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Thread: Light fighter showdown in India

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    Light fighter showdown in India

    India, not content with having to currently maintain 5 diferent fighers (not counting Mig-21 and -27...) including the now-being deployed Tejas, and of having ordered a 6th fighter type (Rafale), wants to buy/build another fighter. From another source. I can't even begin to imagine the logistics/maintenance nightmare...

    The fight seems to be down to the Grippen and the F-16, and both companies are ofering to build factories in India! Good luck with that...

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    Quote Originally Posted by jlvfr View Post
    India, not content with having to currently maintain 5 diferent fighers (not counting Mig-21 and -27...) including the now-being deployed Tejas, and of having ordered a 6th fighter type (Rafale), wants to buy/build another fighter. From another source. I can't even begin to imagine the logistics/maintenance nightmare...

    The fight seems to be down to the Grippen and the F-16, and both companies are ofering to build factories in India! Good luck with that...
    Some how, some way, this is just they way they have done it for decades. Their frankenships are quite the marvel as well.
    "We are all special cases." - Camus

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    Senior Contributor SteveDaPirate's Avatar
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    I don't understand India's procurement ideas at all. I'd think they would focus on mass producing the Tejas mk2 to build up their domestic aviation industry and supply some bulk to their fleet.

    I understand why India would want to buy a high-end Western fighter that is beyond their ability to produce domestically since it would complement the domestic Tejas. But F-16s and Gripens seem more like competition to the Tejas than a complementary force.

    Unless the Indian government is tired of HAL stringing them along and planning to end the Tejas program, I don't see why they'd be interested in procuring a Western light fighter. It can't just be a urgent need for light fighters since HAL could probably supply 200 in less time than the years it will take Saab or Lockheed to build a production line in India and subsequently produce them.

    I don't get it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveDaPirate View Post
    I don't understand India's procurement ideas at all. I'd think they would focus on mass producing the Tejas mk2 to build up their domestic aviation industry and supply some bulk to their fleet.

    I understand why India would want to buy a high-end Western fighter that is beyond their ability to produce domestically since it would complement the domestic Tejas. But F-16s and Gripens seem more like competition to the Tejas than a complementary force.

    Unless the Indian government is tired of HAL stringing them along and planning to end the Tejas program, I don't see why they'd be interested in procuring a Western light fighter. It can't just be a urgent need for light fighters since HAL could probably supply 200 in less time than the years it will take Saab or Lockheed to build a production line in India and subsequently produce them.

    I don't get it.
    The Tejas is a dated design at best that has yet to meet spec. If even building kits you will be improving you industrial bases/knowledge by leaps and bounds over the Tejas. Building an aircraft is not that simple look at the F-35, Boeing and Airbus latest and greatest all overdue. Japan has been building assembles for Boeing for over a decade as well as building F-4, F-15, SH-60 yet their MRJ is years behind schedule. Killing the Tejas while not cheap you are gaining a more capable HAL aircraft with modern manufacturing win win.
    Last edited by Dazed; 13 Feb 17, at 22:15.

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    I wonder if they'll try with Lockheed Martin/SAAB what they tried with Dassault? The whole "you are responsible for what we build" bit?

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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveDaPirate View Post
    I don't understand India's procurement ideas at all. I'd think they would focus on mass producing the Tejas mk2 to build up their domestic aviation industry and supply some bulk to their fleet.

    I understand why India would want to buy a high-end Western fighter that is beyond their ability to produce domestically since it would complement the domestic Tejas. But F-16s and Gripens seem more like competition to the Tejas than a complementary force.

    Unless the Indian government is tired of HAL stringing them along and planning to end the Tejas program, I don't see why they'd be interested in procuring a Western light fighter. It can't just be a urgent need for light fighters since HAL could probably supply 200 in less time than the years it will take Saab or Lockheed to build a production line in India and subsequently produce them.

    I don't get it.

    The program has been floating around since 1985 publicly. Thus far HAL has built fewer than 20 airframes including prototypes. The plane as originally envisioned was going to be a low cost competitor to the F-16 think something like an F-20 tigershark. The airframe has essentially 0 going for it RCS wise you can actually view the turbofan blades standing 30 feet in front of it from the intakes. The Delta wing is ugly in that aspect as well. Gripens and Late block F-16s have the ability to super-cruise when lightly armed which is useful in a country the size of India. They have far more advanced avionics that are actually well tested while the Tejas has constantly had failures of its radar tests as well as questions about its ECM and other systems. It is under powered and over weight. It can be compared to Block 20 F-16s. The issue is that it is a decent enough fighter about 20 years later than it should have been with US engines vs the Indian ones it was supposed to have. The grippen and late block F-16's own it in BVR and both have a smaller RCS (the grippen ng considerably smaller) with much better maintenance records. The one thing that the Tejas has going for it currently is that is it a very safe aircraft. It is also getting much cheaper per copy currently.

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    They should have done what Sweden and Pakistan did: develop the airframe and buy & modify an existing engine. But noooo, they tried to do everything from scratch...

