India is about to announce the tender on delivering 126 multipurpose fighters for the national Air Force. The value of the deal may reach about 9 billion dollars. It is expected that the whole contract and subsequent service maintenance of the aircraft for the next 40 years will be given to one manufacturer.
Russia is going to suggest its newest aircraft Mig-35. India already relied on Mig-29, the predecessor of Mig-35 while upgrading its Air Force. Recently India and Russian Rosoboronexport signed a 800 million dollars deal on upgrading 78 previously delivered Mig-29, first two in Russia, the rest in India. The upgrade will prolong the lifetime of the aircraft from 25 to 40 years. Besides, the aircraft carrier being made by Russian Sevmash will have the deck version of Mig-29K. All this will make Indian Air Force the world’s second largest operator of Mig-29 family. Today only Russia has more Mig-29.
Russian competitors are well-known: first of all this is US F-16I Sufa of Lockheed Martin. The export version of the aircraft was once developed for Israel. Others are French Rafale, Swedish Gripen LAS 39 and Typhoon of EADS. It is a bit too clear that Europeans are trying to buy the contract with offset proposals. Rafale, which has lost all previous tenders worldwide, is traded for one billion dollars of investments into Indian economy a year. Richer EADS promises investing two billion dollars into Indian aviation industry. Swedish Gripen is ready to lease its fighters for 10 years. “Independent” observers voice the opinion that the US F-16I has the highest chances.
The main reason for this assumption is that India already has too many Russian fighters, which allegedly runs contrary to the national security based on the principle of diversifying the suppliers of arms. But this statement is beyond any critics. It cannot be regarded other than public brain washing.
India has a lot of old Russian fighters, which need to be replaced with the new. For decades Russian fighters proved their technical superiority in the air. In the past several years first new Su-30MKI fighters (heavier aircraft preferred by the Indian AF) operated by the Indian pilots repeatedly and unreservedly won test fights with the US made matches operated by the Malaysian and other pilots. However, there is, probably, even more valuable thing than just technical superiority. This is reliability.
A nation buys arms to win the war, not the prize at the air show. Decades prove that it is hardly possible to win the war with the US made arms, especially for the countries like India. The aim of the United States has nothing to do with the defense capabilities of India or any other country. This is just an attempt to profit on other nation at whatever cost. The US Senate in 2005 cancelled the weapon embargo on India which was imposed after the nuclear tests there.
Can one trust this? Certainly not. US can refuse from any obligations in favour of the right now profit or political considerations. What happened to Venezuela? United States refused to deliver spares to the US made arms operated by the Venezuelan Armed Forces just because the White House right now does not agree with the economic and social policy of the this nation. Should we emphasize that it has nothing to do neither with the armed conflicts nor with terrorism? US government and arms makers betrayed their customer because this customer is no more profitable for them. Now Venezuela has to spend billions of dollars to buy arms from Russia to secure its independence.
What happened to the notorious Turkish helicopter tender? Russian-Israeli attack helicopter Erdogan won all possible technical contests. Russia was ready to provide to Turkey the latest technologies which would have enabled the latter to build one of the world’s best helicopters itself. However, it did not take place because the US, which lost technically and flatly refused to share technologies with an ally (?) used a huge political pressure to ruin the deal. We are not speaking about precedents, this is a repeated policy.
Today US is ready to cooperate with India in the military sphere. But what happens if India takes a decision contrary to the US interests? The nation risks losing a big part of its AF.
The last but not least: is it wise to buy the American arms in the beginning of the 21st century, when the US is not going to give up its aggressive policy in many regions of the world? Will the US fighters be efficient against the US “peace keepers” or those sponsored by the White House?
To our mind it is logic to expect that India will consider Russian Mig-35 most attentively. India already has licensed production of RD-33 engines for Mig-29. In the future the nation will be able to independently manufacturer another version of the engine with the adjustable thrust vectoring, a technology where Russia has traditionally advanced position. By the way US laws do not allow exporting technologies of military aviation engines.
Preferring Mig-35 India will have a totally independent opportunity to make the world’s best generation 4++ fighters. This is based on the traditional trustful relations between the two countries. The same can be said about India’s participation on equal terms in Russia’s fifth generation fighter project.