Thursday, 15 February 2007

The economics of defence

by Ajai Shukla
A response to posts: 15th Feb 2007

Thanks for the (sometimes disarmingly frank) responses. The issues that we are talking about are at the heart of India’s defence preparedness and, therefore, the niceties of polite debate can be set aside for now.

Firstly, there’s no denying the advantages of a strong indigenous military-industrial establishment. Even in the interlinked global defence industry of today, where the ownership of multinational defence corporations is not always linked to a single country, being able to draw upon a vibrant domestic R&D and production establishment provides strategic comfort.

So to frame the issue in terms of “should we maintain a capability or not?” is just sloppy analysis. The real questions are two. Firstly, what opportunity cost is India prepared to pay to develop and maintain an indigenous defence capability, because it doesn’t come cheap. Secondly, what is the minimum that must be provided to forces in the field in order to justify continuing research on projects that don’t reach the field?

First question first. The Rs 6000 crores that were spent on the DRDO in financial 2006-07 were Rs 6000 crores that could have been spent on other things that provide national security. Look at it strategically: Rs 6000 crores could have been spent on improving border roads in Arunachal (would have improved national security); it could have been spent on improving local policing in J&K (would have freed up troops, improved local confidence, improved national security); that money could have gone a long way in fencing the Bangladesh border solidly. That would have improved national security too. The country has a finite amount of money it can spend on national security. And the Rs 6000 crores spent on the DRDO has an opportunity cost in terms of money NOT SPENT on other projects where it could have been.

Having put that down, let’s also define what is a “credible indigenous defence capability.” Only one country, the USA, defines its indigenous defence capability today in terms of being able to produce, through a minimum of two separate contractors, all the major weapon systems that are required for fighting both war and peace. Even Europe looks outside for many strategic systems; even capabilities like heavy airlift and battlefield command and control are procured from outside when the need arises.

That’s not because they don’t have the technological capability to produce them. It is simply that the hierarchy of cost-effectiveness prefers off-the-shelf purchases to developmental costs. In simple terms, the cheapest way to obtain a weapon system is to buy it off-the-shelf from a supplier, who has borne the development costs and the risk factors of research. The next cheapest way is to buy the technology and produce the goods in one’s own country. And the most expensive, and risky, method is to develop from scratch the equipment you need. To believe that making and building ones own weaponry is a way to save money is to fly in the face of reality.

Next, the need for “indigenous capability” stems from an anticipation of denial of equipment and technology from an outside supplier. So in deciding what should be India’s “indigenous capability”, the first question is “what is India’s vulnerability?” Should India prepare for surviving an equipment and technology denial regime from each one of its traditional suppliers, meaning Russia, Israel, France, the UK and Uncle Sam? And as relations improve with China, are we definitely ruling out getting supplies from China in the event of a denial regime from all the others? A country’s defence strategy is directly related to it international diplomacy and India’s diplomacy is increasingly bringing us to the point where every one of our traditional suppliers, and a new one, the United States, is keen to supply us equipment. It is therefore our choice. We may or may not buy from them but they are, and are likely to remain, keen to supply us defence equipment.

So rather than wanting to produce everything ourselves --- which would not just be hugely expensive, but also paranoid --- it would be more prudent to make out a list of items that are (a) strategically so vital that we should actually rely on nobody else for them, or (b) that are so sensitive that nobody will part with that technology anyway, or (c) equipment that is so specific to Indian requirements that nobody else build it.

In such a list of things that we MUST develop comes the various facets of our nuclear deterrent, including submarines, missiles, the bomb components, our ballistic missile defence system, electronic warfare and communication systems that involve codes and ciphers and the futuristic technologies that must go into building a few “vital technologies”. It is NOT immediately necessary to build everything from scratch, the way the DRDO is trying to do.

So the “robust and competitive military infrastructure” that Shakti yearns for needs to be conceptualised and defined in clear terms.

Now on to Tejas. Let’s get one thing clear: as a weapon system for the fighting forces in the field, the Tejas is a dud. Why do I say that when (contrary to some uncharitable comments!!) I know that some of its technologies are cutting-edge world class. It’s the most simple military logic: because if it comes to war today, the Tejas is not available to fight, and regardless of what many would like to believe, it will not be available to fight effectively even three years from now. What is needed to be delivered to the IAF is not the comforting knowledge that Tejas has the highest percentage of composites in the world. What they need is a functional weapons platform at the promised time. If the IAF chief has to write to the Defence Minister that by 2017, the IAF and the PAF will have the same squadron strengths, it is because the Tejas is far behind schedule in delivery.

