the FGFA is the easiest way in which we can acquire an operate a 5th-gen fighter.It is already flying,on the brink of series production,where we've already made an investment in the JV. The Russian timetable and our inability to deliver the goods, human resources-wise,lack of design skills,saw us hesitate when the programme was proceeding apace.When asked which areas of the programme we would like to deliver some years ago,we could not .Remember how the IJT team was also ridiculously tasked with the FGFA duties ?! However,lengthy discussions have subsequently been held,the IAF's wish list on specs,etc. duly acknowledged and a roadmap for the IAF's FGFA equiv to our MKI worked out and agreed upon.OIfficial reports said that all technical issues hadbeen resolved.The big Q was the amt. to be paid for the JV,IP rights which would be shared by both partners.,etc. HAL is geared up for manufacturing the bird after MKI production ends and at least open high-powered committee has given its assent to go ahead.
The only clear reason that I can see why the IAF is hesitating because there is very powerful backing for the Rafale and we know by whom.This co. signed a deal with Dassault after the M2K upgrade,now mired in a spat between HAL and the IAF over labour costs.The Rafale is also in a political storm over costs with both Cong. and NDA each claiming that its negotiations have given the IAF/nation a better deal.However,with the Rafale,there is NO TOT period. Secondly,why pay a huge amount for tech that is going to be outdated in the next decade,when most air forces from western to eastern will be fielding new stealth birds? To answer that Q the IAF is pointing in the direction of the AMCA,which is nothing but a paperplane right now,maybe a wind model,but which poses even more challenges to desi design skills than even the LCA. We have no experience in developing our own AESA (the LCA is to fly with an Israeli one) ,conformal radars,advanced IRST sensors,mart helmets,etc.,plus the main ingredient,the engines. We will yet again be hunting for a firang engine to squeeze into an airframe already designed.I am sure that even the most optimistic advocate of the AMCA will agree that it will take a min. of at least a decade before the brid completes its testing and as for series production,the LCA programme gives us an example.
Therefore for the next crucial decade,the IAF will be without a 5th-gen stealth aircraft.The F-35 will outdo the FGFA/SU-57 on costs,plus western allies of the US alone will get the bird,first pick of production as well.We are not a military ally of the US and unless we sign on to all the intrusive agreements required-which we don't have to with Russia,the negotiations for acquiring the F-35 will be babudom's wet dream. It's why even Ashley Tellis has advocated us going easy on the AMCA and to continue with the FGFA.The US is being pragmatic.Dealing with India is like threading through a nightmarish web of babudom and we simply don't have the money for large purchases too.Yet it still wants us to be the bulwark against China in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region and if our armed forces are equipped with BMos missiles,Akula subs,SU-57s,far superior to their Chinese equivs. so much the better.There are huge opportunities for US def. biz with India as seen in the C-17s,C-130Js,Apaches,Chinooks,howitzers,naval helos,etc.
Our strategy should be to acquire 2 sqds of basic Ru std. FGFAs just as we did with the SU-30s,then develop our own variant while putting the bird through its paces in our environmentlal conditions.If the birds start arriving from 2020,we should be able to acquire 2 sqds even before 2025.In the meantime,HAL could also work on the upgrading of our MKis,40 to start with to SS std.,incorporating some of the etch/components being used on the SU-57,esp. the new engines if available. The SS Flankers and FGFAs are going to be the hardcore of the IAF's fleet in the next decade. A Flanker can carry a BMos ASM which a Rafale simply cannot! That single factor alone should have determined the future course of action,but as I said,there are very powerful forces who want their pound of flesh with the Raffy deal.Another powerful interest also wants its pound of flesh with the SEF deal! As we near elections,which are most likely to happen this autumn, everything is literally up in the air for the 3 birds.Rafale,FGFA and Gripen.
PS:The breaking news of the immensity of the PNB banking scam,such an utterly audacious and brazen act of looting of the nation's coffers by criminals and corrupt banking officials,has stunned the nation.The indications are that the scam might affect and unveil other scams in other banks.There is grave concern about the security and integrity of the Indian banking system and thus far the RBI is as silent as the sphinx,clearly having abdicated its duty.No one has a clue as to how much of our wealth has been looted. To give you a clue as to how serious the situ is,I got a call this morning at the impolite hour of 8am (!) from a joker of a bank,asking me when my next EMI was forthcoming,after I had just four days ago paid it! I was so enraged as it came just after reading the latest news of the PNB scam,that I tore into him and demanded why he wasn't following up on the key defaulters and scamsters like Mallya.Modi and Modi,instead of the unfortunate middle class and honest taxpayers,a paltry % of the nation's population who are being crushed and flattened by taxes and more taxes. If anyone thinks that our financial situ is healthy,the reality at ground level as perceived by the common man is anything but that. The armed forces will be lucky if there is enough moolah for part of their desprately rqd. needs. Only the smaller stuff like small arms,ammo,some spares,etc.are being pushed through by an energetic DM.The big tkt. items are still in the air.