Modi pushes ‘obsolete’ Tejas on reluctant military

New Delhi (Reuters): India’s government has turned down the military’s request to expand the acquisition of 36 fighter planes from Dassault Aviation SA to plug vital gaps, officials said, nudging it to accept an indigenous combat plane 32 years in the making.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision, in line with his Make-in-India policy to encourage domestic industry, is a blow for not only the French manufacturer but also others circling over the Indian military aviation market worth billions of dollars.

tejas

The push for India’s struggling Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA) also comes at a time when the air force is at its weakest operational strength since the 1962 war against China, which is causing anxiety within military circles. Since it took over last year, the Modi administration has repeatedly said its overriding goal is to cut off the military’s addiction to foreign arms which has made it the world’s top importer.

The air force wanted the government to clear an additional 44 Rafale medium multirole aircraft on top of the 36 that Modi announced during a visit to Paris this year that are to be bought off-the-shelf to meet its urgent requirements.
But a defence ministry official said that Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had told the air force that there weren’t enough funds to expand the Rafale acquisition and that it must induct an improved version of the indigenous Tejas-Mark 1A.

“The IAF (air force) needs to have a minimum number of aircraft at all times. The LCA is our best option at this stage, given our resource constraints,” the defence official said.

“The Rafale is our most expensive acquisition. The LCA is our cheapest in the combat category.”

India’s air force says its requires 45 fighter squadrons to counter a “two-front collusive threat” from Pakistan and China. But it only has 35 active fighter squadrons, parliament’s defence committee said in a report in April citing a presentation by a top air force officer.

With the drawdown of Soviet-era MiG 21 planes under way, the air force would be down to 25 squadrons by 2022 at the current pace of acquisitions, it told the committee.

Cleared by the government in 1983, the LCA designed by the government’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) was meant to be the backbone of the air force due for induction in 1994.

Instead, it suffered years of delay and chaos with scientists trying to build the world’s most modern light combat aircraft from scratch, including the engine.
Eventually they scrapped the engine, turning to GE Aviation and lowering their ambitions for a state-of-the-art fighter. So far, only one aircraft has been produced and even that is awaiting final operational clearance, now delayed to early 2016.

“In January this year, they had given one LCA … which had not completed its flight testing. They handed over the papers to us. We do not make a squadron with one aeroplane. That is where we are,” said an air force officer speaking on condition of anonymity.

SAFETY CONCERNS
An independent investigation by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India into the LCA programme identified 53 “shortfalls” in the plane. In a report in May, the auditor said that the plane wasn’t as light as promised, the fuel capacity and speed were lower than required and there were concerns about safety.

Retired Air Marshal M. Matheswaran, a former deputy chief of the Integrated Defence Staff, said the LCA was obsolete.

“It is a very short-range aircraft which has no relevance in today’s war fighting scenarios. If you are trying to justify this as a replacement for follow-on Rafales, you are comparing apples with oranges.”

He said the plane was at best a technology demonstrator on which Indian engineers could build the next series of aircraft, not something the air force could win a war with.

“We would like to have the MMRCA (Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft) variety of aircraft. At least about six squadrons, to my mind,” the head of the air force, Arup Raha, said at the weekend, referring to the Rafale class of fighters.

But K. Tamilmani, the DRDO’s aerospace chief, said the modified version of the Tejas addressed most of the air force concerns. These included electronic warfare system, flight computer, radar and maintenance problems.

“Almost all the problems get solved with the 1A. There will always be scope for improvement, but there are no flight safety issues,” he said.

State-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited would be able to ramp production to 16 a year by 2017 to meet the air force’s demands, he said.

“We Indians are extremely good at blaming each other – at blaming it all on Indian production.”

Dassault declined any comment on the government’s decision to cap the Rafale fleet.

A source close to Sweden’s Saab, which has been pushing its Gripen light fighter, said that it was respectful of India’s decision to try to develop its domestic military base.