Abhiman, you are right that the JF-17 is no more than generation 3.5. But it’s a Gen 3.5 that will soon fly in combat squadrons while Tejas continues to be a Potential Gen 4.5 that flies only in air shows with everyone keeping their fingers crossed. That is the key difference between a successful programme and one that is not: delivering platforms into service is the vital technology that the DRDO has never mastered. By the time Tejas (or an aircraft that looks like Tejas but has lots of foreign sub-systems) enters service, the technology that you are waving about so proudly will have become outdated. The services don’t fight on technologies; they fight on usable platforms.

Sudeep, your logic about Eurofighter being more expensive than JSF-22 is only partly correct. With close to 800 confirmed orders from the participating countries and orders already starting to come in from abroad (almost 80 from Saudi Arabia), the final Eurofighter figures might well end up costing the participating countries less in the final balance than if they had gone in for F-22s. But to develop a programme successfully and still make it cost-effective, you would need not just R&D burden-sharing amongst several participating countries, but also sell to many foreign buyers. India is nowhere near that.

But the real lesson from Eurofighter is not just the burden-sharing model. The real lesson is the way they have introduced it into service in “tranches”. They made it sufficiently functional as a warfighting machine and then introduced it in a less advanced form into service in all participants’ air forces. Developmental work continues and a more advanced “tranche 2” model will be introduced this year. By 2012 or so, “tranche 3” models will come into service, which are expected to be Generation 5 standard. But here’s the key: THE R&D WAS GOOD ENOUGH TO QUICKLY COME OUT WITH A BASE MODEL. So you quickly reached the point where the Eurofighter was not an expensive drawing-board fantasy, but an aircraft in service in the air forces. And that’s what the LCA has never been able to do, nor looks likely to achieve shortly. 

That’s the crisis of confidence that exists between the scientific community and the military in India. The military (rightly) protests that the R&D whiz kids continually fail to deliver usable systems. The R&D people (rightly) protest that the military keeps setting the bar higher and higher. The military (rightly) says that it does so because the R&D people take so long to deliver that technology has moved along by then. And that is really the bottom line.

So Rammohan (your “my nation” plea is heartrending, but I’m not a colonial occupier; it’s my nation as well!!) the real question is: how long should the R&D people be given? If your suggestion is that just keep handing them 6000 to 10,000 crores each year on an open-ended basis, without demanding accountability in terms of systems delivered, I think that would be a good subject for the next debate.

And Vikram, cheap insinuations about “getting vodka from the Russians” are normally a substitute for sloppy analysis. It would be sad to reduce an important debate to whether one’s liquor comes from the Kremlin or the Swadeshi Jagran Manch! And for those who believe that I’m soft on Russian systems, please do read “From Russia With Love”. It’s just a couple of posts below; it’ll reassure you on that account.

25 comments:

chacko said...

Shukla is a dud as his kids have not become president even after so many years of birth.

Abhiman said...

Hello Mr. Shukla. Due to US sanctions after testing nuclear weapons in 1998, Tejas project was delayed by 2-1/2 years, else present status would have been reached in end 2004.

Anyway, 1st LSP of Tejas has completed production, and shall make first flight in this month, thereafter formally joining the IAF squadron. By next year, 8 such LSPs shall have joined IAF.

The deliveries to IAF for first 20 squadrons of Tejas shall begin in 2008-09 timeframe.

Sir, again reason for JF-17 to be inducted slightly quicker than Tejas, is because it is based on an already existing design viz. the MiG-21. In accordance with the Super-7 program to upgrade MiG-21 fighters in 1989, China invited Mikoyan of Russia as consultants. Sometime in 1995, Pakistan joined as partners by investing 50% of funding (aroung $500 mn).

Even then, from an aerospace perspective, the JF-17 has taken a very long time to develop (1989-07) despite being based on an existing design.

Regarding fighting capability of Tejas, it is unlikely to be obsolete because technology developed first for Tejas, has been applied in Su-30MKI---the frontline fighter of the IAF Many of the world-class EW suites, avionics etc. that are crucial to performance of Su-30MKI, are loaned from Tejas.

Tejas is also equipped with the Israeli Litening pod, which is used in F-16s of Israeli Air Force. Tejas shall also be equipped with HMDS being jointly developed between DRDO and Elbit of Israel.

