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Old 3rd July 2020, 17:19   #1201
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Default Re: Combat Aircraft of the Indian Air Force

@Skanchan95, to get around the CAATSA, India may buy NAASMS, more P-8 Poseidons, more MH-60R's, more C-130J's and a few more Apaches. The American Military Industrial complex won't get a customer like India sanctioned under CAATSA. We are a bigger customer than even the Turks.

And regarding the Fulcrums, I feel its just a on paper acknowledgement of the deep upgrades that have been happening now.

Last edited by DrPriyankT : 3rd July 2020 at 17:20.
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Old 3rd July 2020, 17:52   #1202
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Default Re: Combat Aircraft of the Indian Air Force

Originally Posted by R2D2 View Post
I really have to wonder about the $$ layout for this white elephant. F16/F21 may have been a more practical option with Lockheed Martin and Tata's JV manufacturing the fighter locally.
Originally Posted by dragracer567 View Post
And coming to the F35, I believe itís actually cheaper than the rafale and the eurofighter to buy right now thanks to economies of scale and will continue to get cheaper. Also, we should keep in mind that itís meant to replace a plethora of American fighters ranging from the F16s, Older F15s, harriers and older hornets and become the main aircraft for American air power, so I really donít think itís as fragile as itís portrayed (unlike the F22).

The main problem with buying a F35 is that weíll end up having one too many platforms. But then again the AMCA could very well drag into the 2040s given the record of HAL, so do we really want to go that long without a decently stealth aircraft when the Chinese already have one? The Chinese could even share the J-31 platform with the Pakistanis.
Originally Posted by skanchan95 View Post
Agreed. See what happened to Turkey - they got booted out of the F-35 programme because of "political" & "security" reasons. The four F-35s that were ready for delivery to the TuAF were not delivered. Amidst all this F-35 discussions, we are buying 21 MiG-29s and 12 Su-30MKIs from Russia. It is only a matter of time before the US invokes the ghost of CAATSA over this. Even if we go ahead and buy US built fighters, there is no guarantee of lifetime,sanction free support to the fleet. It is better to stick to the reliable French or Russians.
So I'm going to try and parse through the arguments about the F-35 and include some points.

Cost - dragracer567 is correct, the current blocks of the F-35 are indeed much cheaper than the stratospheric costs we saw in the media with early Block 1 and Block 2 versions. This is because Lockheed has finally achieved the economies of scale through all of it's facilities and with a massive order book, they'll be churning F-35s out by the bucket load, further reducing the cost, especially when compared directly vs expensive small rate production European competitors like the Rafale and the Typhoon (it's very similar to what you see for cars). Another point that gets lost is that there are 3 variants of the F-35 and it's the VTOL capable F-35B that's most expensive (nearly $30m more than the standard A variant)! That F-35A is pretty much in the ballpark of the Rafale's price.
Unless the IN were planning to incorporate the F-35 (and considering they want a twin engine fighter and not VTOL) we can safely exclude both the F-35B and F-35C for arguments sake - then it would be the IAF operating a small F-35A fleet as a sort of silver bullet force. In that regard you now have a compelling argument vs the Rafale in terms of just how much more the F-35 can give in terms of sensor fusion.

Sensor fusion - ah but this segues into a good point. Aircraft in Indian inventory already operate a bizarre mish mash of Russian, Israeli and French systems all networked to each other using what I can only imagine are workarounds on our side. Over time I'd reckon the IAF has a fairly competent capability in this regard. The spanner in the works is by virtue of the F-35 being the most networked fighter in history, and underpinning the digital battlespace picture for NATO forces, Lockheed and the Americans are understandably Insanely protective of not just the hardware (there are only a few authorised service level locations for hardware fixes) but more so of the software - you literally require Lockheed technicians to come with their secure data linked machines to make firmware updates on the jet (and that's a big part of a jet that's had more issues stemming from it's software than hardware over the years). In fact Israel is the only operator country that's allowed to have access to source level code to make adjustments to their fleet. Let's be honest, India will Never have the sort of Congressional lobbying power to get that sort of concession in stark contrast to policy with other historic NATO partners. So if we got it, we'd have a right pickle working out how to network the F-35 with our combat assets, juggling not only the requirements of COMCASA but how to get around CAATSA sanctions because these F-35s would be expected to talk to Russian origin jets in IAF service. This last issue is a major sticking point I just can't see us getting around, not easily at least.

