Wednesday, 20 May 2015

CAG report overlooks Tejas LCA’s many triumphs

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 20th May 15

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), in its report for the year ending March 2014 has examined “Issues relating to Design, Development, Manufacture and Induction of Light Combat Aircraft (Air Force)”, the indigenous fighter now called the Tejas Mark I.

Media reports have dwelt mainly on CAG’s criticism of the LCA, such as the delays that led to the fighter --- cleared in 1983 and intended to enter service in 1994 --- eventually taking 30 years to obtain Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) in December 2013. The IOC is a landmark at which the fighter can be inducted into air force service. The CAG report says Final Operational Clearance (FOC) --- which clears a fighter for combat --- of the LCA is likely only by December 2015.

CAG’s criticism

The CAG says the LCA that has got initial operational clearance fell short of Air Staff Requirements (ASR) --- a key document that lays out the LCA’s essential capabilities. With many of these capabilities still lacking, the IAF could grant initial operational clearance only with 20 permanent waivers and 33 temporary concessions. These 33 shortcomings --- which include increased aircraft weight, inadequate speed, reduced internal fuel capacity and the absence of an electronic warfare suite --- are to be made good before final operational clearance is granted, or in the LCA Mark-II, expected by December 2018.

The CAG report nowhere recognises that, in fighter design anywhere, prototypes invariably go overweight while accommodating all the capabilities and weaponry that the users optimistically specify. Then, while paring down weight, some capabilities are diluted, in consultation with the user air force. In this, the LCA has trodden a well-worn path.

The CAG also finds the LCA’s claimed indigenization exaggerated. While the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), which oversees the LCA project, has estimated the LCA’s indigenous content to be 61 per cent (see graphic at bottom), the CAG says it "actually worked out to about 35 per cent" as of January 2015. In arriving at this percentage, the CAG does not differentiate between essential design-related and high technology aspects of the LCA and readily available products.

Criticising the slow pace of the LCA’s entry into service, the report notes that Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd’s (HAL’s) manufacturing facilities can build just four fighters annually against an envisaged requirement of eight fighters per year. The CAG overlooks the fact that the IAF has ordered only 20 LCAs with another 20 promised after the fighter obtains final operational clearance. Even so, HAL is enhancing production to 16 LCAs per year, a decision that a future CAG report might comment on unfavourably if more IAF orders are not forthcoming.

The media, focused on criticism of the LCA, has overlooked the report’s praise for having successfully developed a modern fighter aircraft. The CAG “appreciate(s) the efforts made by ADA and its work centres in the indigenous development of LCA which is comparable to many contemporary aircraft in the world…”

Getting it right

Essentially, the CAG report is an auditor’s review of a complex, high technology platform development, which involves risks and uncertainties that are not easily captured in a simple balance sheet assessment of targets and budgets. Any assessment of the LCA must start from the fundamental question: what was the objective of developing this fighter? All such programmes choose between two objectives: either utilising readily available technologies to build a fighter that could rapidly enter operational service, e.g. the Sino-Pakistani JF-17 Thunder, which is a cleverly re-engineered MiG-21; or pursuing a “technology leapfrog” in building a next-generation fighter, developing new technologies alongside the fighter itself. Obviously, this would take longer, since inevitable delays in the new technology areas would delay the project further.

India’s defence planners went fundamentally wrong in simultaneously attempting both things: building a fighter quickly to replace the retiring MiG-21s, while also attempting, as a “catch-up nation”, to leapfrog technology ambitiously.

From the outset, the LCA was based on fourth-generation (Gen-4) technologies. The first of these is its “unstable design”, which makes it more agile and manoeuvrable than “stable” aircraft that are designed to hold the path they are flying on. Unstable design requires an on-board digital flight control computer that continuously trims the flight controls. A systems failure would be catastrophic, so the flight control system has four levels (quadruplex) backup, a sophisticated design challenge.

Second, the LCA is constructed largely of composite materials that are lighter than conventional metal alloys. This results in a lighter fighter that can carry more fuel and weapons. Third, the LCA has “microprocessor-based utilities”, which means that computers control all the on-board systems like fuel, weapons, environment control, etc. Fourth, the LCA has an all-glass cockpit, in which conventional dials are replaced by intelligent multi-function displays, and the pilot can fly, aim and operate weapons through a helmet-mounted display.

