U.S. Jets May Be Out of India’s Fighter Contest

FYI, it looks like European aerospace companies are set to build India’s next crop of 126 fighters if what several Indian defense blogs are reporting is true. Apparently, the Eurofighter Typhoon and France’s Rafale fighters have been shortlisted for India’s Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft contest.

This knocks Boeing’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and Lockheed’s F-16IN out of the running along with Saab’s Gripen and Russia’s MiG-35. Those jets didn’t pass the “technical evaluation conducted by the IAF,” according to StratPost.

Boeing officials are tight-lipped so far. “We have seen the media reports coming out of India. We’re waiting to hear directly from the Indian Government before make any further comment,” said company spokesman Damien Mills in an e-mail to DT.

If true, the effective loss of the MMRCA contest is a pretty big blow to Boeing’s fighter business. Yes, the U.S. Navy is buying 124 Super Hornet’s and EA-18G Growlers over the next four years, but after that we’ll see. Boeing may be able to win the (potentially) 120-jet FX-2 contest in Brazil where it faces off against the Rafale and Gripen. But the Brazilian competition has been mired in controversy for a while now. I suppose the future of the Super Hornet depends, in part, on how the F-35 program comes along and whether it can get its costs under control in the next few years.

Maybe the Chicago-based company can make some headway with this version of the jet or its proposed F-15SE Silent Eagle.

As for the two remaining MMRCA competitors, Teal Group aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia tells DT:

If real, it’s potentially very good news for either plane, but I’d give Eurofighter the edge.  Partnering with BAE Systems sounds easier for HAL and India’s Air Force than partnering with Dassault and France.  The Eurofighter upgrade roadmap is a bit more comprehensive than Rafale’s too.

Good on Steve Trimble for spotting this story.

  • usa power

    u have to think about it the f/a 18 is for ground and sky and india probaly dosnt have the mony for the f 18 and they r probaly wanting a air to air (manly) plain

    • hahahahah.are you kidding me.you seem to know nothing about the plans for our air force.india has opted out from the americans coz the yankees have not promised to supply with the aesa radar without signing the memorandum.india has the money for buying sukhoi 30 mki s which will be costing around 110 million dollars for the strategical forces,so you think that the f a 18 cannot be bought by us coz of money.think it again.check out wikipedia on su 30 mki.you will get confirmation.

    • vikram

      recently yours president obama came in india and begging for jobs for their country
      and you r saying they dont have money to purchase your aircrafts
      its quite amazing………………….foolish

    • rajan

      :) ha ha haaa…….. F 18 is an old air frame and needs to be replaced …. India has the money and can afford to to buy the best……

  • brok3n

    I’m sure its the technology transfer issue that’s stopping India from going the American route.. regardless I’m sure the Indians derived a lot of technical intel from the competition.

    • Belesari

      I’ve heard from many sources asome of them even losely involved in it that yes that is the hang up.

      Of course we keep giving arms to the pakies! GREAT IDEA!

  • asdf

    why doesn’t EF participate in the brazilian contest, if it’s really for 120 fighters?

  • William C.

    Actually it seems that French Rafales are only now just being fitted with AESA radars too.

  • asdf

    it is actually quite likely that the rafale will win, since the rfp is first-hand for a strike aircraft.
    much to the dismay of rafale-bashers on the various blogs and sites…

  • reader

    The untold story here is how Mig-35 never even was properly in the running.

  • F16 is outdated technology and F18 is more for naval missions,it failed tests in High altitude region of himalayas!!
    Gripen doensnt have good avionics and its radar sucks!!

    So only Typhoon and Rafale were the ones which were really 4.5 Fighter!!
    i wish indian govt negotiate the price of ET typhoon or ask for complete technology transfer!!

    Coming back to usa,india is buying a lots of defense equipments from them,so they will not need to worry(although usa is one of the least reliable country and indian company had to manufacture its own electronics on p8I maritime patrol aircraft due to american spoofing in electronics!!
    So we better to have complete TOT with an european company than go for naval F18 which is not even a complete fighter aircraft!

  • Rafal is cheaper of two and its likely to get an order of 130 aircrafts and ET would be getting 120 !!

