Reports: India selects Rafale as next fighter

Reports: India selects Rafale as next fighter

Indian defence officials have picked France’s Dassault Rafale as the winner of their big fighter competition, according to reports Tuesday, although as always with this story, the aero-world waited to see how everything would actually play out.

The Rafale was apparently the lowest-cost option in India’s medium, multi-role combat aircraft competition, though there were no solid numbers and Dassault company officials reportedly said they still had more negotiations scheduled with India’s military. The French jet beat the Eurofighter Typhoon in the final elimination round, and before that Lockheed’s F-16; Boeing’s F/A-18; Saab’s Gripen; and Russia’s MiG 35. You may be asking yourself: Can the Rafale really be cheaper than a Viper or a Superbug, given the sheer numbers of airplanes that Lockheed and Boeing produce?

UPDATE: As commenter Common Sense points out below, this isn’t the right way to think about it: Indian officials made their decision based upon the cheaper option among their shortlisted airplanes, not the whole field. So yes a Superbug might be cheaper than a Rafale, but that wasn’t the matchup here.

At any rate, as Flight’s Craig Hoyle writes, Indian officials don’t think they’ll actually lock in a deal before April, and Dassault has ostensibly made these foreign sales before, to Brazil and the United Arab Emirates, yet never finally sewn up the deals. Steve Trimble puts it less delicately:

Please ignore, for the moment, the sound of Veuve Clicquot corks popping all over Bordeaux-Merignac. We’ve been down this runway before with the Rafale. The French have demonstrated a knack for fumbling away deals even after they seemed to eliminate all of the competition (cough-Morocco, cough-cough Brazil, cough-cough-cough United Arab Emirates).

That’s a lot of coughing. And as we’ve seen at every turn in this India story, aero-observers always hedge and make clear that things tend not to be straightforward in big India competitions. People expected the competition to fall apart after it had been narrowed down to Rafale v. Typhoon, and that skepticism apparently is still in effect.

Still, if everything holds, “Europe will continue to build three different fighters through the end of this decade, as well as begin to absorb the first F-35s,” Trimble wrote. “Now who’d have ever thunk that?”

Who indeed — and a lot has to hold for that to come true. Still, it speaks to the worry in European governments and defence circles that the Continent has built its last combat aircraft. At least eight more years of active production gives time for economies to heal, requirements to change and may preserve enough industry and know-how for yet another generation of new airplanes. Possibly.

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With FMS deals, its often not the “up front” tab that seals the deal, its the “coproduction” agreements. Brazil certainly has an aviation industry on the rise, Morocco and UAE are both essentially “buyers” not builders, and I would put India at a level even ahead of Brazil in tems of technical capabilities. Morocco and UAE certainly bought on “price”. Im thinking that India perhaps was looking for what they could get out of the deal, beyond the aircraft themselves.

If you are hungry enough, as an airframe builder, and Dassault may be in that position, they may be more than willing to share some of the crown jewels with the Brazilian and Indian aircraft industries.

This was all about the local industrial participation and not about aircraft capabilities or even life cycle cost. I am involved with several potential deals in India and the biggest issues are NOT performance or cost.

Sad day the Griphen and Typhoon and even the MiG-35 are better than the French plane. As well as better looking the Rafael is ugly!

US companies have won the largest number of defense deals in India since 2005-are they also because of industrial participation offers?

LOL! Sounds like your experience is the same as mine. Offsets are the name of the game, and in this case, its gaining know-how.

Philip mate,

I think you are missing the whole point here. The Rafale is NOT the cheapest option-I don’t think anybody said it is cheaper than the Super Bug. The point is it was the cheaper of TWO AIRCRAFT SHORTLISTED on technical grounds. Now if the Super Hornet was shortlisted as well, it would have won in a heartbeat, because it was cheaper.

Remember the Swiss decision to buy the Gripen-was it because it was better than the other two bigger Euro-canards. No, the government itself said so, but it was cheaper.

Great point and you’re right — post is updated. There is probably a whole other argument to be had, in fact, as to whether a Super Hornet isn’t a better-performing alternative than a Rafale, as well as being cheaper…

I was hopping for Rafale to lose in order to see the French joining EADS in the development of 5/6 gen aircraft. Now I’m afraid that the same old routine will prevailed, e. g., divided we have less chances of developing the best of all planes. Damn!

anyway …congrats to Rafale … is much better than the F18 for sure.…or at least more complete.

