Cain Marko wrote:That Kartik is the whole point isn't it? I mean if they are paying $ 50 mil per a/c (not counting weapons + set up in India), you'd think that an AESA/ IRST etc would easily fit in. I mean how much does an AESA cost? IRST? As far as integration is concerned, a) they used an M2k for testing Rafale components iirc including an IRST and AESA, also b) They seem to be in no hurry anyway - afterall it'll take 9 years to complete this miracle.
I'm really surprised to read this coming from you. Just think more logically than reacting to the price alone.
The total price is first of all not even known. All we are hearing are figures that range from $2.4 billion inclusive/exclusive of $500-600 million for HAL's share to $3.3 (Euro 2.4) billion plus $ 1.26 (Euro 0.9) billion for HAL. From the ACIG article
But so far the costs of over EUR 2,4 bill. – with 0,9 bill. allocated to HAL – were described as ‘prohibitively’ expensive.
Lets say that the latest figures from Livefist are more accurate- that we did actually spend that much (about $43 million for each unit) it is about $4-5 million more than what Thailand paid for its 18 F-16s to be upgraded to Block 50 standards. $700 million for 18 F-16s to be upgraded, i.e. $39 million each. See this article on FlightGlobal
Do you see an AESA, IRST or engine change here on the upgraded F-16s? Did any PAF F-16A/B's upgraded to Block 50 standards get an AESA, IRST or engine change? Has ANY F-16 been upgraded to date with the Block 60's mission computer, IRST, APG-80 (not RANGR or SABR) or a new more powerful engine?
Regarding the Mirage being the AESA testbed- there is a huge difference in using an aircraft as a testbed for an RBE2 and expecting it to be completely bereft of any bugs, production ready and ready for use in combat. All of that assuming that the Mirage-2000's onboard electrical generation capacity is adequate and that the cooling requirements of the RBE2 AESA can be met adequately for it to be operationalised, rather than just be used as a testbed.
Operationalising an AESA and IRST on a Mirage-2000 would take a lot of flight testing and development (maybe a few hundred test flights alone, leave the several thousands of manhours of ground based development and testing), and a whole bunch of costs for integrating all the weapons that the RDY2 can use, for the AESA RBE2 on a Mirage-2000 (since all interfaces will not be the same as that on Rafale). As for a new engine- which one ? the M88-2 doesn't produce 98kN of thrust in AB which the M53-P2 produces. And if you want a 95-98kN thrust M88 then you need to put up the funding for that. And we know from the UAE Rafale deal that it was a lot of money that they asked for.
All of which would have to be funded by us for just 51 airframes, since obviously the French don't need it and there is no other Mirage customer likely to upgrade their jets. Which would only drive up costs and time several times up making it that much more unaffordable and unviable.
Even on the F-16, its only due to the massive numbers in service worldwide that NG and Raytheon are offering AESA radars for older F-16C/D variants. Had it been for 51 fighters, NG or Raytheon would've charged a monstrous amount to have a production ready RANGR or SABR AESA. After all they'd have spent hundreds of millions of $ on fully developing them. The USAF alone has several hundred F-16s that will be upgraded with an AESA radar. You cannot compare the unit costs for such a large production run where costs could be amortized over them all, to a smaller 50-60 production run where simply to recoup sunk costs, you'd have a huge chunk of cost added to the price.
I don't think that $4-5 million more per unit is that bad, considering that France doesn't even come close to producing the number of upgrade kits for the Mirage as the US does for the F-16s (Falcon STAR and whatnot). The last time France upgraded Mirages was when they upgraded the 30 Mirage-2000s of the UAE to Mirage-2000-9 standards (same as that for the IAF) and that program ended in 2004, since when there have been no Mirage upgrades. Do you think that their Mirage-2000-5/9 suppliers would've been sitting with idle tools/workforces for 7 years, hoping to find some work some day? All of them would've moved on to the Rafale, which itself is moving along at slow pace or moved to some other work. To simply re-start a production line for those kits would mean having to re-initiate a small production line and train a small workforce to work on that to minimise costs. The faster you want it to be done, the more the tools/workers and the more the cost. As simple as that. I don't think that anyone is actually thinking about the unique situation that this upgrade represents. Had we had more Mirages, say as many as our Jaguars, it would've been more economical to upgrade them faster, since the costs of tools/training mechanics and technicians would've also been amortized over a larger number of jets. The Rafale production line is also restricted to only 12 per year to keep production costs to a bare economically viable number.
This Mirage-2000-9 Engage pdf
has some details on the UAE Mirage-2000-9 upgrade. Regarding the timeline of the upgrade, this seems to be consistent with Dassault's small production run for the upgrade kits
The upgrading of the UAE AF&AD Mirage 2000 aircraft to Mirage 2000-9 configuration in Al Dhafra has called for an unparalleled industrial action plan. Conversion includes two different operations, a major overhaul and the retrofit itself, which are combined simultaneously.. The retrofit of the first two aircraft was carried out in Istres, France, between 2001 and 2003 in order to validate the industrial process in conditions similar to those to be encountered in Al Dhafra. Since April 2002, these teams have left Istres and have been progressively transferred to the UAE to commence the conversion of the remaining 28 aircraft.