“In our very first attempt, we went in for a frontline, state-of-the-art aircraft. It was complete technological audacity to decide, ‘We’ve never built a fighter before but we’ll start with a Gen-4 design’. Astonishingly, we’ve managed this feat, albeit with delays”, says an ADA official who works at the cutting edge of the LCA programme.

Confrontation, not cooperation

Given the conflict between a high-risk development path and the need to induct fighters quickly, the stage was set for confrontation between the users (IAF) and the developers (ADA, HAL, et al). A former ADA chief says, “The core challenge is managing technology risk. The users demand more and fast; but you don’t have the technology in your hand. This pits the IAF versus DRDO.”

Consequently, the LCA programme has seen more confrontation than cooperation between the IAF and ADA. The CAG notes that, as early as 1989, an LCA Review Committee had recommended the “Need for a Liaison Group between Air HQ and ADA to ensure closer interaction between the design team and the user”. Yet, “no such liaison group was formed and active user (Air HQ) participation in the LCA Programme started only after November 2006, which also impacted the LCA development.”

Even as the IAF criticised ADA, its demands for additional capabilities in the LCA kept delaying the operational clearances. The CAG report points out that in December 2009, the air force asked for the R-73E air-to-air missile to be integrated with the LCA’s radar and the pilots’ helmet mounted displays. The CAG also blames the air force for taking too long to identify a “beyond-visual-range (BVR) missile” for the LCA. Continuing IAF demands for modifications still prevent the LCA design from being frozen for production.

Unlike the IAF, the navy adopted the Naval LCA programme from the start, committing personnel and over Rs 900 crore from the navy budget. Says former naval chief and distinguished fighter pilot Admiral Arun Prakash, “The navy knows the importance of indigenisation, having experienced how foreign aircraft like the Sea Harrier fighter and Sea King helicopter were grounded for lack of support. Unlike the air force, we are not critically dependent upon the LCA, since we have the MiG-29K. But we will support it because it is an Indian fighter.”

The cost-overrun myth

Taking on from the CAG report, numerous media reports have suggested that the LCA’s development cost has ballooned 25-fold, from the initially sanctioned Rs 560 crore to the current budget of Rs 14,047 crore. Both figures are incorrect. This newspaper’s detailed analysis of the LCA budget (February 22, 2011, “When a sword arm is worth it”) quoted the ADA chief, PS Subramanyam, who clarified that Rs 560 crore was not the budget for the entire Tejas programme, but merely for “feasibility studies and project definition”, which also included creation of the infrastructure needed for the new fighter.

The infusion of funds for actual design, development and building of prototypes only began in 1993, with the funds allocated under the heading of “full scale engineering development”. (see graphic below)

Equally misunderstood is the figure of Rs 14,047, which includes the cost of developing both the IAF and naval LCA, covering both the Mark I version as well as Mark II. As the graphic illustrates, the air force Tejas Mark I has so far cost Rs 7,490 crore, and is within its budget of Rs 7,965 crore.

Building capability, not just a fighter

For that amount, tiny compared to the billions that get sucked into developing fighters abroad, ADA says it has developed not just the LCA (and built 16-17 flying prototypes) but also an aerospace ecosystem --- DRDO laboratories, private industry, academic institutions, and test facilities like the National Flight Testing Centre (NFTC) --- that would allow India to build advanced fighters in the future.

Pushpinder Singh, noted aerospace expert and publisher of Vayu magazine, points out that the LCA has overcome all its major technology challenges. What remains, he says, is to tackle the final problems of converting it into a product --- issues like freezing specifications, evolving maintenance procedures and manuals, and the continuing challenge of establishing a fast-moving production line.

“Nothing prevents us from reconfiguring the technologies we have mastered through the LCA into indigenous fifth-generation aircraft like the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) and the futuristic Unmanned Aerial Combat Vehicle (UCAV). The LCA has been an invaluable springboard and the AMCA will galvanise ‘Make in India’ more than anything done so far”, says Singh.


Graphic: Details of LCA indigenisation

(Source: CAG Report for period ending March 2014)

Serial No
Description of work
Indigenisation level projected
Aerodynamic design
100 per cent
System architecture
100 per cent
Structural design
100 per cent
Manufacture of structure
95 per cent
General systems
85 per cent (import: heat exchangers, pumps, sensors)
Metallic materials
80 per cent
Fully imported
80 per cent (import: displays, generators, ring laser gyros, electronics
100 per cent
Flight control system
40 per cent (import: actuators, sensors)
Indigenous (import: electronic components)
Aircraft integration
100 per cent
Ground test rigs
100 per cent
Flight testing
100 per cent

Total indigenous content
61 per cent


Anonymous said...

