POLL: India’s 1-year MMRCA marathon begins – who will win?

Defpro.com reports that the Indian Air Force launched flight trials yesterday of the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, beginning a nearly one-year evaluation of the six contenders vying for a $12 billion order for 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft MMRCA). The F/A-18E/F is first up, but the competition is wide open. Boeing’s rivals are the Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin F-16IN, RAC MiG-35 and Saab Gripen IN. Please vote for your favorite.

Given the US defense industry’s amazing success on the subcontinent since 2005, so far I see India tilting in Boeing’s direction. But I would not discount the Russians and the French — India’s longtime weapons suppliers — just yet. Although US officials made a huge deal about signing the end-use monitoring agreement last month, it was interesting to read that the Indian Air Force wasn’t so impressed. The very reliable StratPost blog even quoted one IAF commenter suggesting the end-use agreement would expose a Super Hornet or Viper fleet to US spying.


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28 Responses to POLL: India’s 1-year MMRCA marathon begins – who will win?

  1. Dave 18 August, 2009 at 4:35 pm #

    I believe that the IAF will continue it’s association with Russian Aviation in the MiG-35, it will be cheaper, it is versatile in role and it will not suffer from export equipment controls as so often happens with American exported fighters.
    Typhoon will probably be too expensive even though co-operation in fighter engines is being mooted, Gripen perhaps does not have enough overall muscle and Rafale, well who knows, maybe a dark horse but I doubt it.

  2. Anonymous 18 August, 2009 at 4:39 pm #

    Nobody will win, they will all loose money trying to capture that market and loose even more money dealing with Indian bureaucracy…

  3. Prometheus 18 August, 2009 at 5:48 pm #

    I cant see a define lead for a US plane.

    I would guess France would offer an all inclusive deal with their help for SSBN, new ships and rafale.
    Look at Brazil.

    therefore my frontrunner is Dassault.

  4. Bubba Gump 18 August, 2009 at 6:42 pm #

    It all political!
    India has one very close friend in the bunch and that’s mother Russia. As for the other contenders, Sweden would be second due to its lite pro-Nato stance and cost and quality of the Gripen. US F18/16 are old news. And the Rafale is well… French. India has enough Typhoon as it is… not talk about aircraft.
    MiG-35 FTW with the sensible Swede coming in 2nd!

  5. solomon 18 August, 2009 at 8:30 pm #

    LM has basically no chance in this comp. With Pakistan flying F-16′s you can pretty much rule them out. The Gripen which is a good airplane is the modern day F-20….good but not great and doesn’t live up to the aspirations of developing powers. The MIG-35 has no chance with Indian experience with Russian aircraft…Typhoon is interesting and I have no clue on its chances and the Rafale is probably the wildcard. The French will sell their souls to get a customer for the airplane and will give some pretty interesting tech transfers. I personally like the F-18 but unless the Indians want closer ties then I would think that they’ll go with the Rafale.

  6. Dan 18 August, 2009 at 10:29 pm #

    The prudent choice would be the Typhoon, especially since its the best AtA jet in the competetion.

    The Gripens isn’t a modern day F-20 either, its datalink is pretty much the best thing operational – thats not LPI. It will come with future Meteor potential which will likely give it a significant edge over F-16/18 and 120D in the future BVR. Its more agile then both 16/18 in subsonic and supersonic agility and probably is more difficult to detect with its reduced RCS and Jamming than the F-16/18.

  7. ELP 18 August, 2009 at 10:34 pm #

    Doesn’t matter much what x y z jet has. What does matter is sovereignty. If some time in the future India does something that offends the U.S. ….. any U.S. jets will be cut off from support.

  8. Johnny 18 August, 2009 at 11:17 pm #

    Typhoon is too expensive and the British cutting orders doesn’t inspire confidence.

    Grippen may have a chance considering that this deal could be make or break for Saab.

    The Rafael and the Mig-35 have the best chance out of all these aircraft in my opinion. Like someone said before, the French have cut extremeliy good deals with other countries to sell aircraft. The Indian’s also have plenty of experience running Russian aircraft and buying more aircraft may also help smooth over hard feelings over the carrier refurbishment…maybe.

  9. Aleks 19 August, 2009 at 2:03 am #

    IF the GripenIN was to be powered by an uprated EJ200, then I think it would be clearly a front runner. Using and F404-? is holding it to hostage and I’m still amazed that the Swedes ‘chose’ this (Bae?).

