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Sunday, August 08, 2010

MMRCA Aircrafts in flight [weekend YouTube watching]

With the results of India's MMRCA acquisition programme just about a year away from being announced, it would not be a bad time to watch each of the competing flying beauties in all their flying glory.

Mikoyan MiG-29 OVT & MiG-35 [Duration: 4 minutes 48 seconds]

Mikoyan MiG-29 OVT & Mig-35 in flight

Some more Vectored-thrust flightgasm: MiG-29OVT <--> MiG-35

On Wikipedia: MiG-35, MiG-29

Note: MiG-29 OVT is the Technology Demonstrator [TD] aircraft that validated the vectored thrust and other technologies incorporated into the  MiG-35.

Dassault Rafale - On Wikipedia

Eurofighter Typhoon - On Wikipedia

Saab JAS 39 Gripen - On Wikipedia

Lockheed Martin F-16 Viper/Fighting Falcon - On Wikipedia

Another: F-16 Cockpit tour

Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet - On Wikipedia

As for which aircraft moi rooting for - purely on aircraft ability and manufacturing setup, I'd have gone for the F-18 Super Hornet - Boeing has undoubtedly one of the most evolved ERP and Supply Chain Management in place. The second M in the MMRCA is best exemplified by the Shornets, IMVHO of course [a blog topic for some day, perhaps].

However, considering that the Indian Air Force currently operates no American combat aircraft, which would then require a completely new logistics supply chain and maintenance line to be setup, adding to the overheads & with its history of imposing sanctions as and when it desires, I'd be very averse to the idea of buying them, their technology advantage notwithstanding.

Instead, moi would like the IAF to recommend and the MoD to decide on purchasing the Dassault Rafale aircraft. Having been a very satisfied operator of the Mirage-2000H aircrafts, the Indian Air Force had earlier expressed its desire to purchase additional Mirage-20005, an advanced iteration of the Mirage-2000 to bolster its rapidly declining squadron strength. However, in ways typifying our bureaucratic babooz, by the time the decision had been taken with much delays, Dassault had already shut down the production line of the aircraft, cost of restarting which for the Indian contract would've rendered the final cost of the aircrafts unviable. So started a hunt for an aircraft for the Indian Air Force through an acquisition programme labeled the biggest defence contract in the world out there.

Besides being a capable aircraft in its own rights [moi, the Armchair, brochure reading, YouTube watching Air Chief Marshal speaketh], India has also had a fairly satisfactory defense relation with the French, both in terms of user-experience and supply of spares [the latter factor marking an absolute low as far as Indo-Russian ties go]. Sharing commonality with the Mirage-2000, it would be an easier task maintaining the flight-worthiness of Mirages, to undergo a comprehensive MLU programme of its own to keep them air-worthy for the next 20 odd years [expected to fly till 2030-35] and the Rafale, owing to the commonality inherited from being products of the same company - Dassault.

Yet, the fact that it does not have an operational AESA radar may work against it, for if newspaper paper reports are anything to go by, the Indian Air Force is big on having them on its MMRCA aircraft. This condition, if strictly enforced, could leave only the F-16 Vipers and the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet in fray. The Vipers & the Super Hornets with their their AN/APG-80 & APG-79 radars respectively are the only competing aircrafts with operational AESA radars. Although all the competitors have assured an AESA by the time the contract is awarded, the AESAs being in the final stage of testing they claim.

A quickie comparison between specifications of the different aircrafts.

Click on the info-graphic to view larger-sized image

Quick comparison between specifications of aircrafts competing in the MMRCA acquisition programme

Whichever aircraft comes out on top is expected to serve in the Indian Air Force till around 2040, forming the workhorse of the IAF along with the Tejas, with the FGFA and the Su-30MKI forming the strike components [there is also the AMCA, which may fit in role similar to that of the MMRCA, though more advanced aircrafts that would outlast the MMRCA]. All in all, very interesting times ahead.


Possibly related posts:

Warbird in Pune: MiG-23 MF Flogger Aircraft [Updated]

World’s Air Forces and their Flying Machines

India’s Medium Multi-role Combat Aircraft program : A comprehensive summary

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program: An Overview 01

[not quite] Suggested Reading for the weekend – 2009.11.28