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    Indian MMRCA competition: News

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    Russian Patriot
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    Re: Indian MMRCA competition: News

    Post  Russian Patriot on Tue Aug 10, 2010 8:29 pm


    MiG-35 stalls in Indian fighter tender contract

    RIA Novosti

    10:42 10/08/2010 MOSCOW, August 10 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's MiG-35 multirole fighter aircraft has failed to make the short-list in a $10 billion international tender for 126 combat aircraft for the Indian air force, according to Indian media reports quoted by Kommersant daily.

    The favorites to win the tender are the French Dassault Rafale and the Eurofighter Typhoon, Indian media say.

    Russia's United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), the holding company for most of the Russian aircraft industry, and its fighter subsidiary MiG, have not officially confirmed the reports.

    "The official results of the tender have not yet been announced," said UAC's Press Secretary Konstantin Lantratov.

    "The MiG-35 is not leaving the tender, and I have no official information about this," said UAC First Vice-President Mikhail Pogosyan.

    A MiG source quoted by Kommersant said it was too early to say what the Indians had decided.

    "The envelopes with the commercial proposals should be studied by the tender commission only this week," the source said.

    Several sources quoted by the paper listed a raft of problems around the MiG-35 program, including a lack of financing to support it. One source said the lack of state funding to support the program had been noted by UAC President Aleksei Fyodorov as long ago as the end of 2008, but the issue was not resolved.

    The MiG-35 is said to be a cheaper aircraft than its rivals but is said to have problems with engine life.

    "Time between overhauls should be at least 2000 hours and overall life 4000 hours, but the RD-33 doesn't meet these parameters now," said one source.

    India already operates the early model MiG-29A fighter aircraft and is taking delivery of the MiG-29K naval fighter, which it will operate from a Russian-built aircraft carrier which is currently under refit.

    The selection of two favored aircraft for the Indian tender follows a long trials process, which also involved Sweden's SAAB Gripen, America's Lockheed Martin with the F-16, and Boeing's F-18 Super Hornet, as well as the Russian MiG-35.

    http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/news/2010/08/mil-100810-rianovosti01.htm

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    Re: Indian MMRCA competition: News

    Post  Vladimir79 on Tue Aug 10, 2010 10:26 pm

    TBO is less than advertised for RD-33MK... no suprise there. Russian engines are doomed to poor durability issues it appears.

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    MiG-35 to skip Bangalore airshow

    Post  Vladimir79 on Tue Feb 01, 2011 10:50 pm

    MiG-35 to skip Bangalore airshow


    Rahul Singh, PTI
    New Delhi, February 01, 2011

    The Russian MiG-35, one of the six fighter planes competing with American and European rivals for a $10.2 billion (Rs 45,900 crore) Indian Air Force contract, will not be putting in an appearance at Aero India-2011 in Bangalore next week. Befuddled by the move, the defence ministry is making last-ditch efforts to get the Russians onboard.

    RK Singh, secretary (defence production), said on Tuesday, “We don’t know why the MiG-35 is not coming. We want them to participate and have asked our embassy in Moscow to take up the matter.” Russia, however, is among the 45 official delegations expected.

    The biennial airshow, to be held from February 9-13, offers international exhibitors a prestigious platform to showcase newest aerospace equipment and technology. More than 675 exhibitors from 60 countries will attend the eighth edition of the airshow, compared to 592 exhibitors from 25 countries in 2009. The exhibitors include 380 Indian firms compared to 303 two years back.

    China, Pakistan and Iran have not been invited. Beijing turned down an invite in 2009. Singh said participating countries were short-listed by the ministry of external affairs. Chinese journalists have also been kept out. The US presence will be the biggest with 250 official delegations.

    The Russian Aircraft Corporation’s MiG-35 is locked in competition with Boeing (F/A-18 Super Hornet), Lockheed Martin (F-16 Super Viper), Eurofighter Typhoon (a consortium of British, German, Spanish and Italian companies), Dassault Aviation (Rafale) and Saab (Gripen) to supply 126 fighter planes to the IAF.

    Barring MiG-35, the remaining competitors will be flying at the airshow, organised jointly by the defence ministry and Confederation of Indian Industry.

