The Rafale’s long flight to India - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Friday 10 February 2012

The Rafale’s long flight to India

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 11th Feb 12

Long after the streets emptied that chilly winter evening in December 1981, lights were burning on the 5th Floor of Vayu Bhavan (Hindi for “Air Building”) in the elite Operations Branch of the Indian Air Force. Worrying the IAF’s brightest thinkers was a brash new arrival in the sub-continental skies. The United States had just announced the sale of forty F-16 fighters to Pakistan, giving the Pakistan Fiza’ya (as the Pakistan Air Force styles itself) a fighter potent, fast and agile enough to upset the air power balance in the subcontinent. That F-16 purchase unleashed a set of Indian reactions that culminated in last week’s decision to negotiate with French company, Dassault Aviation for 126 Rafale medium multi-role combat aircraft, the MMRCA contract for short.

India moved quickly to counter the F-16 with Mirage 2000 and MiG-29 fighters. Soon after Squadron Leader Shahid Javed landed Pakistan’s first F-16 at Sargodha Air Base on 15th Jan 1983, New Delhi signed a contract with Dassault for 49 Mirage 2000s. IAF pilots began training in France and, in 1985, the first Mirage 2000s joined the IAF fleet. This was South Asia’s first true “multi-role” fighter, good for strike missions, electronic warfare support, and also fast and manoeuvrable enough for air-to-air combat. From the outset, IAF pilots relished the Mirage 2000 as well as the relationship with Dassault.

Rajan Bhasin, then a young flight lieutenant and later one of the IAF’s top guns, was in the first batch of eight IAF pilots who went to France in 1984 to learn how to fly the Mirage 2000. He recalls, “The Mirage 2000 was a superb fighter. And the relationship with Dassault was always completely professional. We got the fighter we paid for; and we got the training we paid for. Whenever we wanted extra, we had to pay for it. But Dassault did not cheat.”

By 1987 the PAF had inducted all forty F-16s that it had contracted for and, in 1988, Pakistan ordered and paid for another 11 F-16 fighters. But though alarm bells were ringing in New Delhi and the IAF was keen to order more Mirage 2000s under an options clause in the contract, it did not do so. The purchase of the Russian MiG-29, reputedly an “F-16 buster” due to its prowess in air-to-air combat, had left no space for more Mirage 2000s.

But the IAF’s enthusiasm for Dassault fighters still burned bright, especially after the Mirage 2000 demonstrated its ability to strike almost invisible Pakistani positions on the knife-edged ridges above Kargil in 1999. At the turn of the century --- with the early model MiG-21s rapidly becoming obsolete; and with their replacement, the indigenous Tejas Light Combat Aircraft still to take to the air (it first flew only in 2001) --- the IAF formally asked the MoD to buy and shift to India the entire Mirage 2000 production line that Dassault was closing down. This would allow Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to build the improved Mirage 2000-5 fighter to replace the vintage MiG-21s. And with Dassault shifting production to the new-generation Rafale fighter, France was willing and eager to sell India the Mirage 2000 line.

“The IAF told the MoD that we wanted aircraft with which we were familiar. That was the Mirage 2000 and we wanted the latest version: the Mirage 2000-5. As an air force we were very familiar and comfortable with the operational and tactical handling of the Mirage 2000,” says Air Marshal (Retired) Pranab Kumar Barbora, who was Vice Chief of Air Staff till 2010.

But the MoD, stinging from the Tehelka exposes on corruption in defence procurement, feared that a single-vendor buy from Dassault might be criticised as arbitrary. Pointing out that the IAF had not availed of an “options clause” in the 1983 contract for Mirage 2000 fighters, George Fernandes’ defence ministry asked the IAF to float a global tender for the very best fighter that could be bought from the international market.

Another reason for a new global tender was the fear that the Mirage 2000-5 might no longer be good enough. With the US dependency on Pakistan growing due to its presence in Afghanistan, it seemed likely that at least two more squadrons of F-16s would soon join the PAF. These would be the formidable Block 50/52 fighters with greatly improved radars and weaponry. And the PAF was also slated to get a brand new fleet of over 200 Chinese JF 17 Thunder light fighters.

Even more alarming was China’s weapons and infrastructure build-up in Tibet. The old J-7 and J-8 fighters, which the IAF could comfortably handle, were now being replaced by a fleet of Russian Sukhoi-27/30 fighters, and the Chinese F-10, which reportedly fields advanced avionics bought from Israel. Suddenly the dragon was peering over the Himalayas, its Lanzhou and Chengdu Military Regions that border India incorporating 5-7 divisions of the People’s Liberation Army and an improved military airfield network in Tibet with extended runways and modernised facilities. China was now a formidable aerospace power.

