Skip to comments.No plan to buy F-35: Indian Govt
Posted on 06/22/2011 10:09:38 PM PDT by MBT ARJUN
New Delhi: India has officially put a full stop to the frantic US pressure to enter the $10.4-billion race for 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA).
Reacting to media reports that the US may offer F-35 fighter jets to re-enter the MMRCA race, the official spokesperson in the ministry of defence (MoD), Sitanshu Kar, told FE that, We have progressed a lot in the MMRCA programme, we have crossed a lot of stages that have become part of history.
It is too late in the day for any new entrant, said a senior Indian Air Force (IAF) officer on condition of anonymity.
Industry sources, agreeing with the governments decision not to allow any new entrant in the already closed race, said: It is a very interesting situation. The trials are over. The commercial bids are expected to be open shortly. Discussions on offset commissions are progressing well. While one government is offering its best machine, it will be Indias call finally.
However, the source added that it will be unfair to the shortlisted contenders.
The government has shortlisted the European consortium Eurofighters Typhoon and the French Dassaults Rafale fighter aircraft.
Lockheed Martins offering, the F-16IN, was eliminated from Indias $10.4 billion, along with rival Boeings F-18IN Super Hornet offering. The MMRCA deal was touted as the mother of all defence deals in the international defence industry.
Though the Indian Air Force never seemed very interested in the F-16 Falcon from the US-based Lockheed Martin, one of the several reasons for the aircraft not being in the race could be the fact that fact that Pakistan also flies F-16s. Also Lockheed Martin could have run into problems in meeting the industrial offset provisions, given its lack of penetration in India.
India has been invited to F-35 events. With potential US order numbers dropping, India could have joined the elite programme. However, India chose to join hands with Russia for its Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) programme, which offers a semi-indigenous alternative.
The F-35 jet is still in development and the planes would cost about $133 million each. The Pentagon plans to buy more than 2,400 of them, which means that at an estimated $382 billion, it is Pentagons most expensive weapons programme ever. A rough estimate has it that at $133 million per unit, the cost of acquisition for the MMRCA would go up by 50 per cent should the IAF opt for the F-35. This would inflate the $11-billion MMRCA tender to $17 billion.
To be expected, and perfectly rational. Even if India inked the deal for F-35s, the soonest it would get its FIRST JSF would be after 2020. That is 9 years from now. India needs aircraft yesterday, and while the Rafale and/or Typhoon may not be as advanced as the F-35, they are more (far more) advanced than anything else in the region currently. By the time China is coming out with real numbers of the J-20, the Indians will be having PakFas. At that point the F-35 would also make sense since any delays should have been sorted. However, as for the present moment, the F-35 simply doesn;t make sense. Add to that the request for transfer of technology, and if the US was having difficulties accepting to transfer the F/A-18s AESA radar (not the radar itself, but the knowhow), then I wonder what the level of technology transfer for the JSF would be? I believe the Indians will fly the F-35, but it will be after 2025 most probably.
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