Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Join in... The Big Fighter Aircraft Debate: F-35 versus Gen-4: What is better for India?



A short take off and vertical landing version of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Is the F-35 the fighter that India needs?


My article in the Business Standard recommending that India scraps the MMRCA procurement and, instead, buys the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter has stirred up a firestorm.

On Broadsword, there are close on a hundred passionately argued responses, the majority of them arguing against the F-35.

Eurofighter GmbH is in damage control mode, with one of their most articulate and well-informed senior executives interacting in New Delhi yesterday with a string of journalists to send out the message that the Eurofighter would suit India's needs better than the F-35.

Meanwhile, exactly the same argument as Eurofighter's --- almost point by point --- has been received by Business Standard and printed in today's newspaper. Can't be from Eurofighter... after all, the letter is signed by one PR Rajgopal!

Clearly, there is much to be said and debated on this issue.

So far, I have only used the very limited platform of a 900-word column in the Business Standard to argue why I believe the F-35 is the best option for India. Since so many of you --- in my respectful, but considered, view --- have only half the argument, I will make out my full case on Broadsword. This will cover Indian military doctrinal issues, the realities of our deployment stance on the borders, the nature of our threat, and the competing claims of the F-35 versus the other MMRCA contenders. I hope to post the case this week.

Naturally, my argument will be informed by detailed discussions yesterday with Eurofighter and Lockheed Martin... and even more detailed discussions with military experts on China.

If the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force like, they can listen in.

Let the games begin...

74 comments:

Anonymous said...

My argument is India should buy F-35, not as replacement for MMRCA but to the Navy.

Call me conspiracy theorist, however the best option to intercept Saudi based F-15 & Eurofighter, piloted by Pakistani striking areas like Gujarat and Mumbai has to be IN's carrier based F-35. Saudi jets wont need to travel overland to Pakistan, they will be flying through Arabian sea.

I find it strange the Saudi want to buy such long ranged jets, when Iran is just a hop away.

Add to this it is important that India diversify. The MMRCA should go to the Europeans with condition that they should give us the maximum tech.

And then make a F-35 deal. This will keep the Americans happy.

So we have a powerful air power, really good tech from Europeans, which we can plug into PAK-FA & AMCA. And keep the Americans happy.

Nit

Hrishikesh said...

This sure was one article to stir up a hornet's nest.

The one advatnage which I see in case of F35 is the naval version, which could be considered by Indian Navy in future given its expansion plans, so why not the IAF today for MMRCA, which has still not been finalized?

But is the F35 platform proven? Think not. Opinions contrary to that have to tempered by the fact that Uncle Sam is great at marketing and F35 is one platform which can be monetised to a great extent in future.

Also, will India get access to all the attendant features, which make it potent? Going by what is happening with the existing indian acquisition programs through FMS channel, I am highly sceptical already about the potency of the existing ones, let alone F35.

We need to get the MMRCA contract done and dusted asap and move ahead, not introduce another variable in the equation, which creates more complexity.

I say so because, Uncle sam too will have its F15s, F16s, F18s flying in huge numbers for many many years alongside F22s and F35s.

Why cant we can live with our MMRCA + others and augment that with FGFA. FGFA is already flying.

ASHISH said...

Ajai Shukla F35 is very expensive for us we cannot afford 126 f35 moreover we need new fighters asap our pilots
are losing lives by flying mig 21 and 27.Plz reply if you do not agree with my points.

Anonymous said...

Paper plane or in service plane ?

Easy => paper plane: look, it has it all written down there!

Anonymous said...

we need a forum to discuss every one views here..

Anonymous said...

While compare with F-35 , Israel asked for F-15 , but US rejected . in my view F-15 has 5th gen capable , india can go for F-15 .
For japan US refused to give F-22, now japan has some plan to go for Eurofighter .

Anonymous said...

@Ashish I don't want to put words in Ajay's mouth, but from what I have read on his blog so far, I think he is well aware of the need for more planes for our force. I personally feel that going in for the F35 will force the IAF and DRDO to better develop the Tejas. A better Tejas should be the back bone for our forces with top end fighters like the F35, PAK FA and MKI forming the front line.

Anonymous said...

To add to the point that I made in terms of our need for a more focused LCA (Tejas) development; I happened by luck to sit next to a person well placed in HAL on a plane. I talked to him about how I felt the HAL is doing a horrible job at development of new technology here in India. His answer surprised me. He was of the opinion that there is a conscious effort form the defense ministry and IAF and HAL top brass to stall the process of faster better development. His opinion makes sense if we consider the amount of corruption in our defense sector, how will the ppl at various agencies make money, was the technology developed here locally.

kgb said...

In my humble opinion, the JSF is not a true multi-role aircraft, it is just a stealth 'bomb truck' which will be used by American forces after the opponent air force has been annihilated by F-22s. Fact is, it is to supplement the F-22s, and is not meant to be an air superiority platform.

India, on the other hand, needs an aircraft which can function effectively in both roles.

JSF's only USP for air combat is stealth and without it, it is a sitting duck.

Top speed of Mach 1.6!!!
God, our MiG-27s can match that.
and our MiG-21s can beat that.

If, stealth is compromised, the JSF can in no way match the needs of air combat. With a limited payload (needed to make sure that it's USP holds), there is little that it can do. The F-22 can run if outta payload, the JSF cannot. This point is of great importance, cause the Indian Air Force will be heavily outnumbered if fighting against the Chinese.

For more on it's limited air combat capabilities read:

http://www.ausairpower.net/APA-NOTAM-300309-1.html

http://www.ausairpower.net/APA-JSF-Analysis.html

other than that, the political issues come into play:

1. In case of any contingency, if used to drop nuclear weapons, will the US support the decision, or will it put sanctions. Note that till now, only France has publicly stated that Rafales can be used to drop nukes.

2. What about ToT? I mean, stealth is a very important achievement. Again, please note that the US refused the software codes for the JSF to even the UK.

Other than that, it also depends on which fighter the Indian Government is selecting for the MRCA. If it is the F-16 or the F-18. we'd rather buy the JSF, cause it is the planned replacement for both these fighters.

On the other hand, if the selected aircraft is the Eurofighter or the Rafale, then these aircraft fulfill Indian needs in a more effective manner, cause if needed, they can fly air superiority missions and fly them well.

And I would also advice you to note that stealth is not everything. Remember that an F-117 was shot down during the Kosovo war, implying that, though useful, stealth cannot completely replace all other important parameters of air combat.

Anonymous said...

