French Defense Minister Set to Garner New Contract for Rafale Jets in India

Dassault Aviation has already expressed its eagerness to set up a manufacturing unit in India. The proposal will be taken up for further discussion during Parley’s meeting with India’s top officials who are likely to insist on the ‘Make in India’ model.

Aiming to bag an additional order of Rafale fighter jets from the Indian Armed forces, French Defense Minister Florence Parley is visiting India next week. He will be meeting top political figures and officials of the Indian Air Force (IAF). Parley will be accompanied by a delegation of defense officials and French defense industry representatives.

The French delegation is scheduled to meet with Indian defense ministry officials on October 26, when potential defense projects under Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative will be primarily discussed.

The discussion is expected to include a proposal by French firm Dassault Aviation, the manufacturer of Rafale double engine fighter jet and Falcon 2000 business jets, about setting up a manufacturing unit in India.

Sources told Sputnik that the discussions will focus on clearing the hurdles in defense cooperation including technology transfer; primarily from Safran, to several long-delayed Indian projects.

“We are waiting for the final words on the jet engine program from the Indian side for a long time. It has not been moved as per our expectation,” a French firm official told to Sputnik in New Delhi.

Safran, Thales, and several other French firms are expecting major collaboration with Indian counterparts on the approximately $4 billion Rafale offset contract. Safran hopes to bag a contract for its high-power Aneto engine from India’s state-owned HAL for its 12-ton multi-role helicopter program. Thales is also hoping to make a major push for its proposal to supply the $1.8 billion AESA radar systems for India’s Tejas light combat aircraft.

The Indian Air Force is also negotiating with France to procure 36 of its grounded Jaguar fighter aircraft to improve the serviceability of the six squadrons of the Jaguar deep penetration bombers which are in dire need of spare parts.

Parley’s visit will also mark a major precursor visit before French President Emmanuel Macron’s arrival in India on December 8 for a three-day visit.

During her stay in India, Parley will also launch Dassault-Reliance production facility in Nagpur which is part of India’s largest greenfield aerospace project. Apart from the Dassault-Reliance offset facility, the park is also home to the proposed facilities of Thales, DAHER, and Strata amongst others.


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India awards Raytheon $1-bn contract for 2 ISTAR aircraft, Israel loses out

Israel Aerospace’s ELTA unit had been one of the favorites to win the $1 billion intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance aircraft contract.

India has handed a major blow to Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) (TASE: ARSP.B1) unit ELTA, which had been hoping to win a $1 billion deal to sell two ISTAR (intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance) aircraft.

IAI had been strong in the running to win the deal after receiving a restricted global request for information from the US government for the acquisition of ISTAR-capable aircraft in 2013. Thales of France, Raytheon and Boeing of the US, and the UK’s BAE Systems also received the request. The Indian government has now awarded the procurement to Raytheon.

Defense industry sources had seen IAI as having a major chance of winning the deal due to IAI’s strong presence in India. In recent years, IAI has won three major deals from the Indian government: Barak 8 naval defense missiles in two deals worth $2 billion last April and three Phalcon AWACS aircraft worth $1.1 billion in a deal completed in 2010.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s groundbreaking visit to Israel in July, several months after the Barak 8 deal was signed, was seen as a further sign that the two Asian powers were forming much closer defense ties. Modi had then declared the opening of a path of partnership with Israel and that India places great importance on Israel’s advanced technology.

ELTA had been offering India an ISTAR aircraft similar to the Israel Air Force’s Nachshon, which is based on a Gulfstream 550 platform – the executive jet produced in the US but adapted for ISTAR missions by ELTA. In addition to the Israel Air Force, ELTA has also sold such aircraft to Singapore, according to foreign media reports.

According to “US Defense News,” India officially asked the Pentagon to go ahead with the Raytheon procurement in early October following the visit of US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to New Delhi. The visit was designed to strengthen military cooperation between India and the US. In 2016, Barack Obama’s final year in office, the US granted India the status of “major defense partner” in an effort to iron out bureaucratic obstacles to future US-India defense deals.