“There’s still a huge gap that needs to be filled. We are marketing it (the Gripen) under the Make-in-India umbrella,” he said. “Even if you add the seven squadrons of the Tejas, there is still a requirement (with MiGs retiring etc). It’s a question of timing. Can they build these for when they need them?”

8 Comments

  1. So are the challenges of a third-world country!! An inefficient administration that left our Air force with 35 active fighter squadrons in place of 45 fighter squadrons!!! Incompetence and lack of focus on timeline/budget at DRDO!! A program started back in 1983 has finally produced one fighter that has not fully tested yet ?? How on the earth our Air force can trust this piece of equipment ??

    In my opinion, Modiji needs to get tough on DRDO/HAL and make them deliver better quality products on time. There is no point in putting pressure on Air force into accepting inferior, not-fully-tested fighters!

    • Dear Original Duplicate, I wholeheartedly congratulate Modi for having broken the jinx and showing the right place for the armed forces, which were solely responsible for berating and demoralizing our scientists and technologists all these years, because armed forces are supposed to be “the holy cow” AND THEY WANTED FOREIGN PRODUCT FOR PERSONAL GAINS AS ELABORATED IN MY ABOVE REFERRED POST!

      ************
      Now see the report: “New Delhi (Reuters): India’s government has turned down the military’s request to expand the acquisition of 36 fighter planes from Dassault Aviation SA to plug vital gaps, officials said, nudging it to accept an indigenous combat plane 32 years in the making.

      Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision, in line with his Make-in-India policy to encourage domestic industry, is a blow for not only the French manufacturer but also others circling over the Indian military aviation market worth billions of dollars.”
      *************

      Sir, please see what I wrote on 23-09-2015 at 10:13 am in this column, “But, the story of our defence services is contrary. Defense services is a ‘Holy Cow’ and if I tell the truth, you would pounce upon me. But, I can not spare our defence services. They never supported our indigenous efforts. They are always for imports. Even a teething trouble during indigenization, they would condemn. Their specifications goes on changing, pointing at the best of the western countries with changing times. ….”

      The self styled defense expert, Nelson Lewis taunted me by saying, ” I know that you are obsessed with Jawaharlal Nehru and all the members of the Dynasty and, sadly, you cannot be reformed or rehabilitated. You just blabber whatever you like, because of your prejudices.”

      NOW, FRIENDS PLEASE SEE THAT WHAT I SAID IS AUTHENTICATED BY NO LESS A PERSON THAN MODI, THE PRIME MINISTER OF INDIA, EVEN THOUGH Nelson Lewis AND Original R. Pai CONDEMNED MY POST.

    • Dear Original R.Paimaam, please consider the following aspects:

      Every advanced country manufacturing and selling arms and ammunition have had their fair chance of setbacks and fatalities before they improve it to acceptable level of safety and punch to punish the enemy in war. More over, all those countries sell their hardware when they develop better version for their exclusive use and they sell only the second or third best to others. While doing so, they offer bribes and allurements to the decision making foreign armed force TOP BRASS. Be it Congress’s Rajiv Gandhi or the RSS’s Modi; they are not the final decision makers. For example, regarding Bofores, the General Sundarji said that the guns bought were the best.

      BUT, SUNDARJI ADDED THERE WAS “HERA FERI” IN THE FINANCIAL MATTERS.
      AND, THE AUDITOR AND COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF INDIA, MR. CHATURVEDI SAID THE GUNS WERE BAD, BUT THERE WAS NO FINANCIAL IRREGULARITIES!!!

      NOW, WHO IS TO BE BELIEVED?

      SUNDARJI IS NOT COMPETENT TO TALK ABOUT FINANCE AND LIKEWISE, CHATURVED WAS NOT COMPETENT TO TALK ABOUT QUALITY OF THE GUNS. THEY WERE THUS OVER RULING EACH OTHER!!!
      WHO IS TO BE BELIEVED? THE INCOMPETENT PARTS OF THEIR OBSERVATIONS WERE USED TO WREAK POLITICAL HAVOC IN INDIA. RAJIV GANDHI WAS ELIMINATED FROM POLITICS AND THIS WORLD. THE COMPETENT VERSION OF SUNDARJI AND CHATURVEDI ADDS UP TO SAY GOOD GUNS WERE PURCHASED WITH OUT FINANCIAL IRREGULARITY.

