A Big Fat MMRCA Update

Sick of hearsay and rumours? Well, here’s some stuff that’s confirmed true, authoritative, new, and potentially explosive for contenders in the Medium Multirole Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) competition. Let me just start by saying that the ball is squarely with the MoD now — the field evaluation trial report has been submitted, but has not yet been approved by the MoD. There is likely to be a measure of back and forth between South Block and Vayu Bhawan before it is approved and passed on for the next stage. In the meanwhile, chew on this. No rumours here.

Point One, The Indian Air Force won’t choose a twin-engine aircraft in the MMRCA, if a single-engine aircraft can “do the job”, i.e, is satisfactorily compliant on all 643 test points that each of the six airplanes were tested for during the field evaluation trials (FETs). The IAF is of the view that both single and twin engine platforms have their own advantages, but that it will not discriminate between the two. If all six aircraft are compliant, the cheapest will be selected whether its twin or single-engined.

Point Two, and this is a biggie — The model being used to gauge cost is not the lifecycle cost (LCC) model (American) as was previously thought. That model has been dumped since the IAF perceives it to have too many “indeterminables” (read, ambiguities), and not measured in precisely the same way across the six aircraft being offered, despite being specifically asked for. In other words, the MMRCA purchase model will be based much more on unit flyaway cost of aircraft and financing options — i.e, not quite overall cost of ownership, or at least not in the way the IAF had thought it would. The IAF and vendors have held 14 meetings on LCC so far — that gives you an idea of the tangle. The IAF decided that it would only work with what is “determinable”. In other words, no complex formulae on future savings on maintenance and overhaul. Do you see why I used the word bombshell in the post title? 🙂

Point Three, cost is going to be a big determinant. Out of the six aircraft that are judged compliant, the cheapest will be identified as L1, and will logically be the chosen aircraft.

Point Three-and-a-half, it emerges now that each vendor was extensively briefed on their performance once the trials were over, so they have a comprehensive sense of how they performed — their function of compliance, if you will — but they have nothing to compare it with. So unless you account for industrial espionage, none of the vendors know how the others have performed, but know exactly how well or badly their own platform performed during trials.

Point Four, the air force’s trial report has been submitted to the MoD, but the latter hasn’t approved it yet. The trial report strictly contains a tabulated representation of each contending platform’s compliance or otherwise for each of 643 test points. Significantly, the trial report does not quantify the level of compliance of each airplane, but rather leaves this for the MoD to understand. In other words, the trial report has all the data and results, but no recommendations, no merit list, no explicit downselect, no stated eliminations, nothing. Yet, by virtue of the data it presents, everything is implicit. It provides the data. It provides the benchmarks for compliance. The MoD figures out who’s in, who’s not quite in, who’s definitely out. The IAF hasn’t put that down. The IAF has submitted a “factual report” — the rest is upto the MoD. Again, there’s been no ranking at any stage.

Point Five, there have been frequent attempts by various players to suggest that some of the non-US contenders will have trouble getting export licenses for subsystems that may be of American origin (like the Gripen’s engines, weapons on some of the others etc). Let’s lay that to rest for now — the IAF extracted government-endorsed guarantees from each such contending vendor that there would be no problems in the supply of such equipment, and it was based on this guarantee certificate that the contender was allowed to participate in trials.

Finally, the option exists for the IAF to go for more than 126 aircraft, but a decision has not yet been taken on whether to club that option with the principal purchase. Having said that, chances are that the option will be exercised.

52 thoughts on “A Big Fat MMRCA Update”

  1. Ok… Now Gripen and F-16 are the best contenders. Yesterday they were out… i feel disapointed by so many version of the IAF report.

    Shiv, can you give us your feelings about what will happen?

  2. @Shiv

    If you ask me then F-16IN, F-18SH are out of the race simply b'coz Indian government is reluctant to sign CISMOA and other stringent agreements.

    That leaves the 3 European and MiG-35 is out since the talk has been around already that IAF does not want to put all its eggs in Russian basket.

