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India Turns Down American Fighter Jets, Buys From France

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the don't-want-our-freedom-jets dept.

The Military 600

An anonymous reader writes "While America had offered the F-16, F-18 and now the stealth F-35 fighter, India picked for its new multi-role attack jet a low cost, older French plane. Why? For one, it's cheaper, and two, if American/Indian relations go bad, can they get the parts and equipment to keep the planes in the air? It seems prudence beat out the latest in technology."

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600 comments

french military victories (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38932115)

someone in the india ministry of defense should google "french military victories"

Re:french military victories (0, Troll)

MrMarket (983874) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932149)

Who knew the surrender button was such a desirable feature?

Re:french military victories (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38932513)

Tee hee! Surrender joke!

Guess Napoleon, Layette saving us during the revolution and WWI didn't count.

Re:french military victories (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38932575)

c/Layette/Lafayette

Many versus Awesome (5, Insightful)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932157)

It actually makes sense, if you're a nation where manpower is cheap-- a larger number of lower-awesomeness but cheaper jets may beat a smaller number of higher-awesomeness expensive jets. And they're not likely to be fighting the US-- they primarily need fighters that can beat Pakistan.

Re:Many versus Awesome (5, Informative)

Ambvai (1106941) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932177)

Reminds me of a line about WWII I came across years ago that ran something like: "The superior German tanks could outperform anything the Allies threw at them, 10:1. Unfortunately, they built 11 tanks for each German tank."

Re:Many versus Awesome (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38932403)

Thats true, but it also requires a different mindset.

Having 11 American tanks for every 1 German tank sounds great in theory, until you realize that you'd also need 11 American tank crews for every 1 German tank crew.

Re:Many versus Awesome (5, Informative)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932473)

Don't be silly, this comment was about the Russians who beat Hitler on the Eastern Front. America != Allies.

Re:Many versus Awesome (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38932555)

The U.S.S.R. had a casualty ratio of about 5:1 compare to German casualties during WWII.

My point about soldier ratios still holds.

Re:Many versus Awesome (0, Troll)

Bill Currie (487) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932615)

And that too, is true, until you realize that the true purpose of war is to run a scythe through the popluation, preferably before they can breed.

Re:Many versus Awesome (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38932475)

Sounds like Windows PCs.

Re:Many versus Awesome (4, Informative)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932557)

Actually, the Russian T-34 was a nasty surprise to the Germans. The Panzer III and Panzer IV tanks the Germans used in the early part of the Russian campaign were woefully under-armoured and under-gunned for dealing with the T-34. However, the Germans actually knew how to use their tanks, and the Russians had handicapped the T-34 with a crappy gun. Eventually, the T-34 got it's better gun, but and the Germans built a long 75mm gun that finally had real armor penetration. And the they built the Panther and Tiger tanks.

That said, the German tanks got their real reputations fighting Sherman tanks, and the Sherman was definitely inferior to most German tanks. That is one place where a 6:1 ratio was pretty much accurate.

So essentially, the war started with the Russians having the better tank and then it flipped around. Unfortunately for the Germans, even though they ramped up production significantly after 1943, they still insisted on building over engineered vehicles that were so complex and touchy that they'd actually lose half of the tanks on the way to the front and could not be easily manufactured. That's what happened to the Panther on it's first outing on the Eastern Front.

I'd say then, the best tank of the entire war, in terms of impact, was probably the T-34, and not the German ones, despite their individual capabilities and crew training being much higher than the Allied tanks.

Rafale F16 (5, Insightful)

sanman2 (928866) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932211)

The F16 is a "4th generation" fighter, whereas the Rafale is a "near 5th generation" fighter. Yes, it's cheaper, and also newer than the F16. Unfortunately, past US behavior has shown its willingness to use military supplies to arm-twist countries, and this unfortunately damages US credibility as a supplier. No sense buying jets you can't use because someone is witholding vital spares. Meanwhile, India is buying the C-17 Globemaster from the US for airlift capabilities.

