The government should ignore all the negative propaganda against the Dassault Rafale & go ahead with ordering the aircraft in large numbers. It has become a routine affair to quote unnamed officials by the media in order to advance their own agendas. The propaganda by certain sections of the media & civil society does not end here. Some people are even proposing that the other contenders in the now dead MMRCA deal be considered as an alternative to not only the Rafale but the LCA as well!!! Heavy Lobbying is being done by the manufacturers of these aircraft both in the government circles & the media circles.
Foreign lobbies are waging a relentless propaganda war in order to advance the case for their own fighters. Some examples being-
Not only were these fighters rejected by the IAF in the initial competition, in which only the Rafale & Eurofighter Typhoon cleared all the parameters, there is no sense whatsoever in selecting these fighters now that the Rafale deal is so close to being signed. But, for the sake of the argument, we should examine why these aircraft should not be selected
-Provides No useful ToT (transfer of technology) to India, getting ToT on the most important technologies like Radars & Propulsion is a strict no-go for US.
-No real industrial benefits to the Indian industry as LM/Boeing (Lockheed Martin) will retain all IPRs and total control of the production line in India.
-The US government will control each & every aspect of the deal.
-The F-16 is not only too old, but our principal adversary (Pakistan) already knows everything there is to know about this aircraft.
-Contrary to the popular claims that an F-16 deal will somehow help the LCA program, being a single engine fighter the F-16 will kill the LCA program
-With cutting edge US technology Indian will have to agreements like CISMOA, LSA and BECA
-US government would impose restrictive end-user agreements wherein only Boeing/LM staff can access certain critical sections of the planes.
The US’s end-user agreements would all specify that only Boeing staff could conduct intensive maintenance on the India’s F-18s. Furthermore, every single US defence sale to a foreign country requires the approval of US Congress, doesn’t matter if it is a simple nut or a cutting edge technology. What it means is that the US legislature at any veto such a sale. For example, we can take a look at the drama that our western neighbours had to go through just to get eight F-16s approved. Thus if, a few years down the line, if the Indo-US relationship deteriorates, which can happen for any reason, Boeing can just pack up and leave, reducing a significant part of IAF’s fleet to paperweights. Anyone who thinks the chances of such a thing happening is remote should study what happened to Iran’s F-14 fleet after the Islamic revolution of 1979.
Going for American aircraft like the F-16 & the F-18 would not only a tactical mistake since both aircraft were disqualified in the MMRCA competition but a strategic mistake too.
The less said about the SAAB Gripen the better. According to a Swiss Air Force’s evaluation of SAAB Gripen, Dassault Rafael & Eurofighter Typhoon, which is one of the few open source documents that reveals the impressions/findings of comparative evaluations between some of the leading fighter jets looking for exports today
“According to the three NFA Candidates, the Rafale was the aircraft which demonstrated the best effectiveness and suitability in the accomplishment for of all types of Air-to-Air missions, recce and Strike missions. In addition, the Rafale made the best impression to the pilots.
The strong points of the Rafael were the quality of its sensors such as the PESA radar, the frontal Optronics and the EW suite SPECTRA. The good data fusion of all its sensors allowed to provide the pilot a very good Situational Awareness. A new concept of to display all mission data has been implemented. The recce pod demonstrated also outstanding performances.”
In its concluding remarks, the Swiss report noted that “The Rafale is best fighter for the Swiss Airforce which followed by the Eurofighter Typhoon & SAAB Gripen does not meet the requirements of the Swiss Airforce.”
On top of that, officials from SAAB make ridiculous claims that they will Copy-Paste the Entire Sweden factory in India with full ToT even for the most critical components when SAAB doesn’t own most of the key technologies used in the Gripen fighter.
Various components of SAAB Gripen & their suppliers
Of all the MMRCA contenders it was only the Eurofighter Typhoon, along with the Rafale, which managed to clear all the technical parameters given by the IAF. But, in its current configuration, the Typhoon is simply a very expensive & a complex platform for what it really is- A highly sophisticated Air-to-Air fighter that would require heavy Indian funding to make it an all-rounder, especially in the light of reduced European funding for Typhoon. The Eurofighter’s Typhoon will also not help in the accomplishment of the original goal of inducting a fighter aircraft which will fit into the IAF’s combat doctrine of having a mid-end, multi-role aircraft which will supplement the High end & Low end of IAF’s combat fleet. Selecting the EFT would offer the IAF almost no gains in the critical ‘mid-level’ segment for which the MMRCA competition was held.
Why should India go for the Rafale
Ignoring the fact that the Rafale was the winner of the Original MMRCA competition & the only aircraft, alongside the Eurofighter Typhoon, which managed to meet all the technical parameters of the IAF. Rafael is neither a legacy fighter (F-16, F-18) nor a fighter which is made of mostly foreign subsystems (SAAB Gripen) & it is definitely not a fighter which is not configured for fulfilling the role it has been purchased too. The Rafale by far remains the best option for the IAF from a true and independent strategic partner like France that has full multi-role capabilities that IAF needs and would fit into the IAF’s combat doctrine perfectly and compliment the high end and the low end of IAF’s combat fleet.
The partnership with Dassault will also help develop the Indian Defence Industry
The ToT transferred by Dassault will help in the advancement of the Indigenous fighter programs like the LCA & the proposed AMCA. The Supply chain of Dassault which comprises of 100s of vendors and OEMs (Original equipment manufacturers) which will also set up shop in India to aid the localisation aspect and improve the whole chain of productivity. The outsourcing of many component manufacturing to local industry. The absorption of techniques, best practises in efficient utilization of manpower and technology and absorption of the very best of French Industry practises will bring immense benefits to the Indian Aviation Industry.