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India issues RFI for 57 carrier-borne fighters
June 27, 2017
Two Egyptian Air Force Rafale fighters. Photo credit: Dassault Aviation

India issues RFI for 57 carrier-borne fighters

The Indian Navy issued a Request for International (RFI) for 57 multi-role carrier-borne fighters (MRCBF) for its burgeoning aircraft carrier fleet.

Besides mandating the transfer-of-technology for manufacturing in India and access to the platform for custom weapons and sub-systems configuration, the RFI inquires of the prospective candidate’s ability for short take-off but arrested recovery (STOBAR) and catapult-assisted take-off but with arrested recovery (CATOBAR) operations, the latter cementing the Indian Navy’s plans for a CATOBAR carrier.

This RFI follows the Indian Navy’s earlier decision, made in December 2016, to not proceed with using the naval variant of the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Tejas on the INS Vikrant, the Navy’s forthcoming aircraft carrier (being built in India). The Navy citied the Tejas’ inability to operate from ski-jump launches when fully armed and fuelled as the main factor in its decision.

Notes & Comments:

India’s defence industry dynamics favour the Dassault Rafale-M and Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet as the leading candidates. The former is already being procured by the Indian Air Force (IAF) with substantial transfer-of-technology and commercial offsets, which can be scaled for an Indian Navy Rafale-M purchase.

Boeing has built a robust relationship with the Indian military and Indian defence industry via the C-17, CH-47, and AH-64 programs. In both respects, India could also leverage the MRCBF program to acquire direct assistance in the development and construction of CATOBAR carriers.

Considering the all-inclusive value of several recent fighter contracts in India and in the Middle East, the MRCBF contract could readily touch USD $10 billion (i.e. the fighters, weapons, and maintenance) in value. How well each vendor is able to placate India’s offset and domestic workshare requirements would be a key factor in New Delhi’s decision, which may seek to build upon the gains it had secured in the IAF Rafale purchase.

  • John Rue

    Its time for Pakistan to invest in SAMs. Always makes me wonder why so many Surface to Surface missiles and no investment in SAMs.

    • Steve

      You are right of course John, but considering the topic at hand, an alternative more cost-effective investment would be to get some version of DF-21D technology from China with imaging/targeting help with satellites as well, and building 100’s of road mobile missiles with 3000km range which we are good at. That will overwhelm any rudimentary BMD, and potentially destroy Indian aircraft carriers while still in port, and all this expensive investment will be totally negated. It is better to destroy carrier borne aircraft before they take off rather than use SAM’s on them after. India will be forced to place expensive naval assets in Vietnamese ports lol. Heck even the US Navy fears DF-21D!

      • sinisterintentions007

        There is something called brahmos block-4 with steep diving capability getting increased from current 75 degrees to 90 degrees which along with proposed range extension to around 600 kms from current 300 kms will make it a perfect weapons system from hitting whatever junk Pakistanis & Chinese can bring to bear on Indian navy.

        • Omar Dar

          So the Indian navy wont get the chance to leave the harbour to launch a Brahmos in the first place.

          • Superior Shakeel

            why must you feed the troll and then be a troll in return the truth is half way between them.

          • Omar Dar

            Haha. Point taken

        • mazhar

          That something called Brahmos, how come there is no test showing on YouTube. Is it just another gimmick from India or this missile really exists? What is shown in pics, looks like a metallic tube made out of sheet metal.