Re:Rafale F16 (2)

The Snowman (116231) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932281)

The F16 is a "4th generation" fighter, whereas the Rafale is a "near 5th generation" fighter.

The U.S. is also willing to invest heavily in upgrading old avionics, making what "generation" it is in to be relatively irrelevant. For example, look at the operational history of the B-52.

Re:Rafale F16 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38932437)

The F16 is a "4th generation" fighter, whereas the Rafale is a "near 5th generation" fighter.

The generation of the fighter is irrelevant if it lights up brighter than a christmas tree on radar.

Re:Rafale F16 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38932521)

France routinely engages in arms embargoes, no less then the US.

Re:Rafale F16 (2)

mrmeval (662166) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932597)

There is also nothing to prevent a kill switch being planted in the software. With the right radar or other signal the radar and/or other systems could be shutdown. I'd want full access to the source code of whatever software will come with the plane even if it's dumbed down for foreign sales.

Re:Many versus Awesome (5, Interesting)

TerranFury (726743) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932303)

Indeed! There are (admittedly very simplified) models of combat that indicate that the power of a fighting force is proportional to the square of its number of members.

This is something that I stumbled across when developing simple ODE models of Starcraft combat, and later discovered is known as Lanchester's Square Law [wikipedia.org]. The idea is simple: Suppose you have two opposing groups of identical combat units, with x and y members, respectively. If you assume that all units concentrate fire on the weakest enemy, then the rate at which enemy units is depleted is proportional to the number of units you have, and vice versa. In symbols,

dx/dt = -y

dy/dt = -x

It turns out that the quantity D = x^2 - y^2 is conserved by this system (to verify this, just differentiate D with respect to time, use the product rule, and substitute in from the ODEs). What this means is that the fighting power of a fighting force is proportional to its square, and when the smaller force is eliminated, the larger force will have lost as much fighting power as the smaller force had, in order to defeat it.

You can modify the equations to include constants that reflect unequal kill rates, but you will find that the equivalent conserved quantities still depend quadratically on the number of units, but only linearly on the kill rate coefficients. The conclusion to be drawn is that, given a choice between a unit that's twice as effective, and twice as many units, you should choose to have twice as many units.

All this is predicated on the accuracy of the mathematical model, of course, and that model, I freely admit, is a rather drastic simplification. However, its aesthetics are appealing, and I think it may have a grain of truth. If it does, than Rafales or Super Hornets may indeed be the better choice than F-35s.

Re:Many versus Awesome (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932455)

Yes, it depends a lot on the difference in effectiveness of the units.
The Rafales has a radar cross section of 0.72m2, its not designed to be a stealth fighter.
The F22 is around the size of a marble, the F35 the size of a golf ball (and can carry 3000lb of bombs in internal bays)
There would be a significant benefit to be able to deliver a nuclear warhead to your enemy without being detected until the bomb has been dropped.

Re:Many versus Awesome (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932589)

Quite nice, but this obviously only applies where weapons range is irrelevant, such as with ballistic missiles. For an actual battle where weapons have a finite range, I'd expect kill rate to be proportional to the area of weapons contact between the opposing armies.

Take for example a 2D battle field with two blob like armies clashing. The battle front will occur along the common part of their perimeters a small distance inwards of either side. So if x,y are the areas of the blobs and sqrt(x), sqrt(y) are the approximate perimeters, shouldn't that result in

dx/dt = -A sqrt(y), dy/dt = -B sqrt(x) ?

Re:Many versus Awesome (2)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932323)

And they're not likely to be fighting the US-- they primarily need fighters that can beat Pakistan.

... or China. But then China doesn't have any particularly advanced planes, either (yet).

Re:Many versus Awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38932439)

They have a clone of the US Raptor based on stolen plans, they have yet to mass produce it (as far as I know). It was posted on /. nearly 2 years ago.

