Tag Archives: Eurofighter Typhoon

Following on India's MMRCA win, Rafale on the verge of winning UAE fighter deal?

Has Dassault won a 60 jet deal with the UAE?

French newspaper La Tribune reported on Feb. 2, 2012, that France could be on the verge of winning a long-awaited $10billion 60 jet deal with the United Arab Emerates which could be signed as soon as April.

Citing unidentified sources, the paper said on its website that President Nicolas Sarkozy would go to the UAE in March or early April when the contract is likely to be finalised.

The rumor comes only days after Dassalt virtually won the Indian MMRCA (Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft) deal and few months after Eurofighter consortium, beaten in the “mother of all tenders”, received  an RFP (Request For Proposal) by the UAE Air Force.

The deal has been in the pipeline since 2008 but negotiations stalled when the UAE described it as “uncompetitive and unworkable.” and had asked for information about the Typhoon. Althought how the deal was unlocked remains unclear a source told La Tribune that every issue has been solved.

If confirmed, this new order will unlock the possibility of further middle east deals for Dassault and Rafale in the Gulf, where countries could benefit of inter-operability that a common platform could offer. Qatar Emiri Air Force whose Mirage 2000s have taken part to the Air War in Libya  operating side to side with the French Air Force combat planes out of Souda Bay, Crete, could buy 24 to 36 Rafale to replace its ageing Mirages. Kuwait last year said it was also considering buying Rafales.

Richard Clements for TheAviationist

Photo by Alessandro Fucito

India's MMRCA fighter jet deal: illusion and disillusion on the losers' side.

All media outlets have been reporting the various reactions to the news that India is “likely” to award the contract for its MMRCA competition to Dassault as it was the lowest cost bid.

Aviation week’s Robert Wall wrote that the news is “Not going down well in London”.

Although Wall points out that Germany led the Eurofighter campaign, he describes the disapointment amongst British politicians as “palpable”. Indeed, many are complaining under their breath that Britain gives many more times aid to India than France ever has.

British Prime Minister David Cameron had, along with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, lobbied on behalf of the Eurofighter bid and did have to admit “the decision is obviously disappointing”. In an attempt to quell increasing worries from other members of the British parliament he pointed out that “they have not yet awarded the contract”. Cameron also promised to do all he could to persuade the Indians to take another look at the Typhoon and that job losses in the UK are not expected as a result.

Job losses is also a concern for the other three partners of the Eurofighter consortium, Italy, Germany and Spain each building sections of the jet but doing little to sponsor the aircraft in the Indian contest.

Although Eurofighter was believed to have a more political clout because it was backed by four European countries, lack of a united effort from partners could have been a decisive flaw on the Typhoon side. Those countries that were supposed to unitarily support the F-2000, are the same that in times of financial crisis have been much distant one another on the strategy to save the Eurozone.

Anyway, since everybody is claiming that no contract has been signed yet and 6-8 months of (hard) negotiations lie ahead for Dassault, someone has already tried to raise the stakes.

For instance, in a statement to Reuters, Pentagon spokeswoman Leslie Hull-Ryde said there had been no U.S. offer to sell India the stealthy Lockheed Martin F-35, but Washington would provide information on the jet’s infrastructure and security requirements if India showed interest in purchasing the Joint Strike Fighter. Even if it’s hard to believe the U.S. would give the requested technology transfer on its most (costly) and troubled program,  a contract worth 10 billion USD for 126 planes (with 80 more examples on the shopping list), might spur the Department of Defense to knock on New Dehli’s door with the resolve needed to persuade India to scrap its own 5th generation fighter radar evanding plane in favor of the F-35.

In the meanwhile, boosted by the win in India, Dassault has made a new offer to Switzerland where the Rafale was beaten by the Swedish Gripen in the selection for the Swiss Air Force F-5 replacement.

Let’s see what happens.

Written with The Aviationist’s Editor David Cenciotti

Is Boeing calling time on the stealthy F-15 Silent Eagle? Lockheed Martin hopes so.

Silent Eagle, not to become reality?

The Korea Times has reported that there is a possibility that aviation giant Boeing may not full fill its promise to provide the stealthly version of it’s F-15 to South Korea.

In an article published on Jan. 25, titled Boeing may give up offering stealthy jet journalist Lee Tae-hoon wrote that “a source familiar with Boeing’s plan to modify its F-15s said little progress has been made in the making of the F-15SE, especially in the development of its conformal weapons bay (CWB), which allows the aircraft to carry weapons internally.”

According to the informed source “only 10 percent of work has been completed for the research and development of the F-15SE’s conformal weapons bay.”

Boeing’s proposal had included canted vertical stabilisers and a conformal weapons bay on each side of the aircraft to reduce the radar cross section of the aircraft, all compulsary requirements to Korea’s KX-III procurement program to acquire advanced jets. Seoul had removed these requirements to allow other manufacturers the chance to compete, although had signed a memorandum of understanding with Boeing back in 2010. However Boeing announced late on 2010 that it had suspended development of the proposed features.

Tae-hoon also reported that other industry officials noted that it will be physically impossible for Boeing to complete the development of the CWB and canted tails by the end of October this year when Seoul plans to finalize the deal after three to four months of evaluations and negotiations. “Boeing will most likely change their offer. They won’t offer the Silent Eagle” a senior official of Lockheed Martin, which is competing with Boeing and the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS) for the FX-III bid, said asking for anonymity.