    India and Russia signed a $30 billion (Rs 1,35,000 crore) agreement for the joint design and development of the fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) last December. The two sides are also expected to ink a $4.3 billion (Rs 19,350 crore) deal for 42 more Sukhoi-30 MKI fighters to be manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.
    The IAF’s newly acquired C-130J Super Hercules airlifters, capable of takeoffs and landings from unprepared runways, will debut at the airshow. The IAF signed a $1 billion (Rs 4,500 crore) contract with US aerospace giant Lockheed Martin for six C-130J Super Hercules aircraft in 2008.

    The odd-one out at the airshow will be a Maruti 800 flying car, developed by a Bangalore-based aviation entusiast. Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Israel, Singapore, Japan and Afghanistan are among the countries sending official delegations. More than 1,75,000 visitors are expected.

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    Re: Indian MMRCA competition: News

    Post  GarryB on Wed Feb 02, 2011 12:03 am

    This is a concern really.

    The fact that the Indians want it there clearly show they are still interested, but the fact that they are not sending any Mig-35s means they are clearly behind and can't spare an airframe for a week or so, which suggests they are working very very hard to get it ready.

    There are rumours that the EO system has proved to be a problem and the maker is not able to supply the system to spec. I would guess that one solution would be a fuselage pylon for a Damocles pod or an equivalent perhaps?

    The standard load on an 8 pylon wing set up usually means 4 pylons taken up with jamming pods and short range self defence missiles for most missions.

    The Mig-29SMT has been shown with a jamming system that looks like a very large pylon which made me think that perhaps they should work on maximising their weapons load by adapting a jamming pod to take the form of a large weapon pylon that can also carry an AAM so you can have 2 jammers and 4 AAMs on 4 pylons leaving the inner pylons for heavy weapons like laser or satellite guided bombs or missiles or ARMs or long range AAMs.

    Another issue is that short range AAMs are self defence things that will be used in desperate situations so a couple of BVR missiles would be useful too, so if they are not going to fit EO to the engine nacelles then why not fit conformal R-77 missile positions?

    The standard R-77 pylon adapter has a built in catapult to throw the missile down and clear of the aircraft before the rocket motor is started so building in that catapult in the corners of both engine nacelles should allow up to four R-77s with folded rear grid fins be fitted to the engines leaving the 8 wing pylons free for other weapons.

    The two centre conformal positions would only be usable with no centreline drop tank of course but with no undercarriage doors down the centreline you could probably put 4 R-77s there in tandem and with the centreline pylon free without a fuel tank there you could get 5 missiles in there with no problems. The catapults would be angled on the conformal positions so that they directed the missile down and clear of the aircraft and so that they wouldn't hit anything mounted on the centre bottom of the nacelle like a targeting pod like Sapsan or Damocles.

    Best case scenario this means two R-77s conformally on the outer corner of the engine nacelles and four on the inner corner in tandem which means the centreline pylon can't be used for the fuel tank but could be used for another R-77.

    A potential air to air weapon load therefore could be 11 R-77s plus two 2,200 ltr drop tanks on the inner wing pylon and two MSP-418K modified to carry R-73s underneath would mean good range with the fuel tanks, good air to air persistence with 13 AAMs plus 30mm cannon, and good protection with 2 external and internal ESSM suite.

    BTW if you think that sounds way out Russian designers had plans for small R-77 sized internal bays all over the top of their aircraft that would open and throw a missile up that would then fire its engine and fly towards the target. The only thing that stopped them actually using such a design was the problems loading the missiles at airfields.

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    Indian defense budget:

    Post  Serbia Forever 2 on Tue Mar 01, 2011 1:41 am

    India is planning to increase its defense budget by 11 percent in the next fiscal year, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said on Monday.
    Presenting the 2011-2012 budget to parliament, the minister set the military budget at just over 1.64 trillion rupees ($36.28 billion), up from last year's 1.47 trillion rupees.

    "Needless to say, any additional requirement for the security of the nation will be provided for," Mukherjee said.
    More than 40 percent of the Indian defense budget for 2011 will be spent on capital expenditure, while the rest will go toward maintaining one of the world's largest standing armed forces.Local analysts speculate that such a significant increase in defense spending could indicate the government's drive to bolster India's defense capability by the extensive acquisition of modern weaponry.

    An ongoing tender to supply 126 light fighter jets to the Indian air force is among the major acquisition projects carried out by the military.
    Six major aircraft makers - Lockheed and Boeing from the United States, Russia's MiG, France's Dassault, Sweden's Saab and the EADS consortium of British, German, Spanish and Italian companies - are in contention to win the $11 billion tender.
    India is expected to make its choice in July of this year.

