*MMRCA Contract Update*

The request for proposal (RFP) document for the IAF’s proposed 126 medium multirole combat aircraft (MMRCA) purchase is complete and ready to be fired. The way the procurement procedure has played out so far, there are a thousand voices all saying different things, but it is now confirmed that the document has been vetted by the Legal Cell and Acquisition Wing of the Defence Ministry, offset and ownership cost formula glitches have been ironed out and the document is ready, in all respects, to be sent out to the Embassies of the United States (for the Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon Block 70 and Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet), France (for the Dassault Rafale-B/C), Russia (for the RAC-MiG MiG-35), Sweden (for the Saab JAS-39 Gripen) and Germany (for the EADS Eurofighter Typhoon).

I remember former IAF chief S Krishnswamy lamenting at his final press conference in October 2004 that red tape was holding up the formal release of the RFP. At the time, the MoD of course had its reasons — it was bang in the middle of reworking its defence procurement procedure and saw prudence in holding on to the RFP until it could slam in an integrity clause compulsion and, of course, the very necessary offsets clause. Foreign plaints that the MoD’s offset policy is singularly rigid and no in keeping with global best practices has been all but ignored by the government. The matter recently took the proportions of an ego-issue, when an official from one of the contending firms decided to engage Defence Secretary Shekhar Dutt at a recent CII event. A flustered Dutt told the gentleman to do his job and allow the government to do its own, and that India had not gone far enough from independence to begin taking the advice of foreign interests again. Yes, it’s still a very touchy subject.

Interestingly, some “on the ball” state governments have made representations to the government asking for a rethink on the direct offsets policy, explaining that indirect offsets would allow for investments and job creation in a variety of other sectors unrelated to defence. The MoD has “taken under consideration” these presentations but doesn’t seem in the mood to be advised otherwise. The companies that will receive an RFP see this as a real problem, with potentially larger entanglements in the future. Again, the MoD is not interested.

44 thoughts on “*MMRCA Contract Update*”

  1. An extremely unfortunate state of events given that the nation’s own 4th geneation fighter, Tejas, is not being considered for this “obscenely expensive” contract at all. The culprit is the Defence Committee report of 2005, as per which the Tejas has been “boxed in” as a Light-weight aircraft only meant to replace MiG-21s.
    That it is equal to Gripen in all respects, is being deliberately ignored by the MoD and IAF.

    In 20-25 years from now, planes like F-22 and JSF shall be the norm and UCAVs, space-based warfare shall be the cards to be held close to the chest (like F-22 and JSF are now). By that time, the F-18s, MiG-35s etc. shall become the MiG-21s of today.

    Then, India shall float another tender for F-22 or JSF–while stymying the indigenous MCA. This vicious circle of perpetual and perrenial dependency on foreign arms will thus never end, and it seem that the armed forces, arms dealers and politicians do not want it to end.

    It may be hoped with earnest that if a foreign aircraft is chosen for the MRCA, then this contract should be the LAST of the major foreign defence procurements by India.

    Mr. Aroor, with the huge broadcasting capability at your disposal, (your News Channel reports, your blog etc.) I may request you to atleast question this absurd contract by th MoD. I do not take ANY credit whatsoever for this view and shall delete any/all my posts pertaining to this. But I do humbly request you to atleast begin questioning this tender in the media.

    I feel very bad that the Tejas is not even being sent one RFP for this tender. It is a gross injustice of the highest order.

    Thank you.

  2. abhiman: your concerns about the Tejas are well known throughout this blog now. i think it’s time to take the debate further. for one thing, we haven’t heard too much of a clamour from DRDO/HAL about the tejas not being included in the sweepstakes. second, the MRCA contract is inherently lopsided. you’ve the tejas-like gripen on the one hand and you’ve got the heavy super hornet and typhoon on the other. there’s nothing anybody can do about it right now. and the reason HAL/DRDO haven’t made a noise about it is that there’s no way they can reasonably protest against not getting an RFP when the LCA hasn’t gotten to even IOC yet. that’ll only happen in 2008-09, with FOC two years later, so let’s be realistic. the sulur LSP squadron will be undergoing tests. your comparison with the Typhoon is very pertinent. however, the typhoon has been cleared except for a few operational modes. that said, the IAF has already presented its skepticisim about the typhoon to the MoD, citing and incomplete and terminally “hurried” development programme. the fact remains, and let this be the end of the tejas for MRCA debate, that HAL cannot get an RFP (i wish it could) because the LCA is not ready. period.

  3. Mr. Aroor, I have given the range-payload comparisons of all the contenders in the “Israel and the MRCA” thread (and also, a few months back on an earlier MRCA or LCA related thread). I may hope that you have gone through that post.

    I may also reitrate that the Tejas will get FoC BEFORE the MRCA is finalized after some 4-5 years of protracted negotiations. Hence, one of the original motivations of the MRCA viz. Tejas’ projected delay has been totally negated. Thus, the Tejas-incomplete-hence-need-for-MRCA argument no longer applies.


