Wednesday, January 4, 2012

MMRCA, 3 more weeks

Ok, we're back online :) Sorry for the delay !

MMRCA, no Gripen to steal the deal this time...
First things first, let's have a look at the MMRCA contest. So, what's new ?
Well... nothing ! The winner was to be decided before December 31, but apparently the Indian authorities will not reveal their choice before at least 3 more weeks which should be around January 20.
The reason for the delay is not clear. Tthey may need more time to fine tune their calculations in order to find out which of the 2 offers is the best one.Political preassure from both sides may also slow down the selection process. On December 30, the governements  of the 4 countries producing the Eurofigther (Germany, UK, Italy, Spain) have issued a confidential letter to India Prime Minister to support the Typhoon offer. Whether it is good or bad news for the Rafale is difficult to assess. It could be interpreted as a desperate Eurofighter move in order to reverse a pro-Rafale atmosphere. But it could also mean that the Typhoon is leading and that letter would be the final formality before signing the deal.

I personaly think that such a letter is quite odd as it is very late in the process. The fact that it would be intended to assure the support of the 4 countries is also strange : The political strength of Germany and UK which are marketing the Typhoon in india would not be enough ? Why did they feel the necessity to rassure the indian authorities about their support of the Eurofighter program ? Could it be that India is doubting that the Eurofighter partners will actually put on the table all the fundings required to get a true multirole aircraft ?

Anyway, we will soon know. A third possibility for the MMRCA delay could be related to budgetary issues. Indeed, India economy is not at its best right now : India currency is quite weak and the 2 MMRCA offers are said to be higher than expected. Therefore some sources think that India would be looking for a suitable financial framework before signing. This could mean a reduction of the number of aircraft ordered, a delivery schedule spread on more time or, in the worst scenario, the cancellation of the MMRCA.



  1. A third option might be that the M-MRCA will re-open and more economical options might be weighed in.

    Honestly, I don't understand what the Indian officials are doing. The M-MRCA was initiated in the first place due to the fact that the Tejas was delayed and was a huge uncertainty for the replacement of the MiG-21 fighters. But instead of cutting the Tejas and making sure they got a better industrial package of the imported fighters, the still heavily delayed and underperforming Tejas, is lingering beside the M-MRCA deal doing no good at all. And the Tejas has lead to the fact that the M-MRCA has completely changed its demands and a replacement for the MiG-21's, the cheap, easy-to-use, single-engine fighter jet, can't be very much like the MiG-21, but instead a dual-engine highly advanced multi-roll fighter without the slightest regards to affordability or maintainability. It just doesn't make any sense on any level.

  2. Lander,

    I think you've misread the situation. The original deal was for an off the shelf purchase of 126 Mirage-20005s to back up the delays in the Tejas programme. This was the proposal until approximately 2003-4 when the government looked into the possibility of a competition. So RFIs were sent for the F-16 Block 52, Gripen C/D, mirage-20005 and Mig-29M. So you are wrong when you say that there was no intention to stick to an economical purchase to replace the mig-21.

    This programme was entirely reworked in 2005-07 from the MRCA to the MMRCA and led to the entry of the Super hornet, Typhoon and Rafale with the Gripen C/D making way for the Gripen-E/F.

    Why did this change? For two simple reasons-India would be able to buy more advanced systems with its greater buying capacity. And most importantly, the threat perceptions had changed. Until about 2001, India had superiority in BVR capacity and near uniformity in numbers with the Chinese in Tibet.Now that situation has reversed completely. And the US resumed armssales to Pakistan in 2005 giving them real BVR capability and they also upgraded the status of the JF-17 programme. In other words, the IAF needed a platform capable of enhanced air superiority to take on the J-10, J-11 and F-16 Block 52. Do the math.

  3. Kovy,

    I think the Indian government would have factored in the higher pricing of the MMRCA when it decided to shortlist the two big euro-canards. If it was opposed to it, the two wouldn't be shortlisted.

    While the Indian economy has slowed down, it's still not at crisis proportions and even if defence purchases will be cut (and there is no indication of that happening), it will not be drastic. So at the most the MMRCA purchase would stay 126 units.