Great report, Col. Shukla. Happy to see you back on track supporting indigenous programs after that brief Swedish (sic) foray. Is the FOC on track given that the missing bits (IFR probe and radome) have been received from Cobham?

Now, a report on the current status of the Arjun Mk. II program would be the icing on the cake.

Anonymous said...

NSR says ---

With the way SU-30MKI going down and IAF and Russia disagreeing on the causes, Indian government and IAF must work hard to develop Tejas II and AMCA as soon as possible...

Rafale is costing $200 million per plane even at the FAF is not chump change for a poor country like India...

The wanton destruction of HF-24 production line and aerospace capabilities must not be repeated at all...

Like China, India must make determined effort however how long it takes to get the Tejas II and AMCA sooner rather than later...

There is no Plan B...

Anonymous said...

Just food for thought.....why does CAG , which is such a nodal authority to be reverred (say like Supreme court).....act an state things so naively? Consistently.

But I guess the CAG's job is to caution. Not congratulate. Seeing things in overall perspective is the job of the people of India.

Anonymous said...

It is a good article.... It is highlighting the reality and also what it takes to make a fighter aircraft...

Anonymous said...

Knock! Knock! Knocking on All things Desi!!

Manne said...

Even the actuators can be developed and manufactured within the country if sufficient business is made available and companies provided encouragement and support. It is not rocket science.

P.K.Chaudhuri said...

How long the country can wait. Why can HAL not manufacture larger number of the Trainer version of the LCAs to start with. Inspite of heavy huge backlog in supplies, HAL is not increasing the manufacturing capacity of the proven ALH Dhruv Helicopter even. Government is killing the PSU by not privatising it, while other private sector companies like TATAs are coming up fast. I can convincingly say that Turnover, Physical manufacturing and net profit will double within two years, if HAL is listed in the stock market after selling twenty four percent of its shares to the public. This will be real contribution to 'Make In India' program. Please observe the performance of BEML. It is really struggling and making efforts to improve its performance continuously. Prior to listing of BEML, it was one of the most non-transparent and in-efficient organisatios (PSU)of India.
HAL and all other Defense PSUs must publish their annual operating results for the knowledge of the citizens of India.

Anonymous said...

I have to qualify what I am saying , by adding that they are likely heavily influenced by what I have read before(which might or might not be correct).
ADA/DRDO set out to build a multi-role fighter, which is hard to do considering the different design requirements (one set for a ground attack, another for a air superiority)
It might have worked best(and maybe this is still possible), to have configured the LCA as a ground attack version as well as a separate air superiority version. That way we atleast have a fighter that does one thing right as opposed to multiple things , not quite so good.
I also wonder whether the ASR's initially set were reasonable/achievable?

Parthasarathi said...

An excellent and very informative article.
We must continue with Tejas MK 1 and then Tejas MK 11. It will be a blunder if we ask SAAB. to open a shop in the pretext of make in India ! If Gripen is in then Tejas is out and we'll lose all the knowledge we have acquired so far ! In stead of that we can do the following,
1) Ask Dassult to rectify the problem of Tejas. They will ask a hefty fee but probably worth paying.
2) British air-force has mothballed many Jaguars. We can buy them and then modify to Darin 3 standard. Once the Jaguars are in we can scarp Mig 27s.
3) Once the Tejas MK2 is ready then we can start scrapping MIG 21s. Early in early go basis.
4) We need more fighters and now. Unless and until we are buying second hand fighters our no of fighters will reduce only. We'll not get anything new off the shelf that's for sure.

Anonymous said...

All product development is like this. We need to learn. This us something accountants do not understand.
It is important to use mk1 & then move on to mk2.

bangladeshi said...

why do indian people in these aerospace sectors keep saying that "in our first attempt...." ? the first attempt was the Folland Gnat. LCA is a follow on. and the ecosystem was started with the Gnat and before when HAL built and assembled other aircraft. don't short-sell yourself. india is no noob or late-comer in these areas. and these moronic quotes by these illiterates are basically whitewashing india's aerospace history. with so much of india's history already whitewashed by non-indians, you don't need desis doing the same. i would ask the author of this blog to present an accurate portrayal of facts, and maybe correct these people when interviewing them.

