India puts F-16 deal on hold

The meeting between PMO, MOD and IAF on F16
related discussion took place in a tense environment. PMO outlined a plan for a total of 170 odd
F-16 which will require in the range of $25 billions. The estimated amount pegged is close to over
USD 145 millions per plane for the complete deal. The above deal still has additional elements
which will require further contracts with Indian entities which will push the price
up eventually by another $25-30 millions per plane. It was discussed that since its a separate
contract, the same figure is not clubbed in $25 billion figure. otherwise, the overall figure is much closer
to $29-30 billions in range. IAF responded saying the whole deal and price
is not correct for fleet modernisation aspect. IAF said single engine Tejas Mk1A and future
variants are envisioned for the planned roles and inclusive of program sunk costs the cost
for such a platform with numbers would come down closer in the range of $60-65 millions
over time. IAF also pointed that if Rafale is considered
since there is a considerable Sunk cost of Indian specific customizations, the average
price will be cheaper than this F-16 deal average allowing better numbers. IAF is confident that for a total outlay of
$30 billions, close to 220+ Rafales can come in easily inclusive of MII and more strategic
deals which benefits India overall. One of the major points IAF pointed was Tejas
program role with AMCA route and network-centric warfare aspect coming in Rafale MII and proposal
with MOD. PMO insisted that F-16 deal may be better
to look at for the time being as it adds to quicker inventory build up and will help IAF
in forward bases. IAF at that point clarified that F-16 Block
70 has issues as well and is not suited for the terrain India utilises all over the country. IAF said the specific packages built in like
PBL, High altitude and anti-corrosion issues in the case of Rafales, will need to be built
in the F-16 package escalating the overall $30 billion figure further up. In technical aspects, IAF said the modified
Soufa test done had shown issues with hot and cold extreme climates, altitude performance
limitations, payload and mission issues in different speed regimes, and a big practical
issue of Infra Red heat emission in the engine portion. IAF also said such a powerful bigger engine
is also not enough owing to complexities involve for Indian terrain and the plane being overall
bulky for the roles envisioned, requiring higher thrust which is now showing up in IR
signatures. IAF said for the roles planned, the need is
for a much lower MTOW and lower thrust engines with improved heat signature management. MOD asked for a way out to then take this
to a conclusion of either a buy or a rejection. IAF insisted on a practical test of a block
70 plane in real-world conditions with a visual and technical scrutiny for evaluating versus
its positioning and roles with respect to IAF fleet fighters. IAF also said that this might require some
time and hence priority should be for the Rafale deal asap over this platform with an
increased focus on funds for the proper MII plan. PMO agreed to both these points and asked
MOD to take things forward accordingly. If MOD/PMO does not call a proper block 70
for a practical test, the F-16 deal would be put out for the quiet burial as planned
in dragging of timelines. IAF still has a long way to fight but slowly
it is fighting its way through for Rafales and Tejas plan. LM and USA will be informed about the meeting
outcome meanwhile, India issued RFI for acquiring Sea Guardian & clears purchase of C-17 globemaster
to keep the FMS route busy. Focus is now on LM MII program for helo over
fighter jets.

7 Replies to “India puts F-16 deal on hold

  1. Rafale are much better than F16. They should be preferred. While Mk2 version of Tejas will be as good as F16.
    The need of hour is to build more production lines for Tejas. If we could manufacture 25-30 Tejas per year most of our problems would be solved. We could get 90 more Rafale under make in India. If we do that, we'll have 7 squadrons of Rafale by 2026 in addition to 14 squadrons of Su30 MkI / super Sukhoi. While we'll get 5 squadrons of Tejas Mk1/Mk1A by 2024. There after we'll need to manufacture around 150-160 Tejas Mk2 in 6 years, ie, till 2030. That'll give us 14 squadrons of Super Sukhoi, 7 squadrons of Rafale and 13 squadrons of Tejas in 2030. The 13 squadrons of Tejas will be replacing our retiring 245 Mig 21/ Mig 21 Bison and Mig 27. While Rafale will replace 66 Mig 29 and 50 Mirage 2000 that'll retire in 2030. It'd be better if we get some bombers (2-3 squadrons of either B-1B Lancer or B2 spirit bombers ) to replace 145 Jaguars that'll retire in 2030. After 2030, we should work on building 200 AMCA planes (10-11 squadrons) and build 80-100 Aura.

  2. + "PMO- Want frontline US aircrafts."
    => Well, it'd have been stupid to sign a $3.9bln offset to create a full eco-system to build Rafales in India, had Modi really considered US aircraft
    => It was Parrikar who sent a RFI/RFP for SE aircraft and publicly vowed there'd be no more Rafale purchases. He resigned since.

    + "Conclusion- No conclusion before 2019 polls atleast."
    => The problem is… That you need 3 years to put up a fighter assembly line and more to have a 1st batch being delivered!
    With 66 (87?) Mig-27 being phased out in 2019, then 113 Mig-21 in 2021 then 142 Mig-21 in 2023, postponing to 2019 is a pure nightmare in attrition!
    Even by deciding now to have a 3rd and 4th Tejas Mk1A assembly lines to be built (32-36 units/year) and having DRAL building 2 Rafale assembly lines (for 22-36 units/year), fast tracking the building with workers 24/7 at the job in order to have the facilities able to start building in 24 months, training enough personnel in an intensive course then having the factories running in 2x 12h/day shifts for the 1st two years to accelerate the delivery of a batch of 36 Tejas Mk1A and a batch of 36 Rafales as soon as 2021, well, I'm not even sure it might be possible!!!!

    And well, both HAL and DRAL are already building facilities and do not even hope a F-16 or Gripen factories will be faster to build! Brazil signed a Gripen-E contract in 2013, well, they still can't even start production near 5 years later, Gripen-E 1st flight was in June 2017 and it'll still need several years tests as it's a totally new airframe!
    The Fort Worth factory still have numbers of orders pending and if on one side, they propose to sell the equipment to India, they've also promised to move it to St.Louis, MO… And Trump wants to use Indian militaries as cannon fodder in Afghanistan and is not hot for ToT or cutting jobs in the US…
    Moreover, a Rafale is nonetheless cheaper than F-16V but does the job of 3 F-16 (or 3 Mirage-2000) and its stealth features are more interesting than F-22 or F-35 as they counter UHF/VHF radars used by S-400 or HQ-9 too…
    Add the commonality of many critical parts between Rafale and Tejas Mk1A, well, going F-16 has only interest for Tata's shareholders!
    Maybe could they be consoled by getting workshare into Tejas and/or Rafale but, although I fear that decision might be postponed after 2019 polls as you say, the point is that any postponing will simply be a disaster!
    Phasing out Mig-21 was already postponed from 2017-2018 to 2021-2023 and they're nicknamed "flying coffins" for a while now!

  3. India must go for developing Kaveri k10 Engine with French and collaborate for AMCA make using twin K10 engines and modify AMCA-N naval version. Save billions.
    Another point try to find M88 engine or GE404 engine to replace MIG21engins which fails and crash abruptly. INDIA CAN HAVE BREATHING TIME till AMCA ready. Venkatesh.k

  4. It is suicidal to go for F16 obsolete. Let USA supply F22 to india and keep powerful Block 70 latest for use by Americans. Venkatesh.k

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