    P.S. I do not wish to be “well-known” etc. at all. Kindly do not burden me with that rhetoric.

  4. i agree with abhiman ,i have seen his post in br but i am not a member there to support him ,Tejas as the same range and payload capacity to out perform most of the contenders in MMRCA why spend $$$ when most of the so called high grade avionics can be easily integrated with Tejas it self ,since all the contenders donot have any stealth element in them to justify their superiority over tejas




  5. Vinay, please tell me which of the MMRCA contender Tejas beats in range and payload capacity?

    Abhiman, how are you saying that the Tejas is going to complete the FOC before the finalization of MMRCA? Do you have inside knowledge of the status of it? You have the same public knowledge as we have so that is your opinion and your opinion counts for nothing as far as facts are concerned.

    You guys just don’t get it do you? If they try to hurry the program because of MMRCA and if there is even one accident, the funding for Tejas might be cut short so fast before you can spell the word Tejas. Please leave it alone, LCA is too important for us in the long term. An induction number of 250 for Tejas is good enough for now. Did you forget the AWACS program and how they took away the fund after the crash?

  6. teews, as per various media reports quoting officials from MoD and IAF, the selection of the MRCA itself shall take 4-5 years atleast after the RFP is dispatched. The first of these aircraft won’t be delivered in more than 7-8 years from now. In contrast, by 2011 itself (as per media reports & Mr. Baweja’s statements) 1 squadron of Tejas would have been inducted in the IAF already with FoC cleared.

    There is no need to “hurry” the program (as you said); the current pace itself has been taken into account for the Tejas’ IoC and FoC projections.

    Please note that both the twin needs of a) deep-penetration strike, and b) multi-role medium range attack/defence are adequately met by the “combo” of Su-30MKI and Tejas**. All the MRCA contenders broadly fall in either of these 2 categories only–there is no “middle-ground”. Thus, this deal is not necessary.

    Thank you.

    ** Along with the Mirage-2000, Jaguar, MiG-29 etc. for specialized roles.

  7. abhiman: teews is merely saying, we need to take this one forward. media reports or not! nobody’s trying to burden you with anything, abhiman, so please don’t feel persecuted. we’re simply saying, take the issue forward now. you’ve been crying hoarse about this forever (including your reply to teews in this very post), and he’s simply asking you to step ahead from what you’ve already been saying. some of us may agree with you, but that doesn’t mean you keep saying the same stuff right? surely you know more than what you’re reading in media reports!

    vinay: pleasure to have you here. why don’t you give us a nice comprehensive tech and spec comparison analysis of the tejas with the six MMRCA contenders. send it to me at [email protected]. we’ll post that here on livefist with a link to your tejas site. i think that should put this debate on a new platform of its own.

  8. Queen bee Shiv, you will actully understand what Vinay will give you? (:eek)

    Vinay, he is desperate for contributers. If you write about auto rickshaw, mention name LCA or tejas and write DRDO is a failure, he will think its authentic.

  9. Vinay (if you are who you claim to be; I however don’t think so), the range-payload specifications of the Tejas are equivalent to that of the Gripen only. They are also almost equivalent to the existing MiG-29s of the IAF, which should be sufficient.

    The Tphoon, Rafale and the F-18 have range-payload parameters which exceed that of the Su-30MKI (when fueled with normal density fuel)–an aircraft that the IAF already flies.

    The F-16 and MiG-35 have similar range as that of the Tejas; they only have 1000kg more capacity in payload (same specs as Mirage-2000). Just this difference does not deserve the indution of an altogether new and unfamiliar aircraft in the IAF.

    Thank you.

  10. hey Queenie Aroor read this Ex defence officials in pivate companies say. No one prompted him on DRDO. he just mentioned it.

    Mahindra & Mahindra’s fully-owned defence subsidiary, Mahindra Defence Systems, set up in 2000, is one of the companies that may be nominated as an RUR.

    Brigadier Khutab Hai, chief executive, Mahindra Defence Systems, says, “This is a very important day for us provided the MoD actually equates RURs with DPSUs. We should be allowed to develop high-tech weapons platforms by benefiting from R&D funding, sharing knowledge with the DRDO, and working with the services headquarters to have a clear idea of their requirements well ahead of time.”

  11. Shiv Aroor Sir,
    in some places it is written comment removed by the author, what are those and why have you removed them….what type of comments are we not supposed to write

    Also, Sir, are these aircraft for our personal use….how does it matter who buys what…history has been witness that no defence deal is without kickbacks, so no matter what, who, where or how, how will this corruption be weeded out….also have you seen rang de Basanti….I dont your age, but sir i presume you’re a young fellow, so I think, intelligent and gutsy men like you only can usher in the next new generation era which is corruption free

  12. Hi Shiv,

    That Khutab Hai quote posted by Zero (what an appropriately chosen nom de plume!) is from my article this morning in the Business Standard.

    Typically, he’s using it entirely out of context.