Abhiman said...

As always, a brilliant article Col. Shukla.

In fact, the CAG has made this report from the lens of only the IAF. It probably hasn't taken any inputs from the DRDO. Thus, the very basis of this report is biased and wrong. On top of it, the import-crazy IAF is bound to criticize the Tejas, and a CAG report is just another vehicle for it to do so.

You raised a good point about the charge of Tejas being "overweight". Its astounding to see how pervasive this myth is. If the CAG truly had any unbiased auditing, it should have noted that the world over, all fighter jets of Tejas' class like the Gripen C/D, the JF-17 and the S.Korean T-50 trainer all weigh in the 6.4 to 6.6 ton range, and all use the same GE-F404 engine !! (JF-17 uses the RD-93 having the same thrust). So, how in the world is Tejas "overweight"?

In fact, the CAG should rap the IAF for demanding an F-16's features in a jet of the size and weight of a MiG-21. The IAF should be told to seek a home in another planet, where aerodynamics are somewhat different than on Earth, and where such fighter jets would be possible.

You also raised a pertinent point about the indigenous content. The CAG simply does not distinguish between commoditized off-the-shelf components, and critical technologies. It seems mere accountants and munshis have made this report : they simply took the total cost and divided it by the cost of imports.

Finally, the myth of "cost overruns" has been rightly debunked by you. 16 prototypes, 2 Navy prototypes and a trainer have been developed. No fighter jet program in the world has had an Air-Force, Navy and trainer version developed all in one go. Not the F-teens, not the Euro-birds, not any Sukhoi and certainly not any MiG! This is a fantastic world record by ADA. And it still has Rs. 500 crore to spare.

As you rightly mentioned, the CAG must realize that the Tejas project was not merely to build a fighter -- it was to develop the entire Indin aerospace industry. And in this regard, the Tejas has been a success.

Its high time that the CAG realized this.


Reporters like the ToI(let)'s Rajat Pandit write unscrupulous articles on the Tejas from time to time. Ill-informed CAG reports like this only fan his fires.

Broadsword said...

@ bangladeshi

The Gnat was developed in the UK and exported to India and manufactured under licence in HAL. Read this:

Later, with some upgrades, it became the Ajeet, which too was built in HAL.

You need to learn the difference between "design and development" and "licence production".

This forum is visited by well-informed people. It would be nice if you did some homework before posting here.

Shekhar S said...

Dear Ajai, I am glad you have come to practical conclusions. I recall in the Vayu Air power seminar you had suggested that Tejas programme should be closed RIP. The point is R&D always has lessons some good and some bad. The determination should be to pick up the goods and donot repeat the bands, move on with Mark II. One cannot get it right the first time ,rvery time. If you can lay your hand on history of Harrier development history you will nee surprised with the determination of Hawker Sydely Now British Aerospace. Regards. Admiral Shekhar Sinha

Anonymous said...

Col Shukla you are perplexing to say the least!! on one day you bat for LCA and on another you are dead against it.

When non technical people assess hitech programmes this is what is the outcome just like how the CAG and the media have made a mockery of the whole issue. The core issue is that India must decide to go for indigenous output from now on. period. Improvement of product will occur over time as it has to be part of a learning process. The IAF is probably the main culprit in the delay issue. Their incapability to produce ASRs on time and frequent revisions are the greatest contributors to delay. What it now calls for is to list all the so called shortcomings which can be provided as upgrades at a later date. If that is possible then the go ahead to build at least 200 LCAs should be given NOW so that HAL manufacturing facilities, can come up, IAF can do pilot training, develop tactics, train maintenance crew and develop crucial operational experience and provide simultaneous feedback to designers. You cannot wait for a perfectly designed prototype to evolve before going in for full scale production.

Guru said...

Out of all the valid reasons that you have highlighted here which caused the delay in the Tejas development, if I was asked to pin point the top reason for the delay, I would pick the step-fatherly treatment from the IAF.

If you look at the current ship-building expertise incubated in India by the Indian Navy, where the first indigenous ships built-Nilgiri class, an offshoot of the British Leander class were nowhere in competitiveness with the prevalent platforms of that age. Today, the Kolkata class can stand neck-neck with any destroyer worldwide, with even western defence analysts praising the platform.