    NEW DELHI, February 28 (RIA Novosti)

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    Re: Indian MMRCA competition: News

    Post  IronsightSniper on Tue Mar 01, 2011 7:39 am

    I thought that India already chose to buy from Eurofighter?

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    Re: Indian MMRCA competition: News

    Post  GarryB on Tue Mar 01, 2011 9:09 am

    They make their decision in July so anything you hear before then is pure speculation.

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    Re: Indian MMRCA competition: News

    Post  nightcrawler on Wed Mar 02, 2011 7:03 am

    IronsightSniper wrote:I thought that India already chose to buy from Eurofighter?

    Its being dumped along with MiG-35

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    Re: Indian MMRCA competition: News

    Post  adyonfire4 on Sat Apr 09, 2011 3:34 pm

    RAFALE fits the bill because of commonality between Snecma Kaveri Engine and Indias French experience with mirage-2000 helps more. welcome Neutral

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    Re: Indian MMRCA competition: News

    Post  ahmedfire on Sat Apr 09, 2011 9:40 pm

    adyonfire4 wrote:RAFALE fits the bill because of commonality between Snecma Kaveri Engine and Indias French experience with mirage-2000 helps more. welcome Neutral

    i think indians will not choose rafale,,it's too expensive and need anew powered engines,,f18 is good..

    i wondered,why russians did not offer su35 instead of mig35 ?!!
    sukhoi has abetter chance.. angel

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    Re: Indian MMRCA competition: News

    Post  GarryB on Sun Apr 10, 2011 1:57 am

    The Russians didn't offer the Su-35 because of the M in MRCA... the F-18 is on the very edge of what they want and together with issues with technology transfer and of course being able to use it when they want without some senator or congressperson in the US vetoing spares support if they happen to do something that annoys them, I think the chances of a choice for US aircraft will be pretty slim.
    Of course in politics it seems the US method has been to make verbal promises and to then renege on those promises a few administrations later.

    Obviously there would be no problem with Indian F-18s blowing up Chinese targets, but they wont be allowed to use them against Pakistan... which might be a problem for India.
    F-16s are out of the question because Pakistan operates them.
    Rafale and Typhoon are nice aircraft but very expensive. They might buy Typhoon just for Meteor... but what are their chances of getting a decent model AMRAAM?
    R-77s on a Typhoon or Rafale would be interesting.
    The Mig-35 seems to still be on order for the Russian AF... I suspect the next build Mig-35 we see might have the bigger 10 hardpoint wing perhaps?
    Commonality with existing upgraded Mig-29s would be a plus, and it is probably the cheapest aircraft on offer so is probably the only plane they will get the 126 airframes they wanted for the 10 billion.
    Models at AeroIndia showing the Mig with Club and 1.5 ton LGBs are interesting too.
    Regarding Gripen, on paper it is ideally what they want, but it is not cheap to buy, and as it is pretty much designed to be a net centric fighter they would need to create a net centric environment for it to operate within.
    Potential, but a little bit too much like the LCA really.

    BTW I know I am biased towards the Mig-35 because I have always liked the Mig-29 and the Mig-35 is everything the Mig-29 should have been.

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    Re: Indian MMRCA competition: News

    Post  Vladimir79 on Thu Apr 28, 2011 8:27 am

    Original news is now officially confirmed... US, Russia, Sweden are out. Rafale and Eurofighter in...

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    Re: Indian MMRCA competition: News

    Post  GarryB on Thu Apr 28, 2011 11:03 am

    I'd be surprised if either the Eurofighter or Rafale could be delivered to India for 10 Billion dollars.

    Certainly not 126 airframes anyway.

    This was clearly a bid by the Indians to buy new technology... I hope they get what they want out of it because neither Rafale nor Typhoon will be cheap... and I suspect the choice will have to be Rafale as it is a more complete aircraft right now, plus the French don't add strings... I suspect with the UK within the Typhoon consortium that they wont be able to make the same promises.

    Regarding the Mig-35... it seems to be going to be everything the Mig-29 should have been and I am sure the Russian AF will find it very useful.

    Looking at Wiki the prices for Eurofighter and Rafale are 90 mil Euros, and 70 mil Euros respectively.