    But since he’s reading every word I write, there’s hope yet! He might yet get off the Swadeshi Jagran Manch platform. My only fear is that he might then jump onto the Board of the Ordnance Factories Trade Union!!



  13. Abhiman, I can vouch for Vinay’s authenticity.

    Methinks that the IAF and MoD have decided to go in for a Mig-27 Jaguar replacement, which falls in the mid-weight level. The Gripen being there may probably only be a ruse to throw off analysts (although what the IAF wants, neither I and no one else, IAF included may have any idea).

    With the 20 ton MTOW limit being removed, this situation seems more certain. THe brass probably realized that they wouldn’t need an LCA stand-in and decided to look at the bigger birds that need replacement. The LCA is probably not being included because it would take some more time to create new lines, and the most urgent thing right now is to arrest the falling numbers.

    Also, with the MCA and Indo-Russian 5th gen being ready by 2015, the 126 would be a good bench-warmer till they are ready, since it would be a good aircraft till at least 2025.

  14. ajai: yes i noticed! the chump (zero) thought it would pass everyone by. Ditch that — great news on the RURs. but why will it take the DAC till the end of the year to approve Prabir’s recommendations? Bizarre! The stuff about ToT as offsets and banking of offset credits is an excellent practice that these MoD-walas should endorse quickly. Any word on which countries are likely to get the RUR badge?

  15. So, BR is right. Lifafas talk to each other. Or is it that Ajai is visiting his queenie?

    Out of context Ajai, you guys are putting your foot in mouth. DRDO has proven you wrong on every count. Queenie Aroor is now trying to kiss and make up with DRDO with Akash and other articles.

    Far cry from stupid article in IE on DRDO.

    DRDO rocks,

    better to be wadeshi Jagran Manch platform, than a lifafa.

  16. Germany? Why in God’s good name do we need to give the MRCA contract to those self-righteous jerks? The BRits have been reliable weapons suppliers to India for a long time. Shouldn’t the EF RFP go to them?

    – Mihir

  17. Sniperz, I doubted his authenticity, because of his statement that the range-payload of the Tejas exceeds that of ALL the MRCA competitors. It actually is equivalent to the Gripen only. Thus, as Gripen can’t be chosen without meing out an injustice to the Tejas, Gripen is out.

    But that doesn’t mean that the Typhoon, F-18, and the Rafale are eligible for the IAF’s requirements, because as it is known publicly, the heavy-weight trio exceed a normally fuelled Su-30MKI in range-payload parameters. Thus, their induction into the IAF would not only be redundant, but shall also increase the strain of a logistic “nightmare”. Thus, these 3 aircraft are also out.

    The F-16 and MiG-35 have only 1000 kg more payload than Tejas/Gripen and which are at par with the existing Mirage-2000’s of the IAF. A 1000 kg improvement in payload is NOT a valid and sufficient reason to purchase an entirely new kind of aircraft. Hence, the F-16 and MiG-35 are also out.***

    In place of the latter 2, the IAF may augment its fleet by the purchase of second-hand Mirage-2000-V from France and Qatar.

    Thank you.

    *** I am in “2 minds” over the max. payload of the Tejas. As per the statement of HAL chairman Mr. Ashok Baweja that the Tejas can carry 9.5 tons of load (including the engine and fuel), and as per the labelled diagram displayed at lca-tejas.org, the max. external payload of the Tejas does calculate to 5,500 kgs.

  18. Abhiman, I think you (as well as a lot of other people) have misread that picture. The indicated loads are the maximum load that can be sustained by a single pylon. The Tejas can potentially carry that much (its all up weight is 13.5 tons) if the fuel were less. Obviously, the max. payload would be less than the total of those, since the wings may be too highly loaded.

    I believe the max. weapons load of the Tejas is around 4500 kg at max. fuel.

    As for Vinay, one slip doesn’t maketh a fraud. He was right about the capabilities of the Tejas being close to the MRCA requirements. Also, he did not state that the Tejas exceeded ALL the contenders, did he.

    By ur post, you are basically kicking out all the aircraft from the competition. that wouldn’t do, considering that they are all the latest aircraft today. Looking at their Empty weights and MTOWS:

    LCA Tejas: 5.5 tons, 12.5 tons
    Su-30MKI : 28 tons, 39 tons
    Mirage-2K: 7.5 tons, 17 tons (4.5 ton load)

    JAS Gripen: 6.6 tons, 14 tons
    LM F-16C/D: 8 tons, 17 tons
    EF Typhoon: 11 tons, 23 tons
    Das Rafale: 9 tons, 25 tons
    F-18E/F SH: 13 tons, 30 tons
    Mig-35….: 15 tons, 35 tons

    The Typhoon and Rafale still fit the bill, as does the F-16. Still, we need to wait for the RFP to see what exactly the IAF wants.

