brar_w wrote:And thats the point. No one is buying a brand new shiny automobile. Expect large strategic defense purchases to have a strategic and political component to it and their is a legitimate reason for them to exist. The IAF simply does not trust the US when it comes to front line combat aircraft. That trust would require a long relationship of positive dealings coupled with strategic comfort that may never happen. On the other hand France has given little reason (other than cost) to be disappointed.
This would have happened even if the F-18 and F-16 were the best performing of the lot (which they aren't)...and that would be a fairly reasonable thing to do even then
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Also pls note that there exists a decent space for non-Ruski flying platforms in the Indian strategic thoughts ... who takes that space is the only question.
The other question, of course is, how big that space is ... it's not too big, for sure, say max 200-250 odd platforms (or approx 30% of the interceptor/interdictor/mud-mover inventory, that IAF wants). Actually, hadn't the Ruskies shoot themselves in their foot, with Cryo/29s/Groshkov/and legacy 21-23-27 support-aspects as well, this space would have been atleast 10% smaller than what is today. So this space has the potential to grow another 10 odd percent points.
But all that is moot from American aero-manufacturing pov, due to the strategic nature of institutional anti-trust that has been developed over decades - so French and other European entities are having a virtual free-run wrt fulfilling this demand - but are hobbled on the pricing aspect.
So, purely from an American aero-manufacturer pov, what are the next steps ... the first and foremost is to somehow undo (as much as possible) institutional anti-trust - pls do note that this runs so deep, that I doubt it will ever become 0. So it can only be minimized but can't be eliminated. 1.
And the first step towards that is to aim for non-strategic pieces of IAF - aka the Transport platforms and be also a reliable sensor-integration-partner (not a supplier).
C-19s and 130Js are the step in that direction ... but IMO still US has not done enough, in terms of pricing, to demonstrate its eagerness towards harnessing it. Because once in, it's almost a free-run ... even a rudimentary level (compared to what is routine in US or in their supply-nations) of after-sales and warranty support would wean IAF away, as Ruskies et all has been/and are still so pathetic in this area.
But, even then, if you look at these deals, you will find lack of seriousness in the pricing front, to make that penetration complete. 2.
The other aspect is avionics and sub-systems (I'll touch on it in a separate post) - but before that, one important point that is still unexplored which would help build that trust.
Get into a partnership mode in setting up manufacturing-lines for indigenous platforms ... this is nascent industry, and there will be always a first mover advantage.
Throw-in (call it sunk investment) a JV with HAL (private companies simply doesn't have the expertise to provide any short-term gains via the JV route) and get into the business of setting up the 2nd manufacturing line for LCA
What does these companies get to loose ... some autoclaves, a few manufacturing tooling kits etc ... max say $300-400mil investment (even there, I'm sure if a manufacturing line is being setup for F35 and already well-established-and-baselined manufacturing lines for 4-Gen platforms like 16/18s are existing, how difficult is to "divert" manufacturing machinery that will match with that of LCA).
Towards this, 49% is there available for grabs ... so, a consortium of companies covering 12% each for 4 aspects (Airframe, Sub-systems, Integration, Avionics) with HAL for setting-up of the 2nd manufacturing is perfectly doable.
I mean a consortium with max exposure of Boeing/LM - 24% max, GD/GA/assorted companies - 12% and NG (maybe along with IAI) on avionics - 6%+6%, is not that difficult to sew up with HAL.
Plus these levels are all Peanuts for each of these entities, compared to their investments (both committed and forecasted).
Upside is, if it works, hey you are there in IAF mind-space for approx 200 odd platforms. 3a)
The other is strategic-system are the turbofans - you are already the chosen supplier, why not take it another level by guaranteeing a little higher-level of screw-driver-giri to HAL for F414s etc and also, at the same time, partnering the core-development initiative with GTRE.
Again how much is there to lose ... a bunch of Vacuum Investment Furnaces, a few autoclaves for turbine-blade-core fabrication, a few LFW machines etc etc etc. So why not set up a deep component-level-manufacturing-cum-assembly-cum-testing JV with HAL ... as long as the vanes and rotors for the Turbines and also that (disks and blades) of the HPC are getting manufactured at a low-labour-cost-centre in India, profit magins will go up slightly as well.
Yes there's an initial capital cost of having to export the corresponding tooling etc - but hey, that's exactly how build up accetance adn become the default-supplier, isn't it?3b)
With GTRE, well they are desperate for a twin-engined flying platform which supports engine-dimensional-aspects of a F404/F414 - IAF couldn't care more for such "science projects"!!
So, how difficult is to arrange for/get some F-18 A/Bs (2 would be sufficient) and "loan" it to GTRE (as an offset for F414 deal or something) - imagine the +ve perception that you build with such arrangements.
India is more-or-less a dharmic country - "praishchit" sells here (wrt the "paap" of impounding of Flight Control Computers in 1999)!!
And the difficult aspect of "partnering" with GTRE, what they are looking at contemporary mass-level manufacturing tech for the HPC stages and HPT stages as well ... aka offer
1. Manufacturing process improvement for the existing technologies (e.g. Wide Chord blades, Ti-blisks for initial HPC stages, CFC Fanstages, LFW, EBM etc.)
2. Co-development of manufacturing tech for Al-Ti components for HPC stages
3. Co-development of CMC based HoT section rotors,
If you have noticed, none of the tech mentioned here, none of them are not in near-mature stage (as opposed in R&D or just entering production phases) in US - so are on the verge of being classified as "non-strategic" wrt US's internal technology levels.
So it's not a big deal anyway!!
.... and so and so forth!!
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