Wednesday, June 8, 2011

MMRCA, open debate about the IAF shortlist

More than a month after the official announcement of the MMRCA 2 finalists (Rafale and Typhoon), international defense analysts are still debating on the causes and concequences of the Indian choice to go for an European plane rather than a US one.

In particular, Ashley Tellis, who released an extensive report about the Indian contest back in january is now quite critical about the whole MMRCA process while he used to praised it when the US fighters were still in.

Decoding India's MMRCA Decision

One of his main point is that the IAF put too much emphasis on Aerodynamic performances and not enough on the sensor suite efficiency, which, acording to him is far better on US fighters and of primary importance for BVR combat. This argument alone is very debatable. As it is true that US made AESA radar (APG-79/80) are more mature designs than their european conterparts, there isn't such a technological gap when we look at passive sensors : optronic sensors and AESA interferometers on both European fighter are indeed second to none and tremendous assets for Air defense missions.

More counter arguments to Tellis point of view can be read on Live Fist by Mihir Shah : Response to Ashley J Tellis

Also worth reading is the Bill Sweetman Analysis in Aviation Week. Sweetman focus on an often forgotten strong point of the Rafale over the F-16/18 : RCS management. He also leaks the last "Active Cancellation" clue since a long time...

[...]The Rafale has impressive capabilities, including discretion, which the French prefer to the term “stealth.” Rafale visibly shows more marks of low-observables technology than its contemporaries, and there is evidence that its Thales Spectra electronic warfare system has an active cancellation mode.[...]

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