Spanish Defense Minister, Pedro Morenés, has confirmed that Spain wants to defer the delivery and purchase of 12 Eurofighter Typhoon warplanes he has signed with the Eurofighter Defense Consortium and were going to get this year.
He has not detailed the economic impact of this decision, although it is clear that it will have a financial effect because the contract provides significant penalties for countries who do not acquire all units that were committed to receive.
Spain’s economic crisis has put government finances and defense budget under intense pressure. Late last year, the Spanish Ministry of Defense accumulated a delay of about 400 million euros by Cassidian Eurofighter but a payment of 309 million Euro in February brought the government back on track.
Spain committed to acquire a total of 87 European fighters amounting to 9.255 million euros, divided into three stages or tranches: 19 in the first phase, 34 in the second and 34 in the third. Subsequently, the third stage divided into two subphases: Phase 3A (20) and 3B (14).
In August 2009, during the Socialist government, Spain signed the purchase of 15 fighter jets and options for five more as part of the subphase or Tranche 3A and due to start being delivered in 2013.
Image credit: EADS CASA
Considered the situation in Euro-zone it appears less and less likely that there will be a Tranche 3B. The question is how to escape termination costs. Further negotiations can be expected, but one option is to count future exports as re-sales of scheduled orders from existing partner countries.
After BAE Systems failed its bid to supply 126 fighter jets to India, now Cassidian Spain leads the formal offer of the European consortium to secure a contract valued at over 7 billion euros with which South Korea desires to purchase 60 fighter aircrafts. In earlier statements, the final selection of the next-generation fighter would be announced sometime in October.
Now, DAPA (South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration) admits that October is only an optimistic initial target date and the final selection may not be announced until early 2013.
Although it must still be confirmed, it looks like the Dassault Rafale will be the Indian Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft, a contract worth about $10 billion USD (“the biggest fighter aircraft deal since the early 1990s”) for +126 planes.
beat the four-nation consortium’s Eurofighter on price, with the fighter being identified as L1, or the lowest technically qualified bid.”
The Rafale will boost an already varied fleet that can count on 51 Mirage 2000s, 63 Mig-29s and the first 140 Sukhoi Su-30MKI of the 272 that the Indian Air Force expects to operate by 2020. Beginning next year, the IAF will also get the first batch of 120 indigenous Tejas Light Combat Aircraft, without considering all the obsolete types still in service or pending phase-out (Mig-21, Mig-27 and Jaguar) and the expected procurement of more than 210 stealthy fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA).
The announcement (preceded by a series of opposite claims) came at the end of a fierce contest with the Typhoon that saw the two combat planes continuously under the spotlight since they were shortlisted in India: Aero India 2011, Le Bourget, Royal International Air Tattoo, Sion Breitling airshow are only some of the public events which featured the European fighters’ air displays, press briefings, war stories, etc. during 2011.
There are many reasons to believe that also the air war in Libya was used for marketing purposes as it represented an interesting opportunity (because of the low-lethality scenario) to test new configurations and get some media attention, that could be useful not only to win the MMRCA tender but to get orders also in Brazil, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Bulgaria, Greece, Switzerland and….in Libya, where a deal for 14 Rafales was almost closed in 2008 with Gaddafi and there will be the need to re-equip the Free Libya Air Force in the future. I think we should not forget that, at the end of March 2011, before the Typhoon and Rafale were shortlisted, (incidentally?) all the five contenders of the MMRCA competition were deployed in the Mediterranean Sea and were taking part to the then Operation Odyssey Dawn.
Although both planes are closely matched, I’ve often explained on this blog that whereas the Typhoon offers superior air-to-air capabilities, the Rafale is truly multi-role and better in the air-to-surface role.
The “omnirole” Rafale can claim to have been the first aircraft to enter to Libyan airspace on Mar. 19 (even though I’ve already explained this happened in the Benghazi area where the risk of SAM and AAA fire was low) thanks to the Spectra integrated defensive aids suite developed by Thales. For sure although it can’t be considered as multirole as to be capable to perform a typical SEAD strike as an F-16CJ or a Tornado ECR, the French plane has the possibility to combine its sensors (such as the Spectra) and the AASM (Armement Air-Sol Modulaire – Air-to-Ground Modular Weapon) PGM to identify, designate and hit ground targets. Furthermore, during Unified Protector, the AASM demonstrated to be effective against a tank at a range of 57 km.
