Four MMRCA Contenders Fail Leh Trials!

It’s the latest tidbit on India’s $12-billion Medium Multirole Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) competition that’s doing the rounds (and it was first reported by The Hindu on Tuesday). Four of the contenders that underwent cold-weather evaluation trials at Leh didn’t meet performance requirements. OK, major understatement. Four of the contenders bit dust in Leh. Read that again: four aircraft. That’s huge. It’s still unclear which part of the Leh test the four aircraft types failed at, though it is quite clear that it was either the switch off/on after landing, or the take-off with meaningful combat load at that altitude. The only thing that appears true is that four aircraft failed the trial — it is totally anyone’s guess which these are. Any want to hazard a try?

Photo by Shiv Aroor at Laage AFB, Germany (Illustrative purposes only!)

44 thoughts on “Four MMRCA Contenders Fail Leh Trials!”

  1. I hope gripen and f16 have not failed.

    But looking at the Kargil exp and success of Mirage 2000 during that time, It may be possible that French's Fighter jet might not have failed.

  2. One would Hazard this guess – the fighter with the highest power to weight ratio passed the test. The weight could most probably be full load of fuel and weapons. I know that the GE engine has a high power output, but then the F18 in trial is a heavy one. F16 and Grippen are single engines. You need all 2 engines at such rarified place. That leaves Mig, Rafale, Typhoon. I take Typhoon bcoz Austria, which is a mountainous country operates it.

  3. This is a wired situation right.

    Either the switch off/On after landing or take off with a meaningful combat load, it's a 4 out of 5 case.

    Grippen is yet to give the test.

    Or at least that result is yet to come on the gossip.

    So which one, well, good to keep people guessing, let me try my best to add to the confusion 😉

    F 18 this is operated by the Swiss ai force, if not completely similar , it has good enough conditions like Leh.

    So, did it work well?

    Mig 35, Siberian frost bites, you bet they keep them running in those conditions as well.

    So, did that clear it?

    EF 2000 well as the photo states, cold Germeany, but did it have enough in it to clear Leh.

    Rafale well it's no less cold in France, but has the aircraft been tested in these conditions, comparison to Mirage 2000 is good, it's not the same engine or not built exactly for the same.

    Did it make it?

    F 16 I will leave it alone.

    So now let's get to the other part of the story.

    F414 and the EJ 200 are the contenders for the LCA mark 2, now if any of the aircraft with these engines had issues then, some good work needs to be done before the winner is determined.

    As for Kaveri, I'm sure DRDO will be awake to this requirement, while Secma is involved.

    So any guess work would be to keep busy, on the other side people come up with some facts and references , should make it a good discussion.

    No trolling, pure facts should be helpful.

    Should help know more.



  4. Rafale and Mig-35 made it while all others failed in achieving the objectives.

    Its good that the yankee birds got kicked in technical evaluations…..

  5. I dont think it is just about the atmosphere being cold. It is also about altitude. Higher altitude means rarified atmosphere, which means less lift.

    Germany, France – all of them have cold weather bcos of the latitude – not because of altitude. Their airbases are not in the ALPS…

    From what I had read in other posts, the selection criteria was that an aircraft should pass most (if not all) of the tests. Whichever has more ticks against it wins (unless there is pulls and politics).

  6. Mig 29s have operated from Leh, so Mig 35 may hav passed.

    The other one might be Typhoon which operates in Austria especially in mountaineous regions of Innsbruck.

    The rest do not look very convincing in tackling the Leh challenge.

  7. When exactly was the Mig-35 in India for the tests? I don't think it has been tested yet. The Gripen hasn't been tested at Leh. They are still doing the hot weather trials. So when the total number of contenders tested is 4 how can 4 out of 5 fail?

    Have all four of the ones tested failed?

  8. Does anyone of us remembers this
    In the next line it goes as
    “Reports from the trial location suggest that the current phase of flight trial was progressing with aircraft and systems performing well. Officials said the aircraft were soaked overnight in cold weather, with temperature around minus 20 degrees Celsius and successfully powered up next day for operation.”
    Gripen & F-18 are one which uses the same engine as that of Tejas. So in my opinion these 2 are the ones which might have cleared the test.

  9. My money's on the Eurofighter. The EJ-200 is technically the best engine among all competitors. And the EFT has an excellent t/w ratio.

  10. I don't think the Mig-35 would have failed. I mean common the Russians and especially the guys at Mig know the Indian conditions like the back of their hands. We have been flying Migs for ages and then the Su-30 MKI. These aircrafts were designed to withstand Indian weather conditions and the stringent IAF requirements. So, there s no way the Mig-35 could have failed the cold weather tests at Leh!

  11. Guys, Please dont confuse cold with altitude.. cold means MORE dense air, higher altitude means LESS dense air, no matter how cold. That is.. at high altitude there is not enough air (Oxygen) to suck in. So Siberian winter, German winter, French winter is all the same as Leh winter, but Leh has LESS air density as well.

    Less air means lowered thrust AND lowered lift.