Re:Many versus Awesome (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932457)

First time I heard about it. Are you, by chance, confusing it with J-20 [wikipedia.org], which (to the best of public knowledge) is the best fighter plane China has today? It's also 5-gen, but it's certainly not a clone of F-22. And, yes, it is still in development.

Re:Many versus Awesome (2)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932527)

And the french are selling rafales with a technology transfer. Same deal they had with Brazil. The Eurofighter was the best fighter in the competition, but no technology transfer at the same level (manufacturing exchange though). The french spent some absurd amount of money developing the Rafale ( I think 40 billion euros, which works out to 200 million per aircraft for france). They're desperate to recoup some of those costs, otherwise the Rafale, which is a decent but not spectacular aircraft is looking at a per unit cost comparable to the f22.

The rafale isn't really older. It's 12 years old now from first introduction, but it's still in production, and only a 5 year older design than the F22. It's a 4.5 gen fighter, superior to an F16, F18, about on par with an F18 super hornet, inferior to a Eurofighter or F22 or the not yet available f35.

Re:french military victories (5, Informative)

dietdew7 (1171613) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932181)

Actually the French have long history of military success. One major cause of their rapid capitulation to Germany is that a significant minority of the French leadership supported Hitler and Nazism.

Re:french military victories (1)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932223)

They were doing fine, up until that German tank business, where it all went downhill.

Still, you hear things that imply that they may have gotten their game back together since then...

Re:french military victories (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38932363)

I would talk a lot about the rate of victories of the Israeli Air Force, flying mirages over the Arab forces flying Migs.....

Re:french military victories (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38932433)

Afterwords the can google Statistically Full of Shit National Stereotypes [cracked.com]. Considering France's military spending (which is less than 10% of what we here in the states spend, but still third [wikipedia.org] total) it isn't too surprising that they're selling jets.

Re:french military victories (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38932585)

I love the myth of American Victories. Since WW2 only Panama?

Relying on french weapon systems? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38932121)

Just ask the Argentinians how that turned out. French weapons are worthless.

Re:Relying on french weapon systems? (4, Interesting)

oztiks (921504) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932175)

Perhaps so, but it's not like Boeing will give India the cream of the crop or at a competitive price. Australia's purchase of Hornets put us behind Indonesia's air attack capability, 18m a plane vs the 250k per mig, Hornets are nice planes but put us way out numbered against our nextdoor neighbors.

Boeing is over priced, French, russian, sweden all make pretty good fighters even so Boeing struggles to pull off cobra maneuvers. Russians can perform landing cobras and the, swedish planes can do variants of these maneuvers not quite as good as the US equivalent, actually the US equivalent matches up pretty poorly.

Stealth fighters would be the only reason to buy US and china is quickly filling that gap.
         

Re:Relying on french weapon systems? (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932389)

You're basing your performance assessment on the ability to perform a single specific maneuver? That's a little narrow minded isn't it?

Re:Relying on french weapon systems? (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932395)

Aerobatic maneuvers are useless. It's all about seeing first and shooting first. That means good radar, good missiles, datalinks, and stealth. I don't suppose India would be offered the best of those in any case, regardless of airframe.

Re:Relying on french weapon systems? (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932515)

Aerobatic maneuvers are useless. It's all about seeing first and shooting first.

That's what they said when they designed the F-4 Phantom without a cannon.

Back in the real world, we design fighters to shoot aircraft they can't see... and then impose rules of engagement which require a positive ID before they fire.

Re:Relying on french weapon systems? (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932609)

Big deal, the Phantom was introduced into service 15 years after WWII, which is to say, 50 years ago.

.

When and if we ever get in a war serious enough to justify the existence of the F35 and F22 in the first place, they will be unleashed.

Re:Relying on french weapon systems? (1)

hjf (703092) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932277)

You beat me to it.
But in all honesty, the UK had their missiles up Paris' ass so there wasn't much they could do about that.