    Between Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon and JAS 39 Gripen IN, my calcualtion says Dassault Rafale is out becasuse of its high price.

    That leaves Eurofighter Typhoon and JAS 39 Gripen IN in the fray but the problem is, in the end it will be a political decision and India may still go for F-18SH as it wants good relation with US and anything Swedish is still considered hot potato (Bofors guns)

  3. well im thinking …if this update is true then India has just to cancel the useless MMRCA to buy more M2k or build more LCA

  4. This is quite honest and justified recommendation from iaf… It's logical and makes sense too.. Thanks shiv for your update… Babus and netas should distract their brains off their fat briben pockets and use them in getting the best deal for our country…

  5. This news seems like we traveled back in time before the trials.
    It's just posturing, in my opinion.

    Now, some of the contenders have already been shot down, but which ?

  6. This means IAF has given full chances to corrupt MOD official and politician to choose. not to mention on the basis of their own interest. What d hell IAF is doing?

  7. This is some really serious stuff..
    All still have a chance..if they have performed…
    My heartbeats are getting reckless n wish we had a daring MOD..
    MIG 35 has a good chance ..as its the cheapest..though the airframe is old..it can do all the bad things in a good way…but still i don't trust the old US or Russian hardware ..hoping to c the Rafale or EF in Indian colors..it has never been this exciting..this one ll definitely take many by surprise ..

  8. Bharat-RATshakers suck

    Interesting report. Going by point1, the IAF doesnt want a dual engine plane, then the only 2 left are Gripen and F16.

    But the report goes on to state that the IAF hasn't specified which it wants, leaving it implicitly mentioned. This could lead to an open ended deal because the babus would take it to mean whatever suits them. The IAF should have been specific. Afterall, they are the end user. Leaving to babustan is always a bad idea, specially when it was given to you to choose.

    If the F16 is in, it will give the US extreme power to influence the GOI to choose it. Since the US will shove it down the GOI throat by bribing babus, pressuring them, blackmailing them etc etc I think it is safe to conclude that the F16 will be the one chosen.

    Its sad because the US planes have too many strings attached to them.

    But then again, this is how things happen when babus are all corrupt to the bone.

  9. die Bharat RATshak

    Cool_sky06, exactly. Leaving it implicit has left it to the babus to interpret the way they see fit. And the only way they see fit is whichever brings them the most money (them, not the country)

  10. As much as everyone wants to buy LCA for MRCA, it is not ready yet.

    It's been 2.5 years since they started selecting an engine and that task is still not complete.

  11. The senior leadership of IAF is damn smart or damn corrupt or a fool. If this is true then they have left a BIG AMBIGUITY on the issue of what they ACTUALY want. This is a classic case of an arranged marriage. The girl (IAF) says she is happy with all the boys as long as Papa (MoD/MoF) can make the right decision and choose the best one for her. ?

    In my opinion, IAF doesn’t posses economist/ financial strategist (it can be seen from its refusal to use Life Cycle Costing model). Now this will mean smart arsed babus/netas in MoD/MoF will use this big loophole to buy what they want (with bribes of course). The true cost of a fighter is never known. Case in point is the ever escalating cost of Su 30 MKI. Its current cost is 100 mil per craft according to the latest contract. Even IAF will never know how much any of the fighters cost as they will never be privy to financial negotiations between the vendor and MoD/MoF. And never forget "Consulation Fees" when India does sign on the dotted line. “Con Fee” can be as high as 50% of the final price. Plus one of the big money spinner will be weapons integration cost that the chosen vendor will charge. Remember the fiasco of Scorpene deal.

    Cecx Fable & Gas

  12. interesting that IAF is open to single engined fighters as well. makes a lot of sense given their lower operaion cos and that fits in well with the overall structure with the MKI being the twin heavyeight, a single engined MRCA and LCA with Mig29 and m2K for various strike and defense roles.

    i wish the grippen gets it if it is a single engined bird, else the EFT

  13. Russian aircraft are the best,their performance is unmatched,this has been admitted many times by the USAF after their "evaluations".According to me,the MiG 35 is the best,the Eurofighter looks ugly(but performance is good),I pray that is n't selected,the F-16,well,no,not as good as the MiG 35,well,I don't think we will really be able to determine the winner…:(

  14. there are three main blocks – Russian, European and American. India is already purchasing billions worth weapons from Russians and Americans, so why put all the mango's in the same crate – now it is time for the Europeans, we need support from all the three corners!

