Multi-Role Carrier Borne Fighter For The Indian Navy - Updates & Discussions

Ashwin

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#1
India Seeks 57 New Naval Fighter Jets for Carriers

The Indian Navy has officially issued a request for information (RFI) for a new carrier-based multirole warplane on January 17, according to IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly.

The Indian Navy intends to procure 57 naval fighter aircraft from a foreign supplier for its burgeoning fleet of aircraft carriers. As with previous defense deals, foreign aircraft makers are expected to assemble part of the new fleet of naval fighter jets in India under Indian Prime Minister’s Modi’s Make in India initiative.

The RFI lays out in detail the requirements for the new aircraft including “be capable of operations during day and night, and in all weather conditions; and be suitable for shipborne air defense, air-to-surface, ‘buddy-buddy’ aerial refueling, reconnaissance, electronic warfare, and other unspecified roles,” IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly notes. In terms of weapons systems the Indian Navy is looking for an aircraft that can carry four beyond visual-range air-to-air missiles (AAM), two shorter range AAMs and is fitted with a gun. The aircraft should also be capable of carrying strike weapons next to AAMs.

“Information requested includes whether the aircraft is single- or twin-seat (or available as both), and if it has one or two engines; whether it can perform Short Take-off But Arrested Recovery (STOBAR) or Catapult Take-off But Arrested Recovery (CATOBAR) operations (or both); whether the aircraft is already in operational use or not; whether helmet-mounted displays and large-area displays are integrated and fitted; is auto-landing an option; and whether or not an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar is fitted.”

Responses are due by May 24. Delivery of the first aircraft is expected to begin three years following the inking of a contract and completed within three additional years. As I noted in December 2016 (See: “Indian Navy Rules out Tejas Fighter Jet on New Aircraft Carrier”), the Indian Navy will not deploy a naval version of the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Light Combat Aircraft Tejas aboard its new class of aircraft carriers.

The three likely contenders for the contract are Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet, a naval version of the Dassault Rafale, and the Russian-made MiG-29K Fulcrum fighter jet. The Indian Navy already has two squadrons of MiG-29Ks stationed at two naval air stations and embarked on the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, a modified Kiev-class aircraft carrier in service since 2013. The Indian Air Force has also purchased 36 off-the-shelf Rafale aircraft in a government-to-government deal in 2016.

As I explained elsewhere: “Representatives of French aircraft maker Dassault Aviation pitched the naval version of the Dassault Rafale twin-engine, fourth generation multirole fighter to the Indian Navy in early 2016. (The United States has been quietly pushing Lockheed Martin’s F-35c Lightning II and McDonnell Douglas F/A 18 Hornets).” The selection of the aircraft will depend to a certain degree what launch system will be used aboard the new carries currently under construction.

The INS Vikramaditya and INS Vikrant, India’s first indigenously built aircraft carrier, are both fitted with so-called ski-jump assisted Short Take-Off But Arrested Recovery (STOBAR) launch systems for launching aircraft, whereas the second carrier of the new Vikrant-class, the INS Vishal, will likely use a catapult assisted take-off but arrested recovery (CATOBAR) aircraft launch system, incorporating the new electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS) technology (See: “Confirmed: India’s Next Aircraft Carrier Will Be Nuclear”).

“[The] STOBAR system imposes limits on the operational range and armament of aircraft operating from the carrier given that ski-jump takeoff and arrested carrier landings necessitate a high thrust-to-weight ratio for successful take-offs and can only be conducted with lightweight aircraft,” I explained elsewhere. The MiG-29K Fulcrum fighter jet is a STOBAR aircraft, whereas the F/A-18 and Rafale fighter jets can be launched with the CATOBAR launch system.

http://thediplomat.com/2017/01/india-seeks-57-new-naval-fighter-jets-for-carriers/
 

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#5
Not just that...

The RFI lays out in detail the requirements for the new aircraft including “be capable of operations during day and night, and in all weather conditions; and be suitable for shipborne air defense, air-to-surface, ‘buddy-buddy’ aerial refueling, reconnaissance, electronic warfare, and other unspecified roles,” IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly notes. In terms of weapons systems the Indian Navy is looking for an aircraft that can carry four beyond visual-range air-to-air missiles (AAM), two shorter range AAMs and is fitted with a gun. The aircraft should also be capable of carrying strike weapons next to AAMs.
The B and C versions of the F-35 do not have internal guns, they need to carry gun pods.
 

