Posts Tagged ‘Indian Air Force’

Eurofighter tries to spoil the Indian MMRCA Rafale deal

March 24, 2012
Rafale de l'Escadron de Chasse 1/7 Provence

Rafale de l'Escadron de Chasse 1/7 Provence: Wikipedia

It is not unexpected or unusual in the award of large Indian contracts that the “losing” bidder cries “foul” and claims that the evaluation process was manipulated. From my own experience in the Power industry it is “standard practice” for a losing bidder to enlist the aid of the media, politicians and the courts in crying foul and in trying to get an award to a competitor overturned. Again, from my own experience, such tactics can often delay awards but rarely succeed. Such “spoiling” can cause much rancour with the client and – more often than not – is counter-productive. In marketing and sales for large projects in India, “spoiling” a competitor’s award is rather easy but only delays matters and is not really worthwhile. The real sales skill lies in getting to be the lowest bidder and then beating off the “spoilers”.

Dassault’s Rafale was announced as being the lowest bidder beating the Eurofighter for the $20billion Indian MMRCA contract at the end of January. Now comes the cry of “possible foul”  from a Member of the Upper House of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) who is also a member of Parliament’s standing Defence Committee. (The MP, MV Mysura Reddy,  is a former member of the Congress Party who left to join the regional Telegu Desam party. He has lost 3 elections for Parliament but has been appointed by his party to the Upper House).


Indian MMRCA: Dassault’s Rafale dumps its price to beat the Eurofighter

January 31, 2012

Finally the winner of the Indian MMRCA competition has been announced (or at least the L1 bidder) and it seems that the French dumped their prices for the Rafale to beat the Eurofighter by $4-5 million per aircraft. The performance of the Rafale in the Libyan adventure was also to its benefit compared to the Eurofighter Typhoon. Normally in the procurement process, the L1 bidder is called for final discussions to settle the contract and some further price negotiations can be expected. The contract will not be settled till the next fiscal year (after April 2012) and it would be very unusual for the evaluated L1 bidder not to get the contract. This contract is particularly important for Dassault since not only did the Rafale need a boost but also because they are guaranteed a market with the Indian Air Force for at least the next 15 years.

Economic Times:

French company Dassault Rafale on Tuesday bagged India’s biggest-ever contract for supplying 126 combat aircraft for the air force, edging out European competitor EADS in the multi-billion dollar deal. 

The French firm was declared as the lowest bidder, according to which it will get the contract under India’s defence procurement procedure, sources said.  “The French firm Dassault Rafale has emerged as the L-1 (lowest bidder) and cheaper than its european rival EADS (maker of Eurofighter) in the tender and will be offered to supply the aircraft to the IAF,” the source said. 

They said the representatives of Dassault here were informed about the development in the morning and further negotiations on price will be held with them in the next 10-15 days. 

The contract will be signed only in the next fiscal. According to the Request for Proposal (RFP), the winner of the contract will have to supply 18 of the 126 aircraft to the IAF in 36 months from its facilities and the remaining would be produced at HAL facilities in Bangalore. 

Six companies including American F-16 and F-18, Russian MiG 35, Swedish Saab Gripen alongwith Eurofighter and Dassault Rafale were in the race in the beginning. But in April last year, the Defence Ministry shortlisted Dassault and EADS, evicting the American, Russian and Swedish bids. 

The process was started with the issuing of a global tender in 2007 after which all the six contenders were subjected to extensive field evaluation trails by the Indian Air Force at several locations across the globe. 

The Defence Ministry had earlier cleared the way for opening commercial bids of Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon by approving their offset proposals.

famille Rafale

Indian MMRCA decision imminent as political support peaks for the Eurofighter Typhoon

December 28, 2011

The long running saga for the purchase of 126 combat aircraft for the Indian Air Force (worth in excess of 11 Billion $) is coming to a head between the 2 short listed – the Eurofighter Typhoon (UK, Germany, Italy and Spain) and the French Rafale. In April, Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet, Lockheed Martin’s F-16IN Super Viper, the MiG Corporation’s MiG-35 and Saab’s Gripen NG were eliminated after the technical evaluation leaving Dassault’s Rafale to compete with the Eurofighter built by a 4-country consortium. The winner is likely to sell a further 80 – 100 aircraft in a second phase. One requirement that the suppliers will be judged on is the extent to which technology transfer will take place and the extent to which Indian industry can become sub-suppliers. Rumours in the Defence Ministry are indicating a decision in the first half of January 2012.