  15. there are three main blocks – Russian, European and American. India is already purchasing billions worth weapons from Russians and Americans, so why put all the mango's in the same crate – now it is time for the Europeans, we need sort from all the three corners!

  16. Hi Shiv,
    This is tricky or rather downright stupid. in terms of cost Grippen is the cheapest. Where does that leave Tejas in that case? Both are same weight class and have similar capabilities in terms of weapon load and combat radius. F16 is anyway out due to their usage by Terrorist state of Pakistan Airforce (TSPA). Blocks are merely upgraded avionics and weapon suits. They use Block 52 and the one offered to us will be block 60IN.

    Moreover , No country buys weapons from Amir khans, they are merely leased. Can't be used against Pukistan, strings attached etc and source codes ityadi..

    Why all this drama in the first place? IMO this is just a posturing to get the right prices from Rafaele and Typhoon.

    Unkil Sam will offer F16 very cheap by the way to take out all the juice from production line. Mig35 will also come dirt cheap but it is an upgraded Mig29 onlee.

    Posturing posturing by Babus for prices.. It is smart. Now see the fun when the twin engine planes will come at almost similar prices to F16 and grippen.

  17. Lets hate bharatRATshak

    anon6:43 PM

    Absolutely true. Our armed forces are stupid to not have financial experts like that of the US, which is probably why they are fed expired food. So they will get ripped by the babustan who will take whatever deal pays them the most, or gives them perks.

    Maybe we can send some rat-shakers to the border and they can fight and die there.

  18. Dear Shiv,

    I don't understand, if the cheapest will be chosen what about political choice?? It was supposed to be key…

    BTW these news are really good for F-16 or Gripen and very bad for Rafale and EF.

    Your friend of Timesnow was totally mistaken or there is some truth in his report?

    Can you please clarify which informations of this past fews days are really trustable?

  19. Makes sense as the requirement was for a single engined aircraft in large numbers to replace the Mig-21.
    IMHO, F-16IN is a good replacement. Only question is – How well does it fare against the Mig-21 Bison? But given a choice between F-16 and Gripen, I'd rather go for the latter.
    Could any well informed poster shed some light on the comparison? I heard udti-udti khabar that the Bison's had given a hard time to the F-15's during a certain exercise in 2004 or 2005. But the USAF pilots griped about the contest being tailor made to suit IAF fighter jocks.
    Besides, F-16 and F-18 are the only planes flying with a fully operational AESA which I think was another requirement by the IAF or was it stated to give extra brownie points to the machine flying with an operational AESA?
    Lets see who MoD decides to pick. IAF's role is all but over and if they indeed had the kind of leverage over MoD that we all hope for, then it would have been a totally different scenario altogether and we'd be flying M2K's ordered far earlier in the decade, no?

  20. 6:49 PM

    Are you a moron? Shiv said that the IAF is not using the longterm cost model. Everyone thought they were using it, thats the "bombshell". You've been at the RATshak forum for too long. Now look at you, you've become stupid.

    Stay away from the RATshak hole!

  21. Mock combat JAS 39 C vs MiG-29 at airshow 2010; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=walHLvmaIq0
    Unfortunately the cameraman was not so professional, so he zooms in to much to miss the overall picture of the dogfight, but you get the picture; The MiG-29 dose not stand a chance vs the Gripen 39C! For the MMRCA? Well the updated Mig-35 would face the same situation vs JAS 39 NG/IN, thrust vectored or not.