      • Superior Shakeel

        Bro a single ICBM costs 20 million upwards? and real costs of DF-21 is unknown but when you factor in the number of thrusters it would require it to maneuver so much it wont be cheap than that so each missile would be more expensive than a block 2 JF-17 itself that is on top of nobody knows if it works at all or at what accuracy as much as i like cost effective chinese technology don’t believe everything coming out of the CCP media.

        you can’t retrofit it on our older missiles it would require us to buy DF-21from china and not just a few you suggest buying 100s of such missile so cost of just hundred missile would be 2 billion $ and above plus the targeting system which is a combination of GeoStationary and GeoSynchronous satellite now we can get the data from the chinese Geo Synch but we would also need to have the china launch GeoStationary satellite for us and considering the size of indian ocean and arabian sea it would require 14-16 satellite to cover the area to a satisfactory degree and that would be in upwards of 3-4 billion $s.

        add up the costs do you really think this is feasible or required???
        be realistic here and think with cold hard logic and facts don’t be a fanboy bro

        don’t you think buying a heavy twin engine planes paired with our chinese AsHMs is the most feasible and logical option and submarines lots of submarines instead of going unproven unknown chinese star wars tech .

        • Steve

          DF-21D is not ICBM but strictly speaking IRBM but that’s semantics. Targeting info we get from the Chinese. We don’t buy these but learn how to build them and save costs. Who said it was cheap but definitely cheaper than buying a whole navy with an air arm to counter the Indians. Subs can’t save us; they have P8I the most effective anti submarine aircraft system in the world, and lots of ASW frigates. With the number of ships and aircraft the Indians have the chances of an aircraft armed with antiship missiles getting through with P8I and Su-30 guarding the coasts and new aircraft the carriers, are small. Nothing known at this stage can stop a 10 Mach DF-21D. It can effectively neutralise expensive Indian assets and will be a force multiplier like nothing else. One hit on an aircraft carrier will be a blow to their morale 10 times bigger than sinking of the Kukri.

          • Abdul Rashid

            That’s my boy, Steve! You’re getting good at this.

          • Steve

            Haha! just doing it out of interest and passion for our country. Would like to see Pakistan stand tall among nations and punch above its weight on every field.

          • Abdul Rashid

            I know you are, Steve. I feel it!

            Naturally we Pakistanis like to see our country prosper and succeed in every field. Indians too wish the same for their country and so they should. Sadly we see some bickering here typical of Ind-Pak forums but hopefully it’s not as bad as on many other forums.

          • Steve

            Off topic so apologies. Majority of Pakistanis hold no malice towards Indian people, but some unfinished business needs to be resolved. Other countries with long standing disputes have done it, but the visceral hatred between certain sections of people and some people in power is unprecedented and highly dangerous. Especially with high passions and nuclear weapons on both sides. Indians seem extremely blasé about the risk they face and appear to be suffering from a high degree of overconfidence and arrogance. Certain rabid sections of their press are influencing the public and creating more hatred, spreading the mindless notion that a nuclear war is ‘winnable’ as their population will survive. Yes it will but will be back in the Middle Ages for a hundred years. Men of vision are needed on both sides.

          • Superior Shakeel

            its like amateur hour here sighsss its like you’re not even listening and understanding bro.

            chinese can’t sell targeting information because they dont have it got it??

            the Geo targeting data for DF-21 works only in select littoral waters of china because it requires a combination of moving geosynchronous satellite and Geostationary satellite in order for them to generate targeting data for indian ocean and arabian sea that would require them to launch their GaoFeng targeting satellites and that also around 20+ each satellite has reported targeting area of 250,000KM^2

            so what im trying to say here is they haven’t launched the Geosynchronous satellite for arabian sea and indian ocean yet because they dont need it also it doesnt fit in their defensive doctrine so that costs alone would be upwards of 4-5 billion dollar on top of the DF-21 missiles and if we want TOT and home production that it would be even more expensive with literally no export market to offset costs unlike FC-1/JF-17

            so does it make sense to spend 7-8 billion for a very new untested niche technology also the DF-21 missile does not carry nuke if it does than its just plain stupid to use nukes first thing in a war make no mistake it can be paired with nuke warheads but you wont use it first without trying anything else first chinese are not that stupid to use nuke first on US in all logical likelihood it does have huge number of conventional maneuvering warheads 40-60 is the number thrown around some websites so if a barrage of such missiles is used it can cripple a AC strike group theoretically but make no mistake the AC group are always with crap load of destroyers and frigates with their own SAMs it all boils down to how much one can throw at the other opponent a war of attrition.