    So most likely india govt is going ahead with 20 billion dollar purchase(2times of current deal)

    India is already working along with Russia on 5th Generation ( Pak Fa)


    India had no real intentions of buying a fighter jet from the US and the answer is price as the Boeing F-18 Super Hornet or Lockheed F-16IN Super Viper would have cost between $105-125Million per aircraft while the Sukhoi 5th Generation fighter that India is co-developing with Russia is expected to cost $50Million each; you don’t pay twice the price for something when you can get something better for less.

    The Indian Government should talk to the Obama Administration about proper finances as the US keeps buying F-18 Hornets which are already obsolete while continuing to push back the buy date for the F-35C.

    • MeKnowsAll

      Don’t forget that the Russians are also horrible at supplying parts after you purchased their products. You get what you pay for!

    • citanon

      The reason why the US government keeps buying F-18s, might be that it actually exists today. The Russian aircraft, in its current state, is still a science project.

    • Stratege

      No. Actually, PAK-FA / Sukhoi T-50 is domestic Russian aircraft for RuAF and its almost nothing to do with India.
      But FGFA WOULD BE joing Russian-Indian project. Yes, it would be based on some PAK-FA technology and T-50 basic airframe.

    • you are terribly misinformed.you dont know about your own technology.the fa 18 s has a cost around 55 million as flyaway cost while the sukhoi fgfa /pakfa has a cost of beyond 100 million dollars.

    • ROUGE

      Sorry you got the price wrong. F/A 18s cost US$86 million each (and some reports say could be dropped to US$70 each) and the F16s cost only US$50 million each (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_MRCA_competit…. I read a report recently out of Washington that a retired senior IAF officer commented that India could have easily got 400 F/A 18s and solved their acute shortage of aircraft and had a cheaper fighter with good strike capability and therefore air superiority in the region. The F/A 18 has proven strike capability which the Typhoon may not have. The Typhoon is more of a superior air to air fighter. I think the IAF will need more like 10 -15 squardons (rather than 7 proposed) to make up for their shortage of fighters and the F/A 18 would have been a good buy. Note that strategic parameters were not considered in the drop-select.

      • common sense


        your point would have been accurate if we were talking of the the 1990s. 400 Super Hornets won’t offer air superiority against a China armed with several hundred Flanker series and J-10 fighters. That’s Madrassa Math logic at work. For one, offset packages and technology transfer agreements would lower over-all costs for the European contenders.

        People keep talking of the strike capability of the Eurofighter-I only have one question. Which is easier to do-improve the strike capabilities of a fighter (the F-15E, Mig-27, SU-30 and Mirage-5 all evolved from pure fighters) or improve the air to air capabilities of a strike aircraft. You would need to do the latter with the F-18 and that is just not feasible. Turn-rates, agility and top-speed are all attributes of design and no-amount of engine-tweaks will yield significant improvements on those parameters. And by the way, the Eurofighter can carry a hefty payload (of almost 8 tonnes) while the Rafale can carry over 9 tonnes, so in theory they have great potential in the strike role.

  • brian

    All the other fighters are not combat proven, so lets knock out the ones that are. Brilliant!

    • Oblat

      Must be living in a box

    • Justin

      May be you need to ask yourself which of these “combat proven” fighters has a higher chance of winning a duel in 2030? Since combat proven is so important to you, get rid of the F-35 and F-22.

  • brian

    It is surprising that they would be so tightfisted like that. The F-18/16 have been under development for 30+ years with input based on actual combat experience. the others, ummm never. Sure the french have lobbed a bomb here or there, but the last time french fighters met a challenge, say back in the falklands, they failed miserably compared to the VTOL Harrier, which is quite embarrassing for a fixed wing aircraft.

    • gildasd

      – 5 super Etendard in the Falklands: 2 attacks, 2 ships sunk, no losses.
      – Best mission results of all aircraft used against Serbia (including F16 F18 and A10).
      I could go on and on, and that’s only the slowest and oldest… Mirages have been used all over the place to great results in many wars not featured on Fox. But luckily for the Brits during the Falkland war, the Argentinians were flying beyond max range, with no drop tanks and no AA refuelling capacity into a comprehensive air defence system of which the Harrier was only a part. By the time the AAF got the AS30’s to operate at stand off ranges, the English had won the war on the ground.

      War is complicated, and you can’t resume it to a “score” like a baseball match, if you want to know what the Brits thought of the Mirages and their pilots fighting lopsided odds, read what Admiral Sandy Woodward had to say.