French plane has a special feature (0, Troll)

TheGreatOrangePeel (618581) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932123)

I guess the brass in India really liked France's drapeau blanc auto-recall originally conceived in early September of 1939.

Re:French plane has a special feature (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38932195)

Your post leads me to despair the wretched state of mankind.

Why wouldn't India develop it's own fighter? (3, Interesting)

dietdew7 (1171613) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932125)

I would think it would be a matter of national pride. They certainly have enough technical resources.

Re:Why wouldn't India develop it's own fighter? (4, Informative)

the linux geek (799780) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932139)

They're working on it; they have an indigenous light-fighter project, and are co-developing PAK FA with the Russians.

Re:Why wouldn't India develop it's own fighter? (4, Informative)

vivtho (834049) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932405)

There are three in the pipeline

HAL Tejas [wikipedia.org]

Sukhoi/HAL FGFA [wikipedia.org]

HAL AMCA [wikipedia.org]

While the Tejas is close to entering service, it is a lightweight aircraft, designed to be cheap (~$25M) and keep the numbers. This contest was for a medium-sized aircraft bringing in more capability and to be able to support the Su-30MKI which are the IAF's primary fighters.

The FGFA and AMCA are long-term projects which are not likely to enter service before the decade is out.

Better question (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932415)

Why have fighter jets at all? Is it still worth buying expensive war machines with the asymmetric threats larger nations face now days?

Re:Why wouldn't India develop it's own fighter? (1, Insightful)

ArchieBunker (132337) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932553)

Have you ever done business with Indians or bought anything from India? The first and only rule is keep it cheap.

Good move (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38932133)

Look, the Rafale is hardly a 2nd rate fighter jet. Older? Yes, than the F-35 maybe. But on the other hand, the Rafale is already in operation and is a known cost vs. the F-35 which is not even ready to go yet.
It seems some cool heads prevailed in this case, unlike other nut job countries like ... ahem ... Canada.
Even Australia seems to have made a better choice in snagging the Super Hornet instead

Re:Good move (4, Informative)

GumphMaster (772693) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932361)

Australia "snagged" the Super Hornet to fill a gap left by the retirement of the F-111 fleet before the much over-hyped, over-priced and over-late F-35 is delivered (as 'early' as 2014).

Re:Good move (5, Interesting)

donscarletti (569232) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932397)

To my knowledge Australia is still going to buy the F-35, they just bought 24 F/A-18E as well. I think this is particularly dumb, Australia should have gone either with Eurofighter or Sukhoi, at least with the interim order to keep America on its toes. But the Australian government does not like to keep America on its toes, it believes in showing unwavering solidarity and declaring to the United States that Australia can and will accept any crap that it is sold. They did make a serious inquiry about the F-22, which would have been a useful plane, but when it was rebuffed on national security grounds, Australia did not make an indignant show about being only sold the US' second best fighter.

Giving too much credit to Indian politicians (4, Insightful)

longacre (1090157) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932137)

FTA: "Indian law requires the government to negotiate a contract with the lowest bidder." That would seem to be the end of it.

Re:Giving too much credit to Indian politicians (2, Interesting)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932161)

Considering the scandal in Indian telecom, which their supreme court has just now finally made its ruling on, I'm not sure how often the Indian government keeps to that premise. It is a damned corrupt country. I expect the result probably had as much to do with French envoys with brown paper bags filled with hard currency as anything else.

Re:Giving too much credit to Indian politicians (4, Insightful)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932221)

Indian law requires the government to negotiate a contract with the lowest bidder, that satisfies the requirements. If they wanted the capabilities of F-35, I am pretty sure the cheapest would have been the F-35.