            also this is a very misconception among fellow pakistanis for some wierd reason i have seen.
            they seem to lack the basic working of how a SAM system works all interceptions are made head on collision they are never tail chase so it doesnt matter if the warhead is travelling at 10 machs or 20 machs or 50 machs the SAM system just need to track it and send a interceptor in its exact course to do a HEAD ON COLLISION it doesnt matter if the speed of interceptor is 2 mach or even 1 though higher speed would be better in terms how how far you can intercept it but thats about it regarding the speed of interceptor.

            and it could also be achieved by throwing a crap load of cruise missiles or ASHMs at the enemy which costs like 2-3 million a pop versus a system which costs 7-8 billion to begin with no proven record of effectiveness or accuracy your pick.

            also they would need hundreds of P8i to effectively monitor any area of the sea or ocean you seem to forget the vastness of the oceans on top of that they also had Marine patrol aircraft but still we were able to sink their frigate while all our surface fleet was blown to kingdom come

            its because the Magnetic Anomaly Detector or MAD sensor which is used to track submarine only works at shallow depths ie when submarines surfaces to recharges its batteries but with AIP they dont need to do that very often and have good enough loiter time and stamina they are more than enough to deter any ship also the BIGGEST THREAT TO OUR SUBMARINES IS ENEMY SUBMARINES NOT P8I.

            be a critical and logical thinker bro open your senses and your mind and think rationally weigh the X amount of resources we have against the Y target we want to achieve then work out the A,B,C scenarios to achieve that and then select the option which is the “least drain” for our X resources.

          • Steve

            My dear friend, thanks for your long post and provision of basic info about how stuff works, which I am aware of. My post was for possible future directions over the medium to long term, not for going to a Chinese shopping mall tomorrow and popping a few DF21’s in the shopping trolley lol. We are skirting the problem which is a very weak surface fleet, which we do not have money to build thus subs etc that everyone is on about. The Indians recently tracked a Chinese sub using dropped sonobuoys, and the Mach 10 speed makes tracking difficult not winning a speed race of missiles lol

          • MT

            1. DF21 is still under development. so its not just a piece of cake, you can buy it in market. It requires dozen of satellites, space based IR system to track moving object in sea

            2. Only countries with advanced space SLV & satellite manufacturing capability can afford AshBM. Imagine cost of 10/12 satellites and SLV alone would cross 5 bill$ but indigenous development for lower income country such as India will cost 2 bill$ overall

            3. India has 8 -p-8i & ordered 4 last year. India plans 20 -p-8i by 2024. 4/5 to be put on western front and 16 for Indian ocean esp in bay of bengal,adnaman sea & strait of malacca.Chinese submarine presence in Indian ocean is matter of concerns for regional stability.

            4. The key to tracking submarine is to build a undersea wall with beacons/hydrophones

            quote:India and Japan plan to install a sea wall of “hydrophones”—microphones with sensors, placed on the seabed—between southern India and the northern tip of Indonesia. Hydrophones can record and listen to underwater sounds, with the particularly important ability to track submarine movement.

            5. The key to tracking ship & ballistic missile is to build space based infra red system. Its something india will start building from 2020 as the country begins gradual enhancement to Ashwin BMD system.
            Ashwin BMD is planned for Delhi/mumbai installation before 2020.

            The indigenous ashBM(1500/2000KM MRBM) is in later development stage to be tested in 2yrs & they would rquire the nest of satellites for frutification.

            A decade later, India will merge Scramjet glider atop two stage soild rocket. The third stage RV containing scramjet will be dropped in atmosphere after rentry near around 1000/1200 Km from target & scramjet will fly 1/2 minute journey on hypersonic speed in upper higher atmosphere(10/30KM) The target recognition system & control guidance will be borrowed from the native AshBM technology under development

            **Most of the weapons are made/planned keeping chinese aggressive territorial hegemonic behaviour in mind. Pak doesnt have decent SAM coverage.