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    They ended up sticking a GE 404/414 in the mk 1s for now.... It will probably end up with a licensed Indian built copy at some point.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maxor View Post
    The program has been floating around since 1985 publicly. Thus far HAL has built fewer than 20 airframes including prototypes. The plane as originally envisioned was going to be a low cost competitor to the F-16 think something like an F-20 tigershark. The airframe has essentially 0 going for it RCS wise you can actually view the turbofan blades standing 30 feet in front of it from the intakes. The Delta wing is ugly in that aspect as well. Gripens and Late block F-16s have the ability to super-cruise when lightly armed which is useful in a country the size of India. They have far more advanced avionics that are actually well tested while the Tejas has constantly had failures of its radar tests as well as questions about its ECM and other systems. It is under powered and over weight. It can be compared to Block 20 F-16s. The issue is that it is a decent enough fighter about 20 years later than it should have been with US engines vs the Indian ones it was supposed to have. The grippen and late block F-16's own it in BVR and both have a smaller RCS (the grippen ng considerably smaller) with much better maintenance records. The one thing that the Tejas has going for it currently is that is it a very safe aircraft. It is also getting much cheaper per copy currently.
    I still consider the Tejas a prototype, that said the Mk2 is an opportunity to rectify many of the shortcomings of the original design. Putting in an F414, making a few airframe modifications to reduce RCS such as a diverterless inlet, and putting in improved domestic or Western electronics would turn the Tejas into a respectable Gen 4+ light fighter.

    Still, I guess an F-16 would be ready to go as soon as it rolled off the line instead of requiring years of testing and certification. That may not be true with the Gripen NG depending on how extensive the changes were over the C/D models.
    Last edited by SteveDaPirate; 15 Feb 17, at 17:23.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jlvfr View Post
    They should have done what Sweden and Pakistan did: develop the airframe and buy & modify an existing engine. But noooo, they tried to do everything from scratch...
    I don't know about Pakistan Aerospace, but Saab has been building fighters and transport aircraft since the 1950's. There is a reason Boeing partnered with them on the TX

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dazed View Post
    I don't know about Pakistan Aerospace, but Saab has been building fighters and transport aircraft since the 1950's. There is a reason Boeing partnered with them on the TX
    My point was: don't try to do everything from scratch yourself. Saab always licence-built their engines, which, afaik, has traditionally been the hardest part of an aircraft to design & build. Pakistan's JF-17 uses a chinese engine. Heck, even HAL's own Marut used a foreign powerplant. But now they tried to build one fromn scratch... didn't even try to licence-build one...

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    Quote Originally Posted by jlvfr View Post
    My point was: don't try to do everything from scratch yourself. Saab always licence-built their engines, which, afaik, has traditionally been the hardest part of an aircraft to design & build. Pakistan's JF-17 uses a chinese engine. Heck, even HAL's own Marut used a foreign powerplant. But now they tried to build one fromn scratch... didn't even try to licence-build one...
    I don't know of any airframe maker who is also a powerplant maker. They maybe a few who fall under a corporate umbrella. It's all hard, but building an aeronautical structure is probably the hardest. Cracks, Boeing had to redesigned the 787 wing box even thought it passed structural testing. Ditto Airbus on the A380 the box failed in testing and a un-contained engine failure led to redesign. Japan has built fuselages and wings for Boeing for decades. Yet their latest CX and P-1 aircraft have developed developed tears in the aircraft. These companies have decade of experiences in manufacturing and knowledge that HAL can't even approach. Building kits of a current fighter will accelerate their learning curve and will be money better spent than redesigning a dated design with dated manufacturing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dazed View Post
    The Tejas is a dated design at best that has yet to meet spec. If even building kits you will be improving you industrial bases/knowledge by leaps and bounds over the Tejas. Building an aircraft is not that simple look at the F-35, Boeing and Airbus latest and greatest all overdue. Japan has been building assembles for Boeing for over a decade as well as building F-4, F-15, SH-60 yet their MRJ is years behind schedule. Killing the Tejas while not cheap you are gaining a more capable HAL aircraft with modern manufacturing win win.
    Agreed; the Tejas is a 30+ year old project with outdated specifications, created before LO became critical. At this point, it would probably be better for HAL to either start over with a clean sheet of paper or, as it appears they are doing, consider an established 4.5-gen fighter, like the F-16 Block 60, or the F-18 Advanced Super Hornet.
    "There is never enough time to do or say all the things that we would wish. The thing is to try to do as much as you can in the time that you have. Remember Scrooge, time is short, and suddenly, you're not there any more." -Ghost of Christmas Present, Scrooge

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    The program was to develop the complete industry in a socialist setting, when the economy was not that good.
    Right now this program has Israeli Radar. Indian, French and Israeli Avionics. Israeli targeting pods and helmet mounted displays. American engine. Indian, Israeli and Russian weapons. Israeli and Indian EW Suites. Consulting going on from over the world (US, Europe, Israel, Russia). With gradual path to replacement of this equipment as domestic ones become available (which should have been the approach from the start as some here said, however it was not).
    The success will be in the next few planes that come out of this complex, which should be better as now the industrial situation is better.
    Important thing is that there is a need for 800-1000 advanced aircrafts, with a growing economy, improving administration and complex security environment. all of which together can sustain a industrial complex, with good measure of private and international collaboration.

    As for the light fighter, its a pitch from the companies under the "make in india'' initiative, which follows up on the failed MMRCA tender (disaster). There is no official request for such a fighter or its manufacturing facilities, if there is it will be done through the procurement mechanism (RFI, RFQ, tenders, etc. etc.) which will take years and be available to all for bidding.

    And a government to government deal for any light, medium or heavy plane will not happen before the next elections.
    cheers

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    All of India's fighter jet programs are awaiting a local engine - see the Kaveri engine program.

    The current GE engines are for testing purposes. In this game of balance, dependence = loss. With Kaveri program refusing to reach its conclusion, the Indian govt is again left with the tough decision of selective procurement which gets stranger and stranger.

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