of factors like strategic and geopolitical, is a shortsighted one, to say the least--something the anonymous MoD officer being quoted is obviously too stupid to comprehend.

Timmy P. said...

Damn I hope we go for Typhoon....Plz...Dassault is outdated...

Timmy P. said...

The fact that the Euro fighter is willing to make an India a partner is a big deal that cannot de passed up. Transfer of tech regarding Rafale does not mean it is successful, look at Scorpene. IN every discussion, Typhoon is a force to recon with A2A, but Rafale wins to the A2G area. India is looking for A2G but in a war we have to take out the enemies airpower. Also, developing A2G in Typhoon is a priority!

the terminator said...

MMRCA selection is still not resolved after the project being initiated about a decade ago.

If the IAF , the end user has decided on the aircraft of their choice and if extraneous factors do not come into play, why is the decision still pending?

The French aircraft and the Eurofighter which new new and two of the best in terms of performance comes with a hefty price. The French like the Russians have shown that they too are not free of avarice. The Scorpone submarine deal and the upgrade price asked for the Mirage should be the barometer to gauge what could eventually be the price of the Rafale.

The consortium of companies making the Eurofighter have not been cohesive in their decision making process as regards A2G development of the aircraft, the AESA radar and the naval version of the aircraft. Unless and until they are ready to rope in India as an equal partner for the development of its tranche 3 version, India should not be fooled into going with them.

At the end of the day the selection depends on the price/spares/training/delivery of the aircraft. Above all the babus at MOD should not make the same mistake they made with the Gorshkov aircraft carrier where the Russians were able to squeeze India to part with hard earned currency.

In fact the selected aircraft should have been flying yesterday! The undue DELAY is stifling to say the least.

Anonymous said...

Well, good the MOD has come out with an unambigous statement. They at least deserve credit for that.

After reading all the comments above and over the past year. The one thing I take from this is how foreign vendors have different ways of sqeezing money. What was considered a russian disease is actually prevalent in some strain or the other among all of them.

Which is why in the near future our tiny aerospace industry has to reach critical mass and expand exponentially[with the help of the private sector and cooperation from the public sector].

This should be along with critical engine development, a2a and a2g systems. They needn't be the best but it just might give us better leverage in the top of the line aircraft/missile market.

Anonymous said...

@ Prasun
arent all people by rule stupider than you??

Anonymous said...

Well, this shows their is less possibilities for politically stabled F-18 ,
every country has disadvantage like russia -Aircraft carrier (INS Vikramaditya ),US - C-17 price hiked suddenly in FMS very specially for india , France - Scropene Sub - hiked more than 2000 crs RS with 3 ys late .

so if india has idea for 200 nos , can go for 126 nos either Rafale or Typhoon with ToT . and balance without ToT with F-18 to gain Political support from US (UN seat is the trump card ), UN status is very important for india , which cannot be easily avoidable to face two great neighbors in north .

Anonymous said...

we are hearing that the deal will be completed by year end for the last few years...oh i forgot we have an year end every year, right?.
hope by the time these 'state of the art masterpeices' arrive we need not have to arrange place in museums instead of hangers. Else we can give each of them for souvenir collectors since by then world might have moved on to unmanned combat crafts

Anonymous said...

Hi Shiv,

Thanks for this update!

Can you tell us what is your opinion? Which one would you choose, which one will be finally chosen and for what reasons?

Anonymous said...

Among Rafale & EF which is better, only experts know. To me Rafale is most beautiful lookwise. Development partner in EF is baseless, as aircraft is already developed. every contender has its problems, but the best will be chosen, I believe. Punit Shukla

Pankaj said...

Shiv sir ek baat bato kya tejas agar 2 engin ka hota to IAF KO Mmrca ke reqrmnt hoti??

RAT said...

WELL HERE WE ARE THEN 2 FIGHTERS, BOTH EUROPEAN, TWIN ENGINE DELTA WING ONE WITH LITTLE DEVELOPED ASEA OTHER STILL DEVELOPING ONE GOOD FOR A2G OTHER WELL NOT THAT GOOD IR BAD IN A2A NO STEALTH WHAT SO EVER NO TVC AS PER YET. I AM NOT SAYING THAT IT CANNOT BE ADDED IN FUTURE TO EITHER THE REQUIREMENT IS NOT TO REPLACE MIG-21 IT IS TO REPLACE MIG-27'S WHICH HAD A LOOK DOWN AND SHOOT DOWN CAPABILITY MIG 21'S WILL BE REPLACE BY LCA OR BY OTHER SINGLE ENGINE ONES HERE WE WANT A REPLACMENT FOR THE FLOGGER WE WANT THE ENFORCER DO NOT GET INTIMDATE BY WHAT THE REPORT SAYS THE TRUTH IS VERY DIFFERENT WE WILL ALL KNOW IT IN COMMMING 3-5 MONTHS TIME

Raman Kumar Singh said...

Hi Shiv,

I am a great admirer of your work. However, all the hypes that you had created from last couple of day's for this article has certainly came short as per your standard. This article has not reveled anything which was not said/understood earlier.

Thanks again for all of your hard work to keep us posted!!!

Cheers :)

Anonymous said...

"There is no political pressure...the decision... is independent of any factors, including strategic and geopolitical". That could mean that common sense prevails and the Gripen IN is the unexpected winner, which would make sense.

Anonymous said...

MoD was supposed to declare the ranking by end of last month. Now again they are saying they will declare the results "sometime" in April. If we behave in this manner, then even our vendors like Russia (Groshkov, Nerpa etc.) and France (Scorpene) will behave in similar manner. People treat you the way they perceive you.