The political support for the Eurofighter has reached its peak with a joint letter written by the leaders of the four supplier countries to the Indian Government welcoming India as a “fifth partner country”.


Indian MMRCA contract: Financial bids from Eurofighter and Rafale due on 4th November

October 31, 2011

The protracted process for the $10 billion (which will become $15 billion) contract for the supply of 126 fighter aircraft (MMRCA – Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft) to the Indian Air Force is coming into its final lap. Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault’s Rafale made the short list and have been asked to submit their “best and final offers”. The financial bids will be opened on November 4th. The contract is expected to contain an option for an additional 63 aircraft.

MSN India reports:

With the decision of the defence ministry to open the financial bids early next month of the two finalists in the IAF?s medium multi role combat aircraft (MMRCA) tender, IAF can now hope to acquire the first lot of 18 aircraft by end-2014 or mid-2015, depending on when the contract is signed.

The ministry completed the formalities last week and sent letters Monday to representatives of Eurofighter and Rafale for opening the bids on the afternoon of Friday, November 4. The representatives would authenticate the tender packets as their own and as submitted by them earlier, in the presence of senior ministry officials, and then they would be opened by one of the designated officers. …

Although the ministry’s initial assessment was that the deal could be worth around $10 billion, the Rafale and Eurofighter should cost somewhere around $15 billion. … it was only in 2007 that a Request for Proposals (RFP), or tender, was issued to these two European companies as well as US Lockheed Martin for the F-16 Super Viper and Boeing for F/A-18 Super Hornet, Swedish Saab for the Gripen and Russia’s Rosoboronexport for Mig 29M2, later designated Mig 35.

Eurofighter Typhoon for Indian contract? image:

The bids are valid till the end of December so the final contract could be awarded by then. But this  is India and  Dassault for Rafale and the Cassidian European consortium  for the Eurofighter could always be asked to extend the validity or to renew their bids.

But it does seem that the long tendering and contracting process which began in 2007 is finally coming to an end.

My guess is that the Eurofighter Typhoon will be chosen.

Indian MMRCA decision in two weeks – Eurofighter Typhoon still leads

February 13, 2011

A decision on the winner of the $10 billion Indian MMRCA deal for 126 fighters could be announced in two weeks and the contract signed by September. But in the normal way of these things I expect that a number of the losing contractors will object to whoever is chosen and some of the objections may well be in Court. There is no large Government contract placed in India without allegations of biased and “fixed” evaluations by the losers. But eventually the number of decisions overturned by such objections is very few. Whoever is called for negotiations when the winner is announced is 95% certain of being awarded the contract.

Eurofighter take-off: image

The word on the street is that the 4-nation European consortium’s Eurofighter Typhoon still leads after the commercial and strategic evaluation having already won the technical evaluation . But all the offset proposals put forward by the contractors may not have been fully evaluated yet. It would seem that technical considerations for one ( Lockheed Martin’s F-16IN Super Viper) and strategic considerations for the other ( Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet) may disallow the choice of the US fighters. The Saab JAS 39 Gripen is probably running second.

But there may yet be a surprise.

Business Standard reports:

Electrifying aerospace vendors at Aero India 2011 in Bangalore, Indian Air Force chief, Air Chief Marshall PV Naik, announced today that New Delhi would decide within two weeks about which medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) it would buy, and actually sign the US $10 billion contract by September.

