POLL: Make your shortlist for India’s next fighter

NEW UPDATE: Saab officially confirms they’re out of the running.

UPDATE: India’s equally definitive StratPost blog reports today that Typhoon and Rafale have been effectively shortlisted, leaving the F-16IN, F/A-18E/F, Gripen and MiG-35 out of the running. Shiv Aroor’s LiveFist blog also is reporting that the competition has narrowed to Typhoon and Rafale ]

The Financial Express in India reports today that the shortlist of candidates for the $10 billion medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) contract should be released by “early May”.

Given the India defense ministry’s track record on MMRCA and other tortuously drawn-out acquisition decisions, it’s perhaps forgivable for a cynic to wonder if the Financial Express’ source in the ministry intended to mean early May of 2011, or some other year.

Shiv Aroor of the definitive LiveFist defense blog, meanwhile, has a good breakdown of India’s options as the clock ticks down on the validity of the competitors’ proposals.

So place your bets: India is expected to downselect as many as three candidates to continue negotiations, with a final contract scheduled to be signed in September, although … [insert preferred caveat language here].


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16 Responses to POLL: Make your shortlist for India’s next fighter

  1. Kay 27 April, 2011 at 4:53 pm #

    Eurofighter should be a good buy. Eurofighter program been ripped apart by the British (any many other) media but it’s mostly the way RAF has handled the issue (poor inventory of spares,cost and time overruns in the program) rather than the plane as such.

  2. aeroxavier 27 April, 2011 at 8:05 pm #

    for people like me, who follow this competition, that’s not one surprise.
    The eurofighter was one shitty plane for all country of the consortium (price and all plane need be upgrading).But this plane was expensive and not one multi role plane, libya prove it, and GB have push the few typhoon who can launch one bomb, just for say “yes, he can”
    The rafale have low cost, he prove all days his capacity (who many people didn’t know or don’t will know…).In libya, for expert, the multi role action of one plane was largely proved, and the rafale was the sole airplane who can make air to air and air to ground mission in the same fly (all others “multirole” fighters, need be programmed before)

    India have dassault planes, and don’t have one problem with that (i see many time, “country who buy french plane have prob when they make wars).
    But india ties was better with GB than france.

    For me the rafale is the best choice of airplane, but the quality of the plane was not the single part of the contract.

  3. saberhagen 28 April, 2011 at 4:31 am #


    Low cost? I’d love to see some proven figure compared to other ‘high cost’ alternatives.

    Prove all days his capacity? Correct if I’m wrong, but it only participated in Afghanistan and Lybia campaigns, and both countries’ air force and air defense are virtually non-existence. How come its a ‘proven record’?

  4. buena 28 April, 2011 at 12:55 pm #

    still living in denial ? ;)


  5. arby 28 April, 2011 at 1:10 pm #

    The cynic in me says that Libya is just a live action marketing demonstration…

  6. JayJay 28 April, 2011 at 1:22 pm #

    @ saberhagen

    One could answer that the Eurofighter or the Gripen have even less (by far) operatinal experience than the Rafale.

    Anyway, although I am pretty convinced that the Rafale would be the better choice for India (excellent plane, reasonable cost, independant provider), I am also convinced that it will not be chosen. To much political pressure behind this choice. I would be very surprised if the US did not win this contract

  7. Royce 28 April, 2011 at 1:48 pm #

    A deal with France makes the most sense to me. A U.S. fighter purchase comes with too many strings attached for a government that has long focused on maintaining strategic independence. The French already have a connection to the IAF via the Mirage, and France is desperate to export the Rafale, which should result in very good commercial terms and tech transfer.

  8. John K 28 April, 2011 at 3:05 pm #

    Here is a rough cost breakdown of the Rafale. After conversion to dollars it’s not that cheap, by far…


    And for some of you, please leave operational/combat experience out of this. If that criteria weighed heavily then the F-18 SH would have blown this competition out of the hole for its roles in Afghanistan and Iraq, and it being the only operationat/combat proven AESA equipped aircraft.

    And yes, Libya is part an arms marketing show. I’ve noticed how certain countries make almost hourly updates on what aircraft, which weapons system and on what type targets they were used. Pretty amazing actually considering the whole hypocrisy of the situation.

  9. aeroxavier 28 April, 2011 at 5:15 pm #

    ” but it only participated in afghanistan and libya”
    what do you mean? he need make WW2 to launch one bomb? it is one recent plane (2006 in french air force), and yes france don’t have make irak war, one terrible war 2 strong army face to face…
    IF f-16 or f-18 was 30 years old, that’s not my problem.