There is a lot more to it than this article (3, Interesting)

parallel_prankster (1455313) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932151)

India is buying weapons to counter an ever increasing Chinese & Pakistani threats across its borders. However, this particular deal was stupid . Although, the link below is not the best source of news, it provides some insight as to what happened with this deal. http://www.rediff.com/news/slide-show/slide-show-1-why-iaf-does-not-need-either-eurofighter-or-rafale/20111111.htm [rediff.com] [warning - slide-show] Most of the issues regarding this deal exist mainly because Indian govt did not want to wait for the US to complete testing on their latest F35s and wanted some order fast event though the F-35s are much better than the Dassault aircraft. I think this was mostly due to politics given that elections are around the corner next year.

Re:There is a lot more to it than this article (2)

vivtho (834049) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932441)

The F-35 didn't have a chance ... the contest only allowed aircraft already in production and those willing to perform full technology transfer and production rights.
US law doesn't allow transfer of stealth technology. None of the F-35 partner countries are given access to this tech and production is limited to the US.

Re:There is a lot more to it than this article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38932447)

The author of that article is a) not a military expert, and b) obviously biased towards the F35, trying to shovel the very good reasons for not procuring it under the rug. The fact remains that the F35 cannot be here now when India may need it, the F35 is expensive and the Rafale is more than good enough to keep Pakistan and China from trying something stupid.
You do not always need the best of the best. The 911 may be awesome, but most people will happily settle for a Kia.

Fighter jets aren't what they need. (3, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932185)

The threat to india is men on foot or motorbikes with rifles and explosives in their backpacks. Fighter aircraft aren't very useful to counter that kind of an opponent.

-jcr

Re:Fighter jets aren't what they need. (3, Insightful)

parallel_prankster (1455313) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932209)

Honest police system and enforcement of rules are the best way to counter that kind of terrorism. The problem with India is that it does neither. The fighter jets are needed for China mainly, not pakistan.

Re:Fighter jets aren't what they need. (1)

jpw72 (2509082) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932435)

...The fighter jets are needed for China mainly, not Pakistan.

Except there is not really any realistic scenario where China would invade India at all... so at the end of the day the need new fighter jets just as much as Switzerland does - that's to say not at all. China will never invade India, Pakistan will continue to fight over the borders and no other state could possible be a threat that India couldn't handle with it's current airforce and army. IMO

Re:Fighter jets aren't what they need. (2)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932545)

Depends on whether or not pakistan gets F16's, whether or not india wishes to involve itself with Iran, or anywhere else in the middle east, what the situation in Indonesia or burma may do to future indian interests, and chinese interests.

When you're buying aircraft for the next 15 or 20 years you have a lot of broad 'what if's' to consider beyond just the immediately obvious threats. A radical shakeup in the middle east or indonesia or even pakistan or burma could leave india very much in need of operational capability quickly if it wants to be taken seriously as a major power.

Re:Fighter jets aren't what they need. (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932235)

While such men represent a threat to Indians, the territorial threats that India has in mind involve long-running disputes with Pakistan and China.

Re:Fighter jets aren't what they need. (3, Informative)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932353)

The threat to india is men on foot or motorbikes with rifles and explosives in their backpacks.

India has last fought a conventional, if brief and low-scale, war with Pakistan in 1999 [wikipedia.org], not exactly a long time ago. It specifically involved [wikipedia.org] air strikes, and several fighter planes have been lost.

Re:Fighter jets aren't what they need. (1)

masmullin (1479239) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932481)

The OP was talking about terrorists (whether state sponsored or not), which, as another poster commented, are combat with good policing.

Re:Fighter jets aren't what they need. (3, Informative)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932507)

I understand what the OP was about. But he claims that they are the (only) threat to India, which is evidently not true - it has borders with two not exactly friendly states, which it had already fought wars with. They certainly have a use for a conventional military, including an up-to-date air force.

Re:Fighter jets aren't what they need. (2)

masmullin (1479239) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932559)

I dont think that terrorists are really a threat to a nation... they are a threat to individuals within the nation, and probably less of a threat than say... cigarettes, or the Indian traffic, but terrorism is not the nation itself.