    So I dont think it is the on/off after switch off that 'failed' as all these planes are acclimatized in West. It has to be the full load take off. Again as in my earlier post, me thinks Typhoon did the best.

  12. My guesstimate : the Rafale , Super Hornet , Gripen and MiG-35 are the ones that failed.

    Although MiG-29s have been operating out of Leh for a while , I expect the MiG-35s weight gain has resulted in poorer performance.

    F-16 with its F-110-GE129/132 engine should be quite powerful, and the Typhoon is pretty light for its 90kN EJ200s.

  13. if 4 of the aircraft's failed and 2 – gripen and mig didnt participate yet, Lets cancel the entire mrca contract and issue the order to LCA which cleared all the tests

  14. From the vote it seems that F 16 is getting the most votes. This tells us that even for the small section of people following defence blogs, public opinion mostly depends on politics in spite of all this ga ga about technology. F 16 is getting most votes simply bcoz Pak has it.

  15. 🙂

    I don't know which fighters 'failed' the leh tests, but I know that our LCA passed those tests with flying colours.

    BTW we should not pass judgement on what exactly constitued that failure, before the facts are laid bare.

  16. i hope EF-2000 Typhoon, Gripen, F/A-18 Super Hornet, F-16 Super Viper i hope…?

    Cause MiG-35 is made in Russia, we Know the harsh climate on Northern Parts. so they develops their Product as per their own needs.

    last Rafale we know about their Mirage-2000 done excellent during the 1999 war

  17. It's not about the cold! It's not even that cold in Leh. In both Russia and Sweden it gets to under -30C where they base jets. The issues is altitude.

    This news is not concerning Gripen from what I can tell or the Gripen passed the test too. Hindu Times reported 4 out of 6 failed before Gripen had gone to Leh.

  18. Let's not overlap the two cold and high altitude. The toughest trial should be hot and high i.e. summer at Leh.

    The "Cold" is for instant start-up. Some western fighters are often kept in heated pens to keep them operationally ready.

    But cold helps to densify the thin air. So it helps planes with lower TWR.

    High altitude on the other hand presents the challenge as the thin air reduces the capabilities of engine. So those planes which are already low on TWR sink even lower in performance and high-G manouevers.

    Peak summer at Leh should be best to conduct high-G manouevers test for all candidates.

  19. 1. f/a-18 hornet, coz its specifically designed for maritime roles.

    2. f-16 – for no reason.

    3. gripen – coz i dnt know much abt swedem,/ or bcoz its using american engines.

    4. not sure abt typhoon/ rafale. typhoon have been fyling with Luftwaffe, which operates them in Alps, so most probably rafale.

    mig-35 being a russian aircraft, it's always tests in sub zero. temp. So usko hai thandi mein bhi garmi ka ehsaas!

  20. On 23 January 2010, India's ambassador to Italy stated that the Eurofighter Typhoon was in the lead!!! Think EF Typhoon has cleared Leh testing successfully.

  21. I am pretty sure that it was Gripen and Eurofighter that pased the test.

    This is funny because I am sure that means that now importance of the Leh-test will be downplayed.

    Because: India will end up with Superhornet anyway testing goes. That is my bet.

  22. The MMRCA program is supposed to bridge the ever widening gap between requirement and availability of fighter squadrons. I wonder why India has not tried joining the JSF program!
    F18 Hornet has been a difficult aircraft to maintain even by the US, with lots of hiccups. It is also a carrier based aircraft. Why consider it for the IAF?
    F16 is a 30 year old stuff. Though the new block aircraft are an entirely different bird, it still is a single engine aircraft and Pakistanis use them. By now IAF must have had enough experience to decide whether the F16 is so good that they would like to be in the same bird as their enemies.
    Americans have been lobbying hard with their AESA radar but eventually all the birds will have AESA radars. Plus, the US would never part with the critical technology. When, if ever, time comes to take the birds to the war, one will never know what kind of drama the US will put up! We must remember what happened to Iranian F15 Tomcats.
    Rafael , just like any French hardware, is too costly and totally unproven. The French have had a lot of teething problems with it already.
    Gripen may be a cheap aircraft with easy to upgrade, but much of its critical components including the engines are purchased from the US. It is still nowhere close to having AESA radar. Question also remains about how it would perform in a possible dogfight, with the twin engine big-wings like the Su-30/Su-27s flown by the PLA scums.
    Natural choice remains between Euro-fighter (super-cruise and AESA radar) and the Mig-35 (with thrust vectoring and AESA radar). Both are twin engine and are somewhat battle-tested. Why don’t we mix and match: say 40:60 between Mig and Typhoon and keep buying other American hardware and transport-aircraft, choppers, AWACS etc. so that we can have both the F35 and FGFA (since we are unlikely to get the F22 ever!) when the time is right. Best of both worlds!
    Please let me know what you think about this enlightened self-interest point of view……….

  23. Russian hardware are tough and hardy.The Mig29s have operated from Leh. Since the little Gripen is yet to take the test…. most likely only the Mig 35 is the one that made it.