In combat scenario, being the world's smallest fighter and having radar echo-unfriendly composite material, the stealthiness of Tejas shall be comparable if not lesser than F-16.

Again, the current contenders for MRCA contract have similar technologies as that of Tejas, except in A2G weaponry and presumably slightly greater tech. in datalink capability.
The winner of the MRCA shall be chosen in 2011 and expected to serve in IAF for next 30-40 years.

Thus from all above points, Tejas shall also not be obsolete from IAF perspective at the time of its induction.

Again, in your first article, statement of chief of DRDO, Dr. Natarajan was quoted by you as per which upto 400 Tejas planes shall be built for IAF and 200 MCAs, thus incurring an expenditure of Rs. 54,000 cr. It is incorrect as Tejas shall be mass-produced by HAL, not DRDO/ADA. Thus, as much funds on R&D shall not be wasted.

Finally, as any technological impetus in India is compared with China, it may be mentioned that Chinese efforts in production of indigenous 4th gen. planes is limited to reverse-engineering foreign designs only.

The J-10 is a design of abandoned Israeli Lavi project, and the JF-17 is a enhanced MiG-21 only. The WS-13 engine to power JF-17 is a (possibly illegal) copy of the Russian RD-93, whereas the WS-10 engine meant for J-10 has a core from a CFM engine of USA. Latter has been a failure till now, as J-10s in PLAAF are powered by Russian AL-31 engines. Also, 200 RD-93 engines have already been procured from Russia, indicating that the WS-13 may also be a failure.

In comparison, Kaveri engine is fairly indigenous, and Tejas is a unique cranked, cropped and compounded tail-less delta designed plane.
Thank you.

Abhiman said...

Sir, I am posting one more point regarding procurement of military Technology from China as suggested by you. In my view, it may be unthinkable unless that nation is in forcible occupation of 40,000 sq. kms of Indian territory in Aksai Chin, and its ambassador, in complete disregard to all known Diplomatic norms, makes unabashed claims to Arunachal Pradesh, while sitting on Indian soil.

As per statement of Mr. Brahma Chellany, China has "propped up" Pakistan as a military counterweight to India.

I'm sorry to say but in my view, in order to defeat the many facets, levels or manifestations of a clear military rival, purchase of armament from the very same rival may be "fastidious", as I am afraid, the logic behind it is unclear.

Anyway, it may be naiive to think China shall also unilaterally follow such a proposal, viz. sale of its technology to India.

Trade with China is another matter, and increasingly not a function of political and military differences. Trade between China and USA, China and Taiwan, China and Japan etc. may be "testimonials" to it.

Thank you.

Aditya said...

"But here’s the key: THE R&D WAS GOOD ENOUGH TO QUICKLY COME OUT WITH A BASE MODEL. So you quickly reached the point where the Eurofighter was not an expensive drawing-board fantasy, but an aircraft in service in the air forces."

Gotcha.

Do you know that the original name of the Eurofighter was before it became the "Typhonn"?

"Eurofighter 2000"

The year it was supposed to be in service with all four nations.

Do you know when the prototype - the EAP - base model flew?

1986.

Repeat that after me, Nineteen Eighty Six.

Twenty years from the first flight of the base model, only a handful - 20 or so - aircraft are flying now. Of these, NONE can fire air to ground weapons.

The fact of the matter is that all sufficient modern aircraft take time to design, build and fly. The IJT wouldn't have taken to the air so fast if not so.

"So you quickly reached the point where the Eurofighter was not an expensive drawing-board fantasy"

Let me quote wikipedia for you:

"The cost of the UK's aircraft has increased from £7 billion to £19 billion"

If you think I'm obsessing with the Eurocroc, then note that the Rafale first flew in 1986 too. The production variant flew in 1999.

----------

But I suspect all my fact and figures will be of no use to you. You persist looking at the Indian industry through blinkered vision. Not once in your diatribe did you mention the fantastic ADA and BEL stalls, equipped with fancy displays and very very helpful people manning it.

Shiv Aroor said...

hoo boy ajai, you've really got it going now!

Interested Observer said...

Hi Ajai

The problem why you are being excoriated is because you write rubbish. And you write rubbish because you are too arrogant to admit that you are wrong, and you have let your personal loathing for the DRDO and PSUs color each and every article, and you have the attitude of the self-righteous, that what you say is evident and correct, and nobody else dare tell you different! You make no distinction between the performers- such as BEL, and the disgraceful, such as the OFB either.