China and Pakistan are much more credible threats, and I agree, those threats require having proper military deterrents.

cost (5, Interesting)

deodiaus2 (980169) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932187)

US planes like this are very expensive from the US.
Back in the 1950's, Canada tried to develop its own plane called "The Arrow". Apparently, the program was squashed in parliament by the CIA paying off key representatives. This sort of technology costs billions and takes years to develop as well as keeping an industrial infrastructure in place to keep it going.
Isreal developed its "Lion" prototype, but the US offered to give Isreal US's top of the line state of the art planes to keep them from pursuing that line.
Maybe over the course of several decades, other countries would develop sufficiently advanced air breathing technology and then where would the US be.

Re:cost (1)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932279)

They're expensive no matter who is in charge of designing, testing, and building them.

But you have to admit, the one clause of the Constitution the US government has never wavered from supporting is "The Right To Bear Arms."

In spades.

Re:cost (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932449)

But you have to admit, the one clause of the Constitution the US government has never wavered from supporting is "The Right To Bear Arms."

If that were really true, then I could have my very own Aegis missile cruiser. Hell, I can't even get a little bitty machine gun without an Imperial shitload of paperwork.

Re:cost (1)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932501)

I seem to recall reading about the CEO of Google buying a fighter jet to compete with Larry Elison's yacht, but I don't recall what kind of jet.

Re:cost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38932627)

Actually, it's a commercial jet. Boeing 767-200 [searchengineland.com] to be exact. And it had nothing to do with Ellison's yacht AFAIK. You IPO with billions of dollars. A jet is likely one of the first few purchases....

Re:cost (2)

dbc (135354) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932537)

Exactly. During the American Revolution, private citizens owned gun boats. Mostly a few converted smallish coastal cargo ships with a few cannon, but gun boats none the less. It was common in those days for the wealthier British navy officers to own a crew-served gun or two of their own that they took along with them. Privately owned field artillery is.... uncommon... today. And I've never seen the shells at WalMart, either.

Re:cost (1)

masmullin (1479239) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932525)

The Arrow project was inexpensive. I think the prototypes were $5million each. Using the "things double in price every 20 years" rule, that would be like $40Million per prototype plane in "todays dollars"

Well... (3, Interesting)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932193)

If they didn't want to wait on the Americans to finish up the F35s, why didn't they just go talk to the Russians for some surplus MiGs? Proven design, and they work.

Re:Well... (3, Informative)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932373)

They do just that, actually. Their primary air superiority fighter is Su-30, and MiG-29 is the second most common fighter plane - and they have orders open for both. They also participate in the PAK FA project.

However, they wanted a multi-role fighter. Soviet/Russian planes are awesome in the air, but not as versatile. IAF has actually been using French planes before for that role, they're just upgrading to the next gen one.

Re:Well... (2)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932567)

Officially, and probably unofficially, they want a diverse set of suppliers. India isn't in bed with Russia the way it has been for years. They have a joint fighter the SU-30MKI which is a damn good aircraft relatively, but they don't want to be seen as purely on the russian side in the arms markets. When you're as big as india you want to make sure you have friends in a lot of places. Who knows what the russians are going to be doing in the next 15 or 20 years, and they don't want to be tied to one supplier.

How is this different? (1)

ugen (93902) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932237)

What if French/Indian relationship goes bad? How's that different? :)

Re:How is this different? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38932463)

Get real. The French don't stand on principle too often. Unless India actually attacks France it will be business as usual. If they do attack France then they'll send the parts through another country.

News for american weapon dealers? (4, Insightful)

ant-1 (120272) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932245)

How in hell is this on /. frontpage? Or on the site even? Will the editors cover every weapon sale from now on? Is this because it's a disappointment for the US of A? Because it involves the french?

Because the editors are drunk?

Re:News for american weapon dealers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38932357)

Its on the front page because any news that makes America looks bad or even offers an opportunity for good USA bashing gets posted.

Ever notice that the "military" news here is usually hippy political bullshit disguised as military?