“We needed to boost our fighter fleet really, really, urgently,” says a serving air marshal who prefers to remain anonymous. “And we were determined to implement an acquisition process which nobody in the MoD could fault or delay. Today, the IAF process has become the gold standard for fighter aircraft acquisitions worldwide. The Brazilian defence minister, who visited Delhi this week, has asked us to share details with his ministry on just how we did it.”

* * * *

It began with the drawing up of specifications in Vayu Bhavan that demanded not the best available fighter in the world, but a fighter so good that it didn’t yet exist. The IAF specifications included: superb aerodynamic performance; the most advanced AESA (active electronically scanned array) radar that would allow the MMRCA to detect and fire missiles before an enemy fighter realised that he was in the crosshairs; advanced electronic warfare (EW) capabilities to blind the opposition; and weaponry that was integrated seamlessly into the fighter’s avionics. Everything was put down in writing before a Request for Proposal (RfP) was sent out to six global aerospace companies in August 2007.

For these companies, the big question was: which fighter to offer? Lockheed Martin had the F-22 Raptor, the world’s only 5th generation fighter, which would win any competition hands-down, but would never be cleared for export. The company was also building the F-35 Lightening II Joint Strike Fighter, but that was years away from completion and could not participate in the IAF’s impending flight trials. Lockheed Martin eventually fielded its most advanced Block 60 F-16 fighter, dubbed the F-16IN Super Viper, with better avionics and weaponry than any F-16 sold before. Other companies had fewer choices; Boeing fielded its F/A-18 Super Hornet; Dassault offered the Rafale; Saab, the Gripen NG which is still in the future; Eurofighter GmbH offered the Typhoon; and Russia fielded the MiG-35.

In the second half of 2008, the IAF conducted a technical evaluating of these bids, to see whether the bids conformed to the RfP. What should have been an innocuous process turned dramatic when Dassault’s bid was reportedly rejected as incomplete. While this was quickly resolved by diplomatic intervention, reportedly by President Sarkozy himself, other companies are now saying that the Rafale was done a favour by being allowed back into the contest.

It was the next stage of evaluation --- flight trials --- that has established the IAF’s testing process in a league of its own. Conducted by the Directorate of Air Staff Requirements (ASR), and overseen by the quiet and unflappable Air Commodore (now Air Vice Marshal) RK Dhir, each of the six contenders were flight tested by IAF pilots who tested 660 separate performance aspects of each contender aircraft. For example, the RfP demanded that the fighter’s engine should be replaced within one hour. The maintenance teams actually made each contender do that. If the IAF demanded a “sustained turn rate” (the quickness with which a fighter can turn around in the air) of 24 degrees per second, each fighter was physically put through this manoeuvre to establish that it met this requirement. (Incidentally, both the American fighters failed to meet the IAF’s “sustained turn rate” requirements)

Air Marshal Barbora, who oversaw the flight evaluation process as the IAF vice chief, recounts how six teams of IAF pilots, flight engineers and maintenance staff were mustered, one for each fighter that was trial evaluated. Each pilot began by learning to fly the fighter he would evaluate, while the flight engineers and maintenance staff learned the technical ropes. The IAF pilots physically flew each of the contending fighters, albeit with a “home” pilot in the second seat. This was the first time that any air force has been allowed to conduct such a fly-off.

Last April, the MoD “down-selected” the Rafale and the Typhoon, which meant that these two fighters alone had passed the flight trial evaluation. Now the game had changed; with performance established, the cheaper of the two was going to be adjudged the winner. For the first time in India, costs were not compared on the ticker price alone, but on how much the fighter would cost to buy, build, upgrade and operate over a service life of 3-4 decades. The IAF had clearly learned a lesson from the Russian MiG experience, where a cheap upfront price that seemed initially attractive led to enormous operating costs and a lower aircraft availability that meant that when the IAF paid for six squadrons, it actually had just three squadrons to fly.

Says Air Marshal (Retired) Padamjit Singh Ahluwalia, who brought in the first Mirage 2000s to India, says, “Russian fighters like the MiG-29 are great for air shows but serviceability is often a problem. When you get airborne, the radar often becomes unserviceable… sometimes this happens between two sorties. The result is very low serviceability rates.”

