Cain Marko wrote:
If you can show me proof that in 1985 ASR the IAF wanted the LCA to have F-16 performance, I'll stop this argument as my whole premise is compromised. It would be insane for the IAF to make such a demand - replace the MiG-21 with an F-16.
It obviously impossible to get the ASR from 1985 and post it online here. But these things about the LCA are well known
, especially to the old timers like Sunil Sainis, George J (GJman who still does a cameo appearance every now and then), B.Harry (who passed away, but what brilliant work he did in writing about this. Our DDMs should learn from him) and of course the likes of Enqyoob. Unfortunate that many of them stopped coming here for a variety of reasons. But they all did a great job of publishing and writing in the BR Monitor that documents much of what happened.
A good place to start will be here BR LCA/Tejas Resources
which has a couple of published articles and in particular the one by Air Marshal MSD Wollen
he absolutely would know the ins and outs of what happened those days from where he was..According to him , the
The IAF's Air Staff Requirement, finalized in October 1985 is the base document for development. Requirements of flight performance, systems performance, reliability, maintainability criteria, stores carnage, etc. are spelt out. Concessions or a higher standard of requirements have to be mutually agreed upon by the IAF (customer) and ADA (constructor).
The ASR has gone revisions since 1985 (twice I think) and what we have today is of a higher requirement (obviously, don't blame the IAF, the situation changes, but that will result in delays and budget hikes).
From TKS's writing, the IAF was looking for a far more modest MiG-21 replacement. It was the DRDO's initial plan/proposal that was overly ambitious:
It is possible that the planning and definition and requirements of what went into Tejas was done by others in IAF , possibly above his pay grade and he was not in the loop. But facts are facts.
The IAF knew that it was ambitious alright, but it was required for very very good reasons. Read up the articles in the BR Monitor archives on how the IAF wanted those addressed. There were four programs if I remember correctly (Gripen, LCA, Novi Avion and I think an Indonesian program which got killed) that looked at exactly similar small, lightweight , single engine fighters and all of them came up with remarkably similar configurations (Delta winged, FBW, high composite). That 3 countries come to a similar solution is not an "accident" or a whim of "technocrats" or whatever. Those were sound logical choices.
It was also to contain all functionalities of a small agile low-observable fighter that could be found anywhere in the world at that point of time. Its projected weight was to be seven tons empty. It was to be designed and developed within about ten years. This dream, the DRDO felt, was achievable. Personally I disagreed with that statement.
Firstly, there was no other like that anywhere in the world at that point in time (the F-16 and M2K and Mig29 are bigger planes) and the Mig21 was outdated.
Also, despite all the skepticism, it WAS designed and developed in about ten years
. With work starting in 1989 to first flight in 2000/1, it is about 10 years, DESPITE sanctions and 90s economic crisis.
Where we lost out is during the flight test stage from 2001 to today due to lack of prior experience and of course the well know reasons of IAF going comatose from 2000 to 2007!
Point is, TKS is "whining" about the same - overpromise and underdeliver tendency of the agencies involved. ANd all of the above is around 1982 - long before IAF drew up any ASRs!! Kind of hard to believe that the IAF had floated an F-16 requirement in those days, as a MiG-21 replacement no less, and the DRDO responded with all of the above.
Despite all the "skepticism", the tech developments have delivered fully, except in Radar(bad choice of agency there) and Engine (that was always tough, but partly there). The IAF ASR in 85 did reflect the F-16 acquisition by Pakistan , just like the Arjun's revised one in the 80s, reflected the possible transfer of M1-A2 to Pakistan (Zia Ul Haq got his 72s from the mangoes after witnessing firing trials of M1 Abrams in Pakistan) .
In fact, this whine about "I wanted an evolved Mig-21, while you give me an F-16 in a Mig-21 form factor" is uncannily similar to the whine in the Arjun case "I want a 50 ton Evolved T-72 while you give me Western Style MBT of 57 tons!" In both cases, you got what you wanted. To go back and claim ifs and buts and what was "really wanted" and if only we had done X or Y and not done what we currently did, we could have got "something" a decade ago is simply being ridiculous.
Not sure we went "on our own" at all. They just hooked the LCA project to a technological superpower that was utterly whimsical (and even capricious towards Indian POV), and paid the price (rejecting safer, albeit less fancy alternatives). A mistake that we rue till this day, and might even in the future.
What I meant was singing up with the Yugoslavs. We burnt our fingers with them the 60s/70s in shipbuilding. They were the closest to us in terms of ideology and rhetoric and requirements (Socialism, Non Alignment and replacing Mig-21s) and I just thank the heavens some very smart Foreign Service babu decided to hitch our program with theirs. That would have been monumentally stupid , similar to hitching the Marut program to an Egyptian engine!
The cold hard fact is that the Americans were willing to support us a lot more in the LCA program than the French did in critical areas. Pokhran-II and the subsequent events are a catharsis that drained the poison that blocked Indo-US relations nu-necessarily for all those years since the 60s. That is gone now and I don't see why we cant have relations with the US on the lines that France has with the US in defense and other matters.