The Rafale will also be the first European combat plane to use an electronic scanning radar; with “Tranche 4”, expected to be handed over from 2013, the 60 French upgraded Rafales will carry an AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) RBE2 radar (compatible with long range METEOR air-to-air missiles) whose beam can be pointed from one area to another one quickly, in all weather and in a jammed environment, and that can be used in air-to-air and air-to-ground modes at the same time, with an enhanced detection capability.
So, who’s gonna win in India? Difficult to say. Surely, Rafale is a more mature plane, capable of performing a wide variety of missions, from SEAD(-lite) to reconnaissance, and it is already available in navalised version for aircraft carrier ops. However, Eurofighter already has export customers that Rafale lacks [UAE sale should be closer now NdA], and it has an attractive user community that could give stronger strategic ties with 4 European nations.
Furthermore, the Typhoon has a more powerful engine, a better BVR capability and is able to pull max G-load while launcing its weapons and carrying three external fuel tanks. It has also an extensive air-to-air missile load and can perform supersonic launching while supercruising with a large missile load. The Typhoon has a very lightweight operational bifocal Helmet Mounted Display, which in combination with the IRIS-T or ASRAAM High Off Boresight Missiles provides the F-2000 with superior dogfight capabilities. So, it’s a lethal weapon in the air-to-air scenario, and it has a potential still to be developed to become a real multirole. Finally, Eurofighter is working on a navalised Typhoon too….
The MMRCA was extremely important for Dassault, as one of the last chances (if not the last) to get an export order for the Rafale. If confirmed, the win in India could open new markets to the omnirole French plane.
Ever wondered how’s landing a jet on an aircraft carrier at night?
This French Navy Rafale’s HUD (Head Up Display) video gives a hint. Barely visible at the beginning of the footage (a very little light) is the (pitching) deck, filled with planes, people and an “island”.
Alongside the Eurofighter Typhoon, the French “omnirole” combat plane was extensively involved in Libya as well as shortlisted in the estimated $11 billion India’s Medium Multirole Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) tender whose winner should be made public in the next three weeks (for these reasons, I used a video of a French plane and not one of an American jet, to show you the thrill of a “night trap”).
Thanks to Riccardo Braccini for the heads up on FB.
I don’t really know if this version of the Eurofighter Typhoon will ever become a reality. However, chances seems to be increased after Eurofighter received a quite surprising RFP (Request For Proposal) by the UAE Air Force and especially since Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Deputy of the country’s armed forces, said to the national news agency WAM that the Rafale offer is “uncompetitive and unworkable.”
Obviously, what happened in the days of the Dubai Air Show 2011, does not easily imply that 60 Typhoon 2020s (that’s the name of the multi-role upgrade) will equip the UAE Air Force which has been under negotiation with Dassault for three years. Nevertheless, the last chapter of the fierce struggle between the two Indian MMRCA contenders shows that the fighter deal in the UAE is far from being closed in spite of the brilliant results achieved during Operation Unified Protector by the “omnirole” Rafale that in July were moved from Solenzara, in Corsica, to Sigonella, in Sicily, to operate closer to the Libyan coast (and closer to the UAE’s F-16 Block 60 and Mirage 2000s also deployed there…..).
The one offered to the UAE will probably be a multi-role combat plane that will include all the modification foreseen in the Typhoon 2020 upgrade for India.
Anyway, at least for the moment, and based on the pictorial rendering of the next generation Typhoon, I can’t but notice that with CFT (Conformal Fuel Tanks), two Storm Shadow cruise missiles, four Meteor BVR and two IRIS-T or ASRAAM air-to-air missiles, thrust vectoring and a desert camouflage, the Typhoon would not only be a lethal weapon in both the air-to-air and air-to-surface scenarios, but it would be also extremely cool.
Not bad in times of stealth-shaped manned and unmanned planes.
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