Ok, my argument is why do you need another stealthy plane when you are going to get PAKFA to which India is going to pour some money to its development and buy a whopping 25 Billion worth of these toys?
A country having no stealthy a/c going for F-35 makes sense but why when you are going to have PAK FA?
More over, I strongly believe with Britain, Canada, and perhaps Australia reducing their F-35 numbers, the cost per plane would increase, then we will buying a plane which is costlier than what F-35 presently is priced at? Don't you think buying a cheaper alternative like Gripen makes sense?

Hoping for an answer from Broadsword

Cheers,
Bharath

sohels said...

Lets say the mission is to strike some targets in China - for example, taking out key bridges along the Tibet railway line. Wouldn't stealth be an absolute necessity in order to be able to penetrate Chinese air defenses? Would any of the MRCA contenders be able to carry out such a mission in a discreet, efficient and self-reliant manner? What about the F-35?

Shiv Aroor said...

Ajai: I don't know what Eurofighter told you yesterday, but to be fair, the company actually began sniping the F-35 many months ago -- in June this year, to be precise. See this: http://livefist.blogspot.com/2010/06/eurofighter-snipes-lockheed-says.html

Anonymous said...

What about the timelines for delivery Shuklaji? If we opt for F-35 right NOW, there is no chance we will get it before 2020, forget about the evaluation phase and the speed at which the babudom moves. Also, what kind of offsets do you expect?

Anonymous said...

Without going into much technicalities...

And only concentrating on the policies followed by MoD.....

If we introduce a new contender like F35 at this stage, it would another 4 or 5 years to finalize and again when in future, there will be FGFA ready and people would want to include FGFA. Finally, we would finalise the jets only by 2020.

Why include F35 now ? If we wait for 4 more years (time taken to reach present stage of MMCRA race after including F35), we would have both LCA (doubt, as it is done by HAL) and FGFA.

Anonymous said...

IAF wants 2 seaters to avoid strain on the pilot. F35 L2 doesn't have a twin seater variant.

Anonymous said...

ajai,

you don't seem to know the technical aspects of how an airforce is set up . even though the f-35 is a superior aircraft to the mmrca that does not mean it will necessarily fit the needs of the IAF and be used to its full capability. comparing platforms based on fifth-generation technology like stealth or supercruise alone is what fanboys do, a comparison based on systems and how platforms fit into an overall network, how strike packages are assembled, what mission profiles the airforce needs, and how an overall network works with different platforms is what experts do. if you want to get into the merits of inducting the F-35 over the mmrca, you should first sit down with defence analyst, and informed IAF officers and talk to them about the technical aspects of how an airforce is set up before throwing around garbage arguments and analysis. ajai, you have influence, do some research before causing a firestorm with uninformed ideas.

Abhid-d said...

You said:
".....(I) will cover Indian military doctrinal issues, the realities of our deployment stance on the borders, the nature of our threat, and the competing claims of the F-35 versus the other MMRCA contenders. I hope to post the case this week."

All that is fine sir, and the F-35 may indeed fit the IAF's doctrine like Cinderella's sandal from the fairy.

But it will kill the AMCA. That's what we don't want. Besides, the AMCA being developed exclusively for the IAF, may turn out to be a better fit than the F-35, don't you think ?

After all till when shall we go on importing ? After 120 years of independence ?

Bharat said...

1. If we do buy the F 35, what is the time frame that we would be looking at, to induct the aircraft, devise tactics etc? Would we not be looking at a post 2018 date?

2. Would it require us to go in for a stop - gap order of a fourth generation fighter, or the lease of some?

3. What happens to our own AMCA program?

Bluefire said...

points not favouring F-35
1. It would near double the MMRCA tender to $20 billion.
2. in the process wat we will do is take out all r eggs from russian bastket n put them in US basket taking into consideration Globemaster n P-3orion deals.
3. JSF has still not entered service as it has been consistently been missing dates. Most countries which had made prior commitments r pulling out due to extreme high costs.
4. US has been historically been known for its double standards. It will give india JSF n to please pakistan give some latest 4th gen plane. This way it will atleast keep its defence industry afloat in a trashed economic scenario.
5. opting for JSF would mean near 2 yr delay before any contract wold be signed
6.Since eurofighter is a 4.5 gen plane n comes from european consortium, it would improve relations with EU further and reduce antagonism towards india from China, pakistan due to excessive US proximity.

saurav jha said...

Here we go..I am eager to see the debate. i was always wary of the hugely expensive EF and RAFALE as MRCA..Lets see how the defenders of these planes respond.

However I am still a little suspicious that US might give us the degraded F-35 which may not justify the cost we will be paying to procure and maintain..

debadutta said...

it is the most fair choice if iaf is going to choose f-35 , aftr one decade frm now der wll be the generation of 5th gen fighters only..

Bluefire said...

Would also like to point that VTOL of JSF is not a huge benefit for the Airforce. though it will allow fighters being positioned close to border n in hostile mountanious terrain of NE n Kashmir, the practice has been to keep fighters at safe distance from borders so the benefit of VTOL is considerably scaled down.

Mr. Ra said...

In spite of so many assurances, F-35 seems to be an unreliable option. Actually everybody else has stakes in F-35, so everybody may be interested in their sale to India.

If at all we want some novel experiment, we should separately purchase only 24 nos of F-35 and watch their performance and progress with reference to the time, till further concrete decisions can be made.

Anonymous said...

Dear Ajaiji,
I am a big follower of your articles for years. I have a humble request for you, even it may be over ambitious. Why dont you make a writeup like "Indian Military System: Time to revamp".

Apart from procurement issues, don't we need a military setup like PENTAGON? over the years we have seen the decision making tool of the Indian military lacks vision, objective, timeliness and coordination. we all witnessed only this:
1.hiding the issues under the carpet: for example the Chinese occupation on the north east in the past and presently in POK.
2.mediocre procurements: like importing Swiss army knives.
3.sitting on the problem: unlike navy or air force which are on the right path for indigenisation, our army's negligence in finding an indigenous solution to our artillery problem for more than two decades.
4.absence of response/handling the issue: like attacks on our fishermen for decades by srilankan navy personnel.
5.mediocre coast guard: more than 500 fishermen have disappeared in recent years on high seas due to the reluctance of our coast guard to use helicopters in finding and rescuing them citing to high expenditure (Rs.9 lakhs per sortie)

The core reason for the success of the military systems like US and Israel could be their proactivness.

So, we need a well established military headquarters setup on the lines of Pentagon (say Indian version: hexagon or octagon)which predicts our threat perceptions precisely and acts proactively, takes care of all our external threats, plans the response and acts effectively and timely on them, handles the present and future threats, oversees our weapon developments and procurements, etc.

hoping to read you soon.

-Prakash, chennai

Anonymous said...

