Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Parrikar outlines alternatives to Rafale fighter

The first Sukhoi-30MKI ever to be overhauled, which HAL Nashik delivered to the IAF last week

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 13th January 15

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has fired another warning shot across the bows of French fighter manufacturer, Dassault, which has been negotiating for three years with the ministry of defence (MoD) to sell the Indian Air Force (IAF) 126 Rafale fighters.

A fortnight after declaring that the IAF could make do with additional Sukhoi-30MKI fighters --- which HAL builds in Nashik --- in case “complications” in the negotiations were not resolved, Parrikar has gone further in outlining how the IAF could function were it decided not to procure the Rafale.

Speaking to a television channel, Headlines Today, on Monday, Parrikar said the Su-30MKI offered a viable alternative, especially given that Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) was upgrading and overhauling the fighter and equipping it with state-of-the-art electronic warfare systems.

Said Parrikar: “Sukhoi-30 choice is always there. What I mean to say is: upgrade the Sukhoi-30, make it more capable.”

Dismissing concerns about the IAF’s falling fighter numbers, Parrikar stated that the IAF could put more fighters into the sky by improving the serviceability rate of its current fleet of 35 squadrons.

Business Standard has earlier reported (October 23, 2014 Govt takes note of Su-30MKI’s poor “serviceability”) that barely half of the IAF’s premier Russian fighters are available for combat missions at any given time. Since then, due to HAL’s efforts, that has risen to 58 per cent, still below the global norm of 80-85 per cent.

Parrikar made it clear that the IAF needed to look at the issue of fighter costs. He said, “It is not always… go and purchase it. A cost effective purchase is also important.”

Declining to reveal the actual cost of buying the Rafale, Parrikar said, “Whether it is Rs 40,000 crore, or Rs 50,000 crore or Rs 1 lakh crore, we are speaking about 50 per cent of the capital budget of the defence services.”

Parrikar also voiced his concern at Dassault’s reported reluctance to meet the terms of the IAF tender, which required the French company to guarantee the 108 fighters that HAL would build in India, after the first 18 were supplied fully-built in France. The defence minister said, “I have told (Dassault) to send a person to work out the (differences). You have to be clear that, irrespective of anything, the (tender’s) terms have to be met. They cannot be diluted.”

Parrikar laid down a deadline of March 2015 for his ministry to revamp five important policies --- permitting foreign companies to have agents in India; the issue of blacklisting companies for wrongdoing; defining “Make in India” policy; bringing micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) into defence production; and a clear offsets policy.

Interestingly, Parrikar revealed that he was considering creating a list of defence products that would no longer be imported. He said, “Maybe some items can be brought under that, where we have already developed a certain import substitution (ability). Some items may be brought under that by 2015.” 

10 comments:

victor raj said...

"Preparing a list of products that can no longer be imported" it is pleasing to hear that line. All the decisions he has taken are good except allowing arms agents, it may fast track procurements but it will create lot of other problems. Some other news reported that Dassault is asking twice the money initially claimed just for giving it in F3R standard. This new standard only has 4 changes, which doesn't warrant so much price hike. If it is true then it is better to look for some other alternative like Super SU30mki.

Anonymous said...

There are three areas of concern around this: Using the ability to overhaul the Sukhoi-30MKI fighters to bring leverage to the deals with Dassault is good - but it is a matter of concern if this remains a negotiating tool only. We need a tightly-run program for seriously addressing the overhaul of the entire fleet. The further ability of HAL to overhaul other countries' fleets should also be pursued vigourously as this will help offset the costs of the facility and of servicing India's own fleet.

The second area of concern is striking a balance between the absolute need for air superiority in any future conflict and the urgent need of suitably equipping our forces to ensure their arms, equipment and training superiority in current engagements in conflict in the border areas and in COIN operations. Additional investments and capability building in UAVs, communications satellites, computing and imagery and data analysis and interpretation also surely need urgent attention.

The third area of concern is to ensure that there is a sufficiently transparent and auditable process if indigenously developed weapon systems or equipment (e.g. HTT 40) are given the go-by in procurement.

Unknown said...

