Saab Gripen, Checkmate’s Biggest Russian Challenger for Rafale Jets for India’s Multi-Billion MMRCA 2.0 Tender

February 11, 2022 6:34 p.m. STI

New Delhi [India], Feb. 11 (ANI/BusinessWire India): The tender for 114 Multi-Role Fighter Aircraft (MRFA) or MMRCA.20 is a program to which Delhi attaches utmost importance. In 2018, the Indian government issued an RFI for the procurement of 114 fighter jets under the MRFA. The new fighters are expected to replace the Indian Air Force’s aging MiG-21s, Mirage 2000s and Jaguars.
MMRCA 2.0 deal contenders include Lockheed Martin’s F-21, Boeing’s F/A-18 E/F and F-15EX Super Hornets, Dassault’s Rafale, Saab’s Gripen JAS-39 E/F , the Russian MiG-35 and SU-35, and the Eurofighter Typhoon. In order to make sense of the MRFA race and the potential winner, The EurAsian Times collect points of view from some of the best defense analysts and military veterans.
An Indo-Canadian digital company, The EurAsian Times is a global and virtual online publication with a strong focus on defence, geopolitics and international affairs. Officially launched in 2014, EurAsian Times actively covers global defense developments. Highly trained journalists, defense experts and think tank professionals contribute to the news portal.

Choose the right plane
Air Marshal Anil Chopra (retired), author and military analyst, told the EurAsian Times: “We need more modern aircraft because the Chinese will be upgrading from the MiG 19 to the J-20 fighter of 5th generation, at which they will buy these jets by the hundreds. Then we also need to have numbers. We definitely need 4.5 to 5th generation planes – so MRFA is needed.

“Whoever we contract with should be able to obtain critical technologies that will support our 5th generation aircraft – the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA). This requirement goes beyond simple consideration quality or poor quality of the aircraft. Since it relates to national capacity building, whoever we select should be willing to give us the technology to support the engine and other aspects of the AMCA.”
Burst in mind?
Air Marshal Pranab Kumar Barbora (Retired), former Vice Air Chief of Staff, spoke about the Air Force having too many types of jets. “The IAF believes that they should not have too many types of eggs in their basket. If we go for something new now, we could end up in a situation where we have different types of aircraft in our inventory. The IAF can try to convince the government to maybe get more Rafale since we already have 36 of them. want to.
He said the ultimate fight is again between the two finalist aircraft last time out (MMRCA) – Rafale and Eurofighter – as well as Sweden’s Saab Gripen which could spice up the race this time around.
Col. Ajai Shukla (Retired), a columnist, commentator and journalist covering Indian military technology and defense economics, noted that the IAF already operates seven different types of fighter jets, resulting in multiple logistical hurdles .
“These challenges relate to the management of spare parts, repair and overhaul, and operational support. Given this, to acquire another type of fighter is to compound an already significant challenge. the Rafale, which the IAF already operates, would not create additional logistical problems,” according to Shukla.
Highlighting the navy’s angle, Shukla said: “Another fact that the Ministry of Defense would consider is the navy’s simultaneous purchase of 57 ship-borne fighters for its carriers. It would make logistical sense to for the Air Force to choose a fighter that could also be operated from an aircraft carrier, it would also be cheaper to do so.
He noted that the French jet scores again here thanks to the Rafale Marine, which is already part of the French Navy and operates from the decks of aircraft carriers. “Finally, there are always politico-economic factors at play in heavy weapons purchases and again the Rafale has well-known advantages. So the Rafale has three very heavy advantages,” Shukla added.

Vice Admiral Shekhar Sinha (Retired), former Chief of the Integrated Defense Staff and Commander-in-Chief of Western Naval Command and member of the editorial board of the EurAsian Times, seems to have endorsed this view.