F-35 can pass flight and weapons tests?
F-35 can fulfill Full Tech Transfer and Local Production requirements?
India will magically gain access to radar and countermeasure source code to modify by itself if needed (while the UK doesn`t), and integrate the latest air to air AS WELL AS air to ground munitions?
And how much does it cost?
Oh, what was that, I didn`t hear?

This pro-F-35 argument seems overly swayed by the `oh what a great plane it is` sentiment. That`s lovely, but there will always be a newer plane with nicer bells and whistles, ALMOST ready for production in a few years.

That doesn`t give a reason to cancel MMRCA and abandon it`s key goals (tech transfer, autonomy) in order to justify going for the new bird... Especially when MMRCA is already late, and the needs it`s filling are still just as un-fulfilled.

If anything, why not cancel MMRCA and procure more FGFA, which should be available for production around the same time, and which seems a superior plane to F-35.

Each day and week there is news of the US and F-35 Partner Countries reducing/slowing their F-35 buys... Meaning it will take all the longer for mature production rates and costs to be reached. Setting up any Indian production in parallel with the LRIP process would be hugely expensive because there wouldn`t BE any target to aim for, it would just be duplicating an experiment. Don`t even think about trying to negotiate with ALL Partner countries to include India within global production, because that would destroy all production planning even further.

This ´pro F35 in a vacuum´ argument simply seems disconnected from reality. When will India get F-35? If MMRCA time-tables are desired, would India then be subsidizing the US and NATO partners by buying up all Initial Low Rate of Production frames at huge cost, straight from Fort Worth, Texas rather than local production? If a F-35 purchase is delayed, what to be done with the rapidly aging and defunct fleet India currently has? Perhaps buy UAE`s Mirage 2000 -9`s? Add that to the F-35 price tag...

F-35 may well be a great plane, but that doesn`t mean it`s a great plane for India, nor great enough for India RIGHT NOW to give up viable alternatives without even knowing the F-35´s costs or capabilities. That`s kind of the point with a process like MMRCA, compare costs with beneftis. For F-35, it`s benefits are only known via Lockheed Martin marketing videos (i.e. with the rosiest of lenses), and it`s costs... nobody even pretends to know it`s monetary costs, and Mr. Shukla certainly doesn`t seem interested in looking at other costs to India, like autonomy of operations and modification or Tech Transfer which itself translates to long term autonomy for India.

But sure... it`s a great plane for what`s it`s to do (stealth striker with design accomodation for conventinal/CTOL/STOVL variants and `unified servicing system` conveniently tying one to US` infrastructure and interests)

deep.blue said...

F-35 for the Navy, yes, and with UK pulling out of the F-35B version our MoD should stop all MiG-29K acquisitions and concentrate on taking over some of the initial delivery slots that UKs exit have left open.

Its only through naval fixed wing air power that a nation can defend its interests and impose its will far away from its coasts. A submarine for all its deadly anti shipping capability can not drop 300 miles inshore.

The F-35 provides a capability to significantly degrade the performance of modern day ground and air based early warning radar systems increasing its survivability which is very important when your Aircraft carrier can only carry 30-40 aircrafts.

The AF does not need it after the massive money being put into PAK-FA's Indian version.

Well that said if both the MMRCA contenders and the F-35 are going to cost nearly the same, if we are going to waste money on the MMRCA platform we might as well go for a future proof F-35.

We talk all of this fifth generation and what not, while our military is at-least 15-20 years behind the developed world, even in 2015-2020 we wont be able to match the near about complete smart bomb capability that US and NATO forces have had from 2001, or even the massive Precision-guided munitions capability USA displayed in the first gulf war, neither do we have platforms to provide EW, ESM or ISTAR capabilities that make these planes and weapons as deadly as we see them on CNN, dreams of grandeur indeed.

Anonymous said...

I say that we should take the funds for the mmrca and put it all into developing the amca. But we should do it like we mean it from the word go. Hire the best scientists available; buy all necessary equipment; do jv for things we can't develop alone, etc. If we do this, I think we can produce the amca about the same time we will start receiving any mmrca purchaised.

chandrabhan said...

Col Shukla,
This is not a debate at all. It is a diversionary tactics and time wastage exercise started by a few. F35 (Joint strike fighter) as of today is nowhere close to what it promises.
Moreover I have a few questions and I promise once you answer them truthfully you will drop your role of fan boy of fancy toy - F35.

1. What is US Navy going to do with 400+ Super hornets? The assembly line is booked and orders are given till 2018 :) If US navy(richest nation) , the creator of this wonderful 5th generation plane is still planning to use F18 super hornet as the bomb truck for coming 30 years and it's been promised upgrades for the service life to India(40 years)

2. What is the primary usage of stealth? smaller RCS! correct? That means radars will not be able to pick up the plane , In other words the importance of BVR increases. Would you care to talk about the success rate of BVR missiles and their range too. Mind it at different range the success rate goes down :)

3. Why does a F22 (the god of stealth planes) carry a 20 mm gun with 450 rounds if dig fights will never happen and stealth is the ultimate answer :) why did the production of F22 stop at 187 numbers? Expensive is just one aspect. F22 with all the great technologies have not done one bombing mission in even primitive air defense countries like Iraq and afghanistan :)

4. What are the kind of planes that we are likely to see in our 'hood in the next 10 years :) Mythical chinese 5th generation- Aluminum built J10 oooh the F22 Us is going to gift to Pakistan. so what of US can't afford it for their own. by 2017-18 , India will have Pakfa/FGFA.

5. Did i read we are still using MIG21 Bisons produced in 1960's and 3rd generation planes whacking the USF 4+ generation planes in exercise - F15 etc .

6. By the way, Friends of F35, F35B (STOVL version) is dead on arrival. the chief protagonist - Britain is not longer keen to use it for the navy (Funds issues)

also here is along list of features JSF has and I can actually write a long article on the limitations of reliance on stealth.

The JSF has the following shortcomings:

It cant fire weapons supersonically — the weapon bay doors fall off if one tries doing this.

It has only one engine. No matter how good the engine efficiency may be, you all lose the aircraft as a result it will be interesting to look at the loss rate of F-15s and F-16s, which use the same power plant.

The JSF is not an air superiority fighter, its a bomber. But due to the limited size of its bomb bay, it can only carry a small number of weapons.

The JSF does not have the same level of sensor fusion as the Eurofighter and requires more pilot intervention to fly it. This increases the cognitive load of the pilot.

The JSF lacks manoeuvrability since its stealth shaping impinges on aerodynamics.

Once it has done its job on day one of the war, the JSF has to act as any other aircraft and carry its weapons on pylons — this increases the radar cross section (RCS) and decreases its mission survival rate.