  24. I only hope and pray that IAF does not buy any of the 'failed' aircraft due to US presure. They know they have got us by 'balls' thanks to nuclear fuel supply issue. They can do anything, really, we are helpless.

    I hope Gripen NG-MKI wins this, since inducting Gripen will give HAL a great benchmark for improving Tejas as well. The only weakness iwith Gripen is it does not have an operational AESA as yet, but this can easily be fixed by the time first aircraft is inducted. It is only an issue of money since technology is now mature.

  25. The media in our country – Livefist included is getting more irresponsible by the day. Gratuitous statements like this without evidence to back it up is not only misleading, but the eagerness to get a "scoop" at any cost is detrimental to our procurement process. The guys doing the MMRCA eval are an outstanding bunch of professionals, please let them do their job without amateur speculation.

  26. It should be F-18, F-16, Gripen and Rafale.

    F-18 don't have any experience of working in such cold conditions neither F-16 have that…

    Rafale has never worked out in such conditions nor the SAAB Gripen..

    MiG-35 and Eurofighter have that exp..Since they hail from the countries where the Temp is much colder that Leh in India.

  27. @anonymous 10:02 AM:

    You really need a geography lesson.. Gripen and F-16 have a lot more experience with cold conditions than Eurofighter. Yes, some of the countries that have eurofighters have high mountains, but no airbases are located very high.

    Norway got F-16s permantently stationed above the arctic circle at Bodø. The rest of norway is also generally much colder than the other european countries that use Eurofighter and Rafale. I live close to Oslo, the capital of Norway, in the southern part, and we've had close to -30 degress celcius many times this winter. Some of the colder parts of norway have had temperatures close to -50 degrees for weeks at a time this winter.

    The same with Gripen. The northern parts of Sweden is much colder than most of europe. And they have europe's largest over-land test range in the north of sweden.

  28. It is not just cold, but cold and high altitudes that require higher thrust to take off with meaningful load. I wonder if people even read other comments to enrich their knowledge.

    There has been quite a few posts saying that it is not just the cold that matters, but people just ignore it and keep mentioning cold climate in other countries!!

    Please stop and do some research. There is lots of info out there on the web. Find out the altitude of Leh and its temperature and find out how many other countries operate at that altitude and climate! An airforce can operate from artic or antartic, but if it is at sea level, there is a world of difference comparing that to Leh, and performance wont be the same!!

  29. failed jets are f16, f18, Rafael, and euro-fighter…. as discussed it was an altitude problem due to high atmospheric pressure and lack of oxygen, mig 35 which is posted in the ural mountains bcoz of its design n engine thrusters has the ability to quickly pick up altitude,
    the gripen has to go for leh trials after 15 april, rafale n euro fighter are out due to cost being very high , f16 n f18 are being replaced by Americans themselves thus the competition is between mig35 n gripen also who said all 126 fighter will be of same make it will be a mix of mig 35 n gripen, as per as new reports gripen will be given with the tweaked ge414 re christened by the swedes and it can be used for lca tejas too

  30. Gripen NG offers operational dominance and flexibility with superior mission survivability. Air-to-air superiority is guaranteed with METEOR, AMRAAM, IRIS-T, AIM-9X missile capability and supercruise. Air-to-surface capability is assured through the use of the lastest generation precision weapons and targeting sensors. Gripen NG’s superior situation awareness is ensured through an AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar, IRST (Infrared Search And Track) passive sensor, HMD (helmet-mounted display), cutting edge avionics, next generation data processing and a state-of-the-art cockpit.

    so who ever said gripen does not have aesa think again

  31. Frankly guys, Russian equipment is sturdy but out dated junk. They have not developed anything new since the end of the USSR. Most of their hardware is substandard thus cheap. I think their maintanence costs are huge too. Even the M29 were all grounded. The IAF pilots maintained an edge over their PAF adversaries, not because of their equipment but due to their skills. IAF would have had real trouble if the PAF pilots had used their sophisticated equipment with more skill. India has the best fighter companies bending over backwards to sell them to India. The Mig35 is more of Mig 29 in different colours with no real advantage to me with my views as a layman. I feel it is time our flyboys got the best available equipment. Russian Migs in my opinion are niether the best nor do they have the competance and talent pool required to develop sophisticated hardware that could give the IAF an edge even over the Chineese

  32. The Super Hornet is probably the aircraft that didn't have problems. A previous poster mentioned that the two most important things for the aircraft to have were high thrust and the ability to generate a lot of lift. The SH has the most powerful engines and had to be able to generate an enormous amount of lift for it to be carrier capable.

  33. Mig 35 is a totally new fighter …. it has been redesigned throughly … base platform from the tested Mig 29 …. so it has new engines .. more power… newer cockpit … more maneuverbilty… faster … newer AESA radar… reduced RCS .. few stealth features … can carry heavier payloads … operate better in Indian conditions …it incoporates features from the Russian space program … so just do not take it like the previous Migs .. this Mig 35 means real business…. just see some videos of it at…..

  34. If four failed the Leh trials and the Gripen passed the Leh trial, which of the ones selected did not pass the Leh trial?

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