Until the Rafale gets a E-scan radar, it will not better then the F-18 Super Hornet. Omni-role would be on the side of the Super Hornet unitil then. In fact I think both the Typhoon and Rafale current production aircraft both use a M-scan radar.

** until

its AESA radar just finished testing in December and it is ready to go. And no, as of now, the Rafales in French service use PESA radar. Only the poor old Typhoon is still using a mechanically scanned radar.

Well, I guess as the Indian Air force had ‘indicated’ and was confirmed by the US-based strategist Ashley Tellis claimed, the Super Hornet lost out on kinematics. That matters a bit for a country bordering two nuclear powers. And having been around on DodBuzz, I don’t think I should tell you about concerns on the Super Hornet’s ‘hot rod’ capabilities; yes otherwise, it would have been eminently suited

The headline should read, India gets ripped off again.

poor russian .… he likes to see pilots getting killed all the time flying russian planes!

Damn… The Rafale exists? Many years ignoring it, for very understandable reasons Dear! For weeks, Typhoon was selected as the only possible winner. My God! The Brits lost in Japan: a very big shock for BAE System. But against who? Against the JSF they contributed to build, with the result we all know.__Till yesterday, we laugh because the Rafale was a bad plane indeed, unable to compete with serious US or UK fighters. When the Indians realized that after long series of corruption affairs political pressures would be associated with crime, they focused on techno and capacities. They ejected two US fighters, a Russian one and a Swedish one. And here the Rafale matters. As the Swiss told us: “Excellent but a bit too expensive.”__So we said this ugly fighter is very much too expensive since it doesn’t benefit from European economy of scales and from better UK or German competiveness.__Oups!… The Rafale is cheaper… My God!__Just a question to finish: what will we put on the two big UK aircraft carriers (incidentally designed by …French Thales)?__Stop laughing guys. We are losing sometimes because we deploy a too big unfairness.__The Rafale is a very, very smart thing.

Just more proof how the JSF is destroying the US fighter business.

The Office, I’m not sure that you are very aware of joint exercises between the French Air Force and the Royal Air Force; not even mentioning exercises that happened overseas where both the Rafele and the Eurofigter got involved. The kill ratio was clearly in favor of the French aircraft.

Also, what India wants is nuclear capability, which the US and the UK do not want to give. That’s another reason why the Rafale got selected.

How exactly is this Indian contract even remotely related to the JSF? The F-35 was never offered in the first place.

Rafale is an excellent plane, and choosing it is the most obvious choice for any really independant country. I mean, countries not seeking to maintain lousy “special relationship” with the US, country caring about quality and efficiency.
And guess what ? More and more countries do not believe anymore in US technical supremacy (and dislike the US as a whole). Facts prove they’re right, regarding the JSF industrial failure or the useless F22.

Rafale is right now the best naval fighter. It is one of the two best airforce fighter on the market (I would even say THE best until EF gets able to really engage ground targets on it’s own, assuming it happens someday).

I’ve been following the MRCA deal for a few years, and as you compare US and UK press releases to Indian ones, one thing is obvious : US and UK “experts” never told the truth about this plane. They said what they were told to say : “Rafale does not exist”.

Well, it seems that Indian Air Force didn’t care about US/UK PR bullshit.
Hope it’s only the beginning.

F-16 and F-18 have a record of FMS host-nation coproduction that likely outrivals all the competitors; as well as foreign contract maintenence.

Stayed tuned for the sequel and ultimate outcome.

Good guys, bad guys… Good salesmen, bas salesmen…
After all, we are Allies.
Not so fair, sometimes.

US keeps trying to sell JSF to India. Point is, US needs to scrap JSF, so it can focus on other fighters, which it could then export. JSF is sucking all the oxygen out of the US fighter industry.

Yes, bye Jove !

Why not the F-16? What/how different is the Rafale and why is the deal not sealed?

Just a couple of points Id like to pick at.…

“More and more countries do not believe anymore in US technical supremacy (and dislike the US as a whole). ”

Unfortunately far more factual that most of us would like. Technical supremacy is, luckily or unluckily depending on your point of view, is NOT a static condition. And even when you have technical supremacy, you have got to DEPLOY it or it means nothing.