There is no national sovereignty over any of the software on the aircraft, including independent loading of EW Mission Dependent Data. This is even the case with the UK, which is the only level-one international partner in the programme and has invested nearly $2billion as the development cost.

The cost of the JSF is at least $100 million per aircraft and is likely to increase.

There is no clear-cut, well-defined statement of JSFs tactical capabilities or platform performance as on date.

There is no possibility of local manufacture or joint production for this platform. Even Special friend UK has been denied any such possibilities

Pankaj said...

No we cannot trust the Americans AND we cannot afford to antagonise the Russians.

Pak fa/FGFA will be our 5 th gen plane ,that is final.

Neither Pakistan nor China is getting any 5 th gen plane before us .

LCA mk 2 say 200 with AESA , SU 30 mki in large numbers say 500 and MMRCA say 200 plus 300 FGFA will make up a very strong IAF

BY 2030 this above mentioned fleet is definitely possible ecause our GDP will be 5 trillion dollars then

AMCA is being dreamt of by ADA ,DRDO

But unless engine and AESA radar are ready ,twin engine AMCA will be only a dream .

In LCA we have mastered composite material ,Glass cock pit , Electronic Warfare capabilities and Fly by wire technology

But engine, radar and armaments are a challenge

We have to replace 5 planes in next 20 years .

MIg 21 , Mig 27, Jaguar ,Mig 29 and Mirage 2000.

Anonymous said...

Dear All,

This debate should force us to think rationally:

1. The orignal article (to scrap MMRCA for F-35) must burn the hearts of MMRCA contestants (except LM of course), as they have spent so much money and effort in response to this tender. Scrapping this tender will spoil India's image big time. I, as a Indian, would also feel bad for all the vendors. Loosing in a fair fight is one thing but Scapping the tender is quite another.

2. But its true that the F-35 also lends superb capablities to pack a punch to the enemy that no MMRCA contendor can compete with...fully that is. And given a dynamic threat level in the region, it would be a good idea to have the F-35 with the IAF.

3. So whats the solution?

4. Go for both! Go for MMRCA in quantities exactly as per tender + Go for F-35 but in limited quantities only (exact numbers can be decided by the experts keeping the below logics in mind).

5. Case for F-35 in limited numbers only-

a) In any case, the F-35 does not add to Indian aeronautics. Leave that to the MMRCA in large quantities exactly as per the tender.

b) But even a few limited F-35s are enough to give substantial capability to the IAF ....especially in striking the enemy. It will give options to us, especially in limited skirmishes (which by the way, is more likely than a full blown war).

c) Even a few F-35s would provide us a hedge...should the FGFA or PAKFA or AMCA underperform on us. After all.... the Ruski-Indian 5th gen fighters are still "under development", arnt they? The promise they give is good... but we have to hold them to it. HAL and Russia should not sit pretty in the thought that they have this fat captive market in IAF, which they can always force down...even if with arguments of a "mark-I" version of the FGFA/AMCA!

d) Finally....in any case we could never get any more than just a few F-35s in the timeframe that we need to arrest the IAF force levels. This itself is the clincher.

e) Hats off to Ajai Shukla for stoking this debate which forced this "clarity of thought" (in my opinion at least:))... I certainly hope that getting this "clarity" was his primary objective instead of "scapping this MMRCA tender"

Have a good day.

Jayant

Anonymous said...

deep.blue: You talk like a transportation consultant. Though submarine can't drop things 300miles inshore, it is needed to get you near the shore.

Anonymous said...

I think my previous post did not get posted (got deleted before I could post it):

Solution proposed:

Go for MMRCA exactly as per tender quantties PLUS go for F-35 in limited numbers.

Why?:

1. MMRCA in large numbers contributes to Indian Aeronautics. The F-35 does not.

2. You cant get F-35s in large enough numbers (due US allies' order backlog) that would stem the falling IAF force levels. This is a job for the MMRCA in numbers exactly as per the tender.

3. The F-35 lends a level of capability thats great for the IAF and bad news for the enemy. In today's dynamic threat scanrios, you dont know which enemy of ours needs to be hit, and how. So go for F-35s as well. Even a small number of F-35s would do. After all did we not make do with just 2 squadrons of Mirage 2000s for over 20 years! That experiment went quite well did it not?

4. Getting a few F-35s puts Russia's Sukhoi and India's HAL on notice.... to perform or perish. What I mean is that HAL and Sukhoi are very likely to sit pretty in the thought that they have this fat captive market in the IAF....and may well load a final fighter on us that falls short of the promise. Their promise of the final FGFA/AMCA capability is very good....but we must all be clear: they still need to deliver. If they dont, then we can alwsys scale up induction of greater quantities of F-35s. This thought of potential competition itself will spur Sukhoi/HAL on...and protect us from some worst case scanarios later on, that I am not even going to consider.

5. Hats off to ajai shukla for stoking this debate, since it helps attain some "clear thinking". And I seriously hope "clear thinking" was his objective, and not just "cancelling the MMRCA tender".

Have a nice day all,
Jayant

Parag said...

In my opinion, what military hardware we acquire has to be decided taking in to consideration our requirements in the near future. india would be having atleast three Air craft carriers by 2020. We need carrier based Fighter jets. What we have are just mig 29s which I would say would be antiquated by 2020. without naval version of tejas would not be able to undertake all requirements. What we need are 5th gen, long range fighter jets with a good payload capacity. If this sounds like the specs of f 35, be it so. We cannot oversee the fact that our navy is expanding at a very fast rate.

Anonymous said...

Ajay ji...i don't know why u saying this .. Am a Ex sergent of 2215 pechora sqn at ma last postin recently dispersed.. You should 1st come to ground reality that mig 27 and 21 are now pain in neck for ground technicians,these are flying because of indian jugaad at the best.,you should ask those those pilots and crews ,what they want a F 35 or a simple ,new and readily avilable 4.5gen aircrafts ? Please do ask what they want ?? Its really easy to type a blog regarding ur choice and start ur fantasy but you should ask from the horsemouth 1st ajay ji . Am asking you to go to 30sqn of puna and kalikunda lion's den and compare the morals of the pilots and crew, puna flying new su 30 and kalaikunda flying mig 27... Thanking you

keshto said...

And as long as India does not sign CISMOA and BECA, you can not import F-35 with all its goodies n electronic gizmos intact......

They promise to sell you best breed horse, but without CISMOA n BECA signed, you get donkey instead.

Can you hypnotize the MOD on above issue? till then it is futile exercise Ajay!

Down the road, CISMOA will be signed, BECA will not be IMO!

The end result?

deep.blue said...

chandrabhan
6. By the way, Friends of F35, F35B (STOVL version) is dead on arrival. the chief protagonist - Britain is not longer keen to use it for the navy (Funds issues)
The US Marine Core they alone make the program more than successful.