Would like your opinion on it, Ajai. Will it be enough for the IAF to manage with efficiencies with the Sukhois? Don't we need new fighter jets? - Srini (ex-BS Motoring)

Anonymous said...

God only knows what the previous government was doing and we were all praising st Anthony for his clean working style but didn't know he couldn't take bold decisions, and if we couldn't afford such a costly aircraft why call for tenders or even select such aircraft, and why didn't the Indian air force work out the cost, was it because of the foreign fancy toys they were attracted or the government didn't mention the amount of money they were willing to spend on the aircraft either way there has been a lot of time waisted on this particular deal, it's such a big flop show

Anonymous said...

The serviceability issue is a red herring. During ops a maint surge will raise it to 85-95%, which is already factored in to calculations. Thus raising peacetime serviceability will not add to the number of aircraft available for war.

The target number is still the target number, until warfighting policy or new technology change it.

Anonymous said...

Ajai, Any idea on when the deliveries of Super-Sukhoi-30 will start? I think that if we increase the deliveries of that Super-SU-30 from its original 40 to 120+, accelerating our LCA-MK2 FOC and increasing the effort put on AMCA by at least 2-4 times should take care of the absence of Rafale fighter jet.

Anonymous said...

NSR says ---

DM Parrikar must have a heart to heart talk with Russian DM Shoigu about the TOT and MOTs of already ordered products like T-90, Smerch, SU-30MKI, Mig-29 and 29K, etc He must ask him to expedite the process so that these armaments will be available at the highest possible rate...

To reaffirm and please Russians, he should dangle additional orders of T-90, Super Sukhoi, Mig-29K, etc in lieu of complete/total TOT and MOTs transfer of these older systems so they do not fail in battleground or fall from skies...

He must impress about the unlimited possibilities if such actions were taken immediately...

I think Russians will be happy to comply because they have very few friends in the world...and India too...

Anonymous said...

With his out of the box thinking Manohar Parikar has exposed the profligate way in which our defence budget has been handled in the past 60 years. In this the service HQs are also guilty. Just like at home, we look for the best buy within our budget, so too should the defence budget have been managed. However, scam after scam has been exposed wherein it has been clear that political leaders have been hand in glove for the revival of the fortunes of dwindling foreign companies. Service officers have also had their own axe to grind on many occasions and like little children looking for new toys have given little emphasis on tactical and strategic issues which is their domain.

Anonymous said...

20 -25 SQUNS OF SU-30 MKI AND SUPER SUKHOI-30 MKI , 25 SQUNS OF LCAMK-2,3,4
AND AMCA AND FIVE SQUNS OF LCAMK-1 THAT SHOULD BE THE TARGETOF THE IAF FOR 2035.

NO MORE RAFALE OR ANY OTHER AIRCRAFT . COMPONENTS AND EQUIPMENT CAN BE PURCHASED LIKE TERRAIN FOLLOWING RADARS , SPECTRA , WIDE ANGLED GLASS HUDS , BUT NO MORE PURCHASES OF AIRCRAFT .INVEST ALL THE MONEY IN INDIA IN INDIAN PUBLIC PRIVATE ENTERPRISES FOR ALL NEEDS

victor raj said...

Not sure how much Dassault is asking for Rafale f3R. The first bids Dassault submitted was on 2008, before 6 years. So naturally aircraft and spare parts cost would have gone up by 5 to 10%. A big Ruppee value depreciation would have increased it by another 15%. F3R standard adds new pod, new radar antenna, capability to fire Meteor missile and lot of software changes. Another addition for Rafale carrier aircraft. These changes may increase another 10% of the cost. Initially the project was expected to be at 15 to 20 billion dollars. So a 30 to 40% increase is normal because of the delay. If the new cost is 30 billion dollars there is nothing to be surprised and we cannot blame dassault for that. This cost is worth it because of the technology transfer coming with this deal. Also it is better to buy Rafale in F3R standard, if we buy it in the old version, after 10 years we will again have to update it, at that time dassault will quote for 3 times higher than this. Why we need to buy old radar, pod and software when new one is available at the same time. Why pay twice for getting the same things.