By : Globes

After 36 jets, France is pushing for a project to make Rafale’s In India

After selling 36 Rafale fighter jets to India, French government is now pushing for a project to manufacture warplanes here in Indian soil to give a boost to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s push to encourage local manufacturing under ‘Make In India’. And to put Paris’s case strongly, its newly appointed defence minister Florance Parley is visiting New Delhi and will be meeting her Indian counterpart.

According to south block officials, Parly will be landing India with high level delegation on October 26 and on next day she is scheduled to hold series of meetings with Indian officials on issues related to defence cooperation between the two nation.

“Though the visit is aimed towards further strengthening defence cooperation between the two nations, but offering production line in India for Rafale jets is surely will be on cards,” said an official.

Incidentally, Florence Parly of France and Nirmala Sithraman are the only two women to head the Defence Ministry of nuclear-armed nations. Parly will not hold delegation level talks with defence ministry officials, responsible for acquisitions, she will also hold talks with Indian Air Force for better understanding of the force’s requirement. On October 28, she will travel to Nagpur to launch a production facility of Dassault aviation in Nagpur, which has tied with Reliance Defence for offset of over Rs. 20,000 crore.

Dassault Avaition, manufactures of Rafale jets had signed contract worth $11 billion to supply 126 Rafale aircraft and eventually won an order for only 36 planes last year. India had initially agreed to buy all the 126 jets under a long-delayed deal, even mandating Dassault to build some of them locally. But the 126 Medium multi role combat aircraft (MMRCA) tender, issued by the Congress led UPA government was cancelled by the Modi government. But now, IAF is desperate to increase its combat strength- -the key concern, which have been raised by the force on many occasions.

IAF at present operating with 32 squadrons and on the verge of losing out more squadrons as MiG 21 and MiG 27 fleeting is ageing and the Air Force would achieve its sanctioned strength of 42 fighter squadrons by 2032. IAF will have 83 indigenous Light Combat Aircaft Tejas, 36 Rafale and 36 additional Sukhoi fighter jets by end of 2019.

Though, IAF was keen on a follow-on order of 36 additional Rafales to bridge the gap of it depleting combat fleet, but, they are now settling for lighter single engine warplanes. For this, the IAF is will start the process this month to acquire a fleet of single engine fighter jets which are expected to significantly enhance its overall strike capability. But, IAF has already maintained that requirement of twin engine is very much there.

IAF chief Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa, on the occasion of IAF Raising day has made it clear that there is absolutely a need for twin-engine fighter jets. And Rafaje is a twin engine jet.

Besides other features that make the Rafale a strategic weapon in the hands of the IAF is the Beyond Visual Range Meteor air-to-air missile with a range in excess of 150 KM. Its integration on the Rafale jets will mean the IAF can hit targets inside both Pakistan and across the northern and eastern borders while still staying within India’s own territorial boundary.

Pakistan currently has only a BVR with 80 km range. During the Kargil war, India used a BVR of 50 km while Pakistan had none. With Meteor, the balance of power in the air space has again tilted in India’s favour. Scalp, a long-range air-to-ground cruise missile with a range in excess of 300 km also gives the IAF an edge over its adversaries.

By: New Indian Express

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An Indian F-16 Enterprise : Understanding the strategic opportunity for IAF

The Indian Air Force is about to launch competition to add new fighter aircraft. This would be in addition, to the acquisition of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft, already in place.

The Indian Chief of Staff of the Air Force has indicated that the IAF will buy additional Rafales but also add a new a single engine jet to modernize its fighter force.

The frontrunners in the single engine competition are Saab’s Gripen and Lockheed Martin’s F-16.

Such a competition is not simply a platform competition, but a capability one as well in terms of the industrial and combat ecosystems associated with each aircraft.

There are clear differences, not the least of which the F-16 is combat proven and being upgraded by several F-16 users, and the Gripen is not combat proven and is being upgraded almost completely by the Swedish Air Force.

If the Gripen were to be selected by the IAF, the Indians would undoubtedly pay the lion’s share of upgrades in the future.