Anonymous said...

If you want stealth so bad, go in for the F-15 Silent Eagle, at least it will be good for air to air combat too. The JSF is nothing but a bomb truck, which offers increased survivability. We need a true multi-role aircraft, which can excel in both A2A and A2G. The JSF, no doubt, will be optimum for A2G, and a little A2A.

But there is a reason why air superiority is not mentioned anywhere in Lockheed Martin literature.

India, on the other hand, needs a fighter which can perform A2A too.

brown_panda said...

If India is going to get into a full on military engagement, in the next 10 years it will be against either china (likely) or pakistan (unlikely). In any case these are the only 2 players, of any significance, in the arena.

Having said this, I don't think it is necessary for us to lap up untested so-called 5th gen aircraft, when the MMRCAs under consideration will be more than enough for our specific needs. In any case our needs for the latest hardware will be fulfilled by the FGFA a few years after the MMRCA deal goes through.

Also, I suppose, since IAF has been already using russian aircraft for so long, these FGFA will "fit in" better with our existing fleet.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Deep Blue's post. Let the IN go first for the F-35 lot which has been forfeited by UK. IN will need what? only about 20-25 units? That way our investment in the as yet unproven platform will be low and the IN & IAF can think of buying more based on the operational experience of the first batch of F-35s. Also, in the event of an immediate conflict the IN's F-35s can be reserved for surgical strikes on irritant targets like the S-300 wall of our eastern neighbor or WMD storage/staging sites of our western neighbor.

mathew dallas said...

Ajai,thanks for the forum. It is not just a matter of F-35 or F-18 etc; it is the very question of our Nation's future. It is indeed a shame that we are still talking so much about all these planes that are from some other country other than ours. What have we achieved so far, and what should be done in the near future needs to be debated. Because we need to be a strong and independent nation not leaning on to the left or the right. With a new leadership and a strong mission and clear vision for the years ahead. It is lack of leadership that has brought us into this jam already with the MMRCA race where all the junk of this world is brought to India(except the Saab Gripen) and our useless politicians are just waiting to please some unseen powers with a massive $10 - $13 billion gift(hard earned tax payers money). Nobody is worried about that! We don't need the MMRCA now because it makes no sense since it is just JUNK! If at all we have to bite it, then bite the SAAB and put an end to the TEJAS program (by the way did you know how much of valuable cash has gone down into this blackhole, even HAL doesn't). Please be sensible, let the people of India decide not the corrupt officials of DRDO, HAL and the most corrupt politicians.We don't need these planes now and we will have our very own planes in the next couple of years if you let the MAHINDRAS TATAS and L&Ts do the job. JAI HIND!

Typhoon said...

Despite being a critic on the previous column I would be very interested to hear a reasoned argument as to why India needs the F-35.

On a day when we have Canada's Auditor General declaring F-35 procurement to be risky I hope that the argument will not ignore the wider picture.

chandrabhan said...

Col Shukla,
Hope you don't mind me answering few points raised by a few friends here.

@Deep blue,
I am aware that USN is planning around 320 F35 STOVL versions but they are not scrapping their F18 SH which will continue to get inducted 2018 - Already 400+ numbers.

F35B number is just a plan as of now and so was F22 and with the new budget cuts, only new Def sec would know.

As far as Stealth as a tech is concerned it reminds me of the article Pradyut vora wrote on LCA," Every new tech that comes from the west becomes the ultimate weapon for war.... ". take the case of 5.56mm bullet. Once the Americans changed so did Nato and so did India. Imagine the business done by small arms industry. Now again, there is anew calibre - 6.5mm, "Now this one is ultimate" good god. Similar is stealth, the point being , it is not the ultimate solution and just a marketing ploy.
The nations need to make choices - Quantity has its own quality and being a bomber F35 is, it looses stealth once you hang the bombs on Pylons as the ability to carry weapons in the bay is limited and it is not fast enough.
What we need is numbers around 55 squadrons to hold one front and go in the offense on other. There are weapons for different roles. Once the air defense is impregnated :) we need EF's, SU30's , MIG 27 or jags or flankers to bomb.

We need numbers and before the time our neighborhood gets any FGFA we will get it - Pakfa. JF17 - thunder bunder is an aluminium plane(upgrade of MIG21) and J10 is an old levi project ( based on F16).
No airforce in the world has all fighters of latest tech except may be Arabs, they just need to pump oil to pay. Rest wont be able to buy all fifth generation - May be 10-15% of total numbers will comprise 5th generation in in next 10 years.
get MRCA, get the relevant technologies - SC blade for engines, Aesa for radar and other testing parameters and build a base for future development - Stop chasing the clouds. Nobody is going to share F35 tech with us. Don't think of building a Ducati when we are just about started building Indicas and scorpios. We can't get the engine tech and won't be able to absorb too

Anonymous said...

So much so for F-35. Kindly go through the foll link
http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Liberals+cancel+fighter+deal/3735372/story.html

PRATIK MOHANTY said...

In my opinion f 35 will be the best choice for IAF.coz this is the time of purchasing 5th gen fighters coz MMRCA would prove obsolute after a decade when F35 would prove its might.

Anonymous said...

Someone mentioned... why do we need F-35?.

To him I say..

1. Did we know in 1980, how handly the Mirage 2000s would be in 1999 (Kargil)?

2. When we were signing up for the SU-30MKIs several years back....there were many a nay sayers/pundits who raised similar doubts on SU-30MKI. Dont you feel good now that the IAF is respected by PAF, PLAAF, and all the Western nations who badly want to exercise with us...and only exercise (practice) helps sharpen your skills. If we dont think ahead, no one will want to exercise with us.

3. Please respect the F-35. I am not going into its capabilities. suffice to say....that it will give plenty to the IAF. and you cant say exactly how thankful you will be 15 years hence.

J

joydeep ghosh said...

Then what we should do

1. Instead of going for MMRCA deal for 126 aircrafts (whoever will be lucky), the first of which will
arrive only by 2014; we can easily buy the nearly 90 Mirage 2000 sold back to Dassault (by UAE,
Qatar, and a South American nation) in relatively good flying condition before 2012. These will
start arriving before start of 2012 if selected

2. With TOT for upgrading our own 56, we can have 146 Mirage 2000 by 2012 (if all buy backs for
90+ Mirage 2000 go well and we purchase them from Dassault). Then we can steadily upgrade
all of these for our requirement (to 4.5 generation), the only thing missing possibly will be a
AESA radar, and thrust vectoring.