* * * *

The final countdown has begun towards signing a contract with Dassault Aviation. An MoD body called the Contract Negotiating Committee (CNC) will now engage Dassault in beating down its price, grilling Dassault’s negotiators on the calculations that determined the final price of the Rafale, scanning the costs of labour and materials that go into the fighter. For example, the CNC will find out how much titanium goes into each aircraft and then check titanium prices on the London Metal Exchange. The CNC will also vet labour costs, determining the number of skilled workmen and engineers needed to build the Rafale and multiplying that with the respective labour costs (notoriously high in France). The aim will be to demonstrate to the Dassault negotiators that the Rafale can be built cheaper than the price they have quoted.

CNC negotiations will also centre on the technologies that Dassault (and its sub-vendors, like Thales) will transfer to India and the modalities for doing so. The RfP mandates that the technology for the AESA radar (which Thales builds) is to be transferred to India. The CNC will verify how that technology, and others, would actually be transferred. Offsets are another minefield that Dassault must cross, ploughing back into Indian industry at least 50% of the estimated $15-17 billion contract value of this deal. Only after these issues are resolved will a contract be actually signed. Senior IAF officers believe this could take till late-2012.

* * * *

Even as the Rafale drama unfolded, India’s love affair with French fighters has continued. Around 2005, India bought ten Mirage 2000s, taking up the fleet to three squadrons. Negotiations were under way for buying 40 Mirage 2000-5 fighters from the UAE, but that stalled on the issue of price. Last year, the IAF signed a $2.4 billion deal to upgrade the Mirage 2000 fleet, extending its service life by at least another 15 years. And now, if the Rafale purchase goes through, the French seem here to stay.


  1. Blessing in disguise: can we expect Tejas to sport Aesa and several "cutting edge" Rafale tech??

    but whatever, AMCA will definitely benefit from this stuff...but it seems ur heart isn't beating for F-35 anymore....change of heart of change of check issuer hmmm hahaha..anyway...but u did u turn on Army chief too...entire media is branding it as a loss for chief...suppose GOI pressure on media houses to save its own face ...

  2. Typo: Boeing fielded its F/A-16 Super Hornet

  3. Col

    Great article.

    Nothing more nothing less


  4. Wasnt the F-16 the first true "multirole" jet in South Asia ?

  5. ajaiji,

    very nicely thought out and written like a beautiful story, kudos! this is why we love reading your work

    i must say that serviceability is a key point in war, we better have a good rate for sukhoi!

  6. Boeing's offering in the MMRCA is named F/A 18 super hornet and not F/A 16 super hornet as you have mentioned. Please rectify the error

  7. Col. Shukla-

    Very factually, concisely and well written. Thank you.

  8. mirage 2000 r ansure of f-16 but what u do for chines j-10,j-11,su-30mkk, etc India have good quality jet but china mission is quality +quantity,i hope LCA fulfill both requirement when it perform good then reduce number and purchase JAS39 just like arjun tank and T-90

  9. gr8 work Ajay. bravo bravo!! .u should also start a documentary..which will help to for young generation to understand about indian Armed forces,,

  10. 1. There is a typo mid-way in the article - it is F/A-18 not F/A-16. F/A-18 E/F if you really want to be a perfectionist.

    2. The IAF's panic struck reaction to the F-16 purchase in the 80s was the Mirage 2000 and the Mig-23MF not the Mig-29.

    3. The IAF's "brightest thinkers" had been stampeded into buying an inferior air superiority fighter (Mig-23) and later an out and out air superiority fighter (Mig-29) in response to the multi-role F-16.

    4. It was the LCA not materializing which made the MRCA evolve into the M-MRCA. The Su-30 MKI buy had already put a kibosh in the Mirage 2000 line being set-up in India.

    5. In sharp contrast to the Navy - which also has it's share of procurement problems, the Army and the Air Force have repeatedly screwed up their own long-term modernization plans by a lack of strategic vision. Just as in the Gen VK Singh case it is convenient but fallacious to blame the babus and netas.

    6. The Su-30 MKI and FGFA programs hopefully are evidence of a happy new mindset. The Army is still hopeless.

  11. Only one sentence..
    "Start learning French ASAP ;)"

  12. SO NOW you have accepted that F35 is junk

    ANd we need MMRCA
    And it is NOT HARAKIRI

    Dont worry sir
    We will buy F 35 BUT IN 2030
    Not now

    Till that time it would have improved hopefully

  13. a very enjoyable and informative article
    well done IAF and its immaculate procedures

    Nabha Sprash Deepatam!!!!!

  14. So the underline theme of your post, and quite rightly so, is that our defense planning is 'reactive' and not proactive.

    Defense is still about territorial integrity for us, and has not transformed as a tool for foreign policy or trade policy, something which should have happened way back, unfortunately.