    A quick currency conversion... and that is 11.34 billion Euros and 8.82 billion Euros which is flyaway cost... only the first 16 will be made by the winner and the remaining 110 will be made in India... for rather a lot more.

    BTW 11.34 billion Euros currently comes out at about 16.8 billion US dollars, while 8.82 billion Euros comes out at about 13 billion US dollars.

    . Russian engines are doomed to poor durability issues it appears.

    I disagree.

    If the Russian engine is such rubbish why are they already making these engines for themselves to fit to their upgraded Mig-29s and Mig-29Ks?

    Will be amusing to see how Europe comes in on time and within budget on this program...

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    Re: Indian MMRCA competition: News

    Post  rkt86 on Thu Apr 28, 2011 3:17 pm

    The Indian Ministry of Defense has issued letters, on Wednesday, to two of the six vendors competing in the estimated USD 10 billion Indian Air Force (IAF) tender for 126 Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA), asking them to extend the validity of their commercial bids, which will expire on Thursday, tomorrow.
    StratPost can confirm that the European Eurofighter Typhoon consortium and the French Dassault’s Rafale have been invited to do so, effectively making up the shortlist.
    StratPost can also confirm that according to the IAF and the ministry, the other aircraft in the fray, the US Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet, the US Lockheed Martin Corporation’s F-16, the Russian MiG-35 and the Swedish SAAB’s Gripen did not pass the technical evaluation conducted by the IAF.
    It is noteworthy that this comes just a day before the commercial bids of all six vendors were to expire.
    It would not be unsurprising if this move by the ministry and it’s coincidentally sharp timing were to raise the hackles of the spurned vendors. Industry insiders are already expecting to see a robust response from these vendors and their countries of origin, at least in private, to this decision.
    One question some of the vendors losing out are already asking is why the ministry asked all the vendors to resubmit their offset proposals early this month if they already knew the outcome of the technical evaluation submitted by the IAF last summer, and waited till a day before the expiry of the commercial bids to effectively announce a shortlist by inviting extension of commercial bids from only two vendors.
    The commercial bids of the other four vendors will lapse on Thursday, tomorrow.
    Something else the uninvited vendors are ready to question is the basis for judging technical compliance, with robust speculation that none of the MMRCA-6 aircraft were actually completely compliant with the IAF’s 643 parameters listed in the Air Staff Qualitative Requirements (ASQRs) for the tender.

    http://www.stratpost.com/india-selects-ef-rafale-for-mmrca-shortlist

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    Re: Indian MMRCA competition: News

    Post  nightcrawler on Thu Apr 28, 2011 10:52 pm

    Vladimir79 wrote:TBO is less than advertised for RD-33MK... no suprise there. Russian engines are doomed to poor durability issues it appears.
    But plz don't stop the delivering of RD-33 engines for our JF-17 project. Arrow

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    Re: Indian MMRCA competition: News

    Post  GarryB on Fri Apr 29, 2011 12:38 am

    Mig clearly save a bit of money not bothering to go to AirIndia 2011 with a real plane.

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    Re: Indian MMRCA competition: News

    Post  Vladimir79 on Fri Apr 29, 2011 11:48 am

    GarryB wrote:I'd be surprised if either the Eurofighter or Rafale could be delivered to India for 10 Billion dollars.

    Certainly not 126 airframes anyway.

    This was clearly a bid by the Indians to buy new technology... I hope they get what they want out of it because neither Rafale nor Typhoon will be cheap... and I suspect the choice will have to be Rafale as it is a more complete aircraft right now, plus the French don't add strings...

    No strings? They are holding them hostage with the M2000 upgrade. They sign on Rafale and they get the price they want.

    Regarding the Mig-35... it seems to be going to be everything the Mig-29 should have been and I am sure the Russian AF will find it very useful.

    The state was banking on MiG-35 winning MMRCA, I have doubts if its development will even continue based on their current lack of investment.


    Looking at Wiki the prices for Eurofighter and Rafale are 90 mil Euros, and 70 mil Euros respectively.

    According to the last NAO report, Typhoons cost £122 million. Rafale costs about E70 so it is far cheaper.

    A quick currency conversion... and that is 11.34 billion Euros and 8.82 billion Euros which is flyaway cost... only the first 16 will be made by the winner and the remaining 110 will be made in India... for rather a lot more.

    I think it is 18 fly away and the contract price is not set. Rafale is the only one that gets into the price range.