      NOW, REGARDING MODI’S DECISION, I WHOLEHEARTEDLY CONGRATULATE MODI FOR THE BOLD DECISION TO BUY FROM OUR OWN DEFENSE ESTABLISHMENTS. BUT, THE ARMED FORCES ARE OPPOSING HIS DECISION FOR INDIGENOUS PLANES FOR OBVIOUS REASONS, AS EXPLAINED ABOVE.

      THE PROOF FOR ARMED FORCES MALPRACTICES IS EVIDENT.

      1. “THE ISRO”, ***NOT UNDER THE ARMED FORCES CONTROL*** HAS PROVED TO THE WORLD THAT WE ARE MOST EFFICIENT IN TECHNOLOGY AND FINANCIAL PRUDENCE! THEY HAVE SENT THE “MANGALYAAN” SUCCESSFULLY IN THE FIRST GO ITSELF, WHICH NO OTHER COUNTRY LIKE THE USA OR USSR HAD DONE!

      2. THE “ATOMIC ENERGY COMMISSION” ***NOT UNDER THE ARMED FORCES CONTROL*** ALSO HAS PROVED THAT WE ARE THE NUCLEAR POWER!

      WHEREVER OUR SCIENTISTS AND TECHNOLOGISTS DID NOT WORKED UNDER THE ARMED FORCES, THEY ARE THE ACHIEVERS, BUT NEVER UNDER THE ARMED FORCES! WHY? PLEASE THINK OVER THE MATTER IGNORING THE “HOLY COW” HALLOW ATTACHED TO THE ARMED FORCES.

    • Original duplicate Pai surmises on the credibility, lack of focus and competence of our scientists and asks “How on the earth our Air force can trust this piece of equipment ??”

      Sir, “the program started back in 1983 has finally produced one fighter that has not fully tested yet” is the bone of contention made out by you. Tow very fundamental factors are the culprits for this.

      1. Our Air force never allows the development of indigenous planes.

      2. DURING THE DEVELOPMENT STAGE, EVERY OTHER DAY, THE AIR FORCE POINTS OUT TO SOME FOREIGN MANUFACTURED ITEMS AND GO ON GIVING NEW REQUIREMENTS AND SPECIFICATIONS AND THUS, THEY ‘GO ON SHIFTING THE GOAL POST WHEN THE GAME IS ON’! THEY HAVE NOT TESTED THE PROTOTYPE UNIT HANDED OVER TO THEM FOR YEARS, NOR DO THEY APPROVE THEM. THIS IS A NEVER ENDING GAME. THE AIR FORCE ALWAYS HANKER FOR FOREIGN MADE HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE. THE CORRUPTION AND FAVORITISM INVOLVED IN BUYING FROM FOREIGN SOURCES IS SQUARELY PUT ON THE SHOULDERS OF THE CIVILIANS AND THE POLITICIANS, EVEN THOUGH ARMED FORCES ARE MOSTLY INVOLVED IN THEM. THEY PREFER FOREIGN WARES, FOR IN PROCURING FROM THE GOVERNMENT FACTORIES IN INDIA DO NOT GIVE THEM ANY SCOPE TO BRIBERY AND FAVORITISM. THE ARMED FORCES ARE THE “HOLY COWS” AND THE PEOPLE ARE UNDER THE ILLUSION THAT THE CIVILIANS AND THE POLITICIANS ARE CORRUPT, FOR, THE HOLY COW ARMED FORCES COULD AND SHOULD NEVER BE BLAMED!

