It feels like many people missed the first line in my post:
(note: The following assumes that technology transfer and sovereignty issues are worked out. If they aren't then, none of this matters. But assuming it is . . .)
The procurement staff is going to be extra careful to get the proper assurances that are iron-clad and sanction-proof
(whether through treaties or blueprints or both or something else) and ferret out any unacceptable language in the contract. I have full confidence that IF they give it the greenlight, then there isn't going to be anything that can come back and bite India.
Some of you may also find this story interesting:http://www.dodbuzz.com/2009/06/11/boein ... -policies/
It was a bit jarring to hear Boeing’s top military salesman say the Obama administration’s export polices are looking better than they did under the Bush administration
. . .
“I think we see a more active discussion on these things,” Raymond said, noting rhetoric from the Obama administration about working more closely with allies and ensuring they have the capabilities they need to work with the US.
Note that Boeing makes the SH.
Now let me address a few of the other issues that have been brought up:
1. Tech Transfer
If tech transfer is your goal, selecting the MiG-35 makes absolutely NO SENSE. You are already getting the best Russia has to offer (including AESA) in the FGFA. What do you hope to get from the MiG-35 that you can't get from the FGFA?
There are a lot of claims that the eurocanards are more advanced than the SH. The main argument seems to be aerodynamic performance of the airframe. The thing is, that is not something that transfers over well. Sure you can get the detailed specs of how exactly to build one, but that doesn't give you any insight into WHY it was made that way or HOW to design one yourself.
As far as actual manufacturing skills required (which is what you could hope to build up), they are all remarkably similar.
People still seem to think this is WWI and we're flying around in dogfights trying to put our nose on the enemy plane. In modern combat, the airframe is just a platform for its sensors and weapons. Those sensors and weapons are far more important than the platform. Now, obviously there are limits and you can't just load up a 747, but it has far less impact than many here suspect.
People bring up stuff like 'the EF destroyed 3 F-16 in Singapore!', but they don't realize that most of that was the sensors and weapon system. A modern SH would have destroyed the F-16s just as easily is not easier.
While the SH may be inferior in kinetics, it is in no way inferior in the electronics, which is what actually matters. The others don't even have AESA yet! To say that their electronics are superior is laughable.
On the other hand, I actually agree that it is obsolescent. The fact is that ALL the aircraft in the MRCA competition are obsolete because none of them have stealth. So unless you're going to go for an all-stealth fleet like the US and get the F-35, arguing over which old design is slightly less obsolescent than the other is arguing over which of the Golden Girls
is the hottest.
I could write a nice little article on the F-35 and India, but I'm limiting myself to planes that are actually in the MRCA competition.
4. The Future
No matter how good the MiG-35 is now, where will it be in 20 years? Given how absolutely crucial sensors and weapons are to fighter performance, I would rather be in an F-5 with 2029 sensors and weapons than be in a MiG-35 with 2009 sensors and weapons. Both the MiG-35 and Gripen-NG have no future outside of what India manages to do by itself.
The F-16 will undoubtedly have a lot of upgrades available for it, but none of it will for a tier-1 nation.
The EF SHOULD be fully supported well into the future since it is the frontline fighter of several tier-1 nations. That's certainly what I would expect. However . . . there are doubts. Despite showing a mastery of aerial combat, Singapore skipped it because it wasn't clear when or even if it's ground package would be funded. They still don't have an operational AESA.
The Rafale is in a similar situation, where you think it certainly SHOULD BE supported, but the evidence gives you pause as to whether it actually WILL BE.
The difference between the US DELIVERY and the Euro PROMISE of new technology is actually quite easy to explain. The US is at war more often than not and thus NEEDS the capabilities. Europe hasn't been heavily involved in a war in quite some time and the people and politicians don't believe they will be in a war for quite some time. Thus it is easy to justify stealing money from some military development program for a capability that will never be used and spending it on some social program instead.
If you believe that the US is going to be involved in conflicts for the next 20 years, then you have to believe that the US will continue funding and DELIVERING updates to its fighters.
4. Integration with the Indian fleet
Someone raised the concern about how the SH would integrate with the rest of the Indian fleet. Well, you could ask the same question about any of the contenders as they will all require separate logistics. You would be hard pressed to find much of any worthwhile commonality.
Would the Rafale be any cheaper because of the Mirage 2000, a plane with which it shares no engines or weapons?
Would the Eurofighter be cheaper because of (nonexistent) commonality with the Jaguar?
Even the MiG-35 doesn't share much commonality with the MiG-29.
Ultimately, this is a question about money and what is cheapest route. And if the question is money, then the SH is undoubtedly the answer, both for acquisition and life-cycle costs.
More importantly, the whole point of the MRCA is to REPLACE all those legacy planes. By the time the MRCA is arriving in numbers, the MiG-27 and MiG-21 and MiG-29 and Jaguar and Mirage 2000 will all be rapidly retiring.
To limit yourself because of planes that you soon won't have seems odd.
5. What is the point of the MRCA?
Vick wrote:Regarding the MKI, the IAF knew that it was going to be a multi year project to get a custom bird up and running and into IOC, FOC and finally in the Mk3 config. The IAF was willing to wait. With the MRCA acquisition, the IAF has made it clear that the main point of the MRCA is to immediately stop the decline in force levels that will happen with the block obsolescence of the Mig-21, Mig-23, Mig-27 and early Jags next decade. Hence, IAF has been clear that it is looking for a turnkey solution, not a multi year codevelopment session. Requirements for the MKI prog is very very different from the MRCA prog.
This is exactly right and why I have been stressing 'NO DRAMA'.
People say stuff like, 'Well even if the EF doesn't have AESA now, surely it could be integrated!'. Well sure it could, but at what cost and in what timeframe? With the SH there is no cost and no question.
The SH is guaranteed to be fully functional, to have world class support, and to have full funding for future upgrades.
I'll close with a cute little story some of you might like.http://www.stltoday.com/blogzone/politi ... king-good/
today the House Armed Services Seapower and Expeditionary Forces Subcommittee appears set to pass along a multi-year request for Navy aircraft that includes the F-18s.
While no numbers of planes are mentioned, a multi-year request typically is for five years and 150 aircraft.
The President doesn't want this, the military didn't request this, but a couple of congressmen kick up a fuss about jobs in their district and suddenly ANOTHER 150 Super Hornets are on their way to the USN. That's practically the entire MRCA order added just like that. This obviously hasn't been finalized and anything can happen in politics, but it is clear that the SH has a bright future ahead of it. It's well on it's way to achieving C-17 status as a program that is simply impossible to kill