Bon Plan

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#7
This deal might also go to americans
SH18 is too long for Indian carrier escalators.
F35 is not operationnal, and too wired to uncle Sam (who can switch OFF the plane from US mainland).

The sole real serious competitor is the french Rafale.
 

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#8
They're not too long for the lifts because the lifts are on the side of the boat, so aircraft are free to stick out over the sea as much as they want.

Otherwise the MiG-29K wouldn't work either, and the entire carrier has been designed around it!
 
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#10
RFP for 57 multi-role combat fighter jets likely by mid-2018: Indian Navy
Saturday, December 02, 2017
By: ET

Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba today said a request for proposal (RFP) is likely to be issued by mid-2018 for the procurement of 57 multi-role combat fighter jets for the Navy's aircraft carrier.

"Hopefully we will be able to issue the RFP by middle of next year," he said.

Four aircraft manufacturers have shown interest in the project.

The Navy chief also said the first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC I) will be ready by 2020 and the Navy was looking for deck based combat capable fighter aircraft for it.

He said the naval version of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. cannot operate from deck and that is why the Navy was looking for other options.

"I need a deck based combat capable fighter by 2020 for IAC I. In present state, LCA Navy cannot be operated from deck," he said.

The Navy chief also said that the "form and fit" of the second indigenous aircraft carrier have been finalised and that it will be a 65,000-tonne vessel.

Replying to a question, he said there will not be any financial constraints in procuring 57 new deck based fighter jets.

At the same time, he indicated that declining capital budget for the Navy was a matter of concern. He said he had raised the issue with the defence ministry.

RFP for 57 multi-role combat fighter jets likely by mid-2018: Indian Navy
 

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#12
@vstol Jockey

May I ask you to share your honest views/opinions/review of Mig 29K? While we understand that there some issues with the serviceability etc. but they are more of logistics related issues. Would be great if you could comment on Mig 29K aircraft on a standalone basis.
1) How effective is Mig 29K as a fighter aircraft for Air2Air/Ground/Sea operations?
2) How effective are the electronics on the aircraft?

I understand that you cannot share all the info. But would be great if you could share whatever is within limits and possible.

Would love to hear from others as well.
 

Ashwin

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#13
The chief of naval staff (CNS) also confirmed the navy’s ongoing acquisition of 57 multi-role carrier-borne fighters (MRCBF) was meant for both indigenous aircraft carriers – INS Vikrant, which would be commissioned in end-2020, and INS Vishal which would take another decade. With the Naval Tejas fighter unsuitable for deployment, the MRCBF procurement is regarded as essential by the navy, said Lanba.

Providing an update on the MRCBF procurement, Lanba said the navy’s Request for Information (RFI) that had been floated earlier this year had received four responses. Sources say these are from Boeing for its F/A-18E/F, Dassault for the Rafale Marine, Saab for its Gripen Maritime and from Russia for an updated MiG-29K, which the navy is already flying.

“We will take the [MRCBF acquisition] process forward. But the middle of next year, we should be able to float the RFP (request for proposals, as the tender is called)”.
Broadsword: Navy chief admits damage to INS Chakra
 

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#15
NAVY DOGFIGHT BEGINS: India Opens Talks With Boeing & Dassault

The Indian Navy has officially opened vendor discussions with Boeing Defense and Dassault Aviation under its most ambitious current aviation thrust, a quest for 57 multirole fighters to operate off its future aircraft carriers. Livefist can confirm that while the navy did receive four responses in response to its call for information last year, only two are being regarded as ‘serious contenders’.

A top Indian Navy aviation and procurement officer confirmed proceedings on the Multirole Carrier Borne Fighter (MRCBF) project to Livefist. He said, “We are treating only two of the responses as being from serious and ready contenders. This is in the interests of our current requirements and timelines.”