3. Once we start upgrading, we can sign a deal with Dassault to manufacture 100 more Mirage
2000 in India becoming sole manufacturer of these. We should remember Dassault had offered
Mirage 2000 TOT for production in India itself in 1980s and but India refused. Its known that

India is now the sole maker of Jaguars and if its same for Mirage 2000 what is the problem.
4. We can also keep 40 Mirage 2000 exclusively for nuke strike mission as wanted by SFC, and we
know it’s a top contender for the deal if RFP is given.

5. If we try to find which will be more costly? The MMRCA deal for 126+74 option that will
ultimately cost around US$17-18 billion or the upgrade of 56 Mirage 2000 and buying the 90+
Mirage 2000 from other countries (through Dassault) + making 100 in India that will cost around
US$10-11 billion at the maximum. It turns out that the second option is a better option, so India
should cancel MMRCA deal and go for Mirage 2000.

Anonymous said...

Mathews post carries lot of weight among all posters.

keshto said...

@ Jaydeep gosh:

India is upgrading its defense and not downgrading by sinking its teeth into the stuff rejected by tiny winy country as UAE. Will our AF agree?

You must be transmitting your infant thoughts through the incubator!

Anonymous said...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-10726346 another interesting view.
-regards,
JB

Anonymous said...

One of the major point we all seem to forget is that in combat it is not a aircraft X versus aircraft Y. Most of us are assuming this, hence we are think a 5th Gen aircraft will be needed.

It is the system which wins a war, NOT the aircraft.

We need to invest in the system. Real time intelligence,
JSTAR types,
AWACS,
Heavy ECM,
Net centric,
Fast Response weapons(like Hypersonic responses) etc

The objective should be to blind the enemy and preventing ourself from getting poked into the eyes.

Nakul said...

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_o_no4M2xEPY/TMpoj7I8OII/AAAAAAAALiY/tmdXoGbB5sY/s1600/ef1.JPG

I quote from above, "The JSF F-35, which is heavily marketed as a fifth generation fighter, in reality would be better defined as A-35 (an attack aircraft and not a fighter)."

The F-35 simply DOES NOT fulfill the current requirements of the IAF. Period.

Heberian said...

@ Mathewdallas: The LCA is NOT a blackhole. It may be jibed for being the Late CA, but it will be a potent a/c in its final form, and we all will be thankful that we have something good indigeous, even if it is late. That said, the Gripen is indeed a good a/c for the price and goodies on offer, but not to be aimed at replacing the LCA.

@ Chandrabhan:

1) In one post you talk about our Mig 21's "superiority", and then in another you belittle the JF17 and the J10 (You are the first person to speak dismissively of the Lavi (Not Levi, thats a tribe or the jean or a surname) project. Quite the objective argument... Then you go on to talk about Su 30's and Flankers ( I guess we have Su 30's and "Flankers") after the air defence is "impregnated"??? (Pardon me, but WTF?? IMPREGNATED ???)And then "Indica's and Scorpio's and Ducatis".. all 4 wheelers I am sure.. apple to apple and all that. And... why on earth would any airforce want ALL a/c types out there?

That said, I support your viewpoint that the case for F35's for the IAF is not well considered. The reasons are:

1) As Col. Shukla has pointed out a few times in the past, we should try to indegenise defence technology. Can we absorb the technologies that differentiate the F35? Even if we can, what are the chances we will have access to any of that?

2) While calling the F35 a "bomb truck" is quite an over simplification devoid of much understanding, we fanboys and all need to deeply examine if our requirements and neighbourhood demand a relatively slow and under armed aircraft, where any extra bang does not really justify the extra bucks. Our neighbourhood has quite a few S300 and more capable air defence systems in reasonably high and increasing concentrations... apart from those nice DF 21s..

3) In a BVR and AWACs scenario, what are the chances of F35's against say J10's and those mass produced Sukhoi clones alongwith the KJ2000's? What are the plans if the scenario includes tanker denial? Is it better for use to have a Gripen or Typhoon or the F35s which will invariably come with strings that bind operational availability in many ways?

4) What will the primary role/s of the airforce be in a future conflict? I would guess air dominance and ground attack. Which of these roles does the F35 fulfill with aplomb in a manner that justifies the extra costs and the strings?

5) Having the F35 forced on to our airforce (in the unlikely event someone actually pulls it off), I pity all the hopes for modern and indigenous weapon systems that Col. Shukla supports. We may at some point end up using the F35's like the F14s in the post Shah Iranian AF.

6) Considering that the Chinese have just beaten the Americans to the snob rights of having the fastest supercomputer (sadly PARAM is nowhere near)... I am sure their 5th gen a/c is bound to fly someday soon, doubtless with some assistance from freelancing Russians. And then, with F35s with strings attached..

So, in my not very humble opinion, the F35 might be good for the navy, if at all. But for the airforce, the way to go is with the best from the MRCA lot and more Sukhoi 30's and the LCA and FGFA etc...

Unless, for reason we are offered the F35 with full access and no strings... but what are the chances of that happening? NIL :)

deep.blue said...

@chandrabhan said...

"I am aware that USN is planning around 320 F35 STOVL versions but they are not scrapping their F18 SH which will continue to get inducted 2018 - Already 400+ numbers."

USN is not planning any F-35B, they are after the F-35C, the AF is after F-35A and the Marine core is after F-35B, the STOVL version is a requirement of the marines.

The requirement of planes which have stealth is not a new concept, planes have always tried to be stealthy from even the WW-I and WW-II period (back when the only stealth was visual), now we have a concept which gives priority to RCS from the design stage unlike the post design modifications in Su-35 series or limited priority like the euro-canards.

The reason for developing stealth as a design priority was the problem USA faced against the Soviet Union, which had constructed one of the worlds most comprehensive AEW radar network and a whole array of path breaking surface to air missile systems.

The fifth generation degrades the performace of AEW radars and SAM systems enough to bomb them and targets they protect.

none of the planes in the MMRCA tender will be able to deceive air and ground based enemy AEW radars, however in case of PAF, in a prolonged air to air war, attrition will take its toll, InAF holds a comprehensive numerical and slowly widening qualitative/technological advantage over them.

For the MMRCA, yes the F-35 is overkill.

F-35B for the navy fits in the schedule as the requirement does not exceed that of the RN, and we could get the slots they leave empty. And they will have to operate in places far away from home shores with just 20/40 planes on the carrier/carriers.

Indranil said...

Ajai sir,

Since you are speaking to the guys in the know. Would you do me a favour? And I believe a lot of us here would like to know this.

Could you ask the right people, "Sir, what is the exact objective of the MMRCA aircraft?" Are we still looking for a Mirage-like aircraft which can provide strike role in Kargil, but has A2A prowess to defend itself and hence doesn't need to be escorted by the Mig-29s.