    I disagree.

    If the Russian engine is such rubbish why are they already making these engines for themselves to fit to their upgraded Mig-29s and Mig-29Ks?

    Because there is nothing else to put into them except the old RD-33s which are worse than MKs.

    Will be amusing to see how Europe comes in on time and within budget on this program...

    Both production lines have plenty of spare capacity. Delivery won't be a problem.

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    Re: Indian MMRCA competition: News

    Post  nightcrawler on Fri Apr 29, 2011 10:19 pm

    Obviously there would be no problem with Indian F-18s blowing up Chinese targets, but they wont be allowed to use them against Pakistan... which might be a problem for India.
    We also get F-16 Bl/52Ds...& will be getting further upgraded models...all with the stamps: NOT TO USE AGAINST INDIA

    but really who cares Suspect

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    Re: Indian MMRCA competition: News

    Post  GarryB on Sun May 01, 2011 2:18 am

    We also get F-16 Bl/52Ds...& will be getting further upgraded models...all with the stamps: NOT TO USE AGAINST INDIA

    but really who cares

    I am sure the story will be that PAK airforce F-16s were innocently flying near a target in Pakistan that India happened to be attacking and an Indian aircraft attacked the F-16s which had to defend themselves... what choice did they have?

    I mean the west was perfectly happy to believe Suck Arse Milli Vanili that the Russians invaded Georgia in 2008... Rolling Eyes

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    Re: Indian MMRCA competition: News

    Post  GarryB on Sun May 01, 2011 3:08 am

    No strings? They are holding them hostage with the M2000 upgrade. They sign on Rafale and they get the price they want.

    I meant in terms of operational usage... ie you can use them against China, but not Pakistan.
    This is more a "limited time offer"... ie buy now and get a free set of steak knives... plus order by credit card and you get a lower price on your M2K upgrade...

    The state was banking on MiG-35 winning MMRCA, I have doubts if its
    development will even continue based on their current lack of
    investment.

    Well if that is the case they should start investing in a single engine light 5th gen fighter if they get a clear message from the government that they don't want Mig-35s.

    There is going to be a gap where the T-50 is too expensive to produce in large enough numbers to fill all Russian fighter squadrons... the Mig-35 might get replaced with more Mig-29SMTs... which will be cheaper of course but for the longer term having Mig-35s in service will be a good stepping stone to something like a cheaper lighter 5th gen light fighter to compete with the F-35 in exports.

    With the PVO transfering to the air and space defence forces they might have more money spent on Mig-31 upgrades and perhaps even a Mig-31 replacement, but I suspect that a light 5th gen fighter program and a UCAV program like "Skat" (Have read it is not dead, but is an ongoing program... this often seems to mean no government funding but the design bureau is using its own funds to support in the hope the government will change its mind or get foreign customers for it... have you heard anything about it Vlad?) should be the main focus of the company if the Mig-35 is not wanted by the Russian AF.


    According to the last NAO report, Typhoons cost £122 million. Rafale costs about E70 so it is far cheaper.

    That is three Rafales for the price of two Typhoons with 30 odd million for weapons and spare parts... And lets face it... the Rafale is a more complete plane... can the Typhoons hit ground targets yet?

    Because there is nothing else to put into them except the old RD-33s which are worse than MKs.

    Ahhh, come on... the reports I have been reading the guy making the announcement uses words like diversity which makes me suspect that even if the Mig-35s were offered for free they wouldn't have won. They didn't want another Russian plane, they wanted a non Russian one... this was a fight between America and France and it seems France has won.
    ...or do they want Meteor?

    Both production lines have plenty of spare capacity. Delivery won't be a problem.

    A program this big with no problems? Surely you jest?

    France should have no problems building two Mistral class ships too but after it has been selected they are still talking... when Rafale is selected the discussions will start in earnest about the details of the actual contract etc etc.

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    Indian MRCA

    Post  Vladimir79 on Sun May 01, 2011 12:13 pm


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    Re: Indian MMRCA competition: News

    Post  nightcrawler on Sun May 01, 2011 8:12 pm

    hehe...yes that will be true...& can you bold the word innocent.
    but in the coming future it will be the Kashmir issue (that British intentionally left unsolved) that will provoke if any aggressive behaviours from our side...why because India already had displayed ruthless behaviour to Kashmiris

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    Re: Indian MMRCA competition: News

    Post  Austin on Sat May 28, 2011 8:15 pm

    The final fight is between Eurofighter and Rafale , decision would take another year.

