Why I think that Lockheed and Saab are desperate to sell their 4/4.5 gen Single Engine Fighter line to India?
There is no large scale demand for Single Engine fighters anymore - certainly not in 100s in a single order.
> The time gained by going for a foreign aircraft assembly line and not Tejas is between 02-05 yrs for full production run. If indeed we are time critical a sharp management of the project and some additional investments and quick decision making can narrow this time gap to max of 03 yrs for full production as per my estimates.
> All these and the finally the need in showing confidence in Desi home grown products is why we should not buy the foreign fighters but promote Tejas. Instead of sourcing the Assembly line, source Tier 1 suppliers from abroad till Indian suppliers come of age but do not buy foreign. If an Indian private player is not capable of setting up an independent parallel line and HAL is refusing to take on additional responsibilities, get Saab to take on its original offer to set up the Tejas Mk2 production line with conditions and road map on developing Indian Tier1, Tier2 and Tier3 suppliers.
In terms of capability with Tejas MKA or Mk1A, the fighter is a very maneuverable, multi/omni role fighter which will have AESA radar, BVR missiles, SPJ and IFR capabilities. The F16 and Grippen at best would provide little extra range and payload at most but will cost four times more and will always be a foreign product.
Excellent post Deejay saar. Thanks for highlighting the points in very articulate manner.
Precisely because there seems to be no demand for F16 class jet anywhere, I have been dismissive about the hogwash that LM is peddling about how India will become global hub for F16. Especially when 4-5 countries already have that setup, I don't see why someone would come to our half baked F-16 hub.
Just to add to your analysis:
For LM, selling 100+ jets from a line which would have been sold in scrap is like hitting a gold mine. They have nothing to lose even if the line is scrapped. So they are willing to ship it lock, stock and barrel to India.
For SAAB, its more of a survival question in long term. This order will not only keep them afloat for a decade or so but also would bankroll their next-gen RnD development. Otherwise, SAAB is going down in long term. They have already given up on Jet engine and don't seem to have capacity to go on for 5th Gen aircraft later.
And I fully concur with the opportunity cost of 3-5yrs that we would have to pay if we choose to go for all LCA single engine fleet. IMO its worth and we could make it happen. Also the continuity this would provide for our supply chain until AMCA starts production is also crucial.
The most crucial point is showing Confidence in desi projects. We are always ready to spread red carpet for foreigners but are very unwilling to give even a chance to our own companies to demonstrate their abilities, let alone committing for orders. I have also pointed out how government could tie up programs like LCA/LCH/LUH/AMCA/other defense products to sweeten the deal for desi suppliers and make a very good business case for them. In addition IMO ADA.HAL should offer co-design of AMCA (and if LCA Mk2 or silent LCA would come up that too) modules to the selected tier-1 companies. So that in future they can become true owners of those modules by having both design and manufacturing capabilities. As such now ADA hires small companies on contract on piece-meal projects. If the same definition work is offered to Tier1 companies, they can absorb those small contactors (by taking them over) who are working for ADA now for the same work and would consolidate the design and manufacturing capability of each module under one roof. ADA can always overseer the process in initial days.