I understand that we are trying to go one up in everything that we have in the inventory, but what is the primary objective for these aircrafts. I think that alone can help us answer a lot of questions even in the open source domain.

I hope you heed my request.

~Indranil Roy

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure how effective 35s are without supporting B2s.

In my opinion, FGFA is easily more than 10 years behind 35s capabilities.

Anonymous said...

After helping Eurojet and Eurofighter to win bids in their respective tenders, seems you are out to help Lockheed Martin F-35 programme. You have now become a businessman journalist.

Kunal Biswas said...

Respected Sir,
I partially agree with you regarding 5th gen for next 20 years instead of going MMRCA, But the problem is its a AMERICAN aircraft, American policies come with their PRODUCT, the polices and INDIA should never go for, You and all of us know what happened to Pakistanis, I fully agree we should go for some 5th gen fighter bomber rather going for some 4gen which may needed up-gradation in near future.

I also think we need to speed up on AMCA project, We should involve all the once we know to speed up, that's my point of view, though its up to INDIAN Gov.


Jai Hind!

mathew dallas said...

Hey, all, why not spread this debate to the whole country. India is not just the IAF,HAL,DRDO, and the BABOOS,
but rather the people from Kashmir to Kerala and from Gujarat to Assam they all deserve to know. Since it is tax payers money 42000 to 50000 crore worth of new power lines,new runways,roadways,highways,libraries,fresh drinking water,better sanitation,computers for the people,rural internet access, loans for widows,continuing education for the less educated, business opportunities for our youth etc; etc;please don't let them do this to our country,please. And let us not be deceived by all the hype. India is under no threat and India is not the 'World Policeman'. We have aspirations and dreams like the rest of the world but this is not a priority, by this I mean the MMRCA.We need to build up our own industrial base to high standards and on a fast pace too! And then let the Private Sector do the rest of the job, that is just my suggestion. Scrap Tejas, because putting together a plane that has an engine from the US, avionics and radars,sensors,landing gear,ejection seat and what not (except the tires?) from the rest of the world, and telling us people that it is indigenous, is a Tamasha.That too after guzzling billions in the name of R&D. Any one can put together a plane and make it fly. Let us not pretend, we have enough of homework to take care of now, right now! I am really worried. This to me, is a serious matter giving away billions in the name of defense to other countries when our industries are being neglected(in the sense that they are not being given much space to maneuver). Well, talking about the F-35 it is not the best(the F-22 is) but is sure better than all the MMRCA junk! But then, why do we even have to have this monster unless India is the world policeman? The simple combination of the SU30MKI and some other (Private Sector build) ASF will keep our skies safe for some time to come. Let us knit together and talk sense to our Politicians before they commit this 'mother of all blunders' into the hands of these unseen recipients. JAI HIND!

Indranil said...

Also here's what Vice Admiral Puri has to say on this.

http://www.mynews.in/News/are_we_going_ ... 04848.html

Anonymous said...

instead of going for a un-proven technology i think we should go first with eurofigher for the air force and go for the navel version f-35 for the indigenous aircraft carrier.
as far as my knowledge goes there are only two internal bomb bays in the f-35 compared to 4 or 6 in f-22
f-35 has no super cruse as well .
and the other thing i read is it is not fully a stealth aircraft as the f-22 because it can only evade ground based radar's but not the AWACS, fighter radar's or the airostats.
some one can correct me if i am wrong.

Mr. Ra said...

All the possible dreamed hyper developments may be put in to the AMCA and FGFA/T-50.

With GE Engines now, we know that LCA-mk2 is going to be like the best version of Gripen.

For MMRCA we should earliest go for EFT or Rafale after final critical scrutiny. This deal has the potential to help our industries in a large way which in turn can magically help the growth of infrastructure of industrial India.

Coolgeek said...

The F-35 is designed for 3 very different operators(Navy, Marine, AF) with very different requirements.
1. The design itself was built on commonality in requirement and compromises on all 3 segments. It can neither be a supreme AF, Navy or Marine jet.
2. What we are looking for is an ultimate MRCA for AF and not for other two divisions.
3. The F-35 is also built on a compromise that it should not exceed $35 million.
4. The stealthy coating needs hours of maintenance and considerably increases maintenance cost and decreases pilot training hours.
5. Its not highly manouverable,
6. Its bulky..
7. It cannot operate on close air support mission as it is very vulnerable to enemy fire.
8. Its not a pure dog fighting machine...
9. We can even go for more sukhoi MKI's supported by LCA's rather than going for this useless aircraft...

Anonymous said...

We Indians are supposed to be very good students in taking up knowledge from our older generations.... Well I don't know about rest of Indians... I take pride from humbly persuing the knowledge that is with the older generations.. They have taught me that a bird in hand is worth more than two in the bush... On that note I will go for something which has battle proven than which is on or just off drawing board... since it take time to figure out... especially... ... how to use a platform like these (flying) ones... We are going for 126+74 because our work horses which is battle proven won't be replenished in time for time being...

joydeep ghosh said...

@keshto

I dont know about myself but you probably were roaming in the barren lands of Timbakto when you were replying to my points. Just a few a questions for you;

1) As long as CISMOA, BECA and other deals are not signed with US buying JSF-35 is useless. We are already getting the C-17 and C-130J without latest communication equipment, how do you plan to replace them equipments in JSF -35 if India selects them?

2) Are you not aware of the specifics IAF has stated about MMRCA, it goes like this 'Essentially a 4.5 generation aircraft that is low cost and easy to maintain'?

3) Do you think its wise to cancel MMRCA then going for a 5th generation aircraft costing over US$100 million a piece when we will get 2 different 5th generation aircrafts within the next decade, namely FGFA and AMCA?

4) Who is going to pay over US$100 million a piece for these aircrafts, IAF, DRDO, ADE or Lockheed Martin or we the tax payers. do you think it will be a wise decision to fly 3 different 5th generation aircrafts considering the cost associated to keep them flying?

5) Which one is more prudent; canceling the MMRCA and going for JSF-35 or buying the upgraded Mirage 2000s(2 of them for price of 1 JSF-35)?

Happy Answering

Keshto or Fatakeshto or whatever

Joydeep Ghosh

Anonymous said...

Col sir, do you have any update and pics about F-INSAS?? Pls post. Thanks.

Dhiraj said...

my heart says Rafale and brain say Typhoon....F35 is fine no doubt..but then i don't see the interoperability with FGFA ...both will be coming up around the same time....Further I suggest we get an additional 40-50 TU 22M / TU 160..We can always use the FGFA learning for our Tejas MK2/3 and AMCA...So with FGFA + Rafale/Typhoon + SU 30 MKI + upgraded M2000 + upgraded Mig29 + LCA tejas and TU 22M / TU 160 (plz) I can't see where the F 35 fits in.