For instance, you call the LCA a dud, because it is not in service- what utter tosh! Is the EF a dud then? Its yet to get FOC or full weaponization! The Rafale- a dud again, why- after all the French AF is yet to deploy it after two decades of development and a couple of Rafales are tentatively being deployed to Afghanistan to check out the most rudimentary of A2G options. But no, they are white and hence infallible!

The maturity of the French and British speaks for itself- they support their own, they dont drip venom at BAe and Dassault, contrast it with your own actions- every article of yours goes out of its way to run each and every Indian product down, and often on the most spurious of grounds. The LCA FT crew would regard your article as a piece of yellow journalism, and so it is.

You call the LCA a dud, and then say what has it contributed- do you realize how ignorant you are of the scale and present achievements of this program?

You take advantage of DRDOs reticence in admitting what and how its programs are crosslinked, abuse them and the scientific community and then pose rhetorical questions to which the answer is obvious, but you will not acknowledge them!

The LCA's mission computers, its RWR, its jammers, its HOTAS, its environmental and control systems, its display processors, its composite technology, its RCS reduction- these are all flying on multiple IAF aircraft today in the form of upgrades. Those Pvt sector firms you shill for, TCS and others- ask them, which defence project in India they cut their teeth for, in terms of design and development, something which they were too proud to get involved with, till successive DRDO SA's asked them to get involved. Today they are reaping the benefits. And not only are you unaware, you heap bile on the very program that launched the defence entrance of these so called titans.

The problem is Ajai, you display a complete and utter lack of understanding of technology and defence strategy. You assume DRDO are asses, that they are mediocre and you know best, and your conclusions flow from that.

The LCA was meant to create an entire aerospace industry in India, private and public- it has done that, but will you ever acknowledge it? Hardly. Kumaran & Dynamatic in Bangalore, Datapattern in Chennai, Astra in Hyderabad, Southern Electronics- all these firms are tied to DRDO which has ensured that they developed capabilities critical to India,but you heap contempt on DRDO & PSUs by implying that they developed in a vacuum!

The problem is Ajai, that you dont know, and you write on what you dont know. For instance- India has attained critical levels of self sufficiency in EW & radars- do you know of this? Or will you admit it? Indra-1,2, BFSR-SR, now medium range, then 3D LLLR, 3DCAR...all of these units combine to orders worth crores. And they were selected after competitive tendering vs units from Thales and IAI. The Navy's EW is almost all Indian, and from the target of your idealogical loathing, BEL and DRDO.

What has the LCA contributed? Today India is amongst a handful of countries which can manufacture RLG INS- now you tell me. What are these used for? Do you even understand the strategic implications of this single item, developed on a shoestring budget by the DRDO?

You come up with ridiculous analogies- confirmed orders for the EF! Oh jeezus- and I wonder, you dont want the services to do the same for the LCA, but you approvingly quote the pork the Europeans did to prop up their product.

Oh, the average fellow can even tolerate your snibes, your diatribe against HAL- the same pathetic firm which makes sections of the GSLV whereas the much vaunted private sector screwed the pooch in quality control for the GSLV, we can even tolerate your self righteous commentary...but what we cant take is your dishonesty and bias.

You insist that te 6000 crores invested in DRDO has brought little, when it is obvious to an unbiased observer that DRDO has indeed delivered various systems over the past few years, and that by international and even regional standards, this sum is hardly the be-all and end-all.

The kind that implies that the Brahmos is the Yakhont, but fails to mention the Indian contribution to the project, and then even states that DRDO et al have not admitted to the Yakhont linkage- this when every Brahmos official mentions NPO Mash. and the Yakhont, including Sivathanu Pillai.

So you turn up at Aero India, and all you can comment upon- amongst the vast array of locally developed items displayed by BEL, DRDO and all you can do is make cheap jibes at HAL. What pettiness, what an utter lack of any graciousness and such puerile vindictiveness.

You turn my stomach & I daresay that of many others too- I am ashamed that you write in an Indian paper, I am ashamed that you serve as a propoganda shill across every Pakistani and Chinese board, and I am even more ashamed that I have to count myself as your fellow citizen.

I contrast your articles to those written by TS Subramanium of the Hindu, to Raj Chengappa of India TOday, to R Prasannan of the Week- and see the effort they put into their work, and your diatribes come across even worse.

I am an Indian taxpayer, and I am glad my tax money goes to the DRDO and PSUs- I have no love lost for the likes of you & your fellow journalists, who are more used to shouting people down without having the grace or maturity to admit you are wrong and massively so.