“Facts prove they’re right, regarding the JSF industrial failure or the useless F22. ”

I might agree with your basic premise, but your facts are a little bit wide of the mark. The JSF/F-35 MAY end up being an (industrial) failure, or it may not. That is yet to be seen. But to say that the F-22 is “useless”?

Hmmm.… perhaps you are going a bit beyond credible deduction. The F-22 has been shown to be at least somewhat better than the F-15 when flying similar tactics, and the F-15 is, at least right now, the king of the hill in terms of air-to-air fighters. While you may make paper comparisons between F-15s and the newer Russian, Chinese and even European fighters, when the chips were down, the Eagles took the scalps and the other airplanes were left burning at the bottom of a smoking hole. You have to BEAT the king before you take command of the hill, not just say that he is old, tired and ugly.

And if the Crown Prince, in the wings and waiting, is even just a tiny little bit “nastier” in an air-to-air battle than the old king.… you had better watch out, or perhaps refuse the engagement! :-)

Er… the Rafale is carrier-capable, the F-16 isnt. The Rafale is twin-engined, the F-16 isnt. The F-16 has pretty much grown as much as it can, and the Rafale has some room to expand. The F-16 is designed with essentially 1970-vintage concepts, the Rafale is built on 1980-vintage concepts.

Not saying that all of the logic is correct in terms of the Indian selection process, but just that this is how I would have approached it if I were the source selection authority.

Lockheed offered a Blk 60-type labeled ‘F-16I’, but the Indians weren’t interested. Not the least because the Pakistan AF already operates F-16s…

Upgraded F-15s, F-16s, and F/A-18s are all still available for export. The JSF was a no-go for the IAF because of the timeline involved, the MMCRA program is supposed to get a new aircraft rather quickly. Some are just hoping India will show interest in the F-35 in the future, which is a possibility, especially if they wish to replace their Harriers with another STOVL aircraft.

The JSF already has a large number of foreign orders placed by partner nations and if successful will see even more. What do you think we should be selling instead?

The “Rafale”” not that’s a name that instills fear .….

Useless comment.

So India is the only ” really independant country ” ? It’s not like the Indians have’nt bought anything American before, C-17, C-130J, P-8I. A ” really independant country ” should be able to make it’s own weapons/aircraft. Even when India gets the Tejas rolling, it still will have an American engine in it.

Rule number 1 when making an export fighter: make sure it does not contain tech that is risky to give to nations you don’t trust.

F-35 = Fail.

Cameron the Incompetent strikes again.

Who says I’m Russian? That is your own anger and prejudice speaking, not mine.

If the program were up to me, I would purchase 100+ Gripens to augment the acceptable but very behind schedule HAL Tejas. The ~60 to 80 F-35s in A, B, and C models.

I would not say that India is the ONLY “reall independent country”, but they do have a very credible aviation industry capable of producing some of the most sophisticated aircraft in the world. By the way, in terms of Indian aircraft, you left off what many consider to have been a “co-development and co-production” of the Sukhoi Su-30MKI.

The Indians are very technically competant and smart. They are not in any way akin to the countries that buy foreign military equipment and consider that technology to be almost “magic”.

that is the old USAF the new USAF cant even make it to the show because “its too far away”

With the JSF’s shortcomings almost literally with regards the tail hook issue for it’s carriers the possibility of the Rafale for the RN probably comes a step closer unless they chose the lesser F18 for political reasons … .

I think rafale is not the best of 4.5 generation fighter it is an over plane even for france and could not find buyer for it,as we know that indian air force didnot want to buy the f 16 as it is being use by pakistan and more over usa use sanction on any country who donot obey the usa .So, us fighter out of the race if india buy india should go for f 18 as we can see indian air force use mirage figter which is the safest aircraf in indian airforce,as we compare with mig it is not reliabl in spare part it cost lot of life in indian air force as compare to france made, gripen is an very advance plane but it has very short range .I think euro fighter is better but i m happy that we chose rafale and to transfer technoloy which is good for india as indian use france mirage and rafale is made by same company and have faith in them ulike us remember pak has paid the money for f 16 in 90’s but could not get if they got it is very late in short us is not reliable .


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