    Also, I sincerely believe that learning from our experience of developing hardware in India, it is best if MoD gives INDIAN NAVY the responsibility to develop the AMCA, instead of IAF.

  15. Ajaiji, there's a typo in Para 12 where you describe the fighters entered by the various companies. You mention the F/A 18 Super Hornet as the F/A 16 Super Hornet".

    Other companies had fewer choices; Boeing fielded its F/A-16 Super Hornet; Dassault offered the Rafale; Saab, the Gripen NG which is still in the future; Eurofighter GmbH offered the Typhoon; and Russia fielded the MiG-35."

  16. Col Shukla, for once, a fairly accurate and unbiased narration and analysis of the MMRCA procurement...

  17. Well researched writeup, I hope you are more convinced now that this was a very good and rewarding deal for the IAF, made especially more so due to the fact that it ultimately got the plane (the best as well as the cheapest) that it *really* wanted as per their doctrine and requirements, with least interference from the political bosses.

  18. really nice article sir,an enjoyable
    read no doubt....i honestly believe
    mirage 2000 upgrade should be scraped and money should be invested in 5th gen projects..thanks

  19. "Air Headquarters" would be preferable to "Air Building".

  20. Very good article especially for the depth of the background on the recent French connection and the acquisition process.

    One typo I noted in para 12 (I think) that mislabel FA- 18 as FA 16.



  21. a very nice and brief written article..really enjoyed reading it..ujjwal singh

  22. "Boeing fielded its F/A-16 Super Hornet;"

    Typo: Actually it is the F/A-18.

    Question: Even then does it have to take 10 years to come to a decision? If a war starts this year or next, we do NOT have the Rafale...

  23. IAF wanted Mirage 2000s soon after the Kargil war. if their request was granted in 2000-01 they would have had all the 126 fighters by now.Even in 2003-04 the government should have given the nod for acquiring a limited number of MIrage 2000-5 aircraft which could have been supplemented and sufficed later with Rafales .

  24. Excellent article Colonel saab.

    I am still waiting for the FGFA/PAK-FA expose sir. Hopefully, that will come our way soon....

  25. i thought you one of these anti-rafale boys

  26. This is saddening to see you making mistake on Boeing Super Hornet F/A-18E/F as F/A-16, as even baseline F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is considerd as a new platform compared to old F/A-18 Hornet

  27. Typo corrected. My apologies and thanks for pointing that out.

    Don't for a moment imagine that I have changed my belief that the F-35 would have been India's best buy. Do you actually think that, just because the F-35 has not (yet) been procured, I will go into a sulk and never ever write about the MMRCA again? Grow up!

    Glad so many people liked the article.

  28. no we just imagined tat u might be sulking but a nice french wine might have brightened ur mood and like a real men, once in form u created one of ur best articles...and not to mention do u write such nice article...have u hired someone to do tat for u or u actually get on computer an type all these actually I thot u r a busy man naa..where do u hav time to start ur macbook-air and press the power button and wait for it to start up and then login and then start writing and then typo chck and then publish and then wait for comments and then read all d comments and then feel happy/pity/angry/disgusted and then publish all those comments ...and last point I agree u do wid honesty....anyway don't mind, just a bit of teasing..afterall even u hav right to laugh ..pressure cooker in job on head naaa..noo don't think tat english is wrong..tats sentence is super nasty if u cud decode it..hahhanjoy

  29. All's Well That Ends Well.

  30. Chandragupta Maurya11 February 2012 at 16:37

    Fantastic article Colonel Saab.
    As you rightly pointed out the seeds for this mmrca deal were sown in 1981.
    Thanks to France in 1985 we were able to regain strategic parity against the PAF F-16s by acquiring the Mirage 2000s. I've heard that a lot of IAF pilots past n present who flew the Mirage 2000s were totally bowled over by its performance. Even HAL n IAF technicians marveled at the French engineering n build quality which they claim is even superior to the SU30MKI.
    I had the privilege to stand next to a Mirage 2000 being refueled at the 1993 Aero India show :-))))) those were the days before security n barricades became stricter. Watching the Mirage then I was awe struck by how slender it's wings were n it's build quality ie surface finish. I must admit this is only a laymans view point though. You article proves beyond doubt as to how well the IAF has adapted n integrated its operations with the Mirage 2000s to the extent that they are extremely comfortable with just buying more mirage 2000/2000-5s until a couple of years ago. Would it be beyond the realms of possibility to suggest that the IAF was a closet admirer n fan of the Rafale all through the mmrca selection trials???
    Well done to the IAF for setting a high professional standard during this entire mmrca trials n selection process.
    Also colonel let's hope that the F35 makes it to India eventually in IAF or IN colors once it's attained complete maturity in all systems n operational parameters. I have a feeling the F-35 may see operational service with the Indian navy air arm. Well that's my five cents opinion on the F-35 coming to India. In the mean time lets welcome the rafale to India to its home at Gwalior I hope with the battleaxes:-)

  31. Nice article Mr Shukla, Factual and informative. Why we love your blog so much.

    I for one never doubted your heart being in the right place. You have every right to push your opinion on your own blog. Lots of us read this blog daily, despite disagreeing with you on the F-35 and Gen VK Singh issues.