You are using the media to conduct a witchhunt, and it is a shame.

Interested Observer said...

I see Shiv Aroor is also here! He of the "post on Orkut" and ask why DARE is a success whilst rubbishing the LCA...
The same LCA for which ASIEO developed all these items, and which was then spun off as the renamed and expanded DARE. To think of the ignorance amongst the journalistic breed even whilst you pat each other on your back and share the usual diatribes and "sources of info". Thapar, Pandit, Aroor, Sawheny and Shukla- kudos gentlemen, kudos- no arms manufacturer or CC representative could do better than you gentlemen achieve.

Abhiman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Abhiman said...

Although off-topic, I think that instead of exhibition of "literary prowess", as JCage above, and Mr. Shiv Aroor and I'm afraid even Mr. Shukla do, it may be helpful if facts and "to-the-point" comments constitute greater percentage of the articles/comments. This may increase readability and comprehension of the same.

Thank you.

Ajai said...

Everyone's welcome here. Politeness, of course, tends to reinforce your argument. Name calling weakens your case.

Abhiman and Aditya have model arguments: well-argued, coherent. I'll respond tomorrow if I can find the time... and I'll try to be as lucid as you.

Thanks, folks

Interested Observer said...

"Although off-topic, I think that instead of exhibition of "literary prowess", as JCage above, and Mr. Shiv Aroor and I'm afraid even Mr. Shukla do, it may be helpful if facts and "to-the-point" comments constitute greater percentage of the articles/comments. This may increase readability and comprehension of the same."

No, ths is not JCage, though I am glad to admit that i'll use several of the points he makes and the information he & other BR posters from AI provide.
And go on & talk sense to this ruffian- I'll watch & cheer fromthe sidelines

Adios muchachos till tomorrow

ram said...
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ram said...
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ram said...

I appreciate your articles on the defence industry, though i necessarily donot agree with them. You have so beautifully pointed out the inefficiency with which the DRDO operates and about how it harps about achievements that are hardly áchievements'in the real sense, but yur tone is absolutely incherent with the views you wish to express...to say that the DRDO is a failure is an overstatement and an absolutely unforgivable accusation.Yes, it is true that as of now, the LCA may be a dud, but you have failed to understand, that this was a country that imported safety pins 60 years ago, and you must also understand that compared to various other fighter programmes, the funding that has gone in to this project is excessively low. I have alot more to say, but i shall do so over a period of time....anyway, my humble opinion is that your analysis of the situation is incorrect though not totally. As a person with a strong enough defence background I must say that the legitimacy of the DRDO and its ultimate purpose is undebatable, and that there are so many cases where it has benefitted the defence organisations immensely. The LSP of the tejas has begun and it is a shame as to why nobody seems to report it with as much fanfare as they do when they say that it is a failure...looking forward to a constructive discussion.....and just a small question what do you think about the ISRO and the ABM test..

sudeep said...

>> So to frame the issue in terms of “should we maintain a capability or not?” is just sloppy analysis.

Sir, this was not sloppy analysis, it was merely an effort to establish common ground where we do agree.

>> The real questions are two. Firstly, what opportunity cost is India prepared to pay to develop and maintain an indigenous defence capability, because it doesn’t come cheap.

The questions about opportunity cost is something best answered by economists, politicians and the like. And I will dare say, that the opportunities missed due to the 6000 odd crores spent on RnD are not just better roads and defense preparation in Arunachal but also drinking water and basic health care. If we are willing to forgo these most basic of requirements for a million man/woman army, 740 plane airforce and a 150 ship navy, whats a few roads in Arunachal :-)
Please understand that this is not an argument being made by me, I am lay person and I do not understand these issues fully, this is an argument that has been made by successive GoI establishments, as can be judged by their allocations to defense, space and RnD.

>> Secondly, what is the minimum that must be provided to forces in the field in order to justify continuing research on projects that don’t reach the field?

>> Having put that down, let’s also define what is a “credible indigenous defence capability.” Only one country, the USA, defines its indigenous defence capability today in terms of being able to produce, through a minimum of two separate contractors, all the major weapon systems that are required for fighting both war and peace. Even Europe looks outside for many strategic systems;

Sir, these European decisions (heavy lift etc) were taken in a particular strategic environment, with the Soviet Bear looming large over Western Europe and a tremendous linkage between Western Europe and the USA. Having said that, many European countries that were large enough developed their own strategic systems and maintained a hedge against future US course changes by maintaining indegenous defense capabilities, which they continue doing to this day.

