February 8, 2012 Think Defence
Have read a number of different views from around the internet so I thought a summary could be interesting.
They all sound plausible, with the first one being the most obvious when you think about it,
Being a Reliable Arms Dealer
This is the most interesting and arguably the most relevant. India needs a reliable supplier, this is why the F16 and F18 were eliminated early on, the US has demonstrated on a number of occasions that they are not reliable, withholding spares the last time there was a spot of difficulty with Pakistan. India must look to India’s interests, not the US. Because the UK is so closely aligned with US foreign policy we are guilty by association and France has shown a much greater propensity to plough their own furrow when it comes to strategy, intelligence sharing and public support of India in its struggles with Pakistan. In 1998, France offered a great deal of support to India after they had completed a nuclear test and provided practical support in 1999, in the form of cooperation with Israel to fit Indian Mirages with precision weapons. In contrast, the UK offered no such moral or practical support. Germany has very strict rules about defence exports during conflicts and also let’s not forget, France has the designs to their own nuclear technology that I am sure India would like a peak at.
It’s an obvious difference between the two and vague promises and artists impression of a Sea Phoon don’t match operational capability. I am not sure we will ever see an Indian Rafale M variant but at least they have a reasonably straightforward option should they wish.
France has developed over a long period, a strong relationship with the Indian Air Force with a number of upgrade programmes for its Mirages.
Because we have avoided funding Typhoon properly for a long time that funding elongation, selling production slots and generally bringing it to the dance but not going any further has resulted in an aircraft which given the time and money expended on it simply does not compare to Rafale in terms of being a rounded design, with only a very modest ground to air fit for example and a penny pinching approach to future development.
When the Indian President visited Europe the Austrian Air Force in their Typhoons escorted her aircraft in an ostentatious display. This showboating, showing off of shiny baubles, like some colonial offering three buttons in exchange for 20,000 acres of land, went down quite badly.
Putting the Germans in Charge
Eurofighter is of course a multi-national consortium so putting the UK, Spain, Italy or Germany in charge of the bid was going to have to happen, one way or the other. The Germans though don’t have much experience in this type of deal, had to be dragged kicking and screaming into negotiations to actually fulfil their commitment to Eurofighter production numbers and without any strong relationship with India on which to build. Putting ones weakest player forward was not only a mistake but it was also seen as an insult.
The Anti-Typhoon Lobby in the UK
The Typhoon has been subject to a great deal of negativity across the board, a lot of it from Navy and Army advocates who have it sucking up defence funds for what is perceived to be a Cold War legacy mission. The sheer magnitude of this negativity, in comparison with Rafale, influenced the perception of its capabilities.
Pushing Development Aid onto India when they don’t want it smacks of colonial condescension, France, which offers a tiny amount of development aid to India, would seem to have a much more mature relationship of equals.