Around 36 months for the first Mirage-2000-9 conversion. 40 months in our case for the first 4 Mirages to be upgraded in France after contract signature. 4 months extra is not bad since the Mirage is no longer in production at all. And the UAE upgrades were signed for in 1998, but ended in 2007- a total of 9 years for 30 aircraft, although that also included some new development for the -9 variant. All this may seem too long but Dassault/HAL will only produce as many kits as is economically viable for them to produce- any more and they need more tools/workers to produce them and that will increase costs, which the IAF/MoD and MoF won't like.
Cain Marko wrote:
While the M2k-9 is indeed a formidable fighter, let us not forget that firstly, Pakistan is not the only neighbor to contend with, the other larger neighbor presents a decidedly more worrisome threat. Second, the M2k-9, formidable as it is, is still 90s tech - nothing jawdropping by today's standards - solid slot array, decent EW, D-link, and thats it. Don't see why that can't be achieved with something a lot cheaper. Third, there is no telling when AESA type tech starts reaching the PAF (via J10s for eg), remember that IAF Vajras will have to deal with threats for a long time 2015-2035 and proliferation of what is considered hi tech today should not be so uncommon after another 10 years.
One thing I really do like about the top quality M2k upgrades is their abiilty to carry a couple of Scalps but we don't even know if that p'cular mijjile is being bought in this bonanza - lots of talk about Mica but nothing about Scalp or Apache or Hammer
Soo thai gayo bhai?
So then why is the IAF spending nearly a billion $ on the 69 MiG-29s? Is the MiG-29UPG upgrade jaw-dropping in terms of avionics/weapons/radar/engine? Can it contend with the other neighbour's fighters or AESA equipped FC-20s? As it stands, both the Mirage-2000-9 and MiG-29UPG will be primarily dedicated to countering the PAF, whereas the longer legged Su-30MKI and MRCA will be aimed at keeping the PLAAF in check.
The MiG-29UPG upgrade is cheaper, but then again, the Fulcrum has always lagged behind the Mirage in terms of reliability of various systems and subsystems, availability and even total airframe life and from the IAF's point of view, that will count since they use these day to day rather than just write about it on internet forums. That article by Georg Mader simply reinforced that- by their second major overhaul, Mirages had no fatigue or airframe cracks whatsoever, indicating just how robust they are. HAL technicians calling it the most reliable and easily maintainable jet in the IAF does tell you something does it not?
Keep one more thing in mind- the IAF has a lot invested already in terms of training for both ground and flight crews as well as HAL technicians in the Mirage-2000. Tomorrow if there is war, the Mirage-2000H/THs will still be the second most important combat jets in the IAF. No one will argue with that. MiG-29 crews haven't done any training in A2G missions and even if the UPG is multi-role it will take a few years to qualify all MiG-29 pilots in A2G operations. Not so for Mirage-2000 pilots where after the Kargil war, the A2G capabilities of the jet were revealed. The Libyan ops showed that even for the RAF, only a total of 4 crews were even A2G qualified despite it having been certified for LGBs more than a year ago.
With the new Digital Terrain Following System along with NVG capability on the 2000-9s, the IAF's air launched nuclear delivery system will become that much more survivable and effective.
If the argument is that for $43 million, more MRCA or Su-30MKI could've been bought then it doesn't take into account how much these will actually cost (both are more than $50 million) or the extra $ the IAF would spend on new training/infrastructure costs for these (converting crews and scrapping Mirage overhaul line and setting up new MRCA/MKI overhaul line to cater for more fighters), not to mention the higher LCC of both over 20-25 years.
Regarding Scalp/Apache/AASM, this was what the ACIG article mentioned
MBDA and Israel’s RAFAEL are also competing to provide the IAF Mirages with new PGM standoff-weapons, MBDA and Sagem are offering AASM PGB while Rafael is offering its 2,000-lb. Spice 2000 guided-bombs.
One more thing- IMO, the arguments being used here will be seen in use later as well with regards to the MRCA- if cost was the only criteria, then the IAF should've gone for the F-16IN, F/A-18IN, MiG-35 or Gripen NG. They would've been cheaper to upgrade over their lives and both the US types and maybe even the Gripen NG would've had a cheaper and wider set of weapons integrated thanks to the USAF bankrolling most of them with huge production runs. Neither the Rafale nor the Typhoon will be cheap to use or upgrade over their lifetimes. I feel that the earlier BRFites forget Russian acquisition costs and get used to costlier EU prices, the better. Their supply chain doesn't work in USD, it works in Euros. And that automatically tilts the cost balance in the US' favour. Our MRCA's are going to be one costly acquisition, so sticker shock will be a common phenomenon.