Slashdot: circling the bowl since 1999.

Re:News for american weapon dealers? (2)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932591)

Yes.

Seriously, TFA doesn't even mention the F-35 as being a final candidate: this was more of a blow to the Eurofighter than the F-35. The F-35 is much higher spec than the Rafale (for one thing, it is a true stealth aircraft), while the Eurofighter and the Rafale are pretty close (solid 5t gen fighters, radar reduction but not stealth). Had they needed the F-35 specs, they probably would have bought it. They just weren't looking at that high-end an aircraft.

Was it that simple? Prudence beat out latest Tech? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38932259)

India needed a cost effective Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft. This procurement was a six year process. Probably the most transparent defence acquisition program in the world, ever.
Initial participants were Saab Gripen(Sweden), Mig 35(Russian), F16, FA18(US) Eurofighter(EU) and Rafale(French). F35 JSF was never part of it, and India doesn't need it right now (Hell! Even US doesn't 'need' it). It was offered for future discussions, to sweeten the deal in favor of Boeing and Lockheed.
Out of the 6 participants,
Gripen was too small, Gripen doesnt fit in because India's Indigenous LCA already matches capability.
Mig 35 was participant only because Russians have been friends always.
F16 and FA18 are probably the oldest models.Yes they have been enhanced, but without the AESA RADAR (US govt said No to giving it), they are useless to Indian requirements. They were expensive, did not match up to the RFP requirements. F16 is with Pakistan, there is no way in Hell India will base the future or Airforce on such an aircraft. FA18 was a good contender, but for its price without the AESA useless.

Typhoon and Rafale were the most practical choices. Technically typhoon would have been a nose length ahead. But it was too expensive and could probably not explain the logistics and speed at which it is manufactured.

And hence, Rafale was the right choice.
Might piss off the americans def contractors, but they have been given other deals like the C130J, C17 and others. There is enough for everyone in India defence market. And it will get better over next decade.theya retrying to achieve capabilities in years, that others have gained in decades.

Re:Was it that simple? Prudence beat out latest Te (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932385)

My understanding also is that IAF is currently using Mirage for this, so there's already well established relation (and therefore logistics etc) with Dassault.

So, sell them to Pakistan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38932283)

And let the fun begin! Why buy FIGHTERS if you ain't gonna fight, hm?

Missile Trucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38932295)

Missiles > Planes.

Buying better missiles makes better planes obsolete.

Decision was between Rafale vs Typhoon (4, Informative)

donscarletti (569232) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932299)

The American entries were never contenders, the F-35 is still in development, the F-15 and F-18 quite old and the F-22 is not offered for export, all have been out of consideration for over a year, this was always Dassault Rafale vs Eurofighter Typhoon. Personally, I have no idea why they didn't buy more Su-30s, as they already have 100 of them, meaning there is no shortage of parts and expertise and to my knowledge are just as capable as the Rafale.

In the end, the Indian government liked the Typhoon best, but Rafale gave a far lower bid. This is probably because it's Rafale's first export order and will mean that Dassault can stay in business.

where are my mod points today? (1, Interesting)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932391)

A week ago, piles of them. Today nothing.

It's unclear why /. is trying to make this into some kind of referendum on American weapons or Indian-American relations.

Revolutionary War (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38932305)

Remember America if France hand't saved your butts in the revolutionary war you would all be speaking english right now.

More to the point... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38932345)

Why buy expensive F35's when they'll be obsolete in 10-15 years compared to drones. Drones can pull more Gs, and sustain more Gs, loiter longer (no need to pee or eat), and take risks that a human might balk at. Imagine a fleet of say 100 really cheap drones with 4 or 5 expensive armed ones mixed in, the cheap drones have the same radar signature and thermal profile as the expensive ones. What do you do now? You can't shoot them all down without using missiles that probably cost more than the cheap drones. You can't use guns because maneuvering into a firing position means one of the expensive drones will fly up behind you and shoot you down. If anyone can think of a good way to deal with hundreds of cheap drones that have a few expensive killer drones mixed I'm sure the US military would love to hear form you (and the answer: more and cheaper air to air missiles is a possibility, but then the drones you're going up against will probably have them too...).