    We were getting the feeling though, that you were pushing one particular agenda, rather than giving us all sides of complex issues.

    This report though, was vintage Broadsword. Bravo! and Jai Hind!

  32. Well written article.

    Just a couple of small observations :

    F16/ F18 typo

    "other companies are now saying that the Rafale was done a favour by being allowed back into the contest."

    The process of letting Dassault back in the game was transparent. The other companies can say what they wish now, they chose to hold their peace at the time and that must be respected.

    " six teams of IAF pilots, flight engineers and maintenance staff were mustered, one for each fighter that was trial evaluated......The IAF pilots physically flew each of the contending fighters, albeit with a “home” pilot in the second seat. "

    Not really. There were two teams, each of which evaluated three fighters, with some overlap. Also, the single seat version of each fighter was also test flown by the IAF test crew, although the bulk of the evaluation was indeed conducted on the two seat variants.

  33. @Ajai sir

    you may have talked a lot about JSF F35 similarly i will talk about Why Indias needs to boost its numbers with Mirage 2000 that UAE is returning back to France in exchange for Rafale irrespective of its selecting the Rafale.

    Though there are still some hiccups in that deal but with India buying Rafales I think UAE will be able to clear its doubts. some points

    1. As known the deal for 126 jets will touch US$20 billion but using option for 63 more (sometime in 2022)will cost another US$12 billion atleast based on rate of inflation and cost escalation. This not including those jets (possibly 42 more)needed by IN. It means final Rafale deal will be close to 30 billion (lot of money for France, Sarkozy and Dassualt)

    2. With the French having the last say in who gets the Mirages 2000 being returned by UAE, its just matter of time when President Sarkozy gets the 68 jets for India.

    With Brazil officially taking Indias help in selecting its MMRCA
    (possibly 80-100) based on our experience I think Rafale will be the eventual winner in that deal also. some points

    1. With 3 major deals that will keep Rafale production line open till 2025 atleast, it will become easy for Dassualt and Sarkozy to give India consession n the sale of those 68 Mirage 2000 to India, not to mention the other deals (Scorpene, Super Scorpene, MICA, Baracuda SSN).

    2. As India has already signed Mirage upgrade deal, apart from structural (France can do it, with so many deals going there way) we can make requisite changes on them.

    India will most probably use 40 of those under SFC jury rigged to deliver nukes. some points

    1. Apart from Su30 MKI we dont have any jet that can be jury rigged to deliver nukes.

    2. For India using single engine jets for specific nuke delivery purpose is better than using Sukhoi 30

    India does not need 'sword to cut vegetables'

    1. Mirages will be best suited to strike deep inside Gilgit Baltistan or Akshai Chin.

    2. Mirage are well suited for Pakistan and Sukhois for China


  34. contd...

    Ajai sir

    you remember some time back last you and dear honorable Mr. Heberian argued with me a lot as to Akshai Chin being a waste land and is of no use for us. some points

    1. China has built huge tunnel network across Aksai chin to store missiles and heavy weaponary for use in strike against India.

    2. Reports say Pakistan after ceding Saksgam valley and 5000 sq km to China is all set to lease the whole of Gilgit Baltistan (which is next to Akshai Chin) to China for the next 50-100 years.

    3. Can you please tell me as to how China is making full use of those very same wastelands that you and Mr. Heberian said were of no use to us.

    I dont think you will reply but still awaiting your reply


    Joydeep Ghosh

  35. Ajai saab, the negotiations that the IAF couldn't get through for the Mirage-2000-5 were only 12 Qatari versions. IAF didn't have any negotiations with UAE for their Mirages since their upgrades were only completed in 2006 fully.

  36. here,

    find the official evaluation swiss report, rare!

  37. It seems that the Mr. Sarkozy may have offered some thing to get the Rafale back in race that the IAF and India could not resist. Question is what? Definetly not French kiss and perfume. Money in franks maybe OR Think.......not that I mean may be some more upgraded Mirage 2000-5 out casted from French air force sounds bit realistic need to probe don't you think?

