Skip to comments.Obama dismayed as India rejects arms deal
Posted on 05/12/2011 8:44:57 AM PDT by Cardhu
India's recent decision not to purchase American warplanes for its $10 billion-plus fighter aircraft programme - the largest single military tender in the country's history - has stirred debate in defence circles worldwide.
India's defence ministry deemed the two American contenders, Boeing's F/A-18 Superhornet and Lockheed's F-16 Superviper, not to fulfil the requirements that it sought in a medium-size multi-role combat aircraft. With the Russian MiG-30 and the Swedish Gripen also eliminated, two European planes, the Eurofighter Typhoon and the French Rafale, are the only aircraft still in contention for an expected order of 126 planes.
India had never previously purchased an American fighter plane, and the United States hoped that India would cement the emerging bilateral strategic partnership with a hefty check. Indeed, US officials, including president Barack Obama, had lobbied for the deal, which would have pumped money and jobs into the ailing American economy. The "deeply disappointed" US ambassador to India, Tim Roemer, promptly announced his resignation. But, in a typical comment, Indian-American strategist Ashley Tellis observed trenchantly that India had chosen "to invest in a plane, not a relationship".
The notion that a major arms purchase should be based on broader strategic considerations - the importance of the US in India's emerging Weltpolitik - rather than on the merits of the aircraft itself, strikes Indian officials as unfair. Some deny that the decision reflects any political bias on the part of India's taciturn, left-leaning defence minister, AK Antony. The choice, they aver, is a purely professional one, made by the Indian Air Force, and only ratified by the ministry.
The two European fighters are generally seen as aerodynamically superior, having outperformed both US-made aircraft in tests under the adverse climatic conditions in which they might have to be used, particularly in the high altitudes and low temperatures of northern Kashmir. Experts suggest that the American planes are technologically ten years behind the European ones, and it doesn't help that Pakistan, India's likely adversary if the aircraft were ever pressed into combat, has long been a regular US client for warplanes.
Moreover, Indian decision-makers could not help but be aware that the US has not, over the years, proved to be a reliable supplier of military hardware to India or other countries. It has frequently cut off contracted supplies, imposed sanctions on friends and foes alike (including India), and reneged on delivering military goods and spare parts, in addition to being notoriously unwilling to transfer its best military technologies.
The current Indian fleet of mainly Russian and French planes has suffered from no such problems, and the existing ground-support and maintenance infrastructure would have needed major changes to handle US aircraft. (It is likely that the eventual winner of the bid will be required to enter into a joint-production arrangement with India, which US companies would not have done.)
As if all this were not enough to decide against America, the clincher might well have been the Indian government's desire to avoid any further procurement controversy at a time when allegations of corruption beset it from all sides. A decision made on technical grounds, many felt, would be easier to defend than one based on political considerations.
Against this are the unambiguous advantages of pleasing a major new ally and developing a pattern of bilateral military cooperation in supply, training, and operations that has yet to evolve. At a time when US nuclear-reactor purchases - made possible by the historic deal negotiated by the Bush administration - have been held up by US insistence on exemptions from supplier liability in the event of an accident, some regard India's spurning of US aircraft as a gratuitous rejection of an opportunity to demonstrate that friendship with India helps America, too...
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“The jets offered were not the jets built decades ago. If they were that stupid to know the difference, then there is no hope for them.”
Even if they’re upgraded, it’s still old stuff.
“Offer the JSF. . .as if. . . giving one of the most corrupt third-world countries in the world access to JSF technology. Sure.”
The europeans did. So they made clearly the better offer.
Let him be dismayed. From what I’ve read and seen, the IAF has had its heart and mind set on the Rafale for awhile, and that IMO will be the eventual winner.
I’ve seen on Livefist allegations from a supposedly reputable source on corruption involving people close to Dassault and the Indian govt. Dunno how accurate, but wouldn’t surprise me. Even then, Rafale was probably always going to win this contest.
The F-16 was a non starter from the get go. The F-18 is anything but old fashioned. Containing 3rd gen AESA (while the Euros are still putting together a first gen and havent finished) and probably the most adv avionics (the Prowler option would have been unbeatable perhaps), the -18 was nothing to sneeze at. This completely escaped the Rafale fanbois on the Indian forums.
However, we had nothing to offer on ToT and plenty against us (CISMOA etc), and in the end that probably kept the -18 off the shortlist. The French are promising the world, and I’m sure will charge India the world as well. Their problem.
How do you know? Did you read the IAF’s report?
Silly. The current F-18 is newer than the Typhoon and Rafale in many respects. If F-18 is decades old, so are the Euro-canards.
Those “allegations” are laughable to say the least. Subramaniam Swamy, the fellow who made those claims, pretty much makes his living out of targeting Sonia Gandhi, the leader of the ruling Congress party. The claims are too idiotic to even be considered laughable-if ‘Italian’ links were so important (since Sonia is an Italian by birth), why didn’t Eurofighter use it??
If these allegations are remotely credible, why is it that the other contenders and OPPOSITION political parties aren’t jumping on it. It’s not like India’s politicians and media remain quiet on a scandal.
You still don’t seem to be interested in answering why people diss the Super Hornet on it’s aerodynamics-why is it that people keep crapping on it regarding its range, its turn rates and speed? India has purchased almost 10 billion USD worth of weaponry from US companies-the same restrictions on technology transfers existed there; so why did the Indian military buy it. Because those systems had significant advantages over the rest.
If the decision making process in India is as corrupt as you claim, how come Boeing, Lockheed Martin and GE have won billions in contracts since 2005?? Why did Boeing and LM participate in this tender if it was a corrupt cesspool where they stood no chance?
Was that to me? I’m not sure what you’re getting at, I never made claims the F-18 was the perfect plane, even for India.
You said the Super hornet is better than the Euro-canards. Sure it is-everyone knows that its the most mature product on offer. But those improvements in avionics do not compensate for the drawbacks in design which I was alluding to.
Considering that the Typhoon (2003) and Rafale (2006) entered service more then twenty years after the F-16 (1980) and -18 (1978), there's not a lot of shame in that.
Negative, I said it was nothing to sneeze at. It’s the canard fanbois who trash it, OTOH, that are mistaken. No plane is perfect, and each of them had drawbacks, it was up to India to determine what was most important. I don’t think they chose wrong but that is not to say the planes they didn’t choose are inferior...which is a popular sentiment it seems.
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