Having said that, DRDO must import whatever technologies are available to it reliably and not try to develop everything in house. For instance, they may choose to fly the LCA with a GE engine instead of the Kaveri and an Elta radar instead of the MMR, in the interest of putting a weapon in the hands of the Armed forces. Detractors of DRDO should not point out these imports as failures of DRDO but laud them as prudent decisions taken in the interest of putting maximum capability in the hands of the Armed forces in a timely manner.

>> That’s not because they don’t have the technological capability to produce them. It is simply that the hierarchy of cost-effectiveness prefers off-the-shelf purchases to developmental costs. In simple terms, the cheapest way to obtain a weapon system is to buy it off-the-shelf from a supplier, who has borne the development costs and the risk factors of research. The next cheapest way is to buy the technology and produce the goods in one’s own country. And the most expensive, and risky, method is to develop from scratch the equipment you need. To believe that making and building ones own weaponry is a way to save money is to fly in the face of reality.

If a system developmental cost is amortized over the defense forces of several countries, its true that itll be cheaper to buy it off the shelf or buy the technology. Yet I would hesitate to combine the RnD costs of a system developed indegenously with its actual procurement cost to the defense forces, as the total cost of a defense system.

If a system is being produced indegenously, at the end of the day, the forces get not only the system, but also a defense industrial complex that is capable of producing this system, something that we both agree is desirable.

So the question should be, What is the price we are willing to pay to get a weapon in the hands of the armed forces and also develop an MI complex capable of supporting it through that systems life cycle.

>> Next, the need for “indigenous capability” stems from an anticipation of denial of equipment and technology from an outside supplier. So in deciding what should be India’s “indigenous capability”, the first question is “what is India’s vulnerability?” ...
A country’s defence strategy is directly related to it international diplomacy and India’s diplomacy is increasingly bringing us to the point where every one of our traditional suppliers, and a new one, the United States, is keen to supply us equipment. It is therefore our choice. We may or may not buy from them but they are, and are likely to remain, keen to supply us defence equipment.
...
It is NOT immediately necessary to build everything from scratch, the way the DRDO is trying to do.

I agree with you that a countries defense posture is defined by its external relations with neighbours and trade partners. This is self evident fact to an extent, if we were friends with the Paks and the Chinese, we would not have the need to have a million man army.

Having said that, Sir, in the unevolved defense scenarios of South Asia, tactical weapon systems take on a strategic hue. At one time, systems like, F16s, M1A1s, missile boats, tactical missiles, diesel subs were all considered strategic in nature. Strategic because they gave one party the capablity to inflict a quick defeat on the other.

This situation continues to be so and will continue to be so for quite some time to come. If that is the case, how can we rely on suppliers of these goods to be on Indias side in time of need ? If Guangdong houses a 100 billion $$ of US investment, will the US standy by India if we return a chinese nuke attack ? If 10,000 US troops are stationed in Pakistan, will the US stand by us if we decide to launch a punitive brahmos strike on terrorist camps ? Are the world powers trying to sell us weapons to have a greater influence on our defense policy ?

These are the concrete questions that rise from the dualism between our external relations and our defense preparedness, and must be analyzed before we jump onto lockheed martins/boeings bandwagon.

>>Sudeep, your logic about Eurofighter being more expensive than JSF-22 is only partly correct.

no sir, I am fully correct on this count, and I was comparing the Eurofighter with the JSF, not the F22 which outclasses it with a tremendous distance. The Typhoon looses on counts of vertical takeoff, stealth features, price and many other, radar capability, internal bomb bays, austere air to ground capability and so on. I am sure your colleague Vishnu Som whos' into aircrafts will concur with me.

>> Abhiman, you are right that the JF-17 is no more than generation 3.5. But it’s a Gen 3.5 that will soon fly in combat squadrons

Lets see how soon is that with the Engine denial imposed by Russia ! Hidden therein lies a lesson for India, I guess.

>> But the real lesson from Eurofighter is not just the burden-sharing model. The real lesson is the way they have introduced it into service in “tranches”

But sir, the lesson is not only for DRDO but also for our defense forces that insist on having a system thats completely ready on all angles before inducting it in any quantity !

>> That’s the crisis of confidence that exists between the scientific community and the military in India. The military (rightly) protests that the R&D whiz kids continually fail to deliver usable systems. The R&D people (rightly) protest that the military keeps setting the bar higher and higher. The military (rightly) says that it does so because the R&D people take so long to deliver that technology has moved along by then. And that is really the bottom line.