“With the Rafale M land demonstrations completed, the Naval Air Staff should be confident that the basic readiness requirements are on track. Naval test pilots must burn the midnight oil to drawing graphics to explore uncharted boundaries. They must be ready for Super Hornet testing in March. To not be left far behind, Boeing may even consider advancing its demonstration,” Sinha said.
“At the end of the day, I feel like the ease of fitting into the carrier and the economy of scale might tip the decision. For the government, the expense is significant whereas for the builder, economy of scale It will be prudent from a buyer’s point of view to choose an aircraft for IAF and IN in the same stable to keep costs, logistics and cycle cost down of life within a manageable budget. It’s one in hand is better than two in the bush,” he added.
Amit Gupta, Associate Professor at Air University, Maxwell AFB, Alabama, USA, also endorsed the French jet, saying “India should go for the Rafale. It will bring economies of scale, ease logistics and maintenance, and will give the country more aircraft that can be used as nuclear delivery vehicles.”
Relying on the fact that most of the aircraft participating in the MRFA are the same as those that participated in the MMRCA, Gupta said: “If, for example, there was a new choice, we would have had another option to consider. But in today’s scenario, following the technical evaluation and costing procedure, if we don’t want to have a large number of fleets, we could simply use the Rafale because the IAF already has two squadrons and the infrastructure for two other squadrons. We would simply buy the Rafales and then we would focus on the LCA and the AMCA.”
Prakash Nanda, a veteran journalist, author and chairman of the editorial board of the EurAsian Times, said India would take into account, among other factors, the nuclear weapons delivery capability of the MRFA.
“In choosing the next fighter, India will consider not only the much talked about aspects of technology transfer, price and performance, but also the latent factor of its reliability and usefulness as a platform. powerful to deliver nukes against enemies…It is an open secret that at present the best nuke delivery platforms happen to be the French Mirage, which have been modified by Dassault (which also manufactures the Rafale) in the 1990s at the request of India with nuclear weapons in mind.”
“Apart from France and Russia, no country, due to their respective national laws, will allow India to use its supplied or co-produced platforms for the delivery of nuclear weapons. And here, considering from the Mirage experience, Rafale has an advantage over even Russian competitors like the Su-35, let alone others.”
Squadron Leader Vijainder K Thakur (retired) also spoke about the Russian jets. “The most cost-effective choice for the IAF would be the Su-35. It includes all of the sensors and capability upgrades that would eventually go into the Su-30 upgrade. Additionally, with local manufacturers, the risk to be too dependent on Russia would be greatly mitigated.”
Nitin J Ticku, defense analyst and co-founder and editor of EurAsian Times, believes that Rafale fighters are favorites of the Indian Air Force. “The problem is that India cannot afford 126 Rafale. If India goes ahead with more Rafale, I think there should be no more than 36 for the army of air and 57 for the navy Swedish SAAB Gripen fighters are an interesting option but Sweden does not have the political influence like France India would carefully evaluate the development of the Russian “Checkmate” which is presented as an aircraft fifth generation and if it meets Indian specifications, the deal could go to the Russians.
Commenting on the single-engine aircraft, Air Marshal Barbora, who served as Vice Chief of Air Staff during the combat aircraft evaluation period for the MMRCA tender, said said: “the [Saab] The Gripen will not be at a disadvantage as it is a single engine aircraft. It’s largely because technology has advanced so much that the aircraft’s reliability factor has improved many, many times over.”

Abhijit Iyer-Mitra, Principal Investigator at IPCS, said – “The best will always be the cheapest and lightest – ergo single engine – the Gripen and the F-21. It was always meant to be a light fighter replacement for the 400+ MiG 21s we had. And we desperately need superlative single-engine fighters that can be launched into combat en masse.”
Speaking of the Gripen, Shukla pointed out that it “is built primarily to operate off the ground runways. But it can also be configured to operate from aircraft carriers and therefore also has a dual role capability. It is lighter and easier to maintain – and comes with less hassle for maintenance crews.In this respect, it would exhibit qualities that the Indian Navy and Air Force would find attractive.
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