Thursday, 18 February 2010

Eurofighter’s mission to India: making the shortlist

(Photo: Courtesy Mario Serrano at airliners.net)

The Typhoon simulator as seen from the cockpit. Eurofighter has put up this simulator at Defexpo 2010


by Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 17th Feb 2010

On Monday, two Eurofighter Typhoon fighters of the Luftwaffe --- the German Air Force --- took off from the Laage Air Base in Germany on probably the most important mission any Typhoon has ever flown.

After touching down in Bangalore today, they will prepare for flight trials by Indian Air Force pilots, which begin on Monday. The outcome of those trials in Bangalore, Jaisalmer, and then Leh, will be crucial in determining whether 126 Typhoons, and possibly more later, will sport the roundels of the IAF.

The IAF has already tested four fighters in this six-aircraft, US $11 billion contest to select a Medium Multi-role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA): the American F/A-18 Super Hornet and the F-16IN Super Viper; the French Rafale; and the Russian MiG-35. On the heels of the Eurofighter will come the last contender: Sweden’s Gripen NG.

After the flight trials are over, IAF sources tell Business Standard, the competition will narrow down to a short-list of three or four contenders; two fighters, they say, have already performed below par. Then the commercial bids will be opened; MoD procedure mandates that the lowest bidder wins the contract.

Synchronised perfectly with the start of its flight trials, Eurofighter Typhoon has transported a flight simulator to Defexpo 2010, which is running in Delhi from 15-18th Feb. In that simulator, over the last three days, key Indian decision-makers have personally experienced the Eurofighter. These include Defence Minister AK Antony; the IAF chief, Air Chief Marshall PV Naik; the pilot overseeing flight-testing, Air Commodore Rakesh Dhir; and a host of VIPs, including Anand Mahindra.

Eurofighter’s next splash will be during Exercise Indradhanush, in October, when a group of RAF Typhoons fly into India, participating for the first time ever in the joint Royal Air Force-IAF exercise. That is expected to grab media attention exactly at the moment when the MoD is finalising its decision on which fighter to buy.

“The Eurofighter particiation in the exercise is not part of a plan”, the boss of Eurofighter GmbH, Bernhard Gerwert, told Business Standard. “The Luftwaffe is sending the fighters for flight testing; the Typhoons in the exercise are from the RAF. But this does reflect Eurofighter’s pan-European nature.”

Eurofighter’s careful public relations strategy reflects the skill with which Eurofighter has handled its MMRCA campaign. Unlike some of its contenders, which spent millions of dollars in promoting their fighters in India and participating in air shows for years, Eurofighter only launched its India campaign in 2008. The Typhoon itself was first displayed in India last February, at the Aero India 2009 in Bangalore.

Only French manufacturer, Dassault, which has offered the Rafale, has been more restrained. The Rafale has never been displayed in India.

Eurofighter’s campaign has also been enhanced by a growing list of sweeteners. Having earlier offered full “partnership” for India in the Typhoon programme, Defexpo 2010 has seen a ramping up of parent company, EADS’ engineering centre in Bangalore.

Bernhard Gerwert elaborates, “We are shifting R&D out of Germany and into India. The Airbus Engineering Centre in Bangalore currently has 120 local engineers, who carry out civilian R&D for the airliner business. By 2012, this will have stepped up to 400 engineers for civilian R&D and 200 engineers working on military programmes.”

Gerwert clarifies that this does involve the politically sensitive transfer of jobs to India. Each one of the new engineers will be a new hiring.

18 comments:

AK said...

Again an excellent article with new details and information and not copy pasted brochures. The most important point in this whole article was.

1) 4 Planes have been tested. American F/A-18 Super Hornet , F-16IN Super Viper, the French Rafale and the Russian MiG-35

2) Two of these 4 have performed below par.

I wonder which two these are?

My guess is F-18 and MiG-35. Any more details Ajaiji.

the terminator said...

A very sound approach by the Typhoon manufacturers to sell their fighter. Other than the overall cost, the Typhoon is the best that the IAF can hope to get for its MMRCA requirements.

If the Typhoon is the ultimate choice, it would also bring in a lot of cutting-edge knowledge to the fledgling aeronautical industry in India.

Costwise it is expensive but if you want a Ferrari, you have to pay the price of one. You can't expect to pay the price of a Russian Lada or an American Ford and expect to own a top of the line racer.

Anyway knowing Indian netas and baboos who would sell their own mothers if the price for their deep pockets is right, even a vintage fighter might find its way into the IAF.

And by the time the GOI. MOD and the IAF go through the never ending marathon process of trials, selection, price negotiations and the decision to buy, all the most modern aircrafts in the MMRCA would have become obsolete.

Hopefully for once security and the soverignity of the country takes centre stage and the whole MMRCA exercise is expedited on a war footing.

Anonymous said...

Dear Ajaiji, as someone who is involved in contracts and tendering, I wish to comment on the following statement ; "Then the commercial bids will be opened; MoD procedure mandates that the lowest bidder wins the contract."

The above process is good only if the bidders agree fully to MoD's terms and conditions before the bidding process. Can you confirm that all bidders have fully agreed to MoD'sterms and conditions before the bidding ? If the bidders have any qualifications, these should be addressed before opening the priced bid.

But what if the lowest bidder puts his own additional terms and conditions, or doesn't fully agree to MoD's terms and conditions? Will the MoD disqualify the bidder?

It is important to realise that sometimes the terms and conditons may have cost impact and how good the bidding process depends on how knowledgeable MoD people are of the the terms and conditions required for such contracts. Because missing the terms and conditions can cause the MoD much headache or huge costs.

Tejaswy said...