            The current priority for DRDO is to fix minor hardware glitches, stabilise the hardware quality & software control system of nirbhay which require co/ordination between all sub agencies.
            The active roaming seeker in nirbhay has not been tested bcoz the missile could barely fly last time.

            But the research project such as Anit ship ballistic missile, hypesonic glide vehicle are the future projects which have good foundation base.

          • Steve

            Look MT it’s not a matter of what India’s plans are and we don’t need an itemised list of Modi’s dreams lol. Every nation has plans but they don’t start boasting about things that may or may not happen 25- 35 years in the future. You guys are very immature to suggest you are on par with developed countries which you are obviously not, and are begging the whole world for technology. I’m getting a bit bored with answering non serious posts so I’ll stop.

          • MT

            India is successfully working at those programs I mentioned. It’s among few countries that has built a scramjet nd can manufacture turbofan engine.

            in past india lacked funds and skill sets. But a decade ahead the defence budget ll be sufficient to deal with it.

            To remind u Indian defence budget including pension is 12 % of total budget which is far less than Pak 22-24%budget contribution to defences

          • Steve

            Once you actually induct all these wonder weapons like scramjet, warp drive, phasers etc please boast then. I think your celebration is just a little bit premature.

          • Headstrong

            That is an inconvenient truth to be put on this forum!

            And do remember, your claims qualify as ‘boasts’, while for these people it is ‘possible future directions’….. Lol!

          • Superior Shakeel

            no thanks required bro but the DF-21 tech is in development itself and pakistan does not have any experience heck even US or Russia hasn’t tried such a unconventional weapon so if we want it we are most prolly going to buy it off the shelf i dont think our shaheen series have enough payload capacity to be modded to work with DF-21 system the missiles weight is almost between 50-60 tonnes so yeah its much heavier than the SS SATAN the worlds most dangerous and fiercest ICBM that makes yank p in their pants.

            also it is what the indians claim so who knows whats true same as chinese claim to spied on US without them knowing maybe chinese were just fooling them by showing up similarly US could be doing something like that who knows ?

            but a submarine is 100 times more stealthy in comparison to even a USS zumwalt the destroyer of the destroyer especially in the high gradient muddy waters of arabian sea submarines are really deadly the one thing they don’t excel is at is piracy and counter insurgency for that we have enough fast attack boats.

            what we should on is
            1)fast attack boats and missile boats for coastal protection and piracy and insurgency.
            2)a fleet of heavy twin engine jet capable of launching 3-4 ASHMSa
            3)coastal missile batteries.
            4)15-20 fleet of AIP submarines which also have nuclear tipped cruise missiles.

            of this we already have achieved 1) and 3) and are on the process of inducting 4) lets hope we achieve the target 4) too that will complete our NAVAL deterrent.

            thats all we need and manageable in our resources and would be more than enough to deter our enemies and i think this is what are our planners are thinking too.

          • Headstrong

            Good thinking and I appreciate your logic. But no amount of resources would be enough if one is paranoid. So, even if Pakistan were to ‘actually’ achieve all 4, it would hanker for more. Sad, but true…

    • Superior Shakeel

      do you want the truth??

      because our planners know any SAM is hopeless against the barrage of missiles our enemy is going to hurl at us perhaps thats why we bought 8 submarines instead of any destroyer or large frigate.

      think your self realistically for a capable SAM system that would require a new Ship itself upon that the cost the expensive SAM itself like the aster or some other turkish system with capacity of 32 VLS or upto 64 VLS depending on the configuration but what good it would do against such a large surface fleet with aircrafts who are going to saturate the defenses of any small fleet we may end up buying simply not worth it our surface fleet would be at the bottom of ocean in the first day of any such conflict.

      we need submarines atleast 15-20 capable AIP submarine the one thing any surface ships fears is a silent submarine. not SAMs

      • Sajid Ehsan

        Shakeel very intellectual reply.