      OUR SCIENTISTS AND TECHNOLOGISTS HAVE COME OUT WITH FLYING COLOURS AND MARVELED THE WORLD FOR THEIR COMPETENCE, EXCELLENCE, ECONOMY AND EFFICIENCY IN NUCLEAR FIELDS BY THE ATOMIC ENERGY COMMISSION IN ATOMIC WEAPONS OR ROCKETRY OF THE ISRO. FOR EXAMPLE, THE MAIDEN EFFORTS OF ORBITING OUR SATELLITE AROUND THE MARS WAS A STUNNING SUCCESS, WHICH WAS NOT THE CASE WITH ANY OTHER COUNTRY IN THE WORLD, INCLUDING USA, RUSSIA, FRANCE OR JAPAN. THE “MANGAL YAN” WAS THE CHEAPEST LAUNCHING MODE, COSTING LESS THAN THE AUTO-RICKSHAW RIDE IN AHMADABAD AS MODI PUT IT, BUT WAS LAUNCHED WHEN MODI WAS ONLY THE CHIEF MINISTER OF GUJARAT!!!

      DO YOU KNOW WHY THIS WAS POSSIBLE? THE ISRO AND THE ATOMIC ENERGY COMMISSION WERE UNDER THE CIVILIAN POLITICAL CONTROL AND NOT CONTROLLED OR APPROVED BY THE ARMED FORCES.

      DO NOT FIND FAULT WITH MODI FOR PREFERRING INDUCTION OF INDIGENOUS FIGHTERS, FOR HE HAS FREED INDIA FROM THE JINX OF “HOLY COW: ARMED FORCES”.

  2. Ghar ki Murgi Daal barabar !!! We Indians are crazy after foreign things even though they sell us obsolete things (in their country) according to our standards they are fantastic. When we complain after buying these Foreign things they blame our Technical prowess, or the Handling amateurishness at last the Tropical weather , san A/C Environment. Now let us blame our Politicians who always enjoy penetrating their nose in DRDO’s affairs. Give them the Best Team of Scientists and Technocrats, with Best Perks and best working environment, Then the Target. They will deliver. It is high time Modiji and Parrickar Saheb (An IITian) fine tune the DRDO, to realize our dream of Self Reliance Made in India rather than Make in India. Jai Hind.

  3. Dear readers,

    The Modi led NDA government has cleared around 40 new defence acquisition proposals, worth over Rs 1 lakh crore, setting a scorching pace over the last one year. It has also revived several long-pending mega projects, which were virtually stuck in files during A K Antony’s eight years at the helm in the defence ministry due to stifling opposition from the BJP.
    However, major policy formulations, in particular, revision of Defence Procurement Policy (DPP) and a separate policy for ‘Make in India’, are still awaited.

    At the same time, in a move with long-term implications, the government rightfully downsized the new mountain strike corps meant for the eastern border from 90,000 to 35,000 troops due to finance obligations.

    The ‘Make in India’ Dhruv helicopters sold to Ecuador have suffered accidents recently. Ecuadorian Air Force had bought seven Dhruv helicopters from state-run HAL in 2009 under a deal estimated to cost about USD 45 million. Two of them had crashed earlier while two suffered accidents recently, in a span of about a fortnight.In other hand ‘flying coffins'(MIG-21) is continued to serve beyond its age.China continues its rise as a power in the East, aided by its recent technological developments in advanced flight just copying the ‘blueprint’ stolen. The Brain drain is actually brain gain,hailed by Modi recently in Silicon valley can’t even piece together one.

    http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/brain-drain-is-actually-brain-gain-pm-modi-tells-silicon-valley/

    A neighbouring Pakistan is on the cusp of joining an elite group of countries capable of manufacturing unmanned aircraft capable of killing as well as spying and surprised Many With First Use of Armed Drone.In an unprecedented move defence procurement policy (DPP) of Modi’s ‘panic India’ went for buying spree with 10 armed drones from Israel at a cost of $400 million.What India is facing today is the similarity to Soviets economic fall which sold the ‘brain power’ to the west.Thus pumping Billions of Dollars to the developed countries from defense starving third world countries .

    These are the many missteps in the recent past of Modi’s government:

    1) Slow follow-through of decisions on modernization projects.

