Indian Air Force poised to receive bids: Rafale, Typhoon or (surprise!) F-35?

Update:

“”Negotiations with the firms will start after opening the bids on November 4,” Air Marshal D. Kukreja said. “Whatever is beneficial to the country, we will choose.” India in April pulled a surprise by cutting out U.S. bidders Boeing and Lockheed Martin, much to Washington’s disappointment, as well as dropping Sweden’s Saab AB and the Russian makers of the MiG 35 from the race. Lockheed still are hoping for a reversed decision. “The final outcome will not be known immediately except perhaps an indication of whom we may prefer,” retired Gen. Afsir Karim, an expert on Indian arms procurement, said Nov. 3.

“A price negotiation committee will finally determine the winner,” he said.

Dassault’s Rafale plane and the Eurofighter Typhoon have both been in action over Libya in recent months during the international operation to enforce a no-fly zone and protect civilians from Moammar Gadhafi’s forces.””

When the Indian Air Force announces the winner of the medium multi-role combat aircraft contract on 4 November, there will be only two options: A (Dassault Rafale) or B (Eurofighter Typhoon).

But the US government apparently still hopes the Indians will pick option C: the Lockheed Martin F-35.

Months ago, I wrote a piece on Hilary Clinton’s Pitch to India back at the beginning of the year. More to follow…


Clinton’s ‘Unbelievable’ Pitch to India

Lockheed's Fourth Generation Stealthy F-35 Lightning

An unprecedented step by the US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton has been made in India following her trip to New Delhi last week, a report from Eurasia.net states. She has stated the US’ willingness to offer the state-of-the-art F-35 warplanes to India at the bargain price of $65 Million each.

Compare this to the $85 Million an Dassault Rafale would cost, or the $125 Million that a Eurofighter Typhoon was offered at, its clear to see how big a step this is. Analysts will obviously suggest that the US are trying to establish a stronger level of military sales in the area, but why is yet to be seen. The recent failure by American companies to procure a $10.4 Billion contract for the Indian Air Force could be partially to blame, but also the transition of F-35 to a production model of late means that it has only just become eligible for the IAF proposal that was originally laid out. Not to mention the offer yesterday China made to Pakistan to give an entire squadron of brand new J-10B’s recently put into production. Maybe this is a fore planned counter move by the US? Either way, expect more on this as the proposal develops.

 


X-37 Sighting on the I-15 Interstate

"Something" travelling down the I-15 Interstate through Las Vegas

See what has been seen rolling through Las Vegas this week? Seems that the not-completely-secret launches of Boeing’s X-37B Orbital Test Vehicles have been accompanied by another twist. Although many explanations may exist, the plainest of which being that this is in fact the X-37A, the predecessor for approach and landing tests feel free to make your own explanations as more unfolds.


US Consider Removing Tactical Nukes From Europe

Nato Headquarters, Brussels -- The scene of US/NATO talks held today over the potential removing of TNMs is Europe

Today the influential Asahi Shimbun – a Japanese Newspaper- has said that the United States is in talks with NATO to remove U.S. tactical nuclear weapons from Europe in a push toward a nuclear-weapons-free world and to cut costs.

Washington is talking with other NATO member nations about the withdrawal of all shorter-range, tactical nuclear weapons that have been deployed in Europe since the Cold War era, the influential Asahi Shimbun said.

In-depth discussions will take place in coming months, and the talks should conclude by the time Chicago hosts a NATO summit next May, the liberal daily said, citing a senior U.S. official tasked with nuclear disarmament policies.

The talks are being held as part of NATO’s Defense and Deterrence Posture Review, said the report filed from the paper’s Washington bureau.

The move came as U.S. President Barack Obama wants to negotiate with Russia about reducing tactical nuclear weapons and nuclear stockpiles, following the ratification this year of the US-Russia New START disarmament treaty, it said.

A complete abolition coupled with President Obama’s decision to ditch the European element of the new Missile Defence System which was proposed back in 2009,  it could give impetus to U.S.-Russia nuclear disarmament talks.


