rohitvats wrote:And what exactly did IOC-1 achieve? Apart from photo-opportunity and press-statement?
These events are morale building activities and also to build a solid perception of the end program. By the same yardstick, what do different fighter programs worldwide achieve when each small certification or event is celebrated and their AF engages in promotional activities? Granted, export programs have a necessity, but there is definitely an element of both motivation (the carrot versus the stick alone, whcih the IAF seems to favour) and also a positive image for the program.
Contrast that to the manner in which PV Naik ran down the program in his appearance, referring to it contemptuously as a MiG-21++ and clearly indicating IAF displeasure at an event which had WW optics.
The MSM gleefully ran with the story & picked up on his body language as well & the leaks before & after the event were also obvious.
To be fair, IOC-2 saw the reverse. A positive performance by the then Air Chief who understood the gravity of the event and did a great job. Not to mention the solid release in favor of support of the program and how much it mattered & what it had achieved.
It went a way in reversing the damage the prior commentary had caused.
There are mixed messages from time to time. Matheswaran who was appointed to review the program, by all yardsticks sought to scuttle it - he admits as much in his interview & has only changed his message (somewhat?) after being appointed to HAL as an advisor. He also did a fair bit to run down the local industry and clearly has axes to grind.
IAF rtd personnel, who have been clearly briefed by AHQ have appeared at public events and played up the Rafale, dismissing the LCA in turn, clearly anticipating concerns that a mix of Su30s and LCAs could be cited as a lower cost option than the LCA.
In short, the IAF response at times seems confused. Two groups, one against the program, one grudgingly for. Both not too clear about unstinted support for the program and clearly looking forward to the next big ticket import, the Rafale.
Secondly, if DRDO itself says that IAF has been on-board since 2007, then I don't think the issue is with appreciation of a/c but that of project management at DRDO and now, HAL.
I think that was the IAF gent at NFTC who said that. He also admitted that "hundreds of RFA" have been released thereafter. The problem with that approach is late event scope creep adding to the problems the program has had in terms of expectations. So one can't put this issue on ADA and HAL alone since they have to now struggle to do in the next few years what should have been done in the prior decade.
Project Management cannot proceed without IAF input. The IAF has lost 15 years into the program, considering a start date of around 1992 & the development plan drawn up per IAF requirement, TDs to PVs with TDs being only tech demos was flawed to begin with, since it wasted a lot of time in moving to FSED once the IAF gave approval & the entire avionics suite had to be redone. ADA notes that it took 3-4 years for the SP level suite that is currently flying. While this is ok by WW standards (cycle time of 4-5 years depending on complexity), it was completely avoidable. To be fair, ADA messed up on Project Mgmt with the radar (HAL shouldn't have got it) but thats hindsight as at the time, LRDE was but new to the game & only HAL had experience.
But a lot of the stuff we have been reading up over the past few years directly relates to the "lost years". Wing change for R73Es for instance at the time of FSED. The TDs should have been all up developed vehicles to as much extent as possible & the FSED should have proceeded concurrently. IAFs high expectations are also another factor. The plus is we now have a state of the art avionics suite, but the IAF has only grudgingly admitted this, the fear clearly remains that if they consistently praise the program they are seen to be committed to it, so best to remain non committal. Issues of attitude apart (facts being we have LCA derived avionics on Jaguar, Su-30 MKI and MiG-27), there is also the element of ask nothing but the best even if its far more than what we get elsewhere.. eg the MiG-29 Upgrade has a core avionics suite which is behind that of the LCA MK-1. Its processing is running on Russian eqvts of Intel 486 chips. We didnt see the IAF ask for them to be replaced or brought upto current standards.
If thats not enough, LCA Mk2 is getting yet another avionics refresh. Point is IAF wants the LCA to be a fighter equivalent to the "best out there", but they dont particularly care about the challenges in achieving it and what is really necessary as versus gold plated. Standards are relaxed elsewhere.
Similarly, we had a senior IAF guy complaining about how a year away from LCA induction, documentation was not available & how that was unacceptable etc etc. This the same IAF that had no issues accepting Su-30s in much more constrained circumstances!!
All this really puts a doubt on the IAF's attitude towards indigenous inductions. They don't seem to have grasped the cost benefit aspect at all & only grudgingly look at local industry. An IAF senior at a public event once bemoaned that the IAF was now behaving like a child at a toy shop, purchasing everything assuming national funding was always going to be there & completely ignoring long term serviceability or support concerns.
This is particularly ironic considering the IAF menagerie in years past, but then that was political & often at friendship prices. When one considers the occasionally leaked issues about some fancy gear and the lack of support kit which is later contracted, one gets an inside look at whats going on.
