Monday, 6 June 2011

New Light On Why India Rejected The F-16 & F/A-18

ASHLEY J TELLIS, commentator and senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment has a new piece in India's FORCE magazine which quite substantially fleshes out the stated reasons why the two US contenders in India's M-MRCA fighter competition -- the F-16IN and F/A-18E/F -- were eliminated in a late April decision. The Pentagon, Boeing and Lockheed-Martin, which have been quite silent (about the reasons for the elimination) since the decision, appear to have got their side of things across quite amply, and in great detail, in Mr Tellis' column. For starters, they've shown him those rejection letters they got. A highly readable report. Here's some of the juice:

Tellis' report notes that the F-16IN was found non-compliant on five counts: "growth potential, carefree handling (and automatic sensing of external stores), sustained turn rate, engine change time, and assurance against obsolescence over a 15-year period."

Tellis puts the F-16IN's failure to meet the IAF's enging change time requirement down "largely to an idiosyncratic mishap during the field trials". He writes, "It is certain that if the trials were to involve multiple stochastic demonstrations of engine change, the F-16IN would have easily made the mark. Unfortunately, second chances are sometimes not available, and the IAF, for its own reasons, chose not to accept Lockheed Martin’s subsequent evidence of being able to meet the engine change standards laid down in the ASQR."

Tellis also suggests that the "blurry" nature of the reasons why the F/A-18 was rejected give him doubt about whether the IAF gave the Super Hornet an "equitable shot". He notes that the reasons Boeing was given for the rejection of the F/A-18 were four: "the maturity of its engine design, the growth potential of its engine, assorted performance shortfalls, and issues related to special preventative maintenance".

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