  38. Amazing article. The way you explained how things unfolded makes the purchase even more sensible.

  39. French had a better avionics system technology and was operated by indian navy for many years through Breguet Alize which was introduced in the early sixties.Hope Rafele will also prove a better fighter for IAF like Mirage series.

  40. Well written article Ajayji !! .. very effective in explaining how the process went by itself !!


  42. col. I think India should buy 63+ (carrier requirement)JSF's it wud be a nice decision...

  43. Col. U actually had a point u argues for F-35, now see Italy a partner in Typhoon is dumping it for JSF.

  44. Dear Joydeep!!

    Thank you for remembering me :) I do feel honored.

    However, I wish you had gotten the context of what I said about Aksai Chin correctly. I said it is a useless barren high altitude desert that has no practical use to us excpet nationalisitc pride. There is nothing economically beneficial to us from spending blood and gold on getting it back, assuming we can. The reason China encroached and stole Aksai Chin from under our noses back in the 1950's was two fold:

    1) Because Aksai Chin gives them the best land connectivity from Tibet to Xinjiang
    2) Becasue we were fools dreaming about "bhai-bhai" , dreaming about peace and statesmanship after our incredible coup in having given the Security Council seat to Chin, all while missing what was happening under our very noses.

    My context was that instead of trying to fight and get back Aksai Chin, we should focus on deterrance that strongly discourages China from trying to grab the rest of north eastern Ladakh. Like doing things that they are already doing with respect to infrastructure and long range arty.

    I understand that my statements are nuanced and not often clear in what they try to convey, so apologies for having caused any confusion.

  45. Col.Shukla - It has been a long time since you have reported on the tejas program. Can you please report on what has been accomplished since IOC-1 and what is left to be accomplished for FOC. Also on HAL's progress with SP-1/2 aircrafts. Apart from this the progress on Kaveri front in light of its completion of 57 hrs of flight test. Would love to hear also on LCH since there seems to be no news after TD2's flight


  46. Colonel,

    You have executed a nice turning manoeuvre.

    You have demonstrated that Rafales is actually a relationship and a subconscious security embrace with all its human decision making processes that psychologist are so enamoured with. We have been demonstrating that tendency with former USSR and Russia now. That is perfectly human; State and its decision making organ comprise of humans.

    Cheers to a relationship that carries trade practices of a Nation called France with human values and weaknesses.

    Though sadly lack of it and / or over indulgence into the Catholic missionary zeal in India was the single most reason for failure of their expansion of French Empire. Seems they learnt a lesson.

    That is called earning money through human emotions rather than purely protestant or evanglical economic cut throatism.

  47. Col. Shukla,

    When and why was the Sukhoi 30MKI bought? Could you please point me to a suitable write up for the same?



  49. this country is going to sulphates..dekh lo Sukhna wale bhai saab deputy chief ban gaye...wo to oopar walon ka shukra hai ki Adaarsh wale retired hain warna unhe bhi le aatey..waise bhi koi Governer ban jata hai to koi MP....ab Salman Khurshid ko hi dekh lo...thenga dikha diya EC ko..bcz uske pass Gandhi jee ki support hai aur usko maloom hai ki president bhi uska kuch nahin bigad sakti...kyunki president to khud Gandhi jee ke yahan bratan saaf karti thi ... hahahha ... democracy .. wow ... shai hai aisi hi democracy, aisi hi fauj aise hi jounrolist chahiye is dekh ko ..aur bolengey ki saaf log nahin aatey..arey aane doge tab to aayengey na..koi Paida hotey hi rahul gandhi jitna powerful thody hi ho jaayega..kisiko badhne dengey wo tab na koi badega..ab to bas Damadd jee ka number hai aur phir unke bachhon ka...karon gulami hindutaniyon tumhari kismat main hi gulami likhi hai...pehle angrezon phir italians ki aur ab unke daamad ki...Aajai bhai ye blog wlog se kuch bhala nahin hoga is desh ka..kaahe ko time barbaad kartey ho..BS wale de rahe hai skhush rahi yaar..waise tum bhi to usi Army aur usi media ke product ho...hahahha...sala koi PM house ke saamne gaadi uda ke chala gaya aur yahan kisi ko pata hi nahin hai ki kaun tha...aisa koi desh hota sirf banana republic main hota hai aur kahin nahin...saala India...thuuu...kaahe ka India..sala Chu***pa hai

  50. Bhai saab Desh ko chhe bola aur thu thu karna bekar ki baanten hain yadi kuch saha nahi jata to kuch karna padta hain Ajay ji ko dekhiye Army Ke bad Media ke jariye desh ki seva kar rahen hain... Ajay ji dhanyabad sari jankari pradan karne ke liye... Please yaadi Kaveri Gtx ke sammandh updates dijiye ga...