A panoramic view of Aero India 2011: image Broadsword (

“The CNC (Cost Negotiation Committee) is likely to start in a week or two. Taking that as the datum and giving [the CNC] another 6-8 months, the contract is likely to be signed in September”, declared Naik.
The CNC is a group of officials that negotiates, between the Ministry of Defence and the winning vendor, a final price for the sale.
Naik’s boss, defence minister AK Antony, had stated at Aero India 2011 yesterday that the globally-watched contract would be finalised by the end of the next financial year 2011-2012, i.e. by March 2012. By setting the deadline six months earlier, Naik appears to have put the MoD under pressure.
Asked for a clarification by Business Standard, Naik’s officiating deputy, Air Marshall RK Sharma, confirmed his chief’s announcement. Sharma clarified that the winning vendor would be issued an invitation within two weeks to appear for cost negotiations, while the CNC would actually meet within two months. An invitation to a vendor to appear in a CNC is tantamount to announcing the winner of a contract.
“The DAC (the MoD’s apex Defence Acquisition Council) will formalise the winner soon; we will then invite that company for negotiations”, said Sharma.
Six fighters are competing for the IAF contract: Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet; Lockheed Martin’s F-16IN Super Viper; the MiG Corporation’s MiG-35; Saab’s Gripen NG; Dassault’s Rafale; and a four-nation European consortium’s Eurofighter. Executives from these companies say they are baffled by Naik’s announcement. Asked in late-2010 to rework their offset bids, and with no date yet given for resubmission, the MoD does not have a key element needed to decide a winner.
“Is the MoD going to decide the contract winner without examining the offset bids?” asks a bemused executive, from one of the competing aircraft manufacturers.

The air chief also voiced his apprehension that the contract could be delayed by “dissatisfied vendors (who) put a spoke in the wheel”, using allegations of wrongdoing to trigger long-running probes by investigation agencies.
Yesterday, a defensive Antony had announced that political considerations would play no role in deciding the winner. That seemed to suggest that the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), which will be required to approval the contract after the CNC negotiates a final price, would merely rubber-stamp the IAF/MoD decision.
Other than the impending contract for 126 medium fighters to boost the IAF’s dwindling numbers, the IAF chief also announced the impending conclusion, “within this financial year”, of the contract to upgrade the air force’s 20-year-old fleet of 52 Mirage-2000 medium fighters. This upgrade, which has been the subject of bitter negotiations between the IAF and French contractor, Thales, will give the Mirage-2000 another 20 years of service life by fitting on a new radar and a modern cockpit with state-of-the-art avionics and electronic warfare equipment.
While Thales had initially demanded US $52 million per aircraft, the deal has been concluded, say IAF sources to Business Standard, at US 39 million per aircraft.

No surprise: “Secret” technical evaluation in Indian MMRCA deal found on the street

January 4, 2011

The Times of India reports on the bizarre story of a confidential file found on the street:

Even as the race for the “mother of all defence deals” enters the last lap, two IAS (Indian Administrative Service) officers of the defence ministry are now under the scanner for the mysterious way in which a “secret” file connected to the $10.4 billion project to acquire 126 new fighters went missing and was then found by a roadside.

There is an intense battle currently in progress to win the $10 billion deal for 126 combat aircraft (MMRCA – medium multi-role combat aircraft) where the final decision is expected to be taken by March. As I have posted earlier, the technical and flight evaluations on the 6 contenders were conducted by the Indian Air Force and their highly confidential and secret report was submitted to the Ministry of Defence  by early November 2010. Many rumours circulated at the time and the word on the street was that the Eurofighter Typhoon had won the technical evaluation. However this evaluation is merely one (but important) stage in the decision making process. The strategic and financial evaluations are under way and political lobbying is building up.  Some of this lobbying is at the highest levels of government and no doubt the recent visits to India by Obama and Medvedev and Sarkozy were utilised fully.

For all the contenders the technical evaluation is what determines what is left to be done to win the contract. The details in the technical evaluation report are most important for a contender to know how to compensate for any perceived failings. I am quite sure that every contender has managed by now to obtain a copy of the technical evaluation report. (To obtain copies of confidential reports from Indian bureaucrats is not in the realm of the impossible. In my experience obtaining reports and confidential documents from clerks in government service is much more effective than any Freedom of Information application and are not subject to any redactions.) I am equally sure that all the six aircraft manufacturers would have by now developed their sales strategies and lobbying plans based on the their weaknesses as recorded in the report. But what may have been missed by some is that unofficial dissemination of the “confidential” report is an expected event. It may even have been a deliberate leakage of the report as part of the Government of India’s buying strategy.