    An uprated EJ200 would serve well also for the LCA considering the Kaveri(sp?) engine is just not up to the job and it would also have commonality with the EF-2000 if that is what they decided to do in future, though this has not insignificant US content and there is some question as to Bae being now an american company rather than a british one (so the US will have more pull).

    An F-404 F-18 and thus, economically and logically speaking, also powering the LCA, not to mention it is a warmed up standard F-18 which despite the sparkling electronics is not up there with the current generation of dogfighters.

    Which leaves the French and the Russians. AESA radar, source codes, full engine tech, ridiculous manoeuvrability and desperate for the cash! The Indians would be more able to name their terms than with the other competitors. OTOH, they are supposedly involved with PAK-FA which should be beyond this generation of aircraft… The Frogs it is then!

    No doubt the Indians will mix and match the electronics again incl. domestic and probably israeli equipment.

  10. Mike 19 August, 2009 at 11:31 pm #

    Actually, the F-16 has an edge none of the others can claim, namely it’s ubiquitous on the world market. Therefore, it will have the largest selection of spares, upgrades, after market kit, etc. readily available on the world market. That should bring its total price of ownership down significantly.

  11. Prometheus 20 August, 2009 at 3:27 am #

    British cutting orders doesn’t inspire confidence.

    You read that wrong.
    The Deal fot the Typhoon is very strict, original because Germany was always the one to cut number so insteady of buying all T3 aircraft at once the buy for the T3 Typhoons will be split also know as being bushed back, but make no mistake, only if all 4 partnernation want to cut number, everybody will get what they ordered.

  12. maddy 31 August, 2009 at 8:30 am #

    I strongly believe that the americans cannot be trusted, especially when they are trying to sell older aircraft. Hence Gripen and Rafael have a good change but Mig should be IAF’s choice since Indians are already comfortable with russian tech and have a massive infra for it but need to very careful on future support.

  13. ajay kumar 3 September, 2009 at 4:57 pm #

    i think we can buy f18 and gripen both.i like most gripen.because the swiden have better record for any agriment of other countries.they always stands of its commitment.

  14. Ranjeet Singh 16 September, 2009 at 6:54 am #

    Since China is posing security threats to India and its military hardware is from Russian origion ,India must shift to US technology for its armed forces specially airforce and army.

  15. dasster 3 January, 2010 at 9:06 am #

    I’d go with Gripen. 2nd place wud be Rafale. This is because Indians are passionate about their aircraft being light in weight. Gripen is the lightest of them. Also Gripen has the ability to land on and take off from public roads and can be serviced easily by a small ground staff (5 men). It doesn’t require an airport/airbase. Typically, enemies target airports/bases, so this is crucial. But Saab doesn’t have a proven combat record. At least Dassault’s aircraft (and derived aircraft like Kfir) have a proven record. They have played a role (in India and elsewhere) and have done well in combat. Mig 29 (or Mig 35) is just too heavy. It does not have a very good combat record. Even non-combat aircraft (like Mig 25 which is a more of a reconnaissance aircraft) has a better kill ratio than Mig 29.

  16. sd 20 March, 2010 at 4:41 am #

    I think Rafale is the most suitable fit between LCA at one end and PAK FA at the other end of spectrum of Indian fighters over next 25 years. F16- Pakistan has it and hence not practical. Gripen is a great vale for money but Congress will never make any more deals with a sweden after the saur bofors experience. MIG 35 is a close second but has no combat records and will leave India with just Russian fighters. Eufighter is the best aircraft next to F 22 in the world but it’s damn expensive (may rather buy more Su 30). F 18 is a good fighter but India may not get all the technology it needs especially with software codes on AESA radar.

  17. hari_S 14 April, 2010 at 7:06 am #

    India wants to replace too many planes with one MMRCA. Mig 23, mig 27, and Jaguar are ground attack & deep penetration planes. Mig 21 is supposed to be an interceptor.

    No single plane can fulfill all these roles, however, F-18 SH seems to be the best fit for that role.

    Ideally they should go for two planes… Typhoon and F18. Both these planes complement each other and provide Indian air Force a technological leap. Particularly since PAK-FA will take at least 10 years to production-ise.

    If India chooses Mig35, well good luck… its just a glorified Mig29. These planes spend more time in the workshop than in the air.