The F-16 being offered is what Lockheed and USAF are calling the Block 70, which has significant upgrades in terms of avionics, sensors and radars.

Not only is the aircraft being significantly modified in terms of what the aircraft is capable of doing in the battlespace, but also in terms of how the pilot workload is being changed by the new systems onboard.

New data management, sensors, processing and displays allow for significantly enhanced workload efficiencies for the Block 70 F-16 pilot

The differences between what an F-16 and a Gripen means for the future of the IAF goes far beyond a platform discussion.

It is really the strategic impact of the global F-16 enterprise and its ties to the evolving F-35 renorming air combat enterprise versus the Gripen as a Swedish air platform, which is flown by a very small number of air forces globally, and certainly not cutting edge ones.

For the Indian Air Force the choice is rather stark if one takes an enterprise or global combat learning curve point of view.

The F-16 is flown by a great number of Air Forces and key parts are built worldwide. This means that India is not tied to the United States and its operational or manufacturing experience.

Rather, the F-16 built in India could leverage a global enterprise as well as expand its global working relationships.

In contrast, purchasing the Gripen does tie the Indians tightly to Sweden and the partnerships they have had, many of them American, in building their combat aircraft

For example, the UAE Air Force flies both the most advanced F-16 to date, the Block 60, as well as French combat aircraft. The Indians flying Rafales and F-16s might well find a working relationship with the UAE in shaping interactive concepts of operations or the development of mutually beneficial technology to enable their air combat forces.

The “Made in India” part of the F-16 engagement would clearly be about opening the Indian air combat aperture to a variety of F-16 global partners.

The SAAB “Made in India” would be more about literally making a Swedish Aircraft in India for Indians with little prospect of amortized modernization cost by other Gripen partners or the Swedes for that matter.

And that brings up the impact of USAF modernization as well.

The USAF is structurally modernizing a significant part of its F-16 fleet with the so-called SLEP program that adds 50% additional service life up to and beyond 12,000 flight hours.

At the same time, they are introducing an advanced Northrop Grumman radar, the APG-83.

The radar on the F-16 Block 70 and the spill over effects from the F-35 program as well are important considerations when buying a Block 70.

The software on the Block 70 radar has more than 95% in common with the APG-81, the AESA radar that’s on the F-35.

And the hardware is 75-80% in common.

Collectively, there is about 85-90% in common between the Northrop radar on the F-35 and the F-16 Block 70.

And this obviously has a significant impact upon both the path and cost of modernization.

The U.S. and the F-35 partners will invest significantly in the evolution of the F-35 radar, which will have an impact as well on the Block 70 radar modernization as well.

This radar, the latest of four fighter aircraft based electronically scanned array fire control radars from Northrop Grumman, shares much in common with the F-35 radars as well, which means that when it comes to the evolution of the sensor-EW-command functions provided by advanced AESA radars.

The Indians would be benefiting from USAF combat learning with the new systems and as well as those global partners engaged in a similar modernization effort.

Beyond the USAF, this may well have been part of the decision making process with air forces in Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, and currently being contemplated by Greece that have led to several hundred F-16 upgrades with this radar.

And it is clear that the impact the F-35 will be significant upon the evolution of air combat, something I have labeled, the renorming of airpower.

An Indian Block 70 clearly would be a beneficiary of this evolving air combat learning process as new radars and sensors enter the air combat force, with the new Northrop Grumman radars as an open ended evolving combat capability.

Put in blunt terms, the IAF could choose a platform qua platform in terms of its organic capabilities at the time of acquisition or it could buy a enterprise enabled platform which is part of a global enterprise, with several key air combat forces world wide, and flying with key elements of the ongoing air combat revolution driven by the F-35.

Made in India could be part of engaging in the global enterprise or it could be narrowed down to assembling a combat aircraft in India itself as the focus of effort.

Being part of a global F-16 force has many other advantages.

There are many F-16 pilots worldwide; there are a variety of training centers; and if the IAF needed more aircraft in a crisis they could go to an F-16 partner and find ways to lease aircraft as needed as well.

