After concluding a 7.8-billion-euro deal with France’s Dassault Aviation for 36 Rafale fighter jets, the Indian Air Force is looking for the next round of combat aircraft acquisition.
After concluding a 7.8-billion-euro deal with France’s Dassault Aviation for 36 Rafale fighter jets, the Indian Air Force is looking for the next round of combat aircraft acquisition. The Gripen fighter plane manufactured by Sweden’s Saab and American giant Lockheed Martin’s F-16 are seen to be top contenders for grabbing the lucrative IAF contracts and both firms are open to setting up production lines in India under the Modi government’s Make in India drive, official said.
US firms Boeing and Lockheed have made several presentations to the Indian defence ministry where they discussed manufacturing top-line aircraft with high-end technology in India as well as technology transfer and licensing parameters.
Lockheed, sources said, has offered to move its lone production line of the latest version of fighter aircraft F 16-Block 70 to India from Texas to meet Indian and global requirements, but with a rider that the IAF has to choose the world’s largest-sold fighter aircraft for its fleet.
From India’s perspective, besides the 36 Rafale fighter planes from Dassault, there is an urgent requirement for almost 100-plus aircraft. “The number of squadrons has gone down to 32 from the required 45. In 2007, IAF was looking for 126 medium multirole combat aircraft, with a follow-on order, bringing the number to 200. There is still a need for another 100 aircraft with a follow on for another 50 machines to meet the requirements,” said a senior IAF officer.
As far as the IAF is concerned, the F-16, which is presently being operated by the Pakistan Air Force, would be unsuitable from operational, strategic, and technological angles. The F-16 is a 40-year-old airframe, and all the upgrades that are possible are already done. There is no room for any more growth. A 40-year-old design does have its limitations that cannot be overlooked.
Industry sources, however, have pointed out that if the competition is between Lockheed and the Swedish firm, then probably the US giant will have a tough time getting a local partner. “The company does not have a strong partner to work with here locally. However, its partnership with Tata is not exclusive as it is also partnering with Boeing,” said a source.
“The offer we have given to the Indian government is unmatched and from our side unprecedented,” Randall L Howard, F16 business development head at Lockheed had said here. He said the company wants to make F 16-Block 70 “for India, from India and export to the world”. But some analysts have added a cautionary note. Air marshal M Matheswaran (retd), former deputy chief, integrated defence staff, said: “The F-16 has outlived its time. By proposing this Lockheed Martin is aiming to convert the winding up of the F-16 production line into a cash cow for another three decades.”
Meanwhile, Saab has offered to provide India’s state-run Aeronautical Development Agency assistance with the light combat aircraft Mk II, which is being developed for the Indian Navy.
Original post @financialexpress.com
India would be really out of their minds to chose the F-16
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Officials at Bulgaria’s Defence Ministry have begun quietly proposing changing the criteria for assessing the tenders for the supply of multi-role fighter jets for the air force, reports on October 14 said.
This is the latest twist in the long-running saga of Bulgaria acquiring military fighter aircraft that will meet the standards of the Nato alliance of which the country has been a member since 2004, and that will enable Bulgaria to move on from using its diminished fleet of ageing Soviet-made MiG-29s, which for now it is keeping serviceable for air space defence.
The changes in the criteria were drafted after Roumen Radev resigned his post as air force commander to stand as the Bulgarian Socialist Party’s candidate in the country’s November 2016 presidential elections.
Radev is said to have favoured the acquisition of the out-of-the-box new Gripen fighters, which would be made available to the country on a favourable payment plan and, as new aircraft, would have a longer lifespan than second-hand planes.
Reportedly, the changes to the criteria would favour the acquisition of US-made second-hand aircraft.
The main contenders to supply the replacement aircraft to the Bulgarian Air Force are the United States, Portugal and Israel, with second-hand F-16s, Italy, with second-hand Eurofighters, and Sweden, with new Gripens.
The Institute of Defence at the Defence Ministtry, headed by Todor Tagarev, has drafted changes to the criteria for the acquisition, which would involve getting 16 fighters in two tranches. For the first eight of the fighters, with related infrastructure and equipment, a sum of 1.5 billion leva is envisaged.
The changes to the criteria reportedly de-emphasise expected lifespan of the aircraft as a factor, from 25 per cent to only five per cent.
Further, a new criterion is introduced, “military co-operation”. This would be an advantage for the US, given that Bulgaria co-operates mainly with the US military, and would be a disadvantage for Sweden, which is not a member of Nato. The institute is said to have put this factor forward as a major factor in making the decision.
The third proposal is to eliminate the multi-purpose fighter factor, which would mean that the air force would need to continue to support the Russian Su-25s based at Bezmer. This move contradicts Defence Ministry plans to get rid of Soviet-made weaponry. It also would be costly because the air force would need to devote more money to support different types of military aircraft.
It is understood that at the time of the first government headed by Boiko Borissov, Bulgaria came close to a deal to acquire used F-16s from Portugal, which would have been third-hand. But the premature end of that Borissov government, when it resigned in the face of cost-of-living protests that turned violent in early 2013, snuffed out the deal.
Romania ended up getting some of Portugal’s F-16s, which have the downside of their limited life expectancy. The rest would be on offer to Bulgaria.
It remains to be seen whether Bulgaria’s Defence Ministry will take on board the changes proposed by the Institute of Defence.
The issue was raised at a meeting of Parliament’s committee on defence, with opposition BSP MP Atanas Zafirov asking whether it was true that the life expectancy of the fighters, which had been the most important criterion, was reduced close to zero as a factor.
The BSP’s Angel Naidenov, who was defence minister in 2013 and 2014, and defence committee head General Miho Mihov, also asked whether there were changes in the criteria for the fighter jet acquisition.
Committee member Valentin Radev expressed dissatisfaction that Parliament had voted 1.5 billion leva for the purchase of new multi-role fighters, yet six months had gone by and nothing had happened.
The project to acquire new fighter aircraft is to be discussed next week at the Ministry of Defence’s defence council.
Air Force commander Major-General Tsanko Stoikov said that the stages and financial parameters of the project remained the same.
Defence Minister Nikolai Nenchev said that a letter of intent would be sent to Sweden, Italy and Portugal, and once replies were received, a decision made on who would be granted the project.
Original post @sofiaglobe.com