  18. Ben Dover 31 May, 2010 at 4:57 pm #

    This made me smile and hopefully after your last post it will do the same for you:

    If you can’t learn to do it well, learn to enjoy doing it badly. :)

  19. VS 15 July, 2010 at 11:16 am #

    OK, this is my analysis more from a political/economical perspective with a due consideration to the performance of the aircrafts.
    Asuming 3 out the six contenders are shortlisted, it would be safe to assume one of the would be an American company (for the obvious reason of the new found love between the two democricies) & I wish it is Boeing. LM is obviously not preffered cos of the Pakistani connection.
    The only genuine argument against the Eurofighter is its cost and it is fair to say it is probably better than the rest in the competetion. The argument given earlier was “why not buy more SU30MKI for almost the same price”. Agreed, although both aircrafts have different roles to play. But now the scenario has changed from a year back especially in terms of the costs with eurofighter. The fall of the euro has lead to the Typhoon being cost about 20% less than a year back. This is going to be a significant consderation and why not pay a little more and get the best that is available.
    The third contender should be Rafale. I prefer it over Mig’s cos we already have a lot of dealing with Russians so dependence on one suppler is never too healthy. Also given the new 50000 crore navy deal that was announced recently, im sure Russians will get their share out of it.
    To summarise: my preference order Eurofighter, Boeing F/A 18, Rafale.
    Mig, LM’s F 16 and Gripen seem to be a waste of time now.

  20. Wicca Altar 23 July, 2010 at 1:44 pm #

    Wonderful to read!

  21. spetsnaz 20 September, 2010 at 2:30 am #

    Through an objective assessment from an outsider’s point of view, the Rafale seems to be the best fit for India’s strategic, tactical, operational, and logistical requirements.

  22. Sandipan Bhattacharya 2 October, 2010 at 1:33 pm #

    I think eurofighter typhoon and f-18 e/f super hornett for mmrca deal (India) .

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  24. hari_s 21 March, 2011 at 6:30 am #

    The Indian Air Force chief says that the decision will be made in the month of March. It’s March now.

    India formally signed FGFA with Russia, and China tested its stealth fighter. Also there were reports of India increasing the MMRCA count to 260 from 120. And that makes sense. All they have to do is cancel the Mirage 2K upgrade. Instead they could order 120 F16s or Grippens, in addition to the 140 F-18 + EFs.

    A bigger question in the background might be about the F-35. F-35 costs about 100 mil a piece, which same as EF or Rafale. Rafale might actually be costlier, even though its a much less capable plane.

  25. aayush 11 April, 2011 at 11:48 am #

    I think India will buy F 18 SH , Gripens and Rafales .
    1) Now india start feeling that Rassia is not USSR . USSR was much friendly with India but Russia is worse than anything.
    That’s why India need somebody as a partner like supporter , that is USA. Imagine things gone worse up to that lavel that India have to make an internation tender for Russian weapons parts. WHY? Can’t they buy it from Russia ?
    Now to make US happy India have to buy F 18 SH . You see INDIA WILL BUY IT ALSO . NO MATTER WHAT .
    India choose GE 414 engine for TEJAS . Why? The same engine will fit in Gripens and F 18 SH.
    2) IAF loves French aircraft. They are one of the BEST also . All French weapons are most costly .You have to pay more always .But they help when really we need them . Now or latar India will buy Rafales.
    India also choose co-partner as a French company for KAVERI engines . In future that will help for Rafales engine also.
    3) In near past and near future how many new fighter aircrafts India already purchased and will buy . They all are HEAVY OR Medium aircraft . Just think how many IAF have to spend for them , just as operational cost per hourly .They all cost INDIA nearly more than 4000$ per hour , just as to operate them . And how many of them India got . Now India really need some thing cost effective but nearly same performer in good numbers also . That air craft must be very very reliable . India got TEJAS , but it is a new aircraft . not proven in war. That is why GRIPEN IS , INDIA will buy this little but deadly bird. Very cost effective and eassy to maintain. Navy also need this aircraft as per the size of this aircraft and size of our aircraft carrier .

    Now F 16 , Mig 35 and ET.

    1) F 16 does not have good future any more , soon after F 35 , the comany will no more going to make any F 16.

    2) Mig 35 , We have to wait for this aircraft , not operational fully yet . India also decided that no more rassian aircrafts.
    3) E. Typoons , good for air to air but not good for air to ground , have to wait till 2018 for that . Not easy to get any SPARE PARTS.

    I think these are the few reasons why India will go for few aircrafts and will say no to some of them .

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