“They are going to offer the F-15K because that’s the only plane they can deliver by 2016.”

This opens the door for the F-35 and the Eurofighter Typhoon to get a toe hold in Korea.

Although EADS could try to offer a version with conformal fuel tanks and thrust vectoring, neither variant of the Typhoon is stealth. Therefore, since radar-evading capability remains a crucial factor in deciding the next South Korea fighter jets, Lockheed Martin F-35 seems to be favorite and this would explain Tom Burbage (Executive VP of Lockheed Martin and General Manager of F-35 Program Integration) optimism over the deal in the recent Press Briefing held in Rome.

What is yet to be determined is which of the three versions of the F-35 Lockheed has put forward to Seoul for consideration.

Written with The Aviationist’s Editor David Cenciotti

Credit: Boeing

"The F-35 remains essential to the future of air superiority" Panetta says. And Lockheed Martin reassures: "we will solve all JSF problems."

On Jan. 26, several hours before U.S. SECDEF Leon Panetta would say the Joint Strike Fighter remains a DoD top priority program “essential to the future of air superiority”, Charles “Tom” Burbage, Executive VP of Lockheed Martin and General Manager of F-35 Program Integration, had already explained in a Press Briefing held in Rome that, in spite of rumors and criticism surrounding the costly fifth generation combat plane, he did not anticipate any significant downsizing of the program.

“Every country is reducing defense budget but no country has reduced the F-35” he said, explaining also that one of the most appealing features of the program for international partners is the involvement of local companies, which supply components, systems and know-how, well before a single aircraft is purchased.

Moreover, the F-35 has recently collected some important achievement, making Burbage and the rest of the company optimistic about the future of the entire program.

First came in December 2011 the selection of the JSF as the Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) next gengeration aircraft, following the F-X competitive bid process that saw the Lockheed plane win on both the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Boeing F-18 Super Hornet.

Then the F-35B STOVL (Short Take Off Vertical Landing) was removed from probation one year ahead of schedule. Finally, the F-35C (Carrier Variant) was fixed with a new tailhook system that will be tested beginning next April, making arrested landing on aircraft carriers possible after the series of failed tests.

Last year was particularly important for the revolutionary plane. It flew about 20% more than expected, performed sea trials taking off and landing (vertically) from USS Wasp and “had no issues on the ship”, Burbage said, in spite of the alleged noise and heating problems.

Dealing with the series of issues highlighted by the JSF Concurrency Quick Look Review and other official and unofficial reports leaked at the end of last year, Burbage explains: “we are currently 20% into the test program. Today’s issues are not going to affect customers that will receive the aircraft years later, when the problem is fixed.”

In the last few days, Burbage and its entourage have met the Italian Minister of Defense Di Paola and the top Italian Air Force and Navy officers. Talks were satisfactory and Lockheed is quite confident that in spite of the financial crisis and raising criticism at political level, Italy will keep the commitment as Level 2 partner (worth 2 Billion USD already invested) in the program, which calls for total U.S. purchases of 2,443 F-35s in both A, B and C versions for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, and envisages 697 planes for other partners (UK, Italy, Netherlands, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Norway and Turkey).

Japan aside, the F-35 has export chances also in South Korea, that is the only non-partner country Lockheed Martin is in talks for a possible JSF sale. Should the F-35 be selected in South Korea, the number of planes procured by Security Cooperative Participants (Singapore and Israel)  and foreign customers (including Japan) will exceed the number of F-35s ordered by partners.

Since there’s no commitment yet nor any value was set, no reduction or cut in the amount of aircraft can be foreseen. Italy is not buying 131 planes. The initial requirement was for 69 F-35A and 62 F-35B (40 for the Air Force and 22 for the Navy), but Italy will buy the plane in batches: 4 planes, then 5 planes and so on. Therefore, Italy will have some F-35s, some of them will be STOVL ones to equip the Cavour aircraft carrier.

Eventually, in the U.S. the F-35 survived the Pentagon budget cuts: the US will continue buying F-35s, but will slow its purchase of the stealth fighter planes.

Indeed, it’s a very good period for the Joint Strike Fighter.

 

"The Eurofighter Typhoon will be the Indian Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft" Pakistani blog says. RUMINT, HUMINT or speculation?

Although an Indian Air Force spokeperson has quickly denied the news, according to a Pakistani blog “Grande Strategy”, Eurofighter has won the Indian MMRCA tender, worth 10-15 billion USD for +126 combat planes.

“Grande Strategy sources are suggesting that the Eurofighter Typhoon may in fact be the winner of the long delayed Indian Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) competition” the article says.

Even if the Typhoon will likely be the next addition to the Indian Air Force’s already varied fleet (made of Mirage 2000s, Mig-29s, Sukhoi Su-30MKIs, some obsolete Mig-21s, Mig-27s and Jaguars) it’s worth of note that a Pakistani think tank “providing strategy and analysis from an Islamic perspective” has given the news earlier than the India media, that reported opposite speculations last year.

Considered the current status of the Indo-Pakistani relations, it’s somehow strange that a think tank “on the enemy side” was able to get such tip from sources among decision makers that have been comparing the MMRCA bids. Maybe, information was gathered through Human Intelligence (HUMINT) or Rumor Intelligence (RUMINT).

Unless the news was purposely leaked or it is only speculation.

Eurofighter didn’t confirm nor deny the news.