Skip to comments.India's Mirage upgrade: a prelude to a Rafale MMRCA win?
Posted on 07/14/2011 4:23:26 AM PDT by sukhoi-30mki
India's Mirage upgrade: a prelude to a Rafale MMRCA win?
It looks as if India is serious about upgrading its Dassault Mirage 2000Hs to Mirage 2000-9 standard. This is a major upgrade that will affect most systems in the aircraft. The bill, estimated at $2.2 billion, is staggering, working out to about $43 million an aircraft. One wonders if India would be better off buying new aircraft. In his MMRCA report earlier this year Ashley Tellis pegged the flyaway cost of the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet (with APG-79 AESA radar) at $60 million.
Anyway, the timing of the upgrade (first mooted in 2004) is interesting, as it coincides nicely with the medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) shortlist that came out in April. This saw the Super Hornet, F-16IN Super Viper, Saab Gripen, and MiG-35 eliminated, creating a shortlist of the Dassault Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon.
For some time I have suspected a linkage between the MMRCA deal and the eternally delayed Mirage upgrade. By linking the two separate purchases, India would be able to negotiate a better price for both. France, for its part, could offer a cut rate for the Mirage upgrade provided India guaranteed a decision favoring the Rafale, securing the first overseas victory for the type.
Remember, MMRCA could well go beyond the initial 126 aircraft, with the IAF buying up to 200. Later this decade India will also need a fighter for its new aircraft carriers - and the Rafale has proved itself with the French air force and navy. An MMRCA win would represent serious jobs and prestige for France, making a major price cut for the Mirage upgrade an attractive proposition. The upgrade's cost could end up being far below that staggering $2.2 billion figure.
Indian officials have reportedly set a timeline to select the MMRCA winner in September, with the extended bids from Dassault and Eurofighter to expire at the end of this year. Soon we'll know.
American hardware has proven itself over time. But American politics changes every 4-8 years. India has been our enemy, our friend, our enemy and our friend. This relationship depends on Indias fractious relationship with Pakistan, which India cant control. It must drive Indian politicians mad with anger. It may be that since the French dont give a rats a$$ about Pakistan and only see money that they are a safer bet.
I think India will not only buy, but build the Rafale under license for one reason: the Rafale is the only fighter currently in production that has both land-based and carrier-based variants. Given that the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy both want a modern fighter, choosing the Rafale could mean 500+ planes coming off the assembly lines of Hindustani Aeronautics Limited (HAL), the government-owned aerospace company.
500 may be somewhat of a stretch since the MMRCA is officially not expected to go beyond 126+63 units and there have no indications of how many aircraft the Indian navy would be allowed to procure.
As I have mentioned in your previous posts about this competition, the odds are high the EuroFighter takes home the crown.
As such, the Rafale is available almost "off the shelf" now, and my suggestion of a 500+ plane production run is not such a far-fetched idea.
It does appear that India making you 'happy' means you are out of the M-MRCA. So far, only the Germans/Spanish/Italians/British have not acquired a defence deal/project from India. Even Sweden, which also lost (the Gripen NG), has gotten some deals its way such as India's coastal security, surveillance and coverage capabilities as well as potential for long-range marine surveilance.
I guess only time will tell.
MiG-36 = MiG-35
I'm with you on this one, Spetz.
While I do think the Eurofighter is ahead, there is one flaw with the line of distributing the moolah and it pertains to the viability of the Mirage upgrade.
If we assume that the Eurofighter is indeed selected (within a few months), there is every chance the federal auditors and finance ministry question the Mirage upgrade deal or even order it to be cancelled. The reason for it being a comparable Israeli upgrade offer which was almost 50% lower in cost, was rejected. The government and defense ministry would also be hard-pressed to answer why brand new French systems were being purchased for a one-off project while the Israeli systems (ELM-2032 radar, Python-5 and Derby missiles) are already in service with the Indian navy and air force (SPYDER SAM system). While the Mirage airframes are not young, the IAF cannot afford to throw an upgrade proposal into limbo given the type is its main workhorse and will remain so until the first half of the next decade.
As the Flight Global article says that the value of the Mirage upgrade would become palatable if it were clubbed with the Rafale.
If the Mirage deal does justifiably get gutted by the Comptroller and Auditor General, the French will be pis**d!!
The point of ‘keeping everyone happy’ also needs to be looked at closely. A deal with a consortium may not buy the influence that individual agreements bring given that there remain significant squabbles between the Eurofighter producers. The Italians have been involved in various naval projects in India for a long time and the net worth of a Eurofighter deal for them may not exceed that.
There are other projects like that for the Project 17A frigates, Project-75I submarines and amphibious assault ships; shipbuilders in Italy, France, Germany and the UK are expected to bid for all of them. The new frigate and submarine programmes put together exceed 20billion USD in value.
The Rafale has a lot going for it. The variants aspect plus its developer is only one entity, Dassault... high product integrity/security.