  51. Col. finally a balanced account of events despite some of the factual deficiencies as pointed out by Anon @ 11 February 2012 11:36.

    We expect more of the same in the days and weeks ahead.

    It now looks like Cassidian & the U.K government are beginning to tone down their rhetoric amidst a realization that the Indian MoD is no push over, on the contrary that they are determined to defend their selection of the Rafale as the best choice that meets the IAF's requirements.

  52. @jay ho baba Heberian ki

    yaar tussi great ho

    par mere ko woh bolo jo main nahi janta!!!

    main kuch bataoun

    China which does not accept the Mcmohan line calmly accepted the Mcmohan ine in Burma

    In 1963 Pak illegally handed over Saksgam valley and 5000 sq km to China

    Now reports say Pak is at it again, trying to hand Gilgit Baltistan on lease to China for next 50-100 yr.

    If that happens I see India confronted by China on 3 sides in Kashmir and Pak sitting in sidelines enjoying the game.

    If that happens hamare haath mein kya rahega? 'Babaji ka ghanta'

    As per this topic I will stay we need more Mirages to counter China and Pak in Kashmir.

    thanks n hope you dont feel offended

    Joydeep Ghosh

  53. @ Joydeep

    I can't understand how you swallow, and then regurgitate, such rubbish as Pakistan leasing Gilgit-Baltistan to China for 50-100 years. I realise that you must have read it somewhere, but even a semi-normal intellect would question such a report by asking:

    (a) Can any sovereign government in Pakistan start openly renting out provinces to other countries? It is bad enough to have to allow the US to operate from one's soil, and even carry out operations that one doesn't want against targets on one's own territory. But to rent out a whole region? Come, come!

    (b) Why would China want to lease Gilgit-Baltistan for 50-100 years? It is already getting access through the area while having Pakistan handle all the problems there. Why the hell would China want to take on all those hassles?

    Don't just regurgitate nonsense, please. Apply yourself and do some reasoning before putting your name to something (and I appreciate that you are one of the few who does that)!

  54. Welcome back from Lockheed Martin, Ajai.
    Hope your stay was pleasant.

  55. @ajai sir

    i know these are just reports, and i said what was being flashed around in news channels, websites, and newspapers.

    Even if we leave Gilgit Baltistan out, what about the Saksgam valley and 5000 sq km already given by Pak to China in 1963.


    Joydeep Ghosh

  56. IAF has planned a force structure keeping in mind threat perceptions from China and Pakistan. J-20 is still farway . The Sukhoi PAKFAs will arrive much earlier and as former IAF cheif PV Naik had stated that in the period 2012-22 the IAF would induct as many as 350-400 multirole fighter jets including 126 Rafales, 120 LCAs and the 100 odd Sukhois which would be delivered by 2018.probably 20 odd 5th gen aircraft along with some more LCA MK-2s will also add up to the numbers.

  57. If IAF decides to procure an additional 80 fighter jets, then LCA Mark 2 must be the only choice.

    No need to waste any more money on foreign imports. Besides, LCA Mark 2 shall be as good if not better than Gripen-NG.

  58. Mr. Shukla if the IAF decides to procure a further 80 jets what about Tejas LCA Mark 2 ?

    I'm of the view that the Tejas LCA must be chosen in the event that the IAF decides to excersise its option of another 80 jets.

  59. Hello Joydeep da!

    Sorry for replying late; I was on the road most of last week. I never feel offended by your comments and observations, they do provide for lighter moments. Main kya bolun sirji, aap to kamal ki item no. ho!

    There is not much I can share with you, since you already know and believe things that are in the realms of improbability and fiction. Pakistan sitting on the sidelines whilst China does the hard work? That is so against what China would want. They like winning wars without fighting if they can, that is why they prop up Flopistan.

    Babaji ka ghanta bajaana utna asaan nahin hai Joydeep da. Provided we know what battles to pick and how to prosecute our wars. But then again… you might prevail.

    As for the Mirages, well, there were pretty good technical and fiscal reasons for not going in for the UAE's lot.

    Have a good weekend!

  60. Thank you, excellent article!

    In my opinion, India has chosen the French Rafale fighter just because he is better than advertised and more used in operations in Libya than European EF-2000. In summary, in practice, the tender specifications had to win the fighter EF-2000 Typhoon.

    Sincerely glavcom.