  • Indian

    France can be trusted in a war against PAKIstan or china but when it comes to war against America’s “non-nato ally, the islamic PAKIstan”, you don’t want no surprises :-) from USA. F16 is no doubt the most lethal flying machine but the PAKIstan has them too (and them looser moslems got the F16s for free).
    Unfortunately, America has a history of pulling a fast one on it’s non-euro allies and that’s the truth.
    Euro fighter has a lot of American components which can be a subject to American embargo, again, in case of war with PAKIstan.
    India’s fight with PAKIstan is for one reason only, they have been fighting against the terrorist islam for almost 1000 years rather than accepting it.
    lookin’ at all these odds French Dassault Rafale will most likely win or if not than probably the euro-fighter

  • The IAF doesn’t want them? Fine go call the Indian Navy, I bet they would love to have a true multirole carrier fighter for their next flattop.

  • Justin

    People seem to talking about being battle-tested as being the primary criterion here; if that’s the case how come the USAF has stopped buying the F-16???? The F-16 is a great fighter but it’s more or less flying into the sunset; the USAF has not indicated any more plans for the type other than upgrades. So why should a country choose it for deal worth 126-200 aircraft. India buying the F-16IN now would be like Italy choosing the F-104S. A somewhat similar situation exists for the Super Hornet.

    The Euro-canards are more expensive but are newer and are likely to last longer than the American teen series. That counts a lot especially if you plan on having technology transfer programmes.

    About playing all sides and getting tech info, how much can you glean from a few hours spent on flight trials? Besides if you offer your product for competition, you are expected to part with information. You need to play to win-that’s the risk. About buying American, India has brought more weapons from the US in the past four years than from Russia, Israel or Europe. The C-130, P-8, C-17 deals are either ready or have been cleared along with a number of smaller deals for munitions and subsystems (engines for Jaguar fighters).

  • roland

    We should have sent our F-35 B

  • TribulationTime

    Why it´s a turkey?. Right, performance aside because it isn´t fair for Hornet, I think it all about politics. EEUU is NOT a current reliable partner and India like other (Poland, Chile, Arabia Saudi, UEA) want make friends with their money and get a plane. I believe what the Bigger problem with F-16/F-18 is they are “All American” systems and the other side europeans builders are easily suggest to adapt Israeli or Russian or Indigenous weapons for commonly with SU-30/Mig-29/HAL Tejas and for maintenance too, add tech transfer and plus They have C-17, P8I…Not all eggs in 1 basket. Make sense for me.

  • TribulationTime

    Ha Ha Ha, must be approved….I´m a big mouth i dont wan hurt anyone but there are others points of view, not easily to hear… sometimes

  • brian

    – There are a lot of planes that cannot super cruise but are still front line fighters.
    – Yes A2A is a primary role for the F35, although its not a dedicated air supremacy fighter
    – Every country is different and has different aircraft configurations. The US will have both the F16 and F35 in service at the same time for the next 15 years, not to mention the air national guard.
    – The F35 + F16 combo makes more sense than a Griffin + Super Hornet combo
    – If I were india, I would take a serious look at the F35 as a state of the art obtainable front line fighter that will have tremendous industry support, unlike the foreign alternatives.
    – Take a wild guess at how really good the stealth capabilities of say Russia’s newest fighters are. I am willing to best its not as good as the F35 as the Russians are well over a decade behind us in Stealth


    This tells you a lot about how India thinks as they trashed the Boeing F-18 Super Hornet and Lockheed’s F-16IN Super Viper in favor of British and French jets which are used by NATO that don’t have all weather or night capability. Haven’t the Indian government been paying attention to what was going on in Libya as NATO had jets that couldn’t hit their targets and pleaded for the US to return. Additionally, why aren’t they buying Russian fighter jets when they’re partnering with them to build the Sukhoi stealth fighter. This sounds a lot like a technology transfer more than anything else.

  • jamesb

    With the other guys a/c you buy it….it’s yours…
    With the US…
    It’s Congress….
    Half a loaf….
    And people looking over your shoulder….

    • YGBSM

      Cept Russia doesn’t give you the spare parts to keep flying the planes you bought from them. Hence why the Rafale is being given the nod currently. The French will sell you anything.