    2) DRDO chief sacked in January, replacement yet to be found.

    3) Slow approval process for much-promised one rank, one pension policy for ex-servicemen.

    4) New defence procurement policy yet to be finalized.

    5) Make in India remains a slogan with no clear policy to encourage private sector to enter defence production in a big way.

    6) No radical systemic change to overhaul functioning of DRDO & its 50 labs, five defence PSUs, four shipyards and 39 ordnance factories.

    7) No chief of defence staff post created to promote integration among three services, prioritize procurements and make concrete long-term strategic plans.

    8) No forward movement on National War Memorial or Indian National Defence University.

    The ‘LCA’ induction to the IAF by the Modi government is just face saving to keep its ‘make in India’ catchphrase to present to the media.While India is submitted to ‘Make in superpowers’ ‘obsolete’ technology.

    In an recent comment defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, reveal a hunger for war and a disdain for the Army and heavily dependent on Andhra hot chillies advice terrorists to neutralise terrorists .But in his own backyard of the danger of Sanatan Sanstha and the leniency of Bureaucracy and politics continued.

    Dabholkar to Pansare … Connecting the Dots !!!
    http://twocircles.net/2015mar23/1427128110.html

    A predecessor Congress government brilliantly passed the hurdles when ‘Cryogenic engine’ and ‘super computer’ technology was denied by the super elite club. Today ISRO is able to fire more rockets into the orbit with satellites of various nation.A Modi even didn’t spare ISRO and took ‘Mangalyaan’ into his government credit.

    The MK Gandhi Swadeshi movement, part of the Indian independence movement and the developing Indian nationalism, was an economic strategy aimed at removing the British Empire from power and improving economic conditions in India by following the principles of swadeshi,involved boycotting British products and the revival of domestic products and production processes. which had some success. In other hand Modi ‘Make in India’ by multinationals use poor Indian labour to produce for the rest of the world.

    ‘Sab ka saath,sabka vikas’ now benefiting only BJP election sponsors the elite companies.

    Jai Hind

    • Seriously, what’s wrong with our pandita? His response is a sign of serious trouble he may be experiencing!! Is there anything that he didn’t mention in his response? From his usual talking points to andra hot chillies and mahatma gandhiji!! This guy needs an anti-anxiety pill to calm him down and focus on one topic at a time!! LOL

  4. Co-authored by Sanjeev Miglani, the title of the Reuters report is not just provocative, but very disparaging as well.

    Wonder whose interests some of these Indian authors serve!

    The report mentions Tejas as the “plane 32 years in the making”, but forgets to mention that the budgets for development have been rather modest, and the development hit roadblocks for years due to sanctions on India’s nuclear testing.

    The Reuters report also suggests input from the Paris-based Cyril Altmeyer. We can only assume Altmeyer got his feed from the French manufacturer Dassault. Dassault might be a little uncomfortable with the thoughts that India will induct Tejas instead of Dassault’s Rafale.

    One Rafale plane costs about US$300 million. One Tejas plane costs US$33.5 million. This is despite the cost of purchasing many expensive parts (including the GE engines) from abroad.

    So, simple mathematics would suggest that India could have nearly 10 Tejas planes for the cost of one Rafale plane. If the enemy downs two Tejas in a squadron of 10, you are still left with 8!

    And we are not talking about the equally expensive maintenance of Rafale.

    Of course, the Miglani-authored report forgets to mention the cost difference as well.

    It wasn’t globetrotter’s idea to encourage India’s airforce to go for Tejas. Tests have been conducted aplenty before the globetrotter arrived on the scene.

    So, giving any credit to the globetrotter is a misplaced sentiment.

    A war is not won by the best planes in town. For example, we all know how Saudi Arabia has the best planes, but has not been able to make a dent in the Houthi control of Yemen, an impoverished nation.

    Dassault could be hoping that such a disparaging report might yet save the company from shutting down. But once India starts inducting Tejas into its military, India may not be able to keep up with the demand from other countries for Tejas.

Leave a Reply