The six are:

  1. Dassault, Rafale, France
  2. Eurofighter, Typhoon, UK, Italy, Germany and Spain
  3. Lockheed Martin, F-16IN Super Viper, US
  4. Boeing, F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, US
  5. Saab, JAS 39 Gripen, Sweden
  6. Mikoyan, MiG-35, Russia

Even though there are only 6 contenders, the number of lobbyists, sub-contractors and foreign embassy officials involved would have led to at least 100 copies of the report having been “sold” by various bureaucrats with access to the file. So I do not find it very surprising that one of the many “unsold” copies was abandoned somewhere. The value of such reports goes down sharply with time. It must have been at its most expensive immediately after it was submitted to government and before the many visits by various heads of state to Delhi. Again from my past experience of such things I would expect that the report probably had an initial “price” of around Rs 10 lakhs (about $20,000) but now some 2 months later, can probably be purchased for less than 1 lakh ($2,000).

Nobody is probably very bothered by this episode since the leakage of the report to the contenders is part of the game and already taken into consideration by the Government. In fact leakage of “perceived weaknesses” to a supplier is one of the best buying strategies to extract improvements in the supplier’s offer. The most senior bureaucrats in the Ministry of Defence are probably congratulating themselves for having managed to disseminate so many copies of the report before this particular slip-up.

But for now all the right noises will be made for public consumption. As the ToI reports:

Ordering an inquiry into the episode, defence minister A K Antony on Monday said he was “very clear that every officer has to be very careful at every stage” while dealing with the huge MMRCA (medium multi-role combat aircraft) project. “We have viewed the incident seriously…the inquiry is in progress,” he said. It was last week that the “secret” file, which was earlier submitted to the MoD by IAF, went missing and was then found later in the day near Khelgaon Marg in South Delhi.

MoD was tight-lipped about the incident but sources said the file was apparently lost by the bureaucrats, one an additional secretary-rank officer and the other a director, while being taken to the Bharat Electronics Limited guest-house on Khelgaon Marg. The file was found by a security guard who then got in touch with the authorities concerned.

Indra Dhanush 2010 concludes but UK hopes of selling Harriers is dashed

November 3, 2010

By all accounts both the IAF and the RAF are very satisfied with the joint exercise Indra Dhanush 2010 which has just concluded. But UK hopes of selling the Harrier seem to have stalled. The Financial Times reports that

Britain has hit an early obstacle in its bid to sell its fleet of Harrier jump jets after India, the most promising potential buyer, described the aircraft as “iffy” and obsolete.

Air Chief Marshall PV Naik, the head of the Indian Air Force, said on Tuesday he would be looking to acquire modern aircraft of fourth-generation capabilities or better. “The Harrier doesn’t fit into that category,” the Air Chief Marshall said. His dismissive remarks over the “iffy” Harrier came soon after Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton, the chief of the UK air staff, acknowledged the possibility of a sale while paying a visit to India to boost military co-operation and exports.

The distinct lack of interest shown in the Harrier, which was decommissioned in the defence review primarily on grounds of cost, will be a blow to ministers who are seeking to generate some much-needed revenue from the disposal.

Air Chief Mashall Naik’s words will particularly sting because the Ministry of Defence has spent more than £500m upgrading the Harrier avionics over the last five years and the jets could potentially remain in service until the mid 2020s.

Sify News reports the conclusion of the exercise:

The joint air force drill between India and United Kingdom (UK) held under the banner of ‘Indradhanush’-III at Air Force Station Kalaikunda in West Bengal’s West Midnapore District concluded on Tuesday. The Royal Air Force of UK participated with modern Typhoon Eurofighters, the E-3D Sentry, and VC-10 mid air re-fueller, while the Indian Air Force (IAF) fielded the SU-30 MKIs, Mirage 2000s, Mig 27s and its AWACS for the first time in a joint Air Exercise.


Eurofighter Typhoon

Eurofighter Typhoon: Image by Destinys Agent via Flickr


Pilots of the Royal Air Force said that the purpose of this exercise was to enhance understanding between the Royal Air Force and the Indian Air Force. “The whole purpose of the exercise of the ‘Indradhanush’ has been to enhance understanding between the Royal Air Force and the Indian Air Force and whosoever increase…competence as an Air Force and it’s been on air front a very, very successful exercise,” said Guy Lockwood, a pilot of the Royal Air Force of United Kingdom.