    Also, when choosing aircraft, you look at the performance and MTOW. The Su-30 is too heavy, and requires a lot of fuel to sustain its excellent performance, while the above are quite light but trade their A2A performance and performance for higher load carrying. They will be smaller, and would need less fuel and cost to operate.

    If you think about their performance and agility, remember that they can’t do that at MTOW or even half-load, while the Su-30 can do it in its whole envelope.

    As I see it, the IAF needs a mid-size replacement (18-24 tons MTOW, 6 tons payload), since it has the Tejas for light, and Su-30 for Heavy action and air superiority, as well as Mig-27s and Mig-23s to replace. That would be the slot the MRCA will fill.

    Mirages from Qatar may not come unless govt makes a better offer (previous one was rejected out of hand as too low). Even if it does come into service, it can;t be a viable and modern aircraft till 2025.

  19. sniperz11, your support to Tejas as a MRCA contender is heartening. I also take back my views on Vinay with due apology.

    Earlier in another article by Mr. Aroor, I had expressed that the max. external loads of all pylons of Tejas may not be exploited simultaneously and hence total external load of 5,500 kgs may not be achievable by Tejas. Or, it may be as you said, that there shall be reduction in the fuel capacity and hence range of the Tejas, upon being loaded with 5,500 kgs of external load. However, the same penalties of substantial reduction in range due to carriage of max. payload shall also be applicable on F-16 and MiG-35 also.

    Regardless, it is confirmed that the composite airframe of the Tejas can haul a weight of 9.5 tons including fuel and engine, as per the statement of HAL chairman, Mr. Baweja.

    Again, the empty-weight of Su-30MKI is only 2 tons more than MiG-35 to allow for a max. external load of 1.5 tons more than the MiG-35, in addition to one more crew. The normally fuelled Su-30MKI is equated or only slightly outclassed by the lighter Typhoon, Rafale and F-18 in range-payload.

    I agree that the Su-30MKI is much much more maneuverable than these fighters upon full external loading, but still I do not think that this makes the Su-30MKI at the “far end of the spectrum”, and thus a need for a “medium performance” fighter.

    Anyway, the Su-30MKI shall have far lower operating costs for a given mission profile than the other western contenders.

    In my view, the contenders are NOT exactly placed in the middle between the Tejas and Su-30MKI. All of them tend very close to either of these 2 aircraft, and which is why the MRCA contract may not be necessary at all. Even if there were a contender which were placed exactly between the Tejas and Su-30 in terms of range-payload, there would not have been need of one because the Tejas and Su-30 can together handle all kinds of attacks like defence, air-superiority, precision-strike, deep-strike etc.

    Thank you.

  20. To my previous comment I may add that the Tejas and Su-30MKI may be the only aircraft that the IAF may require. This may exactly be like the USAF which operates only F-15 and F-16 in addition to naval F-18.

    In tandem, these 2 aircraft will complement each other very well.


  21. I agree with your view about the Mig-35 (considering that its almost like the Su-30, although I’m not so sure about the lower operating costs of the MKI. IAF going in for Life-cycle costs seems to support this view to some extent.

    As for the suggestion of keeping the LCA and Su-30 like the Americans do, Its my opinion that we should develop our own doctrine that suits us and not ape the west, which has been proved wrong over and over again (at least for our uses). Also, we lack the money to sustain operation of heavy point-defense aircraft. This money, the US has, and is thus able to use heavy and expensive-to-operate aircraft to patrol.

    IAF has used 3 tiers- lightest (Mig-21s) for Point-defense and interception, medium (Mig-27s & Mirages) for bomb truck and earth mover jobs. With the Arrival of the Su-30s, we have added another element- that of crucial Area defense and patrolling, as well as Air Dominance, which entails long endurance. Added to this is Maritime patrol.

    As you note, the MKIs would be good for A2G attacks. However, there are only so many MKIs, which will be needed for Air defence. Obviously, we need more, which is where the extra 40 come in. However, the IAF wants a smaller and cheaper to operate aircraft.

    I don’t wish to Argue with an established IAF doctrine, since we can’t change it anyway. The best that we can do is analyze it and try to piece the jigsaw. Unfortunately, like I said, till the RFP comes out, we won’t know exactly what the IAF wants, and theres no use talking till then.

    As for the LCA, its surely good. But an extra 2 ton capacity does change the balance tremendously, and that is where the MCA will come in in the next few yrs (I hope).

  22. sniperz11, in this post I assume max. external load of Tejas as 4,500 kgs.
    Tejas can thus replace the existing MiG-21 to MiG-29 of the IAF, because all these fighters too have max. loads which don’t exceed 4000 kgs.

    Now, the Mirage-class multirole planes like F-16 or MiG-35, which have 6.3 tons of external load may be superior than Tejas at a capacity of 4.5 tons. But I am still not convinced that another new foreign plane is needed, because no mission requirements need full loads of 6,300 kgs, be it SEAD, interdiction etc. Even F-18s are not known to carry more than 4 tons of load in any mission profile, though its max capacity is 8 tons.**

    Moreover, if Tejas’ external load capacity is indeed 5,500 kgs, an MRCA may definitely not be needed.