  22. Hi, IMHO the best choice for IAF is the Gripen 39 IN. Why? IAF will have +200 SU-30MKI, so why waste to much money on another twin engined AC? Remember that air superiority comes in quantity (and quality of course, which all of the contenders have). For the low price of Gripen 39 IN, IAF will be able to buy many more AC. With the quite large number of SU-30MKI and about same number of Gripen 39 IN, the air superiority will be written in stone. Pakistan threat? Well they will not dare to get close to IAF, their F-16's would fall from the sky like burning meteors…

  23. If IAF really needs single engine planes, why did they silently accept bids from rest 4 contenders.

    with 20 more LCA tenders, IAF really evaluated all the top notch fighters and compared it to capabilities of LCA.

    good job. I still love Typhoon or Rafale to win this competition.

    I want engines for LCA.

  24. Now IMO,

    * IAF is very smart, they have carried out the trials, brifed every vendor on the findinds of the trial and submitted its Stastical report to MoD.

    * They have come clean on the subject .. Wow. No one can raise thier fingers in this vendor driven journalistic invironment.

    * They have put MoD babus in quandery to make the "purchase decision". Let me see how do they say IAF to do retendering? Retrial?

    * IAF has left "Strategic considerations" for the Babus and Mr Antony. Either they will make a good decision or face the flake.

    What IAF would be saying is pertinently correct " out of six may be four meet our requirement", Hamko Jo dena hai wo de do, Lekin de do"..

    Do not spoil the show like MoD did it for 155mm guns. Look at the tamsha they did? They moved CBI and DRDO to scuttle the project? Army should have understood the game the moment CBI moved in..

    Army to learn something.. The biggest lesson is that if you want equipment, give no preferences so that MoD profits are maximised.

  25. @anon 8:00
    gripen is a joke nobody wants to baby sit this orphan for the swedes
    saab communication is for fanboys, in the real world saab is nothing for airforces and government

  26. @joydeep ghosh

    The Typhoon is more expensive than the Rafale. So it will be the first to be eliminate if the price is the key point.

  27. The Leh trials were the ones that half the aircraft failed.
    F-18, F-16, and AFAIK Rafale had trouble taking off in the high altitudes.
    While the JAS Gripen, EF Typhoon, and Mig-35 performed well.

    JAS Gripen is the cheapest plane around, followed by the Mig-35.

    It seems the toss up is between the JAS Gripen and EF Typhoon. The american birds are out because Indian will NOT sign CISMOA. The russian bird is out because its Russian, and upgrades to the Su-30 MKI and the T-50 will have all these techs coming to India via TOT. The french have been pacified by the Jatipur Areva N plants and the Mirage-2000 upgrades, and the possibility of Indian buying the UAE mirage-2000-9s and the necessary weaponry for them.

  28. IAF has made sure that, they have all options open for corruption. Definitely field trials have been used to extract the maximum bribe from every contender!!!

  29. Being the world's 4th largest air force, the Iaf is entirely unprofessional. The brazilian tender was far better in the sense that they were able to outmanuver their own president french dikta to keep the competition still open. i hope iaf gets f***ed up, big time. This would be bae hawk episode 2. Fortunately atleast there is Tejas to hold fort, hope iaf doesn't scuttle it like ajeet.

  30. "The Leh trials were the ones that half the aircraft failed.
    F-18, F-16, and AFAIK Rafale had trouble taking off in the high altitudes."

    100% untrue regarding the Rafale who was the one which performed the best at Leh ,even taking off at full load without even needing the whole distance…
    Info given by the IAF Commander to Brazil FAB chief during a recent visit in Brasilia.

  31. Anonymous@10:45 pm – "IAF has made sure that, they have all options open for corruption. Definitely field trials have been used to extract the maximum bribe from every contender!!!"

    Your kind would cast a doubt on their own mothers. The dumb bastard that you are, it makes little sense tossing more epithets at you.

  32. Every thing is being guessed, discussed,impressed and finally fabricated by the participants in various blogs over internet. The points being made, clearly and strongly, reflect organisational parochial interest of innumerable subset of MoD within and out side players. Public as always remains gullible and uninformed.

    While the fliers ardumstruck and dreaming about mounting various flying beauties as per their knowledge and choices, prides and prejudices, other subsets are not behind.