With a global inventory, there is always a possible of a rapid plus up.

It would be difficult to do this while attempting to dip into the global pool of Swedish, Thai, South African or Brazilian Gripens.

The enterprise advantage clearly seems to go to the F-16 and this advantage would seem as well to have been augmented by the different partnering arrangements, which Lockheed and SAAB have taken.

SAAB is partnering in India with a company with no experience in aerospace, namely the Adani Group.

It is a partner that would clearly help with the Made In India part with regard to investments domestically.

As the Adani Group website highlights:

The Adani Group is one of India’s leading business houses with revenue of over $11 billion.

Founded in 1988, Adani has grown to become a global integrated infrastructure player with businesses in key industry verticals – resources, logistics, energy and agro. The integrated model is well adapted to the infrastructure challenges of the emerging economies.

Adani Group’s growth and vision has always been in sync with the idea of Nation Building. We live in the same communities where we operate and take our responsibility towards contributing to the betterment of the society very seriously. Through Adani Foundation, we ensure development and progress is sustainable and inclusive; not just for the people living in these areas, but the environment on the whole. At Adani, we believe in delivering benefits that transcend our immediate stakeholders.

What is not so clear is what such a business brings to the question of force modernization and accelerated introduction of combat aircraft?

This appears to be a significant differentiator between Lockheed and Saab as the Government of India moves forward with this challenging and ambitious project.

Recently, I had a chance to discuss the F-16 opportunity with India with the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics head of F-16 and F-22 business development, Randall Howard, during a visit to Fort Worth to view and discuss the final assembly line for the F-35.

Howard has had many years of experience working with allies in acquiring and operating advanced aircraft with allies, notably both with the F-16 and the F-35. He spent 20 years with the USAF and now 10 years with Lockheed Martin working with allies on air combat issues.

According to Howard, the F-16 line is closing at Fort Worth, with the last F-16 produced at Fort Worth being for the Iraqis. Now a “hot line” is being established at the Lockheed Martin facility in Greenville, South Carolina which will build up to 19 new F-16s for Bahrain’s Air Force.

This means that the F-16 partners will see new work generated as well.

“Key elements of the F-16 are built by the partners, in Greece, South Korea and Israel and the Bahrain program and the standup of the new facility in Greenville substantiates the continuing customer demand for the F-16 and will drive new demand for our partners.”

Howard pointed out that this meant that India would benefit from the new standup as well as the working relationship with F-16 industrial partners in moving the sole production line to India itself, if the F-16 were chosen by the IAF.

The performance of the F-16 certainly is not in question; nor the existence of a significant F-16 global user base.

“The success of the F-16 is unmatched as a program in terms of bringing countries together, shaping relationships which have delivered significant combat capability, and an unparalleled track record on delivering bombs on target for the past three decades in the US and partner air forces.”

We then discussed the different ecosystems so to speak of the Gripen versus the F-16.

“One of the difference between F-16 and our global competitors is economies of scale that drive industrial business case realities.

“Where competitors have fielded a few hundred aircraft globally, the global F-16 community includes more than 25 countries flying approximately 3,200 of those 4588 F-16s that were produced; 3200 of them are flying today.”

“The U.S. Air Force and other allied Air Forces are upgrading their F-16s and many of these aircraft are being service life extended out to 12,000 hours and are going to be flown for 30 more years.

“This means that there is a clear opportunity for industry to be part of that modernization process, which would clearly be available to India as well.

“Our recent joint announcement with TATA during the Paris Air Show provides an exceptionally strong, experienced, and proven team capable of delivering on the challenges of establishing F-16 global production in India and building a defense ecosystem that supports the global demand.”

The F-16 is also part of entire upswing in the capabilities of legacy aircraft as new systems are added which have an additive impact on the combat capabilities of the legacy aircraft as well as change the workload and work processes of the combat crew as well.

If one looks at the Canadian Aurora variant of the P-3, or the KC-130J, as examples, new capabilities have been added to what looks like a legacy airplane but it does not perform in the same manner at all.