    In the IAF, Tejas can be used for interception and attack, whereas for deep-strike and surgical strikes, Su-30s can be used. For a further discussion, we may calculate the external load of the Tejas given that as per the statement of Mr. Baweja, it can carry 9.5 tons of load, and that its MTOW is 12.5 tons.


    References :

    ** Fas.org article on F-18.

  23. Abhiman, Tejas with its present capability can beat all older IAf aircraft, as you have noted. However, when performance envelopes are constantly improving rapidly, trying to create a direct replacement is not wise. The bomb trucks of WW2 had the capacity of modern Trainers. If they had replaced them with similar perfomance aircraft, it would have been disastrous.

    My point here is that the doctrines are constantly evolved, and a direct comparison of the Tejas against previous gen aircraft is wrong. Instead, we should compare them with the other present aircraft.

    As for why the F-18s, etc do not carry full ordinance, that is because the performance drops drastically when the planes operate for long when heavily loaded, and in combat. US planes in Iraq are facing this very problem, and are quickly becoming fatigued. By your point, the Tejas will thus be normally loaded only 2500 kg or less. Thats a factor to take into account. Also, you can carry more weapons (since they have more pylons).

    However, just because they are only lightly loaded shouldn’t make u ignore their capability. And, even though it seems small, a 2 ton payload increase is crucial and quite important.

    Plus, you can’t expect the Tejas to perform at full load. It would be worse than a Il-76 at those loads, and at full fuel. That makes for vulnerable aircraft. You do need an aircraft that can carry at leas 4 tons of ordi, enough fuel for a 1200 km combat range, and have enough power and agility to beat off the enemy defenses. Thats where the medium class aircraft come in- they are not too heavy and large, and are cheaper to operate, but have good performance, range and 6 ton capacity. (I was most impressed with the Rafale for this role, although I’m not sure it’ll be bought).

    The role that you mentioned is correct… the LCA is best suited for interception and point defense. MKI is well suited for all roles. however, we do not have enough to fulfill all the roles, and they will be kept as Air dominance and long range strike and maritime strike aircraft. they are quite expensive to operate as well (which is why I think the similar Mig-35 isn’t a very suitable contender).

    As for weight of LCA:


    Empty: 5500 kg
    MTOW: 12500 kg
    Fuels: 2500-3000 kg

    Weapons: 4000-4500 kg

    the 9.5 ton is interesting, and I wonder where Mr Baweja has said that. If it is true, that would be excellent, and would turn most figures on their head. And would mean that the Tejas is something else.

  24. http://www.ibnlive.com/videos/42597/iaf-flying-machines-wings-clipped.html

    I think that all “newcomer” journalists have to ritually write a report on any indigenous product (Tejas in this case), and describe how it is “delayed”, it may become “irrelevant”, etc. However in this case, lying or purposeful careless coverage is seen.

    The points raised by Ms Shuchi Yadav can easily be refuted :

    1) No more than 6 prototypes need to be built because the PV-3 has been built to the production standard already. All the next constructions will be production standards to be inducted. It is clear she does not understand what “prototype” means.

    2) Ms Yadav fails to mention the reason for the Tejas’ achievement of 677 sorties. The primary reason is the 2.5 years of US sanctions after the 1998 nuclear tests. Another reason is that (Mr. Subramaniam gives a hint) in 2004, the IAF changed the ASR’s of the wing midstream in the program, which delayed the introduction of the PV-3 by more than a year.

    3) The avionics are ready, except the indigenous radar.

    4) As mentioned in the third point, only the indigenous radar is not ready. The Israeli Elta radar has begun to be installed in the Tejas already since the past few months.

    5) 20 US GE-404 engines will replace the Kaveri engines in the first 20 Tejas aircraft. Thus, the Kaveri’s unavailability will not delay the Tejas programme.

    But the main point of Ms. Yadav’s is the headline of the report, “IAF flying machine’s clipped”. The sound-bytes of Mr. Subramaniam and Mr. Srivastava do not even remotely suggest that. She regards the views of retired air-force pilots that she claims to have interviwed more than the statement of Mr. Subhramaniam who is the project director of Tejas (the former say that Tejas won’t be completed before 2012).

    However, it is completely unclear how she concludes that the Tejas is no longer a MiG-21 replacement and that and I quote her, “IAF is and the air force is firming up plans for other aircraft amid fears that it could become irrelevant.”

    The following Doordarshan video quotes IAF officers (actually seen in the video and not “mythical” officers of the IBN report) who appreciate the Tejas and its capabilities. Incidentally, the ending portion of the CNN-IBN report has plagiarised clips from this video itself :-


    It is in reports like these, that I really appreciate the gentlemanly, sober and to-the-point reporting of Doordarshan compared to the almost “sleazy” and shrieking coverage given by private channels like CNN-IBN.