New Brain for the Raptor? Plug and Play Technology on the Cards

The F-22 Raptor is in need of a system upgrade which allows it to incorporate other technologies in the future – U.S. Air Force says. Service officials hope to make it much cheaper and easier to provide modifications to the F-22 in the future, including the option of cross-integration with technology already developed for the F-35.

The fact is that the next-generation fighter has a very highly integrated avionics system already, but one that is closely knit and proprietary. This has created a monopolized structure where most improvements would be reliant on the aircraft’s design companies, Lockheed Martin and Boeing. The F-22 SPO (System Program Office) would like to see an Open System Architecture employed, and are willing to contract another company to do so.

“We are highly reliant upon Lockheed Martin and Boeing to do any kinds of modifications to the Jet” says David Weber, Deputy Director of the F-22 SPO. “The open-architecture effort is meant to allow the Air Force to open upgrade work to competition”.  Weber goes on to state that Boeing and Lockheed would be welcome to bid on the demonstration contracts in the future, and that this is one of several alternative directions for the programme.

For more information on this article, I recommend DefenceNews.org

Images courtesy of geekosystem.com


Royal Navy Provide The Platform to Use Apaches in Libya

HMS Ocean with Three Apaches

In what originally started out as an exercise, the Army Air Corp’s AH-64s have been sped through re-qualification to provide further air-power to the region and further help rebels in the area of Misurata in their fight against Libyan government forces.

Only three Apaches are deployed on HMS Ocean, but the government has apparently authorized at least one more to be dispatched there with two more on standby, as reported by the Daily Telegraph.

The move is an obvious stopgap to project some carrier launched air power where the recently decommissioned Ark Royal would have been providing fighter support. It is also seen as a big escalation for the British after weeks in which sustained attacks on Libyan government positions and Col. Gadddafi’s leadership compounds failed to generate any major breakthrough.

Speculation is that these birds are part of the Anglo-French force of attack helicopters that could be set to strike targets belonging to Gadhafi’s government in Libya. Apaches mark a new phase in Libya that could provide much more flexible Close Air Support, coming on the heels of some of the heaviest NATO air strikes yet against Gadhafi.


RQ-170 Sentinel Used In Raid That Killed Bin Laden

RQ-170 Stealth Drone

Although this may not be news to everyone, U.S. intelligence officials are conceding that the RQ-170 Sentinel, or “Beast of Kandahar” was the ISR support aircraft used during the raid that killed Bin Laden in Abbottabad earlier this month.

The Sentinel is a stealth drone designed to evade radar detection and operate at high altitudes and it is highly likely that the CIA conducted clandestine flights over the compound for months before the assault on May 2nd in an effort to capture high-resolution video that satellites could not provide.

I say this could not be news because to many, it seems only right that in an operation that used at least two stealthy blackhawks, 24 Navy SEALs (and a dog named Cairo) such an aircraft would be used to maintain the low-observability of the entire operation. Also, the RQ-170 was leaked to have been placed in an operational capacity in Afghanistan back in August 2010, which possibly shielded the aircraft from further media scrutiny. For these reasons, speculation has been rife for weeks.

The operation in Abbottabad involved another US aircraft with stealth features and the Black Hawk helicopter equipped with special cladding to dampen noise and evade detection during the 90 minute flight from a base in Afghanistan. The helicopter was intentionally destroyed by US forces – leaving only a tail section intact – after a crash landing at the outset of the raid.

The CIA’s repeated secret incursions into Pakistan‘s airspace underscore the level of distrust between the United States and a country often described as a key counterterrorism ally, and one that has received billions of dollars in US aid. An operation of this kind and for this duration required the  jamming of Pakistani radars and beamed footage of the compound and over multiple periods.

This development only further paints a picture of a raid that was indeed carried out without Pakistani knowledge and through weeks of collated Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance  one that would not have been possible without the role fulfilled by the Sentinel.

Image courtesy of DefenceTech.org