Granted indigenoius industry is not there yet in many areas. But the IAF needs to work with them to get it done. The Israelis, French etc all do it. IAF wants decision making ability but wont commit to consistent support. Matheswaran typifies that approach when he says, if necessary we should be allowed to kill the program. And then what? Is the IAF committing to the AMCA with 100% support? No..This complete lack of strategic thinking seems to befuddle IAF decision making.
The Rafale deal is stuck for funds. The Su-30 serviceability was down partly due to funds. The Russians were clearly playing hardball. Matheswaran says the Rafale would allow us to diversify. That's fine, but at what cost? I mean, Tyagi at Aero India, four five years back, spent a lot of time cribbing about the funds required for the LCA etc. Thats $3Bn spread over the 90s to today.
Yet the IAF sees nothing unusual about a $10-20Bn commit for a single platform which is only going to be assembled in India (many critical parts will remain French for perpetuity and so will platform ownership).
This plus the blow hot blow cold stuff versus the LCA etc occasionally makes one wonder what's exactly going on. Similarly AEW&C. Two orders. Seriously? For a platform of that class, when requirements are so high and only 3 Phalcons are in service and each costs the equivalent of a huge chunk of our health budget?
On the plus side, SAMs and other programs seem to be going local. So clearly, the import stuff is mostly at the fighter platform level.
You could make a case for ordering at least one or two more Tejas Mk-1 squadron. To me, here IAF simply seems to be hedging its bets about ability of HAL to meet the delivery timeline. IAF could make a case for importing more Rafale (1 more squadron) of the shelf to arrest declining numbers.
If it wants delivery then it has 2 first commit to numbers. Cardinal rule of production, production follows indent, which leads to production orders which lead to infrastructure, subsystem commitment etc. IAF has committed to 40 Mk-1 & wants delivery at the rate suitable for a larger order (16/year) which HAL is willing to, but who funds it?
Now, GOI audit had suggested that IAF should pay for part of the costs of any new local platform (user incentive to contribute) so thats being done for the program per se. But without larger orders we will have an Arjun case. Idle infrastructure.
BTW - before people on BRF shout blue murder on this, this is something which is happening with Su-30 MKI as well. But guess who is ordering these a/c from Russia? Horror of horrors, it's HAL to meet the production delays in delivery!!!
What choice does HAL have? IAF compressed the order schedule with deliveries to be done faster as versus original. And ROE did what all arms vendors do. Held off on TOT so that we ordered more directly from them.
Actually, even I don't
But then don't make it seem as if IAF was not accepting single a/c earlier and it was only MOD which made it do so and ergo, IAF is somehow against the LCA program. When the fact is that Parrikar had made a statement in Parliament in second week of January that 2 x Tejas (SP-1 and SP-2) will be handed over to IAF by March 2015.
Look thing is, clearly there are folks in IAF who seem to revel in applying metrics for the LCA which are not applied to imports. We haven't even seen a fraction of the leaks on the Bison upgrade for instance (whose issues were legion) as versus the leaks on the LCA etc slamming an indvpt program for not meeting constantly revised targets. Time was, we'd think it was all arms vendors. But its not. There are many IAF folks who constantly exhibit dual standards in these evaluations. Perhaps its generational & reflects the bias for imports as versus a local complex which only gave the "primitive" Kiran etc.
They may genuinely feel they are doing the right thing by trying to head off the LCA, constantly seek to have it cut off & then berating it in public. But its damaging to the national cause and frankly, this infighting has to stop.
I feel its partly because a weak MOD did not lay down the terms to IAF and HAL both to stop bickering and present a unified front. The HTT-40 fiasco f.e., what a PR mess. Was MOD sleeping to not have called up HAL and stopped Rs 350 Crores on a trainer while the money could be spent on R&D??
The FGFA leaks, likewise. IAF going public with "Theres no plan B only Rafale will do" per reports at the time - seriously, are you trying to hand Dassault all the leverage?
The IAF ok for SP-1 thanks to Make in India is perhaps a good start. A strong MOD will keep them all in line.
When the German AF chief landed in India to tout the EF, it was having serviceability issues so bad that 2 sqds or thereabouts were flight worthy. He didnt mock the program but was very measured in his approach. I think we in India need to learn from that. Solve your problems within, dont bicker in public to score points amongst yourselves.
Commit to a long term approach and dont be observers alone. IAF should be the one asking for funds for the AMCA and front ending the program. That'd go a long way in reducing the concern people have whether the LCA experience will not be allowed to wither away.