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    Tellis: US fighters lost MMRCA contract due to technical faults

    Post  ahmedfire on Tue Jun 07, 2011 10:58 am


    Both US bids for a major Indian Air Force fighter contract lost because of technical faults - not US export control policies or corruption in New Dehli, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace scholar Ashley Tellis said in an interview.

    The former American diplomat in New Dehli arrived at his conclusions after a three-week trip to India that included meetings with top Indian government, military and industry officials. The IAF selected the Dassault Rafale and the Eurofighter Typhoon as finalists for the medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA).

    By excluding the Boeing F/A-18E/F and the Lockheed Martin F-16 - as well as the Saab Gripen and MiG-35 - the Indian government angered Washington DC, as well as set off a wave of speculation that the decision was based on concerns in New Dehli about overly restrictive US export policies.

    But Tellis believes that interpretation of the MMRCA downselect is incorrect, while providing the most detailed assessment of the factors that led to the final decision.

    According to Tellis' sources in the IAF, the F-16IN bid received low marks in the technical evaluation for a slow turn rate and poorer handling performance due to the addition of conformal fuel tanks.

    Those deficiencies made the F-16IN less competitive in dogfights against older F-16 Block 50s, which are operated by Pakistan.

    The Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet was the US government's best shot to win the contract, but it was also hampered in the Indian evaluation by poor manoeuvrability compared to the European fighters, Tellis said.

    Boeing's bid proposed to improve the Super Hornet's power by introducing the General Electric F414 enhanced performance engine (EPE), with 20% higher thrust.

    But the Indian evaluators refused to credit the EPE because it is a developmental item, Tellis said. This contrasted with India's acceptance of active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar technology by the European bidders despite its developmental status.

    "They just gambled on the fact that they were going to get an AESA by the time the airplane was going to enter the force," Tellis said.

    The decision also reflected the IAF's preference for an aircraft with strong dogfighting performance over a combat style emphasising beyond visual range engagements using long-range sensors, Tellis said.

    Indian officials expressed no concerns about the US government's export policies, which would have required heavy monitoring by US officials if certain sensors and avionics systems were included in Boeing's or Lockheed's bid, Tellis said.

    "What they would have done in this case was demand that the vendor [substitute] equipment that did not have [monitoring] constraints," Tellis said. India had agreed to a similar arrangement with the acquisition of the Boeing P-8A Poseidon.

    Despite the initial reaction by Washington officials, both sides are cooling off since the announcement, he added.

    "The damage was certainly serious," Tellis said. "But both sides have understood how this outcome came out and both sides have made efforts to get beyond it. The US is going to win many more competitions in India."

    http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2011/06/03/357566/tellis-us-fighters-lost-mmrca-contract-due-to-technical.html

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    'Snub' just a snag in Russia-India ties

    Post  Baajirao on Wed Jun 08, 2011 6:51 am

    By Sudha Ramachandran

    BANGALORE - India's defense relations with Russia have hit a bit of rough weather Shocked with Moscow canceling two important bilateral military exercises in recent months.

    First, Russia called off joint naval exercises scheduled to be held at Vladivostok in late April Sad . This was followed with the cancellation of the joint army exercise it was to host in June. According to an Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) report, Russia called off the naval exercises even as India's warships - including INS Delhi, INS Ranvir and INS Ranvijay - had already reached Vladivostok for the war games.

    The explanation put out by Moscow was that Russian ships would not be available for the exercises since they were being deployed


    for relief operations in Japan in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami disaster. Adding insult to injury, after the cancelation of the exercises, the Russian ships sailed off into the Pacific to engage in war games on their own. As for the joint army exercises, Moscow reportedly told Delhi that its late intimation had left it with little time for preparation; hence its inability to host.
    The Indian media has interpreted the Russian move as a tit-for-tat response to India's rejection of its bid for a US$10.4 billion sale to India of 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA). Russia's MiG-35, Sweden's Gripen NG fighter, and the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet and the Lockheed Martin F-16IN Super Viper from the United States were among those that failed to make the cut. That left Typhoon jets from the four-nation EADS Eurofighter consortium and Rafale from Dassault of France in the final round of the race for the mega-deal.