The point is Rome was not built in a day. ADA and HAL are developing an aircraft (4th gen) from scratch. Once again, they are not the best institutions in the world from a professional and work-ethics perspective. If the IAF had taken a collaborative attitude and shared some skin in this game of aircraft development, instead of bickering like a "3 legged cheetah" and "Mig 21 +++" etc crap, we could have done better.

Look at the Navy, the N-LCA is GROSSLY overweight with landing gear and other issues. Is the Naval chief shooting it down? No. They are patiently working with ADA, EADS and others to turn this into a weapon they can harness in the future in the form of Mark-2.

All the best to Team Tejas. They are developing a plane inspite of the IAF just like Arjun is being developed inspite of the IA.

No surprise IAF carries the nickname Imported Air Force.

Krish said...

Thanks for a good analysis and detailed addition of facts.

There are several stories and rumors running around when it comes to fighter aircraft procurement. Earlier it was that Gripen will also be acquired with Rafale. Then it became LCA will be the sole option but with EW additions so a LCA-MK1-A was being talked about. Now, Rafale seems to be the urgent issue while LCA front has become quiet. HAL is of course following its age old tradition of being fully dependent on governmental order, even though it can see that the earth beneath its feet is now shifting, after C-295 order.

If it was any other country, a major order for LCA Mk-1 and the trainer version would have put the production on speed. But IAF prefers to buy an IJT (Now Textron Scorpion) while it lacks a supersonic trainer and refuses to induct LCA Trainer. Meanwhile, "Cowboy" flying keeps crashing costly fighters - one squadron every three years.

As Bharat Karnad says, India has transitioned from a "please no one" defence minister Antony to now a "please everyone" defence minister Parrikar. Expecting a visionary approach now would be a waste of time.

Anonymous said...

I believe the range on the LCA is extremely limited. Is this even a practical option?

Jean Luc Picard said...

Dear Editor,

What is the current combat radius of Tejas Mk 1 in an Air-Air (Interception) and Air-Ground (CAS) Mission mode ?

What is the combat radius going to be in the Tejas Mk 2 and Tejas (Navy) in these same modes ?

A Press information Beaurau source on wiki says "...upto 500KM depending upon the nature and duration of actual combat"

The word of importance is "upto" does it mean Maximum ? and if so why when its ferry range is 3000 KM.

Is it due to the under powered engine not being able to power a fully loaded out Tejas and hence is loosing its fuel efficiency to generate adequate thrust ?

Even the Def Min spoke of this in an interview in simple terms while justifying the need for the Rafale.

He alluded that while the Tejas can carry a heavy load out and has all the fighting capability , its pit fall essentially is it combat radius.

Since you have many opportunities to interact with ADA and HAL reps it would be nice i you could check with them on this.

...and perhaps a little bit on pilot survivability features (not safety record which we already know is good) as well as it must be an important concern to the Indian public and Air force.


Sridhar said...

All of a sudden news on LCA has stopped coming in media, especially about Mk2. Has Mk2 design really been frozen? Could they be making changes in design to make it a 5th generation fighter rather than 4++ generation fighter?

Broadsword said...

@ Anonymous 08:26 and Anonymous 08:43

You both (or perhaps you're the same person) are dead wrong.

I have never written against the LCA. That is for the simple reason that I have always seen it as a key pillar of India's aerospace indigenisation.

And indigenisation is my religion. Indigenisation is my politics.

Anonymous said...

Ajai though you have claimed in your comment below that you have always batted for indigenous LCA. You also have Adm Sinha quoting you in the Vayu Air Power seminar that the program should be buried. You really need to do some clarifying. That is why I said your position was 'perplexing'!!

Broadsword said...

@ Anonymous 10:52

My friend, everything that I've ever written is posted here in this blog.

Unlike you guys who hide God knows what identities behind Anonymous tags, I have the courage to put my name to my views and post them on this blog so that they can be retrieved and checked at any time. You might like to learn some moral courage lessons from this.

As for someone quoting me that I've said the LCA programme needs to be buried --- you don't think it necessary to validate that with an article that says this? Tomorrow someone can get up and say: "Ajai Shukla says India should become a province of Pakistan". Does that become the truth?

Don't know why I'm wasting my time responding to such a stupid argument!

Anonymous said...

Good Journalism, great work!

So much effort and reasoning put. Wish CAG can hire people like you rather touting numbers and charts, rather than risks.

Anonymous said...