    I’m afraid, but Ms. Shuchi Yadav’s report is assiduously doctored and purportedly seeks to present wrong facts and hence to create incorrect conclusions.

    Thank you.

  25. sniperz11, the Tejas can actually be loaded and operated at full weapons-load. The opportunity to operate with full-load will not arise for the F-16 unlike Tejas. 4,500 kg of weapons load is standard for most aircraft like F-18 and F-16, which incidentally is the max. external load of the Tejas.

    Regarding degradation of maneuverability, I do not think it will be that much, because of the statement by Mr. Baweja. It implies that the max. external load of the Tejas is actually 5,500 kgs and hence one ton less than capacity may not result in maximum degradation. I will search for the news article and post it as soon as I find it.

    Thank you.

  26. Abhiman, I don’t doubt the fact that the LCA can operated at full load. However, my concern is its maneuverability. The F-16 may not operate at max load, but that doesn’t mean that we should scrap that capability, because that potential offers more flexibility… you can carry drop tanks to use, and drop them off before combat and keep the 4.5 tons. That can’t be done with the Tejas.

    As for degradation, it happens, no matter what the platform. Every single plane will lose capability when fully loaded, since all the engine power is going into just keeping it in the air. Which is why the Su-30 has been given powerful engines, so that it has power to spare even at all-up weight.

    Your post assumes 5,550 kg load. If that were so, I agree wholly with your views. Of Course, like I said, if the Tejas can indeed carry 9500 kg of load, that puts all our assumptions and discussions on its head.

    If the LCA can indeed carry 5500 kg, then it comes into the f-16 class, and if so, I agree with you that it would be best suited for the MRCA tender. However, till then, assuming 4.5 ton load, I hold my views.

  27. sniperz11, the figure of 9,500 kgs includes the weight of the engine and internal fuel also. The GE F404 engine weighs 1000 kgs and the internal fuel of the Tejas is 2,300 kgs. Upon a MTOW of 12,500 kgs the external load can be calculated at over 5,000 kgs.

    I will try to find the news article where Mr. Baweja has clearly stated the 9 ton carriage by Tejas’ airframe.


  28. Though I did not find Mr Baweja’s statement, I have found an older article as per which the Tejas can carry as much as 45% of its takeoff weight in weapons.

    The following is a quote :

    ONE of the major attributes of the LCA, besides the use of advanced composites, is its low weight – 13 tonnes – and ability to carry as much as 45 per cent of its weight in weapons. But with many key components such as the engine, radar (when it does come) and so on becoming heavier, the aircraft’s weapon-carrying capacity has been degraded slowly.”

    45% of 13 tons can be 5.85 tons. Upon a weight gain due to the addition of radar and other components it can be safely assumed that the weapon-load shall still exceed 5 tons by a significant margin.


    reference :

  29. Hmm… yes. I have seen this 45% figure. However, I think there is a small error in ur calculations.

    I think the weight they are referring to is the loaded weight of the aircraft with fuel. Assuming an MTOW of 13 tons for the LCA, the MTOW figure=

    loaded wt = empty wt + basic + fuel
    MTOW = empty weight + basic weight + fuel + weapons.

    Basic wt is the wt of pilot and other essentials for the mission (which is around 200 kg).

    which means that

    13 ton = loaded + 45% of loaded (weapons)

    … = 1.45 * loaded weight.

    … = 1.45 * weapons load/0.45

    doing the maths,

    weapons load = ~4 tons
    loaded wt = 8.8 tons

  30. I may disagree sniperz11. The figure of 13 tons is the sum total of all weights carried by the plane upon take-off. This includes pilot, engine, internal fuel, essentials and weapons. The article says mtow is 13 tons, but as per B. Harry’s article the mtow is 12.5 tons.

    45% of 12.5 tons is = 5,600 kgs.

    The article speaks in the context of 13 tons weight only.

    Anyway, the full specifications may be known “little by little” in subsequent air-shows only.


  31. I do hope you’re right Abhiman. That would really make the LCA stand out

    I’ve completely forgotten what we’re arguing/debating over?? :-}

    Don’t worry. I havent confused the 13 tons MTOW for anything else.

    So, assuming your calculations,

    load carried = 45% of weight (acc article)

    Assuming weight referred to is the MTOW of 13 tons,

    load= 5.85 tons

    which means

    loaded weight of plane = 13-5.85

    ….. = 7.15 tons.

    Since the empty weight of the LCA is 5.5 tons

    fuel carried = 1.6 tons

    However, the 5.85 tons is not really possible, since the max loads taken by the pylons is potentially only 5.5 tons

    So, your figure of 5600 kg is more plausible. In which case:

    MTOW of 12.5 tons

    Load of 5.5 tons (45% of MTOW)

    Loaded wt. of 7 tons

    empty wt = 5.5 tons

    => fuel = 1.5 tons.

    So, 5.5 tons may yet be possible technically, but that would mean that the fuel is too small.

    Lets see.. Guess we’ll have to wait for more info from ADA. Till then, all maths is useless.