Anonymous said...

Please refer article "'Are we going to fight Pakistan with the US'" by Vice Admiral Raman Puri at http://www.bharatrakshak.com/NEWS/newsrf.php?newsid=13702 . Outstanding!! I simply cannot agree more from what I know, also you can surely find yourselves revising your stance after going through this one. Jai hind!

Anonymous said...

Awaiting your response Mr Shukla.

Cheers,
Bharath

Anonymous said...

Ajai,

Here in Canada, Government has decided to buy 65 F-35 planes for 9billion $ and additional 7-8 billion $ for training and maintenance purpose. In effect all 65 planes costed about 16-17 billion $. People have started questioning the deal asking do we really needed it now......

Canada would had its own aero-industry if they had not killed their own Avro Canada CF-105 Arrow
program. Please dont allow Tejas to have same fate. Tejas is just stepping stone for many more project to built by Indians for IAF , INS as well as IA

Anonymous said...

I would take it a step further and ask why isn't IAF building a multi layered force? Close Air Support, medium range bombers, long range bombers, Air to Ground planes and air-to-air fighter jets. Right now, all we seem to have is fighter jets and MMCRA will add to that. Look at every recent US operations on ground. US forces can pulverize most less-equipped forces with CAS (A-10 Warthog). Where are our close air support planes? An A-10 costs probably 1/8 the price of a F-35 and much less glamorous but it does a phenomenal job of clearing enemy tank and infantry units. Except for China, most other forces in the region are not as well equipped as India and we are more likely to need CAS than traditional air-to-air combat planes on our borders with Pakistan and China. Remember Kargil? IAF was hacking those fighter jets for CAS. How did we forget those lessons? In the end, India should not take it's eyes off building indigenous capability to produce all sorts of weaponry and armament but in the meanwhile, dealing with the US might be a necessary evil.

Indian Defence Information said...

Hi Ajay,

Seems you are not aware of all the requirements of IAF and why IAF is going for MMRCA.

This deal is to fill the gap between LCA and MKI's.

Have you atleast thought about Technology Transfer if in case we go for JSF....Will uncle sam provide technology transter to New Delhi and will uncle sam give permission for nuclear strike using JSF....

For your information PAK-FA will be more cheaper than JSF and we will have full technology transfter from RUS.

seems this is kind of taking my intrest away from your blog which i am still a big fan off.

Expecting answers from Broadsword..?

Heberian said...

@ Kat: Oh Kat!!! :)

Col. Shukla, some thoughts you have surely considered:

1) How much can the F35 carry internally (including AA missiles for self-defence) for the advantage against massed Chinese "low tech" a/c's?

2) It seems unlikely that India will ever initiate war against China. So, like '62, the probability that China will initiate war is higher. In that scenario, what use will our forward bases be, if the Chinese chose to replicate the '67 Israeli pre-emptive strike on the Egyptian air force?

3) With admittedly limited weapons load in "stealth" mode, what will the F35 do when the cheap and numerous Chinese Airforce defends, following a theoratical strike on the Qinghai-Lhasa railway line or any other ground target?

4) What will the F35 do when the increasingly sophosticated and numerous anti-aircraft defences in the TAR and in AKsai Chin go into action?

You are right that the IAF like all airforces have a "fighter jock" mentality. I rememeber th brouhaha over ACM Major's appointment. And it is partly to address this thinking that the current USAF chief is a transport pilot. And I will admit that my sympathies lie with the "fighter jocks"... it is different :), though not necessarily the best material for unbiased air warfare strategy.

That said, the debtae on the MMRCA being replaced by the F35 for the IAF still is not wise. In the USAF strategy of air dominance followed by ground attack, with the assets needed to support this strategy, the F35 might be a good fit. For us, we have too many gaps to deploy the F35 against an adversary like China. We just cannot use that a/c in serious numbers against the Chinese. What we need is, as you rightly mentioned, good ground attack capability in high altitude regions, backed by air dominance. Not a plane that is high tech as long as its weapons load is low, and becomes an unarmed sitting duck the minute the ground attack load is delivered. My seven cents says that what we need for our eastern borders is the Gripen NG, in large numbers... complemented by the Sukhois and LCA's and air-to-air refuelling and lots of RT on the ground.

If China chooses to attack first, it will make sure that our AIr Force will have to fly long distances to support the army.

In a Democratic administration, I think the chances of the US "supporting" India, as you said, is unlikely. We forget that the US is, above all, very self-centred (and rightly so). They will hedge their bets rather than put all eggs in an uncommitted Indian basket that they cant really hope to control anyway. Therefore, I dont think we will get the kind of leash that Israel is getting. Besides, support for Israel is not just about Iran, it is institutional in the US. We are not there.

Therefore, I respectfully differ with your case for the F35, while still remaining a fan, and enjoying the free flow of wise outrage and advice you have provoked. Cheers :)

chandrabhan said...

@Heberian,
My friend when I made the mention of Mig21 bison, I made in the context of tech upgrades based on clear roles and making the right decisions. The point I wanted to make is that MIG21 being an old airframe post the upgrade could really give a tough time to the falcons and Eagles (As far as I remember the reports).
I am sure all of us understand that mere technology can not win wars, it requires right training, role fit and environment awarenss too.

The refrence to Indica is in terms of our own technological expertise in producing a car and planning to build a super car/Super bike(Bugati/Dicati) when we are producing just about 3rd egenration cars.
Col Shukla,
That said, I am still of the opinion(not that it matters) that F35 however fancy it may be(Stealth) can not carry too much weight in undercarriage. the bombs will have to be loaded on to pylons and there goes the stealth.

If the requirement is A2G then there is one more truck doing that job - Rafale, in the current MRCA. In the end as ACM - PV NAIK said, We must consolidate our assortmenrt of aircarft to 2-3 types and for FGFA we have chosen PAKFA. For point defence(ooops Light fighter) we have LCA and we need to fill the gap. As I said we need numbers right now(55 Sqds) with the right infusion of new technology - FGFA to impregnate(sorry Breach) the Chinese air defences). We would require fighters that can manage the S300 and have longer combat radius. may be we need to build up 'Nirbhay' in large numbers and induct them like today evening.
F35, however fancy it may be does not fulfill the role Col shukla is advocating. US itself is going ti continue use the 400+ SH for another 25/30 Years. F22(Raptor) was initially supposed to be inducted in 300 numbers. Only 187 inducted :)

Don't forget the half of the claimed benefits/ features of stealthe on these are pure bells and whistles. Radar tech will just catch up by tomorrow morning.

PRANAV UNDALKAR said...

rafale is best option.