Mr. Ra said...

In case MMRCA selection is to be based on independence and professionalism, then the end users i.e. the IAF will be most satisfied.

Mr. Ra said...

The way things are changing, I think that the LCA-I & II can be termed as the replacement and development over the depleting Mig-21s.

MMRCA can be rather understood as a futuristic replacement over the existing fleets of Mig-27, Jaguar and even Mirage-2000 in the long run.

Anonymous said...

Independence and no political considerations, sounds like the american planes are gone. Rafale, Eurofighter and Gripen on the shortlist makes sense, was my guess from the beginning.

Anonymous said...

Didn't MOD also indicate that price will also be one of the bigger deciding factors. Unlike others, India does not have money to throw away..... I do not see how we will settle for Eurofighter as it's like a Hodge Podge lodge.... Just too many hands controlling this bird. Of the two mentioned in this piece, Rafale seems more like a winner, but then again taking the price factor into focus, Rafale seems to get out of focus. I know that folks here fear the US for not providing sanction proof deals; I think that is a thing of past. India is a rising economic power, it cannot be ignored by anyone at this point. The argument that US sells to Pakistan; that is true for French as well, they are selling subs to Pak Navy... along with other things. Russians are selling to China. All I say is that it's time to move on and buy a product that makes the most sense for our armed forces.

Anonymous said...

love the world cup symbol up there

Mr. Ra said...

Three cheers for the world cup victory.

Anonymous said...

well people dealing with indian MOD will appreciate !
How about some news on the Kaveri deal? Thats really something important that will move indian aerospace forward and be a great enabler for LCA / AMCA.
But things are strangely silent on this front. Do you know if this deal is still on and why isn't it getting signed ?

Anonymous said...

@prasun: you are relentless! forget your theories what about the displays in ALH/LCH? Still elbit? hahaha
Looooooser!

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

Anon@1025AM: Not elbit, dodo, its is HALBIT--the JV between HAL & Elbit Systems. Perhaps you did not
visit the JV's booth during Aero India 2011, where the relevant information posters on the ALH/LCH were displayed. Hence your abject ignorance. hahaha...Loooooooser!

Rahul(Kolkata) said...

April 2011 or April 2021????

SSG said...

Yeah Shiv. Please give us some update on Kaveri. And are we getting EPE version of F414 for Tejas Mark 2 ? It is the one with highest thrust. And will the new K10 engine will provide more thrust than the F414-EPE ?

Anonymous said...

lovely World cup logo shiv, please leave it there, What a game!!

Gautam said...

I'd rather take the old NDA governments less 'professional' and far more practical and effective approach. If they had been in power the IAF would have had its original wish of 120 Mirage-2000s to accompany its Su-30s and they'd already be flying today instead of this circus.

Thank God this government was not in power when the deal for Su-30MKI was signed in the late 90s. Otherwise we'd have an HMRCA(Heavy Multi Role Combat Aircraft) circus to accompany this one.

Anonymous said...

I do not see any independence / professionalism being displayed while we are the largest importers of defense equipment in the world.

Chintan said...

@Prasun, that's splitting hair! The MoD officer is plainly trying to say that this is a defence purchase and not one owned by External Affairs. Its a good point. Of course, the question of whether disregarding geo-political and strategic considerations is short sighted or not is a valid one and a separate argument but the MoD comment is well directed I thought. This is just the military trying to flex its muscle and get the civvies to butt out.

the terminator said...

While the baboons at MOD with their Mr.Clean trying very hard not to lose the war on corruption and the IAF clamouring for the 126 MMRCA to be cleared asap, the depletion of squadron strength has not paused. In fact attrition in any airforce is an ongoing process. Some take immediate remedial action while others like our MOD wallahs sit on their butts with chai and biskoot.

Isn't there a word 'URGENCY' in MOD's dictionary? Are these guys waiting for the Chinki/Paki evil axis to launch a pre-emptive attack on the present assets of the IAF to be given a rude shock? Scrambling for adding new assets is going to be VERY COSTLY. Do they really care? They have perfected 'the blame game' as an art that they feel nobody can pull them up for direlection of duty.

Why don't the GOI and MOD guys realize that even if they sign up one of the vendors today, they will only get 18 fighters while the rest will have to be produced in India which has no production facilities and manpower yet for the manufacture of those aircrafts. This is going to be another Scorpeone submarine saga where the vendor claims the local entity has not enough knowhow and not competent enough to undertake such a project. HAL's position is no better with so much on their plate.

If the MMRCA deal is signed today, India MIGHT get its full compliment of 126 aircrafts in 10 year's time if there are no changes in variables. That would be the period when a fully developed Tejas Mk2 will be rolling of the assembly lines if that can be expected from HAL.

GOI, MOD just do it. Don't give shit excuses. Don't wait until India is shafted by the Chinki/Paki idiots due to your lackadaisical work culture.

Anonymous said...

If Money is not a problem then why not rafale or typhoon. since IAF would operate the jets for 30-40 years. it seems as if one of te european contenders will win MMRCA.

Ravi Khanna said...

@ Shiv : How much time further to wait for this tender.?????????????

Anonymous said...

Painfully slow progress. 2-3 weeks after Aero India... March... Downselect/elimination by April... 2012? 2013?... Only time will tell!

Anonymous said...

The air force seems to be getting away by asking for the shiniest toys. Hope they show better behavior in future when asked to use the local toys.