“We have learned good things from them. They follow the NATO procedures, we follow our own. When we fought together we realised they have got some good things, they realised that we have also got some good tactics, we fought together, so it was a good experience,” said Susil Kumar, a pilot of the IAF.

During the initial two-days of the exercise on October 18 and 19, elaborate briefings on standard operating procedures, rules of exercise and familiarisation of the local flying area was carried out.

The exercise ‘Indradhanush’ began on October 21 and continued for 12-days.


Day 3 at Kalaikunda: image



Joint RAF / IAF exercise Indra Dhanush 2010 enters final phase

October 31, 2010
Eurofighter Typhoon

Eurofighter Typhoon: Image via Wikipedia

The joint UK / India air exercise Indra Dhanush 2010 which began on October 18th at Kalaikunda Airbase in West Bengal’s West Midnapur District has entered its final phase and is due to end on November 3rd.  The RAF is participating with its Euro-fighters, VC-10 mid- air refuellers and E 3 D Sentry Airborne Early Warnings and Control Systems (AWACS) while the IAF is flying the SU 30s, Mirage 2000s, Mig-27s and their newly acquired AWACS.

So far some 120 flying missions have been flown. In the final phase a large number of aircraft in offensive and defensive roles are expected to be launched in ‘Waves’ in a limited airspace to test the skills of the fighter pilots, the AWACS and the ground controllers. High Value Air Asset (HVAA) protection missions which require a large number of aircraft are also to be carried out.

The exercise takes place with the backdrop of the 11 billion $ order for 126 MMRCA fighters that is to be placed soon by the Indian Air Force. The six competing fighters that the IAF has flight-tested over the last year include Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet, Lockheed Martin’s F-16IN Super Viper, Dassault’s Rafale, the Russian MiG-35, the Swedish Saab Gripen NG and the Eurofighter.

Indian MMRCA deal seems to be going to the US

October 17, 2010

I posted a few days ago about the joint RAF / IAF  exercises and its connection to the Indian need to acquire some 126 combat aircraft.

The $10.4 billion project to acquire 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) for the Indian Air Force is in the final stages of the selection process. Apart from the Eurofighter, the other five contenders in the hotly-contested race for the lucrative MMRCA project are the F/A-18 `Super Hornet’ and F-16 `Falcon’ (both US), Gripen (Swedish), Rafale (French) and MiG-35 (Russian).


F/A-18E/F Super Hornet  (Neg#: Super Hornet )

F/A-18E/F Super Hornet: Boeing


While all the technical evaluations will no doubt be done by air-force  and MoD personnel, ultimately this is a political decision and the geo-political need to balance the growing Chinese might and to keep Pakistan in check will be paramount. The clear favourites in this game will be the US or the Russian aircraft. Domestically for the US government, an Indian order for either of the American fighters would be worth 27,000 jobs in the US. The commercial delegation accompanying Obama will be looking for a number of orders for nuclear power plant equipment to be finalised.


F-16 Figfhting Falcon: Lockheed-Martin



  • the timing of President Obama’s visit to India next month,
  • the visit of President Medvedev in December,
  • the political lobbying strength of the US,
  • the current concern in India about Chinese games in Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh,
  • the technical rather than political lobbying of Europe for the Eurofighter,
  • the absence of any political advantage with the Swedish Gripen,
  • the international weakness of Sarkozy in being able to support the French Rafale

the choice, I think comes down to Boeing’s F/A Super Hornet or Lockheed Martin’s F-16 Falcon. The strength of the MIG-35 lies in its continuity with the MIG’s that the IAF already has and the familiarity of HAL in Bangalore with the MIG. But, I think the US will be seen as much more politically useful in the balance-of-power game and India would not like that the Russian aircraft enjoy a monopoly position. Europe will be fobbed off with the British Hawk trainers.

But the play between the US and Russia is complex:

In return for Washington removing strategic hurdles (withdrawing entities like the Defence Research and Development Organisation from the US Entities List; easing the curbs on US high-tech exports to India), India could open up some of its lucrative markets to American companies.