        • Superior Shakeel

          thanks bro i try.
          they keep forgetting it was the soviet SSNs subs who worried the american 7th fleet admiral when they approached indian ocean during the 1971 war also our only naval kill also belongs to a submarine the PNS Hangor the french Daphne class subs also we have the state of the art AIP equipped subs the 90Bs.

          those AIP 90Bs and future S20s are what makes me sleep nicely at night instead of our 3k ton 50 year old so called “destroyers” that are smaller than a corvette in our adversaries navy and would be at bottom of sea lickety split in case of any eventuality.

  • MT

    1. Tejas GE404 sub 90 KN thrust causes Low TWR into tejas Mk1 making it unsuitable for carrier operations
    for which An engine of 96-100 KN is minimal needed
    2. Tejas MK2 with GE414 may not be viable option for IAF if Safran has promised to put in 20% additional effort in kaveri K10 variant for producing similar rated engine.
    3. Rafale-M will the sure shot winner. Mig29K have low operationability of as low as 33/40%.
    it seems that India may be negotiating for F/16 radar technology as part of shifting the F/16 into India so F/A 18 is a lost case


    On 20 November 2016, DRDO Director General for Aeronautics Cluster C P Ramanarayanan confirmed that DRDO and French Snecma have tied up to revive Kaveri Engine as part of the offsets deal for 36 Rafale jet. It is expected that the engine would be integrated and tested in LCA Tejas by 2018.

  • OSD

    I don’t know what type of planning the Indian armed forces is doing at the moment. America has developed the F-35 as a single platform for all of its forces so that maintenance and operations can be standardized. Europe has the Eurofighter and China has the J-20.

    India is doing the exact opposite and has ordered the Rafale, LCA Tejas, Su-30, PAK-FA, AMCA program, new Grifen/F-16 fleet and now a separate fighter for the navy. This is in addition to the current fleet of Mig-29, Mirage 2000 and Jaguars which will be retained for the next two decades at least. The Indian Its as if a kid has gone into a candy store for the first time and now wants to buy everything. Had the Rafale program been executed effectively, they could’ve built the most powerful fleet in Asia for the next thirty years. But luckily for Pakistan, that didn’t happen.

    • Steve

      India’s aircraft procurement does appear haphazard and with no strategic direction. They are creating a logistics nightmare which is great for us if the shooting starts. A kid in a candy store who has found a $100 bill on the ground is an apt analogy. Some of it is also to keep Pakistan from acquiring aircraft, no matter how much Indian enthusiasts deny it. They as signing deals with every major manufacturer worldwide and going mad with spending money, even as their people suffer some of the worse infrastructure in the world, and are the largest poor population of any country in the world.

    • MT

      Separate fighter deal will go to rafale or mig29.
      It’s not easy to buy the best deal. French were demanding more than 30bill for 126 rafale with armaments so India made the best deal keeping china in mind as those 36of them ll be placed near Assam Bengal region

      With rafale deal India got some juicy offsets as form of support for turbofan enhancements Kaveri, full stealth coating tech and dozen consultancy offers for Indian radar;Sam project.

      None of it comes from American nd Israeli.russia offers decent tech consultancy support to Chinese project and their involvement in Indian projects are lackluster.

      F16 v block will be win win deal for USA India as India ll become core assemblers of F16 platform.

  • Khan Majeed

    It is also time for Pakistan in investing in anti-ship long range missiles like the Chinese D-40 missile. The aircraft carrier of India will have the potential to control and even block sea routes of Pakistan. It is also time for Pakistan to start developing their own technologies and systems.

  • mazhar

    Seriously Steve, I have not seen any test of Brahmos and now they claiming it’s 4th version. Where other three went? Whenever I see this missile, it looks like a big tube sitting on top of another tube. Whatever we test, we give evidence after every test and none of our tests failed now look at our neighbor, a history of failures. Tejas took 30 years and still Indian forces don’t want it. One big steel welded bulk called Arjun is also no where to find but bragging from Indians goes on and on with no end in sight.