Some Background (5, Informative)

vivtho (834049) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932355)

Some background and corrections as I've been following this story since the tender first came out ...
  • The contest was based on over 600 parameters. Every aircraft had to 'pass' at least 590 parameters to make it to the second round.
  • While America had offered the F-16, F-18 and now the stealth F-35 fighter ...

    The F-35 was never offered for this contest .. it wouldn't even be eligible. Only aircraft that were already in production and could start deliveries by 2013 were allowed. The other American aircraft were eliminated in the first round ... The Indian Air Force liked the F/A-18's AESA radar so much that it was made a mandatory requirement for the other contestants too. However, in size the Hornet is just too big for the role the IAF was looking to fit it into. The F-16 never had a chance since Pakistan is a major operator of the type.

  • Only the Dassault Rafale and Eurofighter made it to the second round, which is when the sealed tenders were opened. Dassault always had a slight edge over other competitors since it has a long history with the IAF. The Rafale's predecessor - the Mirage 2000 is one of the best-performing and highest-uptime aircraft with the IAF
  • ... a low cost, older French plane. Why? For one, it's cheaper ...

    Cost is not that significant a factor ... like I mentioned earlier, the tenders were unsealed only after the aircraft that didn't meet the performance parameters were eliminated. By law, the IAF has to choose the lowest-cost successful bidder. Both the Rafale and Eurofighter are more expensive than the Hornet or Falcon (and significantly more so than the Gripen). If the Hornet or Gripen had gotten to the second round, they'd probably be the winner of the contest.

  • ... if American/Indian relations go bad, can they get the parts and equipment to keep the planes in the air?

    That's one of the criteria where the American aircraft failed. India's defence policy requires multiple vendors from different countries of origin to minimise the control that can be exerted. (Which is why the IAF flies such a plethora of types). After the Indian nuclear tests in 1996, US sanctions meant that most Western-built designs in IAF service were affected due to a lack of spare parts (Sea King helicopters, F404 engines for the Tejas fighter etc.).

Cheap and good enough beats state of the art. (3, Interesting)

voss (52565) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932443)

The dassault rafale has the advantages of being more flexible in its roles, easier and less costly to maintain and has more
modular parts.

UAVs (2)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932459)

I am surprised they are buying a plane with a pilot.

Re:UAVs (1)

dbc (135354) | more than 2 years ago | (#38932595)

Well, yes, at first glance that seems like a reasonable thing to do. Here are a few thoughts as to maybe why not.

1. Mission: A fighter is very fast and is intended for combat situations where speed matters. Current UAVs are optimized for loiter-time-over-target-area. They by and large are not fast. The missions on which a current UAV versus a current fighter can be successful do not overlap 100%

2. Export controls: I doubt if the USA is exporting UAVs in quantity yet, even to friends. I could be wrong, I don't follow that stuff, but I'm guessing that is not quite happening yet.

3. Support infrastructure: The USA has invested hugely in communications satellites and so forth so that you can feed huge quantities of video and sensor information from many UAVs simultaneously from anywhere in the world to control bunkers in Nevada or elsewhere, and get control inputs back to the aircraft in real time. Maybe India doesn't have quite that many military satellites flying.

Did anyone even read the article?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38932531)

Oh, wait, this is Slashdot.

India didn't turn down American jets. They turned down the Eurofighter Typhoon, which isn't US related at all, in favor of the Dassault Rafale.

bad mistake, ask the argentinians. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38932617)

Argentina bought french planes and the french helped the British and point out all the planes weakness and disabled some of them electronically.

Using Money. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38932619)

Spending money on decent sanitation would save more Indian lives than any Jet.

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