    DRDO people see this as an end of their egoistic and air castle but well paying Empire which they only dream about but never built solidly through achievement.

    Keeping aside the issues involved, PSU guys are crying foul just to protect their Empires. They go shrill to the point of potraying as if HAL is India and India is HAL. Any thing the screw farts gold.

    Incentive journalists have their strange explanation. Vendors are ready to do any thing.

    It is all mist, mist and strange confusing mist.

    This the ways of MoD which unfortunately is IDAS, CCS and IAS fuedalistic fiefdom rather than being an institution. They promote non transperency, skullduggery, backstabing, Corruption, infighting, promtionalism rather then professionalism. In Independant India, it has developed as a coercive negetive instrument rather than well structured and meaningful Institution. A few there who consider it as their Empire promote division and conflits rather than unision and synergy. A non functional dark hole, is the best way to describe it.

    Rather than doing it after an RTI, why do not they display the findings on their web site? If honesty and transperency is paramount for Hon. RM's mind, he should put up IAF findings on the MoD web page !

    Kahani khatam!

    Well this blog would not exist if such a thing happens. Not that I wish ill to the blog !

  33. Good post. Lucid. Measured. Good bell weather for future discussions. And doesnt count anyone in or anyone out. Excellent.

  34. the best news and looking serious, it is the information comming from chanel TIMENOW TV,
    they are linked with the military/politic world.
    I give credit because that match with many rumors coming out from different source.

    MAG REPORT date from july, it seem
    prepared long time a go before knowing the final report, i don t give credit et doesn t mach with unoffical news.

  35. "The Indian Air Force won't choose a twin-engine aircraft in the MMRCA, if a single-engine aircraft can "do the job", "

    If a single engine fighter could do the job of twin-enginned fighter then why do nations develop twin-enginned fighters ?

  36. It is going to be a fight between the eurocanards.

    If the Gripen can perform all the 600 odd tasks, the other two more expensive birds are in trouble.

    If the IAF thinks that the Gripen is too much like the LCA then the Gripen is in trouble. An indication is the recent IAF order for 20 more mark 1 LCAs. Perhaps the IAF realized that what they were extensively testing on the Gripen was already being tested on the LCA.

    That makes the two EF and Rafale left in the front, with EF having the lead because of its offer of wide TOT, making india a partner in EADS EF and scope for future development. The Rafale loses out becasue of its absence of any sales, and the generally expensive french avionics and weaponry.

  37. The 'rules' allow any of the contenders to be chosen.

    This is just how the politicians want it. the decision now firmly rests in the political advantages that each of the bidders offer.

  38. Sir, the engine of the Gripen is a RM-12 made by Volvo, its an american Engine that has been totally modified and are superior in every aspect of the American counterpar// Swedish Army

  39. The reasons to choose the SAAB Gripen 39IN/NG;
    1. IAF will have +262 SU30MKI, highly capable twin engined fighter air craft.
    2.IAF is replacing the small one engined flying coffins, i.e. MiG-21
    3. For the future IAF is planning the next generation 5/6 generation fighter air craft in collaboration with the Russians.

    What the IAF needs now and for the forseeable future is:
    A) a small, cheap, capable multi role/swingrole top of the line AC that do not drain the IAF coffins.
    A plane with capabilities that in larger numbers will intimidate and dominate any air force threat, in co-operation with the IAF SU-30MKI. There is only 1 fighter air craft that fills this specification; the SAAB Gripen 39NG/IN!
    B) The contender should be able to bring enough technique to India to secure future indiginous development of fighter air craft. No bidder exept SAAB Gripen International does propose that: The others bring wings and screwdrivers and bolts and call that ToT.
    If this in not decided by most bribes I expect the Gripen 39IN to succeed!

  40. well guys congrats for your great work.our scientists can build new aircrafts and we are developing technologie which no country can acquire..well india have to go in the mrca deal without any international politics invoved.i think eurofighter is much better than other aircrafts as it is 405 generation fighter as it can attack multiple targets at a time. think

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