This clearly applies to the F-16 as well – it may look like a legacy F-16 but it has only aerodynamics and some core combat performance characteristics of the airframe in common.

Otherwise, it is evolving into an enhanced 4th generation combat capability integratable with fifth generation renorming combat aircraft.

And the process of evolution will continue.

Given the USAF’s commitment as well as the global partners who are still and will continue to use the aircraft modernization and upgrades are guaranteed as part of any Indian F-16 experience.

As part of the USAF F-16 SLEP program, they are enhancing the expected operational life of the air frame as well.

“It is certified at 8,000 equivalent hours.

“The USAF has contracted Lockheed Martin to evolve the airframe to a 12,000 equivalent hour capability.

“We’re “productionizing” the airframe changes.

“We’re going to build these new Block 70s for Bahrain and the customers that come behind them, to be able to operate through to 12,000 hours.

“This delivers about 50% more service life than any other aircraft in its class.”

In short, the F-16 provides India with a strategic opportunity not just to add new platforms, but to shape a more effective global engagement in the innovations underway by the U.S. and its partners in evolving air combat capabilities.

By: Second Line of Defence

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Light Combat Aircraft Tejas may soon get French array radars

French defence firm Thales has developed an active array radar to meet the specific needs of the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to equip 80 Tejas Mk1A Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) for the Indian Air Force.

The development was shared by Thales in a statement issued today. To meet the needs of HAL, Thales says it is offering a lightweight, compact active array radar. “The latter is a result of Thales’ unmatched expertise as regards the development and mastery of active array technologies – as demonstrated by the RBE2 radar installed on Rafale,” said Thales in a statement.

The firm said it has successfully completed an initial flight test campaign designed to measure its performance. The tests conducted during mid 2017 at the Cazaux air base in France, on a test bench aircraft, focused on meteorological analyses of the radar performance.

“These test flights proved that the radar is fully operational and perfectly corresponds to the specific requirements of HAL for its combat and air superiority missions. It is therefore ready and able to adapt to the tight schedule imposed by the Mk1A LCA,” said Thales.

The radar is designed for air-to-air superiority and strike missions, based on Active Electronically Scanning Array (AESA) technology, enabling the radar to achieve long detection ranges and multi-target tracking capabilities. The radar also provides simultaneous modes of operation for air-to-air, air-to-ground and air-to-sea operation modes, and weapon deployment, according to Thales.

“In just four months, thanks to our solid, proven experience with the RBE2, we’ve been able to carry out successful flights to test the performance of the key features of the radar we’re offering for the TEJAS Mk1A light fighter. This is a clear guarantee of its extremely high degree of operational reliability and clearly sets us apart from our competitors as regards this call for tender,” said Philippe Duhamel, Executive Vice-President, Defence Mission Systems activities, Thales.

Last year, HAL had issued a tender for AESA radars for Tejas Mk-1A LCAs.

By: ET

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India informs US it’s ready to buy Raytheon ISTAR aircraft

India has made an official request to purchase two ISTAR aircraft under a government-to-government deal. The move comes within a month of U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ visit to India.

A formal letter of request was sent to the U.S. Defense Department earlier this month expressing intent to procure two intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance aircraft via the Foreign Military Sales program, a Ministry of Defense official said.

“This is a priority program, as many of the [Indian Air Force’s] surveillance programs have been delayed,” the MoD official said.

The ISTAR aircraft is a critical requirement and will be operated by the Air Force, the official noted, adding that the deal is estimated to cost $1 billion.

ISTAR aircraft will be supplied by Raytheon of the U.S. on a Gulfstream platform.

The MoD also constituted a joint committee comprising of scientists from the Defence Research and Development Organization, officials from the Air Force, and MoD officials. The aircraft acquisition is expected to be expedited. The committee will finalize the mission software and critical equipment for the ISTAR aircraft.

Raytheon has provided a classified briefing on the ISTAR aircraft program to related agencies in India. Raytheon executives in India were unavailable for comment.