:Finger crossed:
MIG MIG MIG
:Finger crossed:

Anonymous said...

Ajai ji, which are the two planes that haven't lived up to the requirements laid down by the IAF?
Agreed, you can't drop names but two subtle hints would keep us Jingo's expectations soaring that the contest is headed in the right direction. Thanks in advance...

joydeep ghosh said...

all said and done as per your article ad information available on wikipedia,

Eurofighter Typhoon and JAS-39 Gripen look to be the front runners to clinch the deal.

Only thing of concern is the range of Eurofighter Typhoon, which can be managed with refueling pods.

Just one question, will India do the same with Eurofighter Typhoon as it did with Su-30s, ie merge them with Indian, Isreali and Western sub-sytems and weapons.

Anonymous said...

Nice, but any clue as to which two platforms performed below par? I am sure the mig-35 and Rafale wont make the cut. I wont buy it if people say the f-18SH and F-16IN performed the worst because they are the most ready with AESA, good EW suites and they come with ready weapons whihc are just as deadly. There are baseless rumors abouts F-18SH performance in leh and Jaisalmer. Could you find out which two birds are the underperformers??

Sandy said...

Hello Shuklaji
I am regular at your blog and in the past also I have asked you questions which haven't been answered. Kindly answer this one.

Sweden's aircraft is also part of the trials for buying 126 aircraft. Sweden is providing AWACS system to Pakistan. Why are they still being allowed to participate? Can't India arm twist the companies from these countries and thus force them not to sell any major military hardware to Pakistan.

Anonymous said...

Eurofighter is the only plane that will remain technologically relevant for the time MMRCA will remain in service.
All others are already obsolete today itself OR dressed up with new aesa to cover obsolescence.

Shailendra said...

I agree with Sandy, I also raised same question but I was also not answered. Why you buy Gripen, they are selling AWACS to Pakistan. So if we buy Grippen, this means, Gripen is tracked by AWACS of same company. Its like giving gun to INDIA and Bulletproof to Pakistaan

Anonymous said...

Buddy-buddy refuelling with Su-30MKI should work wonders for this plane rangewise.

It would be a good complement to the heavy MKIs.

Anonymous said...

@ AK

F-18 performing below par...i really doubt that. i know its a heavy bird, not as agile as some of the others but in terms of reliablity and durability, there is none better. SH has suffered no crashes due to engine failure, performs extremely well in hot temperatures like in Nevada as well as the Alaskan winters. Has the most advanced operational AESA in the deal ,has the deadliest weapons deployed in the US arsenal and its has proven itself time and time again. my guess of underperformers would be Rafale and mig-35. Matter of fact i am sure ths SH will win because it comes with a new kick ass engine, the price is reasonable, is far more advanced than the Ef or Rafale. Needless to say the SH has killed a Raptor in a dogfight while the Ef and Rafale couldnt even come close when they flew simulated missions in Dubai. The SH alos deploys the longer range Aim-120D which if approved for sale to India will kill the Rafale, EF without even being spotted. The SH can also naturally mingle really well with P-8I,C-130J, C-17. It has proven tanking and awacs roles as well. Its the best all rounder. The new engine will ensure its aerial performance dramtically improves.

Anonymous said...

To Sandy and Shailendra

Swedes aren't the only one selling weapons to pakis. the french, americans, germans??( not sure about the hdw deal)

Arun

NJS said...

French also plans to supply Mica AAM missiles to PAK/china based fighter JF-17 .

If US jets is inferior( in trial) or not , india already mentally/ politically selected F-18 for mmrca. but what my doubt is does india give orders for 126 nos / 126 nos ( f-18) + 80 nos (!!!- another vendor)

But in my view Eurofighter with Meteor AAM is the very best choice for our country , it already showed it's superiority against F-15 in war games.

Anonymous said...

Well lets tell the MOD to negotiate the price of an EF down to that of of a Gripen and double the order size to compensate for the price reduction. We can also quadruple the engine order to them and mass produce LCA for export market. Economies of scale should bring down the price.

Anonymous said...

You would better look at what says Austrian media about the EF...
On the 15 aircraft bought for the Austrian AF, only 5 are in service due to expensive spare parts and will of MoD to make savings. The 10 other EF are used for maintnance (canibalized). EADS want them to pay €30,000 for each wheel bolt! Each flight hour costs €33,000.
God, what a pain in the ass!
MiG guys offers a low-cost solution (good to replace MiG-21s) and maybe could we buy their radar. It's an old AESA tech (only 680 E/R modules compared to 1,000 at least for other contenders and 1,500 for FGFA). I think it's a reachable challenge for our negotiators.
Gripen NG is paper plane. Rafale is technically perfect but expensive. No need to think about the F-16. The F-18 SH experiences defects with its radar in dogfight (see the US weekly Indide the Navy) and problems to communicate with its jamming pod.
Problem: if it's a political decision, the SH will probably win given Delhi desperately tries to attract attention of the US to counterweight China on the regional scene...
Can we be satisfied with that?

NJS said...

Su 30 mki + PAK FA (fgfa) + Mig35 doesn't shows any difference in tech . Chinese easily / illegally getting the tech of russian weapons , but India need different Su-30 mki + FGFA + Eurofighter Typhoon 126 nos .
mig is good fighter jet ,Russia is better in supporting 100 % tot and pricing , but we need different to kick dragons / pakis . yes the weakness for EF is price not quality .

Upto known see how many Mig-35 / Typhoons sold to other countries or to their own airforce .

Anonymous said...

Euro currency's value could go down this year due to failure of some debt ridden european states which EU will be forced to rescue.
This could make Eurofighter cheaper if its exchange rate goes down against the Rupee.