What we do know is the F-16IN Super Viper would bring tremendous capabilities now and for the future to the Indian Air Force and would strengthen the strategic partnership between India and the U.S. and between the Indian Air Force and the United States Air Force.
Inadvertent slip perhaps but definite resignation -- "would" instead of "will" -- doubt/uncertainty?
Rafale's merits have been discussed again and again, but EF/SH fanboys have been doing too much flight sim games
Here's the rehash of age old arguments in favor of Rafale:
- Range without refuel
- Payload and Number of hard points
- Backwards compatibility with much of the ordinance
- With M2K upgrade, this transition is much more smooth
- Except for EF and Rafale, all others are M2K gen aircraft (gripen, as discussed is not really MMRCA, and the gripen-NG is not ready so there is little or no scope of it being awarded based on a prototype that is not yet certified)
- Only aircraft in the MMRCA competition that was designed with intent of multi-role from the beginning
EF is designed as an air superiority bird with cold war hangover and has been really hard-selling its strike capabilities, SH has no air superiority beyond that enabled by AWACS and BVR, Mig-29/35 is upgrade of an air-superiority fighter with identical hard-sell as EF. If we accept Mig-35 to be new gen then F-16IN is also, but kidding aside neither are. All said and done --
Multi-role ranking: Rafale, (EF/SH tied), F-16IN, Mig-35
Design recency ranking: Rafale, EF, SH, (F-16IN/Mig-35 tied -- common timing in roots and evolution)
Tech Levels: EF/Rafale (tied because of AESA), Mig-35/SH/F-16IN (trade-offs. Mig-35 would provide undiluted radar, but SH/F-16 clearly are not going to provide latest).
Tech Transfer possibilities: Rafale and Mig-35 tied (least inhibited by US -- note russians do not have a good track record in ToT) , EF (based on Jag experience, but still beholden to US), F-16IN/SH (least likely, and considering the risk from experience with LM, Boeing, and GE partnership offers in LCA -- if consulting participation is not cleared, there is no likelihood of tech transfer)
This has been summarized over and over and over.
All considered, we end up logical choice from IAF perspective (not including ToT abilities, political maneuvering, bargains, etc.):
SH/F-16IN/Mig-35 can be eliminated on technical grounds as not meeting the requirements.
Also, IAF is savvy -- it cannot eliminate Mig-35 and keep F-16IN in running. Both SH and F16-IN were fielding "export-versions" of AESA radar that are significantly poor.
Logical choices will end up as: Rafale and EF.
Leaves out both big guys out of the competition also, and is going to set off regional rivalry to compete. This also is going to eliminate currency-level and other economic disparities in negotiations.