    And yes the rafale was not so exepensive like many people imagine.One plane cost 50 millions€ in production but france will sell it for 90m$.But if for you, one plane is one plane, one rafale=f16= f-22=f-35=f-15; you can’t see why he don’t cost more than some others

  10. K. Nguyen 28 April, 2011 at 6:28 pm #

    I say the Typhoon and Rafale roughly have equal chances? What is unclear (to me) is whether this acquisition will improve India’s chances in a potential border conflict with China. Hopefully, it will not be an another 1962 redux?

    The PRC has been modernizing its air fields across the border and in a not so distant future, India will be facing at a minimum 1000+ advanced 4th and 5th gen Chinese fighters (when you count all the SU-27/30, j10, J11, J15, etc. Factoring in the J20 long range stealth bomber and a stealth fighter that is likely already in the cards (although not revealed), I wonder how survivable will be India’s Su-30 and Typhoon or Rafale? Does India hold a quality edge? That is a big question mark. Will India has the quantity edge? the answer is clearly no today and it does not seem there is even a strategy to close this gap.

    I focus on China as I do believe the PRC is the real regional strategic competitor to India. Pakistan, that is just a side show that China knows how to leverage to keep India busy and guessing.

  11. kelesis 28 April, 2011 at 6:50 pm #

    It is clear that on a pure technical point of vue, Rafale was the best of the six contenders. It’s superiority over F-18, F-16 and Typhon has been shown several times. I really don’t understand why the US did not offered the F-35!

  12. puppethead 28 April, 2011 at 11:27 pm #

    Probably didn’t offer F-35 because India would be more likely to actually use the damned thing before even the US – without US influence. They (US) would be more confident that the other most likely – Israel – would not stuff up employment of the F-35 (not that India definitely would, just that Israel definitely wouldn’t), hence the willingness to supply Israel.

    What odds a Typhoon vs Rafale fly-off? At least to keep the Air Force (and us DEWliners!) entertained while the politicians slug it out.

  13. nico 28 April, 2011 at 11:57 pm #

    I never thought F16,Gripen and Mig were really in the running for various reasons. Figured the battle was between which Euro jet to pitch against SH. Sad day for US aerospace that we couldn’t make it to be one of the finalist. I know India wanted a lot of tech transfer and stuff but still bit surprised SH wasn’t kept in the running to squeeze Euro industry and SH was a nice back up anyways.

    At this point, it is Typhoon to lose this competition. I have a hard time seeing how Dassault can compete. I guess EF consortium would really have to screw things up but I think they can offer so much more. Bigger production run, more European nations than just France, probably better chance of exports, figure Middle East and Asian nations could be interested at a EF Tranche 4 compared to JSF?…Both should be able to fire Meteor so that is a wash, price should be close, I think both still need work with AESA, again wash but I think EF have looked at TVC more than Dassault, could be a nice little option down the road. We will have to see what other offsets and tech transfers could tilt it back to France. Maybe access to nuclear or submarine tech could even the odds?

  14. So? 29 April, 2011 at 5:39 am #

    The best choice would be to cancel the whole thing. Which, I suspect, the Indians will end up doing. A show-and-tell for their benefit. Otherwise they risk ending up with a zoo like 1939 tank inventories. Light, Medium, Heavy, cruiser, fast tank, infantry tank, tankette, assault gun, tank destroyer, etc… If they really want tech transfer, the most sane thing to do would be to order a custom Gripen with a euro engine and radar, and cancel Tejas of course.

  15. saberhagen 29 April, 2011 at 9:19 am #


    “The rafale have low cost” now becomes “he don’t cost more than some others”. Now I don’t have a doctoral degree in language but I do know these 2 statements are NOT the same.

    “it is one recent plane (2006 in french air force), and yes france don’t have make irak war, one terrible war 2 strong army face to face”

    that’s exactly my point. How with such a ‘history’ like this people can call it a proven platform? Of course its not anybody’s fault if an airplane does not have much chance to prove itself, but that’s the FACT and plain wrong to say it “prove all days his capacity” while even you yourself acknowledge the FACT that it’s new and havent had much real life combat.

  16. raf 1 May, 2011 at 12:25 pm #

    India had say the rejection of F35 program, Transfert technology is limited (extensive case), usa sell to pakistan jet fighter, it is a country hostile of india, ITAR component are a threat on India, sanction usa and throat made on india was usaly taken. Don t very, they don t want plane, F18/16 get many failure at trial test, note 3/3.5, and rafale was note 4.5 at trial test. And after you dream to sell USA jet fighter to India.
    Europe come logicaly, but eurofighter contain ITAR component, that mean usa can use pressure on it,
    that is not the case of rafale, USA don t controle anything on Dassault technolgy, it is ITAR free. That why rafale would be the best solution for India, dassault is open for full TOT and strong partner ship.

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