The Turkey precedent - Turkey got booted primarily for the high profile S-400 purchase even though they're a NATO member. Buying Russian missile systems as a NATO partner would be akin to India purchasing the JF-17, it's absolutely bizarre. Now there's a myriad other reasons for Why Erdogan did this. To summarise, he felt aggrieved at the Americans for not extraditing exiled Turkish cleric/leader Fethulla Gulen who Erdogan was convinced was behind the abortive coup against him. Also there was the repeated US pushback to Turkish efforts to engage in offensive operations against Kurdish forces which Turkey view as enemies (they have a complicated history with the Kurds - they don't recognise them). All these combined to have Erdogan royally irked enough to go out of his way to get back at the Americans. His petulance resulted in Turkey rightfully getting booted from the JSF programme even though they're a partner with Turkish firms manufacturing a fair few components. Now India won't exactly have this NATO issue but let's spin this around. The US has repositioned itself from counter insurgency ops in the Middle East back to great power competition since the tail end of the Obama administration (it was reflected in their most recent defence white paper). No surprises in the great power it's competing against being China and to a less direct extent, Russia. India's inside line into the F-35 would only come in the day that the requirements for the US to counter China are So enormously pressing that it would be in their interest to station a US origin platform on China's southern doorstep. This is obviously very hard to forecast..

But we've come this far, so let's just imagine what it Would look like to have IAF roundels on an F-35 - well you guys asked for it. Say India, after concerted diplomatic efforts both in New Delhi and Washington pulls off the coup of being granted sales of the F-35 (not partner access to the programme - bridge too far imo). We end up fielding a squadron's worth. This is where it'll be useful to borrow the example of the F-35s wearing IAF star of David's, I speak of course of the Israeli's. We've seen that they pretty much wasted no time in getting theirs before pressing them into service against the Syrians (the Israeli's have launched strikes with impunity the last few years). India would likely be more circumspect but I'm not speaking purely about the operational issue here, my worry is the regional escalation issue. Shortly after seeing the Israeli's using their F-35s with abandon, there's been voices in the Arab parts of the Middle East, particularly the UAE in wanting to have some of their own. Now this will be halted by the fact that there's an unwritten rule in Washington that Israel must be provided weapons by the US that allow it to maintain a technological and warfighting advantage over their near peers. If India would get the F-35, we'd have a deep penetrating platform that would likely terrify the PAF and royally irk the PLAAF. What we might see then is that as a way to get back at the US and India, China might sanction the sale of the potential J-31 to the PAF (unlikely they'd sell the J-20 to Pakistan) and would likely position J-20's in Tibetan forward air bases in concert with their upcoming stealth strategic bomber. The latter would really ruin India's day because it would give an almighty headache to our defence planners. So you're starting to see that the F-35 would immediately set off a set of consequences that could exacerbate an already tense picture on the subcontinent.

So it's really not as cut and dry wrt getting an F-35. I've just laid out and gamed the scenario for you based on my thinking. It's here that I think a softer option in terms of the ensuing ramifications would indeed be an advanced LO UAV.
Originally Posted by dragracer567 View Post
Other than the platforms already discussed, another UCAV platform which I believe was already in contention is the General Atomics Avenger (or the Predator C) which I believe still isnít operational yet but was aggressively marketed to India. Infact, the Indian armed forces themselves were eager to buy as many as 100 of these as per media reports back then (source). Itís basically like the predator and reaper drones but with turbo fan engines while having avionics and stealth from the F35. This is quite an unique platform though itís upto the Indian armed forces to decide if it makes sense for them.
So something like the Avenger would indeed make an interesting intermediate step to getting an Indian equivalent to the RQ-170 Sentinel that the Americans were able to park over Abottabad at will to see what was going on underneath, relatively unbeknownst to the Pakistanis. That's an enticing capability for India.
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