    The Indian government is playing down the media's description of the Russian pull out from war games as a "snub". Russia postponed rather than cancelled the exercises, it said. "There was nothing last-minute about the postponement of the naval exercise," said Ajai Malhotra, India's ambassador in Moscow. In view of the disaster in Japan, the Russians informed India in mid-March of the decision to postpone the exercises. "This was well over a month before that exercise was to have been held," Malhotra said.

    The Indian navy too has said that the Russians informed them ahead of their inability to participate in the exercises. Its spokesperson Commander P V S Satish said that India sent its warships to Vladivostok only for a port call.

    Military sources dismiss the "flimsy excuses" put out by the Russians. An army officer told Asia Times Online that India-Russia military exercises are "planned months in advance" and are "are not informal or ad-hoc." These war games are part of the Indra series of military exercises that India and Russia have been conducting since 2003, and "there have been no problems in the past".

    The loss of "the deal of the century" would have hurt Russia, though of the three losers, Moscow is reported to have responded with the least fuss to India's decision not to purchase its hardware. However, a report in Pravda pointed out that the lost bid for the Indian deal "virtually means that Russia's air force will not be receiving those fighter jets [MiG-35s] either".

    Elaborating the argument, the report said that had India purchased the Russian fighter jets, the huge contract would have enabled the manufacturer to set its price lower for the home market. That was not possible now. "Most likely, Russia will have to shelve those plans [to purchase 72 MiG-35s]," it concluded.

    Furthermore, India's rejection of the MiG-35 is expected to weaken Russia's chances of sales in potential markets in Latin America and the Middle East.

    A Ministry of Defense official rejected the view that the Russian move is a response to Delhi's decision on the MMRCA deal.

    He pointed out in an interview with Asia Times Online that just as India had "some difficulties with the Russians" with regard to defense procurement, perhaps Moscow too had its "problems" with India "on other issues". These difficulties are bound to find their reflection in "occasional snubs and spats", he said, cautioning against giving these too much importance, especially since the relationship remains robust.

    Reports in the Indian media have often drawn attention to the time and cost overruns that plague Russian military deals with India.

    A refurbished Admiral Gorshkov (a Russian aircraft carrier now renamed INS Vikramaditya) was to be ready for induction into the Indian navy by 2008. But three years down the line the aircraft carrier is not ready yet and whether the Russians will delivery it by their new end 2012-early 2013 deadline seems doubtful. What is more, India is forking out $2.34 billion for Gorshkov's retrofitting instead of the $974 million agreed upon in 2004.

    Similar problems have dogged the delivery of an Akula-II class nuclear-powered submarine, which Russia had promised to handover to India in 2009 on a 10-year lease, and of Talwar-class stealth frigates.

    Like the navy, the Indian Air Force and the army have complained about the delays in delivery and repair of Russian equipment and a shortage of spare parts. Russia's sudden hiking of the cost of Sukhoi fighters and its renegotiation of the contract for supply of the Su-30s to India in 2007 did inject a perceptible chill in bilateral relations.

    On their part, the Russians feel aggrieved over India's warming relations with the US. They point out that while India is purchasing billions of dollars of weaponry from the Americans, the Israelis and other rivals, Moscow has pointedly avoided supplying arms to Pakistan out of respect for Indian sensitivities.

    The bilateral quibbling notwithstanding, India-Russia relations are far more stable and less volatile than those between India and the other big powers. At the end of the day, India knows that Russia is its most dependable partner and the Russians are far more willing to share technology than the others. Delhi also recognizes that unlike the Russians, the Americans have little compunction about making available to Pakistan, the same military hardware it sold to India.

    And the Russians know they cannot afford to antagonize India because of the huge market it provides to its arms industry.

    Even as Russia recovers from the blow of the rejection of its bid to supply combat aircraft and as India smarts from the Russian snub over the military exercises, Moscow has shifted to top gear its campaign for multi-billion dollar deals for supplying India with light choppers, attack helicopters and heavy cargo carriers. Together the deals are pegged at being worth about $4 billion.

    According to the Russia & India Report, in an attempt to make its bids attractive, Russian Helicopters JSC is offering to assemble choppers in India before their export to third countries. Clearly, Russia is anxious to avoid a repeat of its failed bid to sell combat aircraft.

    Sudha Ramachandran is an independent journalist/researcher based in Bangalore. She can be reached at

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