    The most common figures I’m hearing is 12.5-13 tons MTOW and 13.5 tons AUW (All-up Weight)*.

    *All up wt is the max. weight of th aircraft that can stay up in the air (usually due to Air to air refuelling, the plane can go above the MTOW even).

  32. sniperz11, I agree with you now that the internal fuel will be reduced if external load is 5,500 kgs. That is because I checked right now that the max. internal fuel of Tejas is ~ 2,300 kgs. Thus, external load any greater than 5,000 kgs will automatically reduce internal fuel’s weight.

    Thus, the range reduction will not only be by imposition of max. load, but also the reduction of internal fuel by that load.

    Well, I admit that I am beginning to feel that my arguments have been “with little substance” throughout. Still, this 126 MRCA contract is like as though something is constantly irritating the eye badly, or some “looming” disaster.

    Anyway, it may be inferred that the internal fuel weights and max. external loadouts of all other aircraft like F-16, Gripen etc. may also not be simultaneously applicable. This may be a “solace”.
    The main disadvantage is a complete specification set of all aircraft.

    I always think that had the 126-MRCA proposal been NEVER announced by the IAF say, until a few days back, then everybody would have expressed shock and surprise while thinking “then why did we build Tejas for” ? Everyone including the media would have seriously questioned the IAF’s decision then.

    It is only that the 126 MRCA proposal has been “spoon-fed” to us parallely to the Tejas’ development since so many years now, that we forgot to question it. It is like a constant inculcation of propaganda.


  33. Good point Abhiman. If you remember, MRCA has been mentioned since 2001. That was also the time when we had quite a few crashes, and public support in the LCA was quite low. By 2003, calls for new aircraft had picked up (esp after Parakram). Once that happened, everyone just forgot about the root cause. Now, we just talk about “which MRCA”, without knowing “why MRCA”.

    I think that the IAF was still stuck in that mindset of “needing Mig-21 replacements since LCA was nowhere”, when it issued the RFI. Since then, a lot has happened. LCA has picked up, RFP has been delayed, and Uncle has opened up. That has probably confused the IAF, who are now thinking about what they want. Thats why you see the 14 ton Gripen competing with a 35 ton Mig-35. The removal of the 20 ton limit by the IAF is also informative.

    I think the IAF has finally fallen fully behind the LCA project (since any MRCA replacement for it would be far away anyway), and has decided to focus on the mid-weight class, since MCA and 5th Gen are some time away. Methinks the IAF will end up going in for either the Rafale or Mig-35. F-16, F-18 and Gripen are out (unless F-16I can make a good offer).

  34. If there is a primary requirement for mission profiles that require loads upto 2000-2500 kg (like most of the mission profiles of F-16 or F-18), then Tejas can be considered for MRCA.

    But if the requirement is of a mission profile which requires a loadout of 4,500 kg—AND without much degradation in range and maneuverability—then Tejas’ consideration may be slightly difficult.

    I say ‘slightly’, because if the Gripen is being considered by the IAF, then by all known precincts of logic, the Tejas should also be considered too. That is because the Gripen and Tejas are equivalent in all respects like payload capacity, range, speed etc. They are also powered by GE-404 engines.

    Thus, the IAF must surely have “seen something” in the Gripen, regardless of its lower max. range-loadout capacities than the other contenders. Whatever that “something” is, it must definitely be present in the Tejas also, because it is universally acknowledged that the Tejas is virtually Gripen’s clone.

    That’s why there may still be “faint hopes” of Tejas’ last-minute consideration for the MRCA contract.

    Anyway, the following comment by Kartik in bharat-rakshak forum must be read by all critics of the Tejas. I am posting it here also, as this blog is also popular :-

    …the JF-17 ‘Thunder’ is technologically inferior and based on a Super-7 program that began in the 1980s as well- and is going to come around the same time as the Tejas, yet I never see Pakistanis crying as much as our people do-

    Thank you.


  35. Yes. Thats something that I also am flummoxed with… why call for Gripen and not LCA. I think the Gripen will ultimately be removed from the competition.

    And the post from BRF is absolutely correct. We need to have some pride in our own technology. You see the Pakistanis jumping in joy about the Al-Khalid and JF-17, which are nothing compared to the LCA and Arjun. And on our side, we have stupid people who criticize these projects no end.

  36. Abhiman, sniperz11 etc…

    theoritcally, whatever you say as justification in bringing LCA to the table for MRCA is appropriate..

    But when see the particality, its different..

    the choice of Gripen is like a criteria to fill the min. quote for any purchase procedure..it is just for adding a competitor..anything more..as Mirage was by default choice before this present government.

    coming to the current scenario..apart the technical abilities in the qualification of MRCA, this whole excercise is seen as tool in levaraging the benefits as widely believed.