An MoD source told Defense News the ISTAR program is delayed by more than a year “due to dispute between DRDO and IAF over the issue of being designated as prime evaluating authority. IAF had said DRDO is incapable and does not have expertise to evaluate the aircraft; therefore, the service should be the technical evaluator as the aircraft will be operated by them.”

The source added that this matter is now settled and that technical evaluation will take place under the purview of a joint MoD committee, which was set up in August this year.

Commenting on the requirement for ISTAR aircraft, a senior Air Force official said: “It will be a game-changer and very vital in India’s operational and technologically networked environment.”

India-specific ISTAR aircraft for the Air Force will be equipped with active electronically scanned array radar that can scan very vast area in a minute, and analyze data and identify the target in 10 to 15 minutes.

The service intends to operate ISTAR aircraft as its central airborne platform for analytical, communications and sensor-related tasks to achieve real-time targeting capability in the battlefield. The aircraft will eventually be networked with the service’s indigenous air command-and-control system, or IACCS, the Air Force official noted.

Another service official said the aircraft ”will be used against ground targets and for battlefield management, whereas the airborne warning and control system, or AWACS, used by the service are meant for air defense and aerial targets. The service also used aerostat radar systems, which are mini versions of the AWACS and do not help in ground target acquisition. The capabilities of unmanned aerial vehicles used by IAF for surveillance and reconnaissance are limited.”

The IACCS is designed and built on the lines of NATO’s air command-and-control system, which handles air traffic control, surveillance, air mission control, airspace management and force management functions.

The Air Force also floated a restricted global request for information for the acquisition of ISTAR-capable aircraft in 2013 to Thales of France, Raytheon and Boeing of the U.S., Elta of Israel, and BAE Systems of the United Kingdom; but the case did not progress further, as it was only an expression of interest.

In 2015, the Indian Air Force submitted a formal request to acquire ISTAR aircraft, which was approved by the MoD that same year.

By: Defense News

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Big Indian Navy Requirement for Helicopters Revealed

The Indian Navy has revealed an intention to procure approximately 111 Naval Utility Helicopters (NUH) and 123 Naval Multi-role Helicopters (MRH). The responses to two requests for information (RFI) documents by the Indian Ministry of Defence were due last week. The two projects are partially a restatement of earlier requirements that were never realized. They both require indigenous manufacture under Delhi’s “Make in India” requirements.

The MRH will replace the Indian Navy’s Sea Kings, and is to be procured in two versions. One will perform anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASuW), electronic intelligence-gathering, and search and rescue (SAR). The other will be for special operations, including anti-piracy missions, combat SAR and humanitarian operations.

In December 2014, the MoD chose the Sikorsky S-70B to meet an interim ASW/ASuW requirement, but a contract was never signed, since pricing could not be agreed. But a defense official told AIN that Sikorsky was still the “natural” choice, especially since it seemed that neither Leonardo nor NH Industries (which produces the NH-90 and is part-owned by Leonardo) would be allowed to bid, following the AW101 procurement scandal. When asked by AIN whether this was indeed the case, Leonardo’s head office for helicopters in Italy did not respond. Airbus Helicopters is another likely contender.

The NUH will replace aging Cheetahs and Chetaks. A previous requirement for only 56 such helicopters was cancelled in October 2014. The new request calls for the NUH to perform SAR, medical evacuation, communications, anti-piracy missions, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. The initial NUH acquisition will comprise 15 “basic” versions. The remaining 96, according to think tank Indian Defense Research Wing, are “required to have sub-surface mission capabilities, which means the whole fleet of Indian Navy’s Next Generation Naval Utility Helicopters will have torpedo-carrying capabilities.”

“The indigenous portion of the procurement is to be manufactured in India based on designs to be provided by the foreign OEM to the selected strategic partner,” said the RFI. The OEM must maximize the local content. But an analyst told AIN that government-owned Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) might still be eligible . It is in partnership with Rostec Corp for the supply of 197 Russian KA-226T helicopters to the Indian army and air force. A ship-based version of the Ka-226T has passed trials, and “nowhere does the [Indian Navy] RFI say this is meant only for the private sector,” the analyst added.

By: AIN Online

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