So what. The benefit and achieved potential is enormous.
They are peanuts when compared to the scams that has happened during the same period.

Anonymous said...

Have you never worked in a Corporate environment, Ajai? You do what you want when the year-end appraisal comes up, then only look at what you could have done better not what good you did! Then they put you on a bell curve.

Many years ago Tejas was 23% indigenous, then 48%, then 52%....bhai time lagta hai...

Anonymous said...

Sir a good article but some points missed out

One also needs to know the 'desi content' by financial and technological perspective for eg a chip might be small but in technological content its value could be very large The Indigenation you described is a ADA joke the noobs might fall for

Second In real terms the IOC has no value and the project has no value till we get the FOC (when are we getting that)

I agree the IAF is responsible for the mess as well

Anonymous said...

1. Could you please define "indigenous content"? Is it percentage by cost / weight / volume.
2. I would suggest the solution is not as simple as "The AF is sabotaging the programme, hence the delay". The scientists at ADA, designers at HAL and AF PMT is doing the best they can to get an operationally relevant aeroplane into service. The two serious areas of concern are programme management at ADA and HAL manufacture / flight support. Examination of the predicted timelines dished out by ADA since 2007 will show a series of missed deadlines, often out by a factor of several 100 percent. In this area, the argument that "we are new at this" doesn't hold water beyond the first couple of years - if programme management continues to generate rosy fake-PERT charts without catering for ground realities of work ethic / weather / capability / resources, year after year after year, then it is time for a change. A serious issue is the inability to acknowledge a mistake and move on to systemically correct it. Shifting the blame and hiding behind the longest timeline is an art that has been perfected in ADA, and needs to be stopped forthwith. HAL needs to seriously up its game in being able to provide platforms to the flight line and in terms of manufacturing technology and consistency. The actual organization which needs to invest in the LCA is HAL. Only when they seriously commit to the programme, and provide resourcing to speedy and quality manufacture will things move. HAL needs to drop it's decades old sulk at ADA controlling the programme and invest heavily looking at the future export potential.
3. On a side note, the myth (assidously fostered by the Navy) of the Navy being super supporters of indigenization and showing the IAF the way to do things needs to be examined closely. In terms of total cost, most of the Navy's cost per warship, which is sensors, CNI and weapons, is procured from overseas. The navy has had some success in building hulls, and running dockyards with Admirals in charge, but the output is very PSU, especially considering that the actual work is basically riveting / welding a bunch of steel plates together. The percentage of the navy's air arm is that is indigenous is far less than the Air Force, if you consider the fact that the MiG 21, 27, Jaguar and Su30MKI are essentially make in india products. The Navy thumping itself on its chest for the naval LCA is ludicrous. The programme has piggybacked on the ADA AF LCA learning curve, and pure design contribution from the Indian navy is miniscule. I'm sure some old sea salts will take umbrage at this, but much as the Indian navy considers itself a world power in aviation expertise, some day it should take a reality check and introspect on improving the quality and experience of its aviation environment before leaping off the deep end with mindless expansion.

Ashish Kansal said...

Mr Ajai Shukla is good at doing post mortem. Why doesn't Mr Modi hire his services under the banner of Niti AAYOG or any such think tank who decides on sanctioning such huge ticket projects and take sign off from all the stakeholders.

Pravin Meher said...

I am wondering how in the world CAG panel could came up with such a childish report. In 560 Crores were they expecting to design 200 4th generation fighters. Even with the cost in 80's in that amount only design and conceptualization is possible. Somebody has to tell these CAG panel that "Bhai (not bhai sahab) eetane paiseme etanahi aata hai" If they think 4+ gen planes can be made using used tin boxes then ask them to read second year aeronautics engineering books

Rafale’s costs is $200m = Rs13104990000.00 that is 1310 crores per piece. And these guys are expecting full scale engineering development with maintenance support. Using which they can serially produce 600 fighters in Rs560 crores. Bhaai 560 crores me aaj 600 mercedes benz cars bhi nahi aati hai.
Ask yourself a question how much it costs to replace broken mirror of your car. I don’t know whether you use and maintain your own cars or use free government supplied cars.
Try design and developing a traffic signal lights system with till product realization on your own, then you would know what it takes.
I can understand the panel maybe non-technical. But can’t they do simple math with some logical reasoning? If they are unable to do that. I would not be surprised if this panel one fine day recommends purchase of China designed pak manufactured JF-17’s.