  61. Ajai, with a long drawn out process worth atleast another year, do you think that by the time these planes (the entire 126) land on Indian shores, would they not be rather outdated? and we will keep paying to upgrade them, year after year

  62. comming back to LCA it will be a major boost for aircraft building thechnology, as it will total out to 450 aircraft including IAF and IN but the big question is why doen't the goverment realise the same

  63. Dear Ajai,

    A excellent analysis. I wish you had included a political analysis of the deal which is not very encouraging

    The article titled “On a wing and a player” by Sunil Dasgupta published in the Crest edition of TOI raises many questions. He begins by asking “Rafale is not a fighter that the world's air forces are rushing to acquire, so why is India?” He concludes by saying that the Rafale may have ambiguous military value, but politically it will not prove to be the force multiplier that the IAF is hoping it will be.
    To read the article please visit the following page

    There is a saying “If you can’t be great, be next to someone who is” Aligning with the only super power by accepting their offer could have made more sense, politically that is. Of what good use it has been by remaining a member of the Non-Aligned nations for the past 64 years?

  64. We must start ask Dasault to help on LCA. front. After all it is designed by them ! Rafael or no Rafael we must have at-least 15 squadrons of Tejas within 10 years.

  65. Hello Nayan-

    The booklet that Stephen Cohen and S Dasgupta had co-authored is called "Arming without aiming"; and I had recommended it to another follower of Col. Shukla's blog a day or two after it was released.

    So I now read the article you mentioned, and here are my 2 paise worth on it:

    He seems to be implying that by India buying what other nations did not, and in following an independent route India is not benefiting strategically. Kind of like what Ashley Tellis wrote as well. I and a lot of better qualified folks than I, don't agree. The cooperation we get from France has always been almost as good, and in some cases better than what we got even from the erstwhile USSR. Also, alignments are best when is seen as being of mutual benefit. The superpower should need us at least half as much we need them. And 20 billion worth of weapons won't make much of difference in that ocean. While it is a brave new world out there, sometimes it is wiser to stick with knowns than risking much on unknowns ( in terms of stickiness, not in terms of sanctions). NAM and such was/is drivel, but a close relationship with France is not. There are many benefits, most of them very tangible.

    So, for once, we have done something that the forces want, and that is also strategically wise, despite what the naysayers like Dasgupta say.

  66. you said:

    We must start ask Dasault to help on LCA. front. After all it is designed by them ! Rafael or no Rafael we must have at-least 15 squadrons of Tejas within 10 years.

    Ha ha Ha ... you mean to say we must ask Dasualt to commit suicide or be the second fiddle...

    You DRDO guys are nuts...

  67. Wonderful article Ajai Sir, thanks :-)

    - Tanuj, Noida

  68. 10 days not a single news on defense.
    Mr. Shukla request you to update on F-INSAS. It's 2012 and no one is talking about it.

  69. @Heberian

    My dear friend whatever you said to @nayan is right, we again agree on something.

    Btw i pitched for the UAE Mirages for these very strategic reasons.

    Consider the scenario that by 2025-35 despite inclusion of 200 Rafales
    (possibly), 140 LCA (doubt), 272+ Sukhoi, 250 FGFA, 200 AMCA (last 2 depending on investment by India) we will still not be anywhere near the 45 sqaudrons as the ACM has said we need to protect our border.

    So what to do, only option is either increase the number of these heavy jets or go for some light ones (only option here is Mirage). But using the heavy jets in short range battles would be like 'Using Sword to Cut Vegetable'.

    With India putting close to 30 billion on Rafales (eventually) this will make it easier for France to manage the sale of Scorpene, Super Scorpene, MICA, Baracuda SSNs to India.

    With MICA already through, I will still say France can help India get those UAE jets (France has first say as to who gets them).

    After all why would India spend close to the same amount that it will spend on 5th gen. FGFA on a 4++ gen. jet if it did not get any concession or benefit.

    your arguments please


    Joydeep Ghosh

  70. shuklaji ki ho? kya ho? kaisa ho?

  71. Mr. Ajai,

    Why is it so difficult for a nation like India which boasts premium engineering colleges and produces lakhs of them every year to develop a jet or for that matter a jet engine ?, a friend of mine asked me that question and it knocked the wind out of me for the answer.

  72. I would like to intimate you about the journey of Pakistan.Recently i coming from Pakistan after spending our summer vacation.i had not any kind of problem there because of cheap flights to pakistan.No worries about the fare they give you best fare for Pakistan. I had lots of enjoyment there.good picnic point are available there which is gave us some fun. i recommend you if you want to enjoy your summer vacation n get lots of fun then go there Pakistan to see the fabulous places.hilly place just like a heaven.


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