    • MT

      Only if you had watched YouTube videos of brahmos launch from land,sea(frigates,destroyers& aircraft carrier) underwater pontoon. It has video of Indian launch since 2005

      Pak has zero failure bcoz it used imported assembled rip off weapons. Pak current missile program is nt even comparable to 90s India which is listed among elite space powers with hypersonic scramjet engine nd re-usable launch vehicle in development

      • Headstrong

        The very first launch in 2005 split the ex-Vijaydurg in two. The two halves sank in less than a minute

        • MT

          Brahmos have been been launched 50 times in last 15yrs. India have wasted 100 mill$ alone on these test/development stage launches

          1. The old video from early 2001 which is around 16yrs old
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zl48bwYBDfA

          The old brahmos even too have impeccable <10 meter CEP precision in anti ship role. Brahmos have seen 3 more staged of development on top of it
          2. Brahmos launch from destroyer INS kocchi, the most recent
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJx7pQtMl9Y

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJIUFfhZZTI

          • Headstrong

            Fantastic! In the first video, the last sea firing was the Durg I had mentioned.
            Brahmos Next Generation (NG) will be lighter and travel at Mach 6. First trials expected later this year, I believe

          • MT

            Most Indians barely boast of these semi imported maal. Brahmos is not cheap. The agat seeker & LFRJ liquid fuel ramjet engine is too expensive.

            so hoping for ADA,RCI to fix the issues in nirbhay with some basic hardware,control system flaws

            Two must test for nirbhay
            1. The diving & terrain hugging system stability
            2. The seeker system is integrated but it has never been tested

            after these 2 tests. they need to be finetuning all parameters for optimization . Manik turbofan can be only tested once all software,control system routines are flawless with russian powerplant

            with respect to early hyper-sonic capability, Brahmos 2 will probably use more powerful ramjet engine.

            As of now, china havent shown capability to intercept deep diving Brahmos but they will have the such SAM in prototype phase. so it wont be long before chinese MRSAM copy cat ASTER,barak/8 type of features

  • SS_IND

    Well for those wondering why India is buying so many different platforms is simple….these platforms are the best at what they do …the F-35 is the best example as how badly can u fail to merge all the requirements. Further its not a days work to build a major defence complex for production and sales. India is buying platforms from all the top nations and is now working on getting ToT and if possible the manufacturing as well. This today might look like a shopping spree but in future would be a great decision taken by a visionary leader.

    India today is getting engine tech – US and France, Radar Tech – Russia, US, Israel, Jets Tech – US, Russia, France, Avionics and high tech HUDs – Israel and US. Missile Defence – Israel, Russia, Subs – Russia and France, Destroyers and frigates- Russia, Helicopters- US and Russia.

    This kind of technology know how has never been acquired by any country on the planet ! combined with an domestic research (DRDO) the future looks very bright not juct for the defence forces but also for the sale and production.

    As an example India was able to take most of the tech upgrades for the Mig 29 UPG which is now as good as a Mig-35.

    It was a lack of commitment by the previous govt which only wanted to buy to get commissions, times have changed ….India has changed!

    • Headstrong

      Actually I’m quite comfortable with the level of ignorance displayed in the comments section. 12 years after being first deployed, the efficacy of Brahmos is being questioned! Even its very existence. Lol
      The lessons handed out in the past don’t seem to have worked. These people still seem to believe in theories such as ‘martial races’ etc 🙄

  • MT

    Brahmos range is around 600km but it was mtcr limitations for which Russian tricked navigation system to limit the range.

    Brahmos block 3 which is inducted near Chinese border can dive steep 75degree so brahmos isn’t a static platform.
    Its new production version ll be enabled with irnss as well
    Russian can make brahmos m with 300+-600km range for very much half its weight. So 600km range brahmos for heavy version is all abt testing the modified guidance system with minor modifications but real milking cows for Russian are brahmos (M/medium-sized) which ll fit in submarine torpedo nd weight as much as 1.2tons

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