Once again, the lesson is also for the armed forces

1) They should be more closely involved with the RnD agencies, institutions like the Naval Design beauro and the the recent airforce team on operationalizing LCA should be duplicated by the Army.
2) They should be willing to accept weapons systems that meet their requirements only partly, on the condition that the systems in field will have follow on models. [Nag and Akash come to mind]
3) Media should stop using every incident to tarnish the defense agencies. For instance, you put together the Sarang crash and the tail rotor problems of the ALH together, when noone knows yet if it was the tail rotor that caused the problem. AFAIK, the airforce board hasnt come out with its results yet. For all we know now, it may be the pilots fault, or a fault by the ground staff. [nothing to be ashamed off, accidents happen] Same for the IJT veering off the runway.
4) Defense forces should stop salivating over the RnD budget, that is to maintain existing capabilities and develop a desi MI complex for the nation, not for the immediate requirement of a hot/cold/lukewarm war today or tomorrow.
5) The management structure of DRDO needs to be improved with more accountability. Yet there should be no vindictiveness by the media or the armed forces in this exercise, for then we might throw out the baby with the bath water.

regards,
Sudeep

sudeep said...

also, since we are talking specifics now, whats the breakdown of DRDOs budget of 6000 crores, what amount goes towards strategic systems that must be developed inhouse like ballistic missiles, BMD, nukes, nuclear submarines, next generation projects like hypersonic vehicles and how much towards the more projects that produce tactical weapon systems like Arjun/LCA/INSAS/... and how much towards making auxilliary eqpmt like say, shoes :-)

Quantifying this is important, since it defines the scope of the disagreement and the criticism. If 4000 out of 6000 crores is being spent on strategic systems, then the problem from the monetary side at least, doesnt appear to be that big.

Also, I will appreciate any insights into the OFBs that actually produces theses weapons designed by the DRDO. Getting more efficiency out of them is low hanging fruit for the Indian defense that I dont see anyone going after.

khanna said...

Scooby dooby doo! Where the fuck are you?

Rammohan said...

R&D needs to be given as much time as it needs to succeed.. Period. Because only success can succeed success. Without trying there is no failure.... ocourse no success. Thank god - we are ateast trying.

Anyway we dint spend millions $ to invent a pen that writes in space, while a pencil could be used. Or we dint mixup pounds for kgs and launch a space probe into vaccuum.

As you have said - there are investigative posters & zealot jingos on BR... same goes to everything in society.. there is a VishnuSom, Barkha, Rajdeep who r good and then there are Aroors, Pandits.. just like that there is success and there is also failure.

Dont get fixated on Tejas. Look at all the associated equipment, systems, LRU's we have been able to make on our own. One of the key points you are forgetting is the lack of political will, vision to drive R&D forward. Yet we are on the path to self-reliance making steady (if not speedy) progress.

Despite all the tech advances they had why EU cant match US in space or fighter aircraft today? So are they a failed bunch of nations.. Because US has taken a bigger risk & spent billions of dollars (as against crores of Rupees)in research (a lot more inefficiently than DRDO).. But still F22 arrived later & much much costlier than planned.. Same goes to EF Typhoon.
But, my dear sir, success in complex R&D projects doesnt come easy.. Do you even know that SpaceShuttle was to have been in museum now & US should have been flying SSTO/TSTO vehicles doing 100flights an year -- but the anticipated technological breakthroughs sometimes take a lot more time than anticipated.. Thats the (risky)way R&D works.

DRDO had to succeed against great adversity - sanctions meant you cant get components like RLG's, circuit breakers which are easy for everybody else to acquire, but DRDO was denied stuff.. they worked through all this.. yes there have been delays & failures -- but today we are in a much better shape than what we were 10-15years ago. And such progress will continue to happen.

It is the society that is at fault for DRDO's dealys/failures. When most qualified people cross shores or prefer lucrative pay packets in private sector & s/w -- it is to the credit of the employees who have stuck to their task and continued to work (against social, technological adversity) towards self-reliance for the nation. The least you can afford them is a little more patience.

GoodBYe.

Mihir Shah said...

Ajai Shukla >> as a weapon system for the fighting forces in the field, the Tejas is a dud.