As projected here on Livefist before, the contest is progressing as a direct face-off between Boeing’s F/A-18 Block III Super Hornet and a modified version of Dassault’s Rafale M F3R standard. Livefist can confirm that the Indian Navy isn’t regarding by the same measure of seriousness the two other responses it has received — from Russia for the MiG-29K and from Sweden’s Saab for the concept Gripen Maritime. It is all but official, therefore, that these last two contenders don’t have a place in the potential race.

A request for proposal (RfP) process for the 57 naval fighters, to be executed under the Strategic Partnership (SP) model, could begin later this year. The navy is in the process of finetuning operational staff requirements before freezing naval air staff requirements (NASR).

While the navy hasn’t stipulated engine numbers and launch configuration in its RFI sent out last year, Livefist gathers that planners are steeply inclined towards catapult launch (CATOBAR) operations, all but confirming that India’s future aircraft carriers (IAC-2 onwards) will be flat-top vessels, rather than the ski-jump fitted aircraft carriers it has operated thus far (barring the original INS Vikrant in its early configuration). India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier, the new Vikrant-class, will be a ski-jump fitted ship like the INS Vikramaditya and INS Viraat before it.

Both Boeing and Dassault have invested energies in attempting to persuade the Indian Navy that the F/A-18 and Rafale, respectively, are capable of operations of a ski-jump fitted carrier, even if they’re design-built for launches off a catapult system. It is understood that the Indian Navy has officially requested data on simulations conducted by both companies in this regard.

Progress on what is arguably the Indian Navy’s most significant current procurement push comes at a time replete with pressures and uncertainties that could almost certainly complicate, delay — perhaps even derail — momentum towards the next step. For instance, a vituperative opposition party-led political spotlight on the Indian government’s 2016 Rafale deal has made the readily touchy act of arms contracting in India even more sensitive. With India’s next national election less than 18 months away, all processes with even the slightest capacity to trigger political noise go slow. And this is not to even mention the enormous complexities and uncertainties buffeting the Strategic Partnership model itself and how India can even execute under it.

As Livefist reported last year, there are inevitable linkages between the Indian Navy’s requirements and what could come next for the Indian Air Force — a seemingly insatiable quest for squadrons to meet sanctioned strength numbers. The Indian Air Force’s quest for 100 single engine fighters under the Strategic Partnership model, a direct face-off between Saab’s Gripen E and the F-16 Block 70, is also reported to have run into trouble over fears of a single-vendor situation. Concerns that apply to the IAF’s quest will definitely apply to the navy’s own. Neither service will be holding its breath.

A poignant confirmation that Livefist was able to obtain as part recent interactions with naval planners was that the indigenous LCA Navy Mk.2, seen earlier as the last hope for the home-grown fighter for carrier operations, is officially off the table. Documents viewed by your correspondent show that on October 18, 2016, at a meeting between then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, an Indian Navy team and representatives of the DRDO, it was officially decided that the file on the LCA Mk.1 and Mk.2 would be closed from a procurement perspective, though funding would continue. Noting that the proposed Mk.2 also did not meet requirements and would be available too late, Parrikar signed off on a decision to de-link the LCA program from the navy’s quest for further fighters. The file notes, ‘ADA to continue development of LCA Navy Mk.2 as an intermediate step with an aim to develop an indigenous deck based fighter that will meet naval requirements’. Minutes of a meeting that took subsequently took place on November 21, 2016 show that the navy was then cleared to ‘initiate a case for deck based fighters independent of the LCA Mk.2 project’.

The Indian Navy is therefore planning to formalise financial support to the fifth generation AMCA program is the potential first indigenous deck-based fighter.


@Aashish @Nick @Abingdonboy @Parthu @randomradio
 

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#16
Okay, so they are asking for CATOBAR specifically. This rules out the Mig-29K right away. But with only two contenders, MoD is going to bring in the single vendor situation fear even though DPP now accepts single vendor situations.

I hope sense prevails and they allow the tender to happen. Or convince the Trumpinator to allow the F-35C to also participate.

LM doesn't want to enter a competition where the Russians are involved. But if the Mig-29K is not even involved, then an opportunity arises. Hopefully LM takes it. But the catch is they don't want a fair competition.
 

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#18