Wickberg wrote:Some perspective....
The Gripen NG is as much a paper plane as the original LCA. The Gripen NG IS a very modified version of the ABCDE-version. It was meant to be that from the beginning. How many LCA are in service with the airforce and for how many years? None...
SAAB has produced fighters since the 1940´s (or 30´s)., they were the first ones to incorporate a ejection seat in an series production air craft (J-21R), the first one to have a real datalink between ac/ac/ and ground (Draken) and so on... Please don´t compare LCA (which is is just a technology demonstrator) with Gripen ABCD (which have been in actual service since 1996)- and certainly don´t compare LCA "Mk2" with Gripen NG. That is just insulting. Just try to get the first MK1 flying first, fly it for a few years, work out the kinks. And in 2025 try to work on the LCA Mk.2
(For god´s sake, whom have ever heard of a aircraftcompany just releasing their new fighter and the next day saying they are obsolete, we need a Mk2??!!! SAAB and Sweden have had over 70 years of tradition and experience of producing aircrafts. It takes some time to build up that expertise, not only in the actual producer of the air craft, but also in the hundreds of sub-contractors. It´s a matter of tradition, money, need and experience.. In that area India seems to only have money the needs.....
while Saab has a history of producing fighters, India doesn't and thats thanks to very very shortsighted leadership and lackdaisical support from the military.
but then, India actually has a history of wars with neighbours supported by various nations, whereas all Sweden's history of participating in any real war is basically not much to talk about. so while Sweden developed weapons and supplied its military with these as a part of its policy of neutrality, whether they were comparable to the best in the world or not (I'm sure they were), the Indian armed forces could hardly afford to take anything but the best given that they would actually have to use it in combat anytime. and what the partnership with the Soviets did was to give an easy and affordable source of high quality weapons and unless any indigenous weapon was as good as those Soviet, British or French sourced weapons, the military soon stopped using it (HF-24 Marut is a classic example). if India didn't have a cheap and affordable option of building MiG-21s in bulk, the IAF would've been forced to support development of a new engine for the HF-24 and building of follow-on variants. HF-74 was not pursued because there was lack of interest and support, and instead the Jaguar was purchased. and then followed nearly a decade of no development whatsoever till a sympathetic Air Chief Marshal (Idris Latif) decided to support an indigenous program to replace MiG-21s..
both LCA and Gripen programs began around the same time, but while Saab had all the infrastructure, personnel and knowledge on how to build a 4th gen fighter after the superb Draken (its cockpit is to be seen to be believed ! they understood what ergonomics meant in an age when it was completely alien to most western and Russian designs) and the Viggen variants had built up experience, India had to basically build everything up from ground. that means that actual development work only began around 1990 or so, whatever went before that was to freeze a design configuration. in that sense, what has been achieved is no mean achievement and I'd humbly suggest that you not insult it since you have no idea whatsoever about how much effort has gone into it.
and while you may call the Tejas a Technology Demonstrator (which it was till 2001), its no more just a TD. Its structures and its avionics are world class, and thats a fact. yes, collaboration was sought for consultation and some technologies, but there is nothing to be ashamed of in that. no nation can expect to meet deadlines if it needs to develop every technology associated with a fighter program, since they're vast in scope and breadth. even with 3 generations of successful fighters, Saab went with a US F-404 for its Gripen, recognising that a turbofan is a very major program in itself. if Sweden was such a superior nation (as you imply), why'd they not develop a turbofan on their own for the Gripen ?
some of the delays associated with the Tejas are due to poor planning and underestimating the technological challenges involved (no previous experience of a program of this scale), but they've somehow managed to overcome most of them, bar the Kaveri and the MMR. the fact that the IAF has actually placed orders for 8+20+20 (about to come) for the Tejas Mk.1 clearly shows that the Tejas is meeting expectations. and the IAF wouldn't (and couldn't be pushed by the GoI as the Arjun program clearly shows) commit to 5 to 7 squadrons of Tejas Mk.2 if they didn't think that the Tejas could be a frontline fighter for another 3 decades.
and, regarding the slow progress of the test flights it can be attributed to lack of experience, and abundant caution. may I add that had an LCA TD (Tech Demo) or PV (Production Vehicle) crashed as spectacularly as the Gripen prototype had due to faulty FCS (pilot induced oscillations caused the FCS to fail), the program would've been shelved, without an iota of doubt.
to ADA, HAL and NFTC's credit, 1300 flights without any major incident have gone by, and I hope that nothing untoward happens because this program is vital for India's fledgling aerospace industry.
given India's huge market for fighters, there are plenty of companies and individuals with vested interests in seeing that the Tejas program should fail. planted stories are common and several ex-IAF personnel are now on the pay-rolls of foreign companies that are vying to sell hundreds of fighters to the IAF.
and however much you Swedes hate it (and this is something I've seen on another board as well), the specifications of the Gripen A/B/C/D are nothing spectacular and match up with that of the Tejas. while I know that its a very good fighter with very good record of maintenance and low costs of operation, what about it makes it incomparable to the LCA ? only the fact that its got a service history ?
name one thing on the Gripen that the LCA doesn't have or cannot get. regarding the data-link, thats been a traditional Saab speciality, so its not suprising to see a very good DL on the Gripen. using this logic of service history alone, one could say that the J-10 or the JF-17 are just technology demonstrators (which only a nincompoop would say, frankly).
BTW, Tejas test-pilots praise its handling (in some respects better than the Mirage-2k) and 11 test pilots who've flown it have rated its handling as "Very good" as per a government report available on the net, so its not just some rumour.
there are on-going production contracts for the Tejas, and the Mk2 program is basically meant to keep the Tejas concurrent when it does enter service in large numbers with ramped up production. had the Gripen entered service only now (for any reason), would it have gone with the F-404 considering all the capabilities that Air Forces want from a fighter that will serve them for the next 30 years ? you need power for an AESA, you need power to have some margin for weight gain, etc.
I really like the Gripen, and do wish the Gripen NG gets into widespread service, but I am beginning to really dislike the superior attitude that Swedes display on forums as if its a Nordic F-22 avatar..they feel slighted even with comparisons, so I say rub it in fellas !!