So is the F-22. And the Eurofighter. And the Rafale. Now before you say, "Aha! The Rafale participated in Op Enduring Freedom", please try to understand that Rafales did not fly a single CAP during OEF. They only acted as air-to-air refuellers for the Super Etendards. I would like to see you try to convince the US, UK and France to give up on these duds.

>>It’s the most simple military logic: because if it comes to war today, the Tejas is not available to fight

What is your point? We are defenceless because the DRDO screwed up? Or that we should give up on R&D because it doesn't lead to tangible benefits immediately? I suppose you are aware that the IAF has more than 600 fighter aircraft in its inventory that are available to fight TODAY. The Tejas will be ready to fight a few years from now.

>>If the IAF chief has to write to the Defence Minister that by 2017, the IAF and the PAF will have the same squadron strengths, it is because the Tejas is far behind schedule in delivery

Poppycock! It is also because the MoD, and maybe even the Air Force is dragging its feet on the MRCA. Perhaps you would like to do away with the agencies responsible for procurement of weapons? Better still, let us do away with the Air Force and MoD altogether. If the DRDO is incompetent because they can't develop an aircraft, the MoD and IAF are doubly so, because they can't even BUY them!

>>The services don’t fight on technologies; they fight on usable platforms.

Hmmm... maybe we should revive the Ajeet. On second thoughts, let us buy second hand MiG-21s from Eastern Europe. Those are usable platforms.

ArnabSen said...

Col Shukla,

Sir unless you truly educate yourself about defence R&D and aerospace, you will never understand what most people here are saying, and you will continue to have aperception gap. I have worked on a variety of technology projects, most of them were with budgets that would make any Indian fancy designation look like peanuts (mumphali) and I can tell you one simple thing, if you dont support DRDO, ISRO, you will be continuing to import till doomsday and taken to cleaners. My professional acquaintance has been to India, to HAL to some other companies, and IISc- he has very high opinion of the work done and also the future. The nature of the RandD animal is that it is long in coming, and the lca is very very challenging. Now most of your comments are wrong, you say eurofighter, and i would point out that it has taken three decades to get where it is, and with four countries behind it. You say that the engine is imported, that gripen you saw at aeroindia has the same engine, china also imports engines. please report facts not opinion and stop throwing insults out in your articles, a humble request. be more professional in your work.

MarquezRazor said...

Aroorji,saw your picture of when you visited the BR stall at AI07.Yaar you have grown so fat.Or were you as a child such a golu molu lollipop boy?All that huffing and puffing about DRDO didnt much help in burning calories did it?

Shiv Aroor said...

no no, always golu molu. :) and the huffing puffing didn't help, no! what it did was get the boys a whack and external auditors. groan.

MarquezRazor said...

You could have used your brain cells a bit though when you wrote all those articles.Brain cells utilize energy to work you know!

Vikram said...

Col. Shukla:

You picked on the comment about the Russians taking care of their stooges in India but ignored everything else I had posted.

Any evaluation of the ROI of the money invested in DRDO has to look beyond the does it work or not metric you have proposed. The metric you proposed lacks the sophistication needed. You need to answer the following:

1. In the absence of the DRDO ,would Indian Armed Forces have had access to the technologies developed by DRDO from foreign sources and at what cost?

2. What leverage did MoD obtain when negotiating the pricing and the terms with foreign suppliers knowing that a DRDO effort was already under way?

3. What is the growth on the knowledge base and expertise in the Indian scientific community because of the money spent on DRDO?

From a soldier's point of view having access to arms is critical the battle.

However more often than not, it is the depth of the country's scientific knowledge which decides the winner of the war. The Cold War was won without any major face to face confrontation by the power with the better technological and economic base. It was not won by the side which had overwhelming numerical superiority in vulnerable T-series tanks.

And you refused to comment on the fact the Indian Armed Forces, especially the Army is willing to accept derated and under-performing equipment from foreign suppliers, while they keep on moving the bar when it comes to equipment developed by Indian organizations. The T-90/T-72 series has a whole host of problems which the Army is willing to accept while the Arjun is condemned without giving it a fair chance.

The double standards are obvious. In the absence of any justification of why the double standards exist, I will continue to believe that it is the vodka and the Natashas which keep the decision makers happy. You dismiss that as "sloppy analysis". I would be a lot happier if you could prove that the double standard does not exist.

shilpa said...

How stupid you have to be to suggest arms supplies for India from China? If that is even possible why/what would we need those arms for?

Some people try very hard not to miss trees for wood but end missing entire jungle for trees.

You are a true, with respect, moron!