Meinhaj Hussain, firstname.lastname@example.org
Bismillah-arrahman-arraheem. GrandeStrategy sources suggest that the Eurofighter Typhoon may in fact be the winner of the long delayed Indian Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) competition. The MMRCA is India's largest single defense deal that seeks to purchase high-end combat aircraft for the Indian Air Force (IAF). The contract is estimated to be worth between 10-15 Billion USD for 126 or more combat aircraft. These aircraft will provide India with a credible boost in air combat capabilities significantly downgrading any advantage the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) may have clawed back over the last decade.
The contest has been essentially between the Eurofighter Typhoon built by a pan-European consortium which includes EADS, Alenia Aeronautica and BAE Systems, and the Rafale, its French equivalent built by Dassault. It is commonly believed that the Rafale has better air-to-ground, while the Typhoon enjoys superior air-to-air performance although both planes are closely matched. The competition was critical for Rafale because it has yet to secure an export order in the last 10 years. The loss of this competition to the Eurofighter consortium may possibly be fatal to the Rafale securing any major future international contracts.
The purchase will have a few significant ramifications to Pakistan, the premier air force of the Muslim world. Pakistan's JF-17 fighter is a capable multi-role aircraft but is not optimized for the kind of high-high (high altitude and high speed) BVR (Beyond Visual Range) combat that the future of air combat is increasingly leading towards and the kind of combat the Eurofighter Typhoon is purpose-built to perform. As a result this can provide a capability gap for PAF planners. This is likely to emphasize on more J-10s from China, an aircraft with superior air combat capabilities than the JF-17.
The Typhoon will also bring in the best platform for employing the MBDA Meteor, a new generation of BVR AAMs that can give an advantage to the IAF against both the PAF and the PLAAF (People's Liberation Army Air Force, or the Chinese air force). When combined with the high-high profile of the Typhoon, this can put lower kinetic energy fighters like the JF-17 at a disadvantage. The view of this author is to develop UCAVs customized for the Pakistani scenario and couple these with two-seater JF-17 Block II/III.
Another possible implication is that France may now be willing to trade weapons with Pakistan and some of the Rafale's technology may find itself to the JF-17. This is an unlikely possibility given the belligerence of Western powers presently towards Pakistan but the issue is not closed as France is known to have done such business in the past. The interest in such trade has multiple and important implications. Most importantly, France may be willing to sell weapons and avionics for an export oriented JF-17 where the customer is not Pakistan but a third country more amenable to the French. Countries like Egypt or Argentina for instance, may prefer a cheaper plane than the Rafale but want Western avionics and weapons. Pakistan may herself be interested in such parts as the excellent MMI (Man-Machine Interface), E/O (Electro/Optical) systems and EW (Electronic Warfare) systems, all of which are top grade subsystems of the Rafale.
A word of comfort is that the machines are highly expensive to buy and maintain and perhaps a degree more sophisticated than Indian engineers are used to handling. Coupled with a longer delivery timeline, Pakistan or China are unlikely to see these birds operational in significant number until at least 2016. Nevertheless, we have to hand it to the Indians that they have in all probability made the right choice.
Please note, the results of the MMRCA have not been officially announced, this article is based on unofficial channels and must be taken as speculative and not official. However, I have good grounds to believe it is true. - 01/13/2012
02/02/2012 - I am sorry my information was wrong. Glad it was though as the Rafale is a more manageable threat than the Typhoon in the critical air-to-air role.