Skip to comments.Never-seen battle in Indian skies (Mig-35 vs Super Hornet)
Posted on 02/11/2007 11:06:41 PM PST by sukhoi-30mki
Never-seen battle in sky
ANIL BUDUR LULLA
The F/A-18 F Super Hornet and the MiG-35 Bangalore, Feb. 11: A brilliant blue-and-red streak in the sky, the MiG-35 climbs 90 degrees towards the sun, changes its mind and does a vertical U-turn, screaming 90 degrees towards earth. Its still in one piece.
Moments later, the grey F/A-18 F Super Hornet shoots sunwards like a bullet after a short take-off, levels at 8,000 feet, floats, turns left, shows its dual engines just above the gaping audience, goes into attack mode and swivels all in one smooth motion.
Its like nothing weve seen before, says a defence ministry official who will sit in judgement with a clutch of pilots when the Indian Air Force decides on the aircraft it will settle for in its order of 126 multi-role combat fighters.
The twin-engined MiG-35 and Super Hornet are clearly in a different league. And on the evidence of the demonstrations in Yalahanka, erstwhile Cold War rivals Russia and the US are pulling out all stops.
Boeings Michael E. Rietz, the India programme manager for F/A-18F business, says the Hornet boasts of the latest radar. The Electronically Scanned Array (Aesa) radar is also used by the US Navy.
This is the right aircraft for establishing air dominance. It does not require any platform to support it and carries missiles for its own protection, he says.
More important, Boeing will let the planes be made under licence in India, a first for the F/A-18 programme.
Asked how the aircraft compares to the MiG-35, Rietz says: Survivability is the key. While it is a lethal machine, we take pride in the Super Hornets, which avoid being seen, hit and killed.
The biggest advantage is that the Hornets wings can be folded, enabling it to operate from aircraft carriers.
The Russians, on the other hand, are playing on a strong wicket. They never fail to emphasise their 44-year association with India. IAF pilots are familiar with the nuts and bolts of Russian systems.
The MiG-35 also has the Aesa radar specifically made for the Indian programme.
Referred to as the generation 4 ++ aircraft, MiG-35 versions on show here were arguably the most eye-catching.
The Russians rarely fail to advertise the MiG-35s thrust vector control that allows the aircraft to undertake the breathtaking cobra manoeuvre. The aircraft stalls in mid-flight, nose at 90 degrees like a cobra ready to strike, and slides backwards. In a real dogfight, such a move can turn the hunted into the hunter.
Back to the Indian official who will be among those who sit in judgement. I will not look at aerobatics alone, he says. Ill look at whats inside . I will look at the price and I will look at history.
Its probably comparable to buying onions and potatoes I tell my wife who is technologically challenged, he adds. But now we have more vendors to choose from.
Isn't the rap on the Super Hornet that it is somewhat underpowered?
Ah, Spudnik revisited!
You have to admit that they have prefected their ejection seats, or it might just be they have a lot of experience.
I don't think planes dogfight anymore?
That's a very, very aggressive sales pitch. Boeing may win after all.
Makes sense, really. UAV's, the F-22, and sub-orbital fighters are the future. Might as well sell the hell out of the F/A-18 while it still has value (e.g. over China/Pakistan).
Losing this sale will really piss off Putin, though.
However, it's hard to imagine that India would turn down having the plans, specs, and tech support for the F/A-18 and all of its components. Enormous technology transfer.
That's one heckofa sales pitch.
"The Russians rarely fail to advertise the MiG-35s thrust vector control that allows the aircraft to undertake the breathtaking cobra manoeuvre. The aircraft stalls in mid-flight, nose at 90 degrees like a cobra ready to strike, and slides backwards. In a real dogfight, such a move can turn the hunted into the hunter."
Just hit the brakes and they'll fly right on by.
Yes & rather short legs for an aircraft of it's size.Though it's engines can be upgunned for greater thrust should the USN desire so.
I really don't think Boeing would be allowed offer the level of tech transfer you talk about for the simple fact that the aircraft will be built for the USN till after 2010 & operated much longer.Besides India & the US are still sending feelers to each other with ties at a delicate stage.
The Russians may allow greater tech transfer for the simple reason that MIG Corp is in the doldrums & the Mig-35 will not enter service with the Russian military anyway.
Finally, how long do you think this deal will be dragged on (I believe Indian military acquisition programs have a tendency to get ...well ....protracted). Will this be finished by 2010 or is that too soon?
Not a clue,though the RFPs will probably (have to) be issued by this year & selection within an year or so given the way the air force seems to be pushing for it with a rather unprecedented publicity drive about the airforce losing air superiority /dwindling squadron levels etc.
About a 50:50 split,no one knows though political compulsions may necessitate that though the recent proposals to buy more used Mirage-2000s & new SU-30s seem at odds with a 2 vendor possibility.
Well if the US sticks to that line,they'd be shut out of the arms market in no time!!Anyway,license manufacturing is actually a monitored process where the company building it usually doesn't have source codes & other classified technology.
About license manufacturing & Muslims,well the only country building Abrams tanks under license is,...Egypt. & Turkey has also built the F-16 & has infact been successful in selling upgrade packages to F-16 users like Jordan & Pakistan.
Crucial word is here "Losing".I won't discount the Mig-35's chances for one simple reason.If India buys this aircraft,it will (atleast temporarily) ground a joint Sino-Pak fighter aircraft project,the FC-1 which uses the RD-33 .If India buys 80 or so Mig-35s,Putin has no excuse to sell those engines.Pakistan or China will find it difficult to source & integrate a new engine for the type be it the US F-404 or F-414 or Euro-types.