  • guydudebro

    The f-18 and 16 do look dated compared to the stuff coming out of europe.

  • David

    Indians don’t believe American arms are good in real combat. They had faced american arms in all their wars and trounced them. In the 70s they shot down the Sabres and swatted the PAttons like flies and raccoons. This is the real story

  • Stratege

    No. Typhoon is joke compared to Su-35 BM, the latest “Flanker” based Sukhoi aircarft.

  • gildasd

    Americans weapons systems are very good. Often the best available, but they have a tendency to be maintenance heavy and sometimes with weird set-ups that have more to do with lobbying on the hill than real life in the trenches.
    But the US is not the only country with that problem, in SA I discussed rotor-crafts with ground crews and personnel. And they said if they could chose, they would fly a mix of Gazelles, Hueys, Pumas and Rooivlaks… And get rid of the rest.
    Why these rotor-crafts? Easy to fly, easy to maintain, easy to patch up/repair, easy to weld in whatever weapon system you have handy in it, easy to operate in the field, cheap parts that you can make yourself in an emergency and in the right hands,very very good at killing people and equipment.
    But politicians just want to look good and get a kickback, not getting the most cost efficient solution.

  • arindam kusum bose

    i think the sukohi -30 maki upgaded with aeser rudder and the eary maufacturing of t-50 super egle is the laest chance of becaming the leathl air force

  • asdf

    any idea when will they announce the winner?

  • John Abbas

    What ever the fighter jet outcome…on thing is clear..India is not a banana republic nor it is likely to toe US rules by book..by now Americans know this. Despite Indians being the biggest supporters of American Supremacy and Democracy whether anyone in this blog agrees or not! US cannot fool Indians with F-16 or F-18…it is utter foolishness to get these planes and hope to win the deal with one of the best airforces in Asia. F-16 and F-18 are not a patch on Sukhoi 30-MKI which India already has…. it is highly delusional to think otherwise.

  • Indian

    well folks!

    Indian gov made it clear that US fighter jets are out and closed the chapter. Though not a wise move, but I think the grudge from a history of sanctions against India from USA might have been a contributing factor.
    It was the lack of trust which made America loose this deal.

  • ALEX

    FUCK OFF !

  • NSG

    Why should India buy F16s when the aircraft is being supplied free to Pakistan? That would be like financing the Pakistani Airforce… F18 … well in a few years the US will be providing them free of charge to the Pakistani Airforce… I feel India has taken the right choice ….

  • eads has promised to supply aesa radar to us and they have also promised us with the united partnership with the eurofighter consortium.

  • no this is bullshit.how can you be this dumb to think this.india had opted for a fair and decent competition.the americans failed to supply us with a proper comppetitor.wheres our mistake in that.the americans did not allow the aesa radar without the memorandum being signed.we asked for a complete fighter not different spare parts deals.and the eurofighter typhoon is also a battle tested one.it has flown along with the american boys in operation freedom.

  • mikeb

    haha. The reason the American fighters lost is because they are useless. They look nice but useless at anything else. Indians have consistently knocked out American made junk for years. American made weapons are for the rich to look pretty in. Thats all. They suck at warfare. It is as simple as that. Yes they are expensive and a headache to maintain. Nothing to do with technology transfer or anything of that sort. The technology in American made weapons are too complicated in the first place. Even American engineers cannot figure out what they create half the time. So once these things break they are impossible to fix. Stay away from anything that is made in America especially weapons. All the countries who bought these weapons or bought into them are now regretting because they have a poor product and they have invested into something that they may never see.

  • Jack Ellis

    India and America both are probably a strong and friendly nations. No one is less than one another

  • Plagio

    Okay all you fighter pilot wannabees,
    Which of these two steeds would you choose to protect your country in?
    (All specs from Wikipedia)

    F-35A Euro. Typhoon

    Speed (max) 1200 mph 1550 mph

    Range 1200 miles 1840 miles

    Weight (Empty) 29,300 lbs 24,250 lbs

    Thrust (dry) 1 x 28,000 lbs 2 x 13,500 lbs

    Thrust/Weight .87 1.15

    Wing Loading 446 kg/m2 312 kg/m2

    Service ceiling 60,000 ft 65,000 ft

    Rate of Climb classified 62,000 fpm