  37. sorry for my disappearing acts (was busy)i am not advocating to replace MMRCA with Tejas but my arguments is to scrap the whole MMRCA which simply is gonna add one more 4.5gen figther to fleet when half the world is moving to 5gen F-35 in future, till the price negotiations and agreements are signed for MMRCA PAK-FA might have taken to air ,and if MOD really wanted more range and payload for Tejas a stretched version (BLOCK II) could have developed within two years (as told by a senior LCA engineer to me few years ago)but it was his opinion and could be wrong ,and pls shiv can you add http://www.lca-tejas.org to your list of sites yet list it could give some exposure of tejas to some visitors here


  38. sniperz11, as rightly said by you the IAF initially proposed MRCA at a time when “Tejas was nowhere”. But now that the Tejas has speeded up and is nearing completion, the original purpose of MRCA has been “lost in translation”.

    Anonymous, as per Mr. Shiv Aroor’s Feb ’07 news report itself, the IAF prefers fighters in the category of Gripen and F-16, instead of the other 4 heavy category fighters.

    Regarding Gripen’s candidature, as per another Feb ’07 news report, SAAB is “going the extra mile” to convince the IAF of its viability. It has opened a Bangalore office specifically to cater to the forthcoming MRCA tender. The following is a comment by SAAB’s head, Mr. Ogilvy on Gripen’s role in the IAF :-

    The Gripen will be a perfect force mix with the powerful Sukhoi-30 MKI and is an apt replacement for the MIG-21.

    That is SAAB’s opinion on Gripen’s possible role in the IAF. SAAB is a serious bidder for the contract.

    It may be questioned that if the tasks of ‘MiG-21 replacement’ and ‘complement to the Su-30’ is not to be given to Tejas, then which fighter is ? The plank of Mr. Ogilvy’s basing Gripen’s candidature is the same plank on which the Tejas has been projected so far. Besides, as per official FMV (Swedish Defence Material Administration) site, the Gripen has an empty weight of 7000 kgs, internal fuel 3000 litres, weapon load of 5,300 kg and mtow of 14000 kg. As per B. Harry’s article Tejas has internal fuel of ~ 2,800 litres, and mulw of 13,500 kgs. That may allow for significant weapon-load as well as fuel load which definitely is comparable to Gripen.


    References :


  39. Mr. Aroor I saw your TV news report on the 126 MRCA deal, which was informative. It was also innovative in the sense that it was different from the usual news of politics, cricket and crime.

    ACM Krishnamurty very rightly said in the end, that the Gripen and F-18 are very disparate because of the vast difference in their size and weight.

    If I am not mistaken, it was mentioned by you that the Gripen is and I quote, “a favourite of the IAF pilots”. I would like to ask you whether this is representative of most IAF pilots. If it is true, then they shall also have a good rapport with the Tejas (whether it comes as MRCA or not).

    In the video, the Tejas was also shown for a few seconds so I thought maybe there will be a mention of the Tejas. I may take the liberty to ask whether it was edited or did you plan to speak on Tejas vis-a-vis MRCA.

    Thank you.

  40. abhiman: firstly, thanks for watching! to answer your queries, i didn’t say the gripen was a favourite of the air force. i said it was a low profile fighter, but had already garnered a large fan base within the air force. the tejas clip shown in the MRCA story was deliberate. i thought it might serve as an ironic reminder. i see it has worked on at least one person!

  41. Mr. Aroor, informally only just from a discussion point of view, just as so many reporters make TV reports about Arjun tank (Mr. Shukla on NDTV), Brahmos (Headlines Today), or Agni-III (various channels), can’t you possibly mull making one on the Tejas ?

    The only 2 reportages about the Tejas were carried by good’ol DD and a highly inaccurate and baselessly negative report by Ms. Yadav on IBN-live.

    Your report could herald the Tejas’ quota of praise coming not just from government-run DD, but also from a highly citizen-interactive private news channel. You may alleivate the “bad-press” given to it in a very short time.

    Though not directly mentioning MRCA (though it would be a pioneering nail-on-the-head hitting, if you do), you can mention some commonly-known facts that it is like say “India’s Gripen”, or drop a comparison between Tejas and JF-17.

    Thank you.

  42. To my previous post I may add that the Tejas may merit more than a couple of TV reports because after all it is the country’s first modern fighter plane. Only a handful of nations have the same capability.

    Since most chnnels report only about politics, films, cricket and stret crime, our capacity for appreciation for such milestones has been lost. Since it has been lost, news chnnels hesitate to report on the same. Thus, it is a cyclical cyclical cause & effect.

    If there are more news report about say for example space technology, it would be far more interesting. However, more than the news on Cartosat-4’s capabilities or India’s upcoming launches, news channels “drone” about the Samosas of a (though very illustrious) astronaut, who is a naturalized American citizen and that only half-Indian.

    Mr. Aroor, I would like to point out a line from an article of today’s ExpressIndia newspaper :

    “Five more Tejas aircraft would fly by end of this year giving a major fillip to test flights.”

    Although seemingly unlikely, I would like to ask you whether it is true.

    Thank you.

    ExpressIndia news url :


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