The big-ticket transactions are the ones involving the defence market. India is expected to sign a deal with Boeing to buy 10 C-17 transport aircraft for about $3.5 billion during the Obama visit.

The Americans are hoping that the Indian government will also opt for what The Financial Times described as the world’s biggest military hardware deal and buy 100 multi-combat aircraft worth $11.8 billion from US defence manufacturers.

Agreement on the latter aircraft will be more complicated since India is also negotiating with the Russians to jointly build a Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft, which is expected to be the finest of its kind when operational. The Russians will also sell 150 Sukhoi-30 MKI fighters, the best of its kind, to the Indian Air Force.

India expects to conclude the agreement for the FGFA with the Russians when President Dmitri Medvedev visits New Delhi in December, a visit which will probably match the Obama excursion in its strategic significance, if not in its symbolism.

But Obama cannot return from India “empty-handed” and my “guess” would be that the Boeing F-18 Super Hornet will be the winner but that the “price” will include some other advanced US equipment as well. And perhaps the Russians will  supply some 200 Sukhoi-30 MKI but maybe not the MIG 35.

But none of  of these is as advanced as the F-22A Raptor from Lockheed-Martin. But that is not on the table – yet.


File:Two F-22A Raptor in column flight.jpg

Two F-22A Raptor in column flight: Lockheed Martin


Indra Dhanush 2010: Sukhoi vs Eurofighter and 10 B$ at stake

October 11, 2010


F3, Eurofighter, SU-30MKI


In 2006, and for the first time in over forty years the Royal Air Force and the Indian Air Force carried out exercises at bases in northern India, with Tornado F3s, E3-D AWACS and a VC10 making up the bulk of the RAF air presence. The bi-lateral Exercise INDRA DHANUSH (which means rainbow in Hindi), was held at IAF Gwalior and IAF Agra.The IAF platforms included the Sukhoi-30 MKIs, Mirage 2000, MiG-21 ‘Bison’ and MiG-27 aircraft.


Indra Dhanush 2007


Exercise Indra Danush moved to RAF Waddington in July 2007. On one side was Britain’s Eurofighter Typhoon, whose advanced aerodynamics and intuitive controls and avionics have led to it being rated as the second-best air superiority aircraft in the world. Its supporting cast included 1980s era Tornado F3 air defense variants, and upgraded GR9 Harriers from the Royal Navy. On the other side was India’s SU-30MKI, the most evolved variant of Sukhoi’s outstanding Flanker family, with aerodynamics that allow unique maneuvers, and full thrust vectoring besides.The Eurofighter is smaller, and is generally agreed to have more “shaping” than the SU-30 to reduce its radar profile (though neither aircraft is in the same class as the F-22A Raptor or even the less-stealthy F-35 Lightning II).


Now the Indian Air Force and the Royal Air Force “meetat Exercise Indra Dhanush 2010 from October 20th  at Kalaikunda, West Bengal. The exercise will be held in an AWACS (airborne warning and control systems) environment, with air defence being a major thrust area. Both the Indian and British forces are also expected to use their mid-air refuelling aircraft, like the IL-78 and VC-10 tankers, during the combat manoeuvres.

The exercise comes at a time when the $10.4 billion project to acquire 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) for the IAF is in the final stages of the selection process. Apart from the Eurofighter, the other five contenders in the hotly-contested race for the lucrative MMRCA project are the F/A-18 `Super Hornet’ and F-16 `Falcon’ (both US), Gripen (Swedish), Rafale (French) and MiG-35 (Russian).

A major Indo-UK defence deal has been the `Hawk’ AJT (advanced jet trainer) project. India is going in for another 57 Hawks as a “follow-on” order to the ongoing Rs 8,000 crore (about 1.75 B $) AJT project, finalised in March 2004 with BAE Systems, under which the IAF is already getting 66 Hawks.

The Royal Air force is going to field its Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft, AWACS (E-3D) and Air to Air refuellers (VC-10). The IAF will field SU-30 MKI, Mirage 2000’s, Mig 27’s and Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems(AWACS) Aircraft.

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