Moved over from the Tejas thread....
Roop wrote:If, by "value", you mean technical/tactical advantages, then the answer is an emphatic "None!". Rafale was IMO clearly the best technical choice in the MMRCA competition. Personally, I was delighted that it was chosen, it was the obvious technical best. But there was (and still is) a reasonable/sensible case to be made that India should buy an American plane. Even the Americans who were grumbling about losing the MMRCA competition to the Rafale (I refer you to Ashley Tellis and various other Washington think-tankers) were not claiming that their planes (F16 and F18) were better than the Rafale. They simply said that India "blew it by selecting an aircraft over a relationship". Their arguments were/are not inherently ridiculous, but IMO still not as important as selecting a superb aircaft (Rafale).
But to the IAF that argument - selecting an aircraft over a relationship - is perplexing. When Ashley Tellis (or anyone else from the US Govt) states that, he/they are displaying a lack of understanding on the acquisition process. First the technical trials are completed. It is only after this is done, can the aircraft that passed muster move on to the next stage i.e. determining who is L1? That happened on 27 April 2011, which ended with the selection of the Rafale and the Typhoon. To deviate from that acquisition process would reek of nepotism and corruption. I am sure you remember Bofors and how it castrated the MoD. No one - BJP, Congress, MoD Babu, IAF - wants another Bofors episode. Tellis Saar wrote an entire piece on the MMRCA 1.0 acquisition and he used that term (relationship-vs-plane) in that piece. I am surprised how he forgot that key part.
Neither of the Amreeki birds - in MMRCA 1.0 - were slouches. Both the F-18SH Block II and F-16IN were capable platforms and would have surely served the IAF well. But the Rafale and the Tyhpoon are no slouches either. When the IAF was asked to evaluate which is the best aircraft, the IAF did exactly that. It is no surprise that the European birds turned out to be winners. If the F-35 was participating in the contest (instead of the F-18 and F-16), the F-35 would have handily beaten both her European competitors on every valuable measure and it would have been the F-35 getting inducted at Ambala instead of Rafale. And during the technical evaluation stage, cost is not examined in depth or detail. That comes after the technical down select is done and the bids - from Dassault and Airbus - were opened to determine who was L1.
The GOI has an option to amend that process. So basically tell the IAF (because geopolitics and strategic political relationships is not the IAF's purview) that here are three Amreeki planes (F-18SH Block III, F-21 and F-15EX) for you to choose from for your next fighter. Do a technical down select and make a choice. Which Govt (BJP or Congress) or would the MoD make such a proposal? The Govt would be committing harakiri. Even the technical parameters cannot be altered to accept any bird. Even if a whiff of that comes out in the open (and you can be sure it will), it will be a political nightmare for the GOI who proposed it and for the IAF that went along with it. I am sure you are aware of the VVIP helo scandal in which the technical parameters were supposedly altered. So the Govt (and the IAF) is back to square one.
Thanks to RaGa and his fake Rafale scam, even doing a G2G deal on a new 4th generation fighter with GOTUS (or even dear old Russia) will now be a challenging task. That is the bitter taste left over from the fake Rafale scam. What argument can the GOI put forth to go in for a G2G deal for a fighter, when MMRCA 2.0 has not even creeped past the RFI stage? The only advantage that Dassault has - and it is a significant one if played judiciously - that two Rafale squadrons will be in service in the IAF by 2022. Adding two more units of the same type is not equivalent to acquiring a whole other type. Same argument was made for the 12 Su-30MKIs and 21 MiG-29s that just got DAC approval in July 2020.
I get the "relationship-vs-plane
" argument. Even from the IAF's perspective, that argument does make sense. Lets not even get into the political benefits, because there is no other Unkil other than Unkil. So yes, the unit cost of the F-16IN or F-18 Block II would have been cheaper than the Rafale and Eurofighter. And yes, the weapons would have been cheaper as well (AMRAAM vs Meteor, AIM-9 variant vs MICA, GBU-XX Paveway vs the European counterpart, SCALP vs the Amreeki counterpart). But that argument only has merit, if the Amreeki birds went past the technical downselect stage in MMRCA 1.0. They have another opportunity though in MMRCA 2.0.
This is the same IAF that selected C-17 over IL-76, AH-64 over Mi-28 and CH-47 over Mi-26. In each of those acquisitions, the Amreeki bird was undoubtedly superior and infinitely more reliable. The acquisition process stood true with those Amreeki birds, just as it stood true with the Rafale and will also stand true assuming MMRCA 2.0 ever sees the light of day. But Amreeka cannot win them all. That has been clearly explained to the Khan with the S-400 purchase. What Khan does in retaliation is entirely up to Khan and India will have to face the music (good or bad).
Roop wrote:This "we have no money" argument should not necessarily be accepted as final/dispositive in these discussions. I don't want to get sidetracked on this topic, but I think I should put this out there for possible future discussion/debate.
The MoD has prioritized acquisitions due to COVID and MMRCA is taking a backseat. Project 75I - for the Indian Navy's submarine arm - is taking priority. To the GOI and the MoD, the IAF just got two new Rafale squadrons. Despite being vindicated twice by the Supreme Court of India, the GOI and MoD have been bruised. No one in the Govt has any stomach for a new fighter acquisition. The Govt will advise the IAF that you just got two new Rafale units, 83 Tejas Mk1As will be ordered by December 2020 and 12 Su-30MKIs & 21 MiG-29s will also be ordered. Survive with that for now and we will kick the can on MMRCA 2.0 till when the economic situation improves. And even then, perhaps 2 (maybe 3) units of MMRCA 2.0 will be looked into. But nothing more. And the IAF would gladly accept it in contrast to waiting in deep space for MMRCA 2.0 to be complete.
Also note that the longer MMRCA 2.0 takes, the more irrelevant the contest will turn out to be. No one in their right mind is going to spend minimum $20+ billion on a 114 phoren 4++ generation fighter program in the 2030s with a service life of 50 years. I believe that the contest will live on, but will morph into a VLO fighter contest at some point this decade.
If RaGa went into convulsions over the Rafale deal, he will start frothing at the mouth when he sees the cost of 114 phoren fighters. It is not just the unit cost of each aircraft at play here, there is the weapons, tools, spares, base infrastructure and finally the glorious factory to manufacture them. We are looking at tens of billions of dollars here. Nothing short of $20 billion. And that will be the bare minimum. No one has that kind of change sitting in their back pocket. The GOI did not have the money pre COVID and during COVID now...they have even less of it. That is the reality. There is no money for 114 fighters.
Unless Unkil pulls off some magical extended loan payment for India (which will require a lot of political concessions from India in return), perhaps and maybe 114 Amreeki birds could be acquired. The better bet would be for LM to transfer the entire F-16 production line to India right now. That would really solidify LM's position in MMRCA 2.0. But is LM willing to take that risk, if they lose the contest? Perhaps.
If F-21 wins, it will be because the F-21 was technically the superior choice over even the Rafale F3R. But those parameters have to be game changing for the IAF to come to that conclusion. With the F-35 obviously yes, but I am not sure how convinced the IAF is with the F-21. I could very well be wrong and I am confident that LM is putting everything on the table to win this deal.
Roop wrote:Okay, you lost me here, Admiral. What is this mystery Cornish hen? The F35?
Indeed. A term coined by Ramana-ji and became BRF parlance. Just like the Rambha is for the Su-30MKI and Katrina is for the Rafale.
The F-35 is truly a Fancy Cornish Hen. But she is a game changer. No doubt about that.