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Tuesday, July 24, 2018

IAF Rafale M-MMRCA Costings & Platform Modification/Customisation Details

The figure of Rs.525 crore or approximately €79 million per Rafale, which the Indian National Congress has been citing, is based on Dassault Aviation’s 2007 RFP response at the then exchange rate (€I = Rs.66) and that too for only the 18 Rafales that were to be delivered off-the-shelf by Dassault Aviation. The 2007 price for each of the 18 Rafales would have amounted in 2015 to €100.85 million (Rs.765.4 crore at 2015 exchange rate of €1 = Rs 75.90). Similarly, the 2007 bid price for every Eurofighter EF-2000 would in 2015 have worked out to be €102.85 million, higher than that of the Rafale. In comparison, the average price of each of the 36 “bare/green” Rafales bought in 2016 is €91.7 million (Rs.696 crore at the 2015 exchange rate), lower than both the earlier 2007 Rafale and Eurofighter EF-2000 RFP responses. The exact price for the 28 single-seat Rafales is 91.07 million (Rs.681 crore) each; and that of each of the eight tandem-seat Rafales is 94 million (Rs.703 crore).
Coming to unit-prices of the 108 Rafales that were to be licence-assembled by the Bengaluru-based and MoD-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, or HAL (the workshare agreement between HAL and Dassault Aviation was signed on March 13, 2014), Dassault Aviation had estimated that each HAL-built Rafale will cost 2.7 times more (including Rs. 68 crore in labour costs alone per aircraft) than a Rafale delivered by Dassault Aviation. This is because not only would HAL have had to upgrade its in-house airframe fabrication and systems integration capabilities entirely through imported hardware and expertise, but the same also would have had to be undertaken by several of the private-sector and public-sector industrial entities that had been identified by HAL and Dassault Aviation as vendors. These would have included the following:
Airframe Component Providers: fuel tanks and pylons (5 vendors), tooling hardware (12 vendors), mechanical parts and sub-assemblies (21 vendors)

Turbofan Component Providers: mechanical parts, tubes and pipes (5 vendors)

Avionics Components Providers: AESA-MMR sub-assemblies,, cockpit displays (3 vendors), electronic boards (4 vendors), automated test-benches (5 vendors)

Accessories Providers: cabinets (3 vendors), screws and rivets (1 vendor), tubes (1 vendor), wiring harnesses (5 vendors)

Simulator Services Provider: 1 vendor

Ground Support Equipment Supplier: 6 vendors

Engineering, Software & Services: 13 vendors

Data Conversion Service Provider: 2 vendors

MRO Services Provider: 4 vendors
Customer-Furnished Hardware Specified For Integration With Rafale M-MRCA
All the IAF Rafales will feature 14 customer-specific modifications, comprising: 1) integration of the RAFAEL-supplied LITENING target acquisition/designation pod; 2) integration of the RAFAEL-supplied Spice-1000 standoff PGM and its related data-link pod; 3) integration of MBDA-supplied Meteor BVRAAM and ALARM anti-radiation missile; 4) integration of the RAFAEL-supplied X-Guard towed-decoy and development of its on-board location cabinets; 5) upgradation of the SPECTRA EW suite to accommodate low-band, medium-band and high-band directional jammer apertures; 6) integration of the TARGO-2 HMDS supplied by Elbit Systems (also ordered by Qatar); 7) installation of a THALES-supplied traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS); 8) installation of a THALES-supplied standby radar altimeter; 9) Optimisation of the M88 turbofan’s jet-fuel starter for operating in sub-zero temperatures at altitudes above 9,000 feet ASL; 10) increase in the capacity of the on-board OBOGS; 11) addition of weather-mapping mode of operation in the THALES-supplied RBE-2 AESA-MMR; 12) development of quad-pack ejectors for the DRDO-engineered and Spice-250 PGM-derived SAAW EMP-generating standoff PGM; 13) assistance in flight-qualification of DRDO-developed 450kg laser-guided HSLD bomb and integration of the bomb’s FOG-based inertial navigation system with the Rafale’s on-board Sigma-95N RLG-INS through a MIL-STD-1553B interface; 14) modification of the Sigma-95N RLG-INS’ coupled GPS transceiver in order to receive MIL-STD PY-code coordinates from India’s NAVIC/IRNSS constellation of GPS satellites.
Nett cost of each of the 18 fully weaponised Rafale M-MRCA in flyaway condition as negotiated by the UPA-2 government was Rs.1,705 crore and that of each meant-to-be-licence-built Rafale was Rs.4,603.5 crore, whereas the figure for each of the 36 flyaway Rafales now on order works out to Rs.1,646 crore.
Contrary to the Indian National Congress’ allegations about the Dassault Reliance Aerospace joint-venture industrial entity being the sole beneficiary/executor of the 50% indirect industrial offsets package that forms part of the  €7.87 billion (Rs.59,000 crore) Rafale M-MRCA contract, Dassault Reliance Aerospace will only be one of several key industrial players in the execution of offset obligations. This is because under any government-to-government contractual agreement, industrial offset obligations are always fulfilled by respective industrial consortiums, i.e. from the French side the consortium comprises OEMs like Dassault Aviation, THALES and the SAFRAN Group. And THALES and the SAFRAN Group are still in the process of finalising their industrial offsets obligations. Consequently, each of these three French OEMs is entitled to fulfil only one-third portion of the mandated 50% industrial offsets content.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

BAE Systems' TEMPEST 5th-Gen MRCA Unveilled

At BAE Systems’ Farnborough Airshow pavilion on July 16, the UK’s Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson unveilled a full-scale conceptual model of a fifth-generation MRCA that would be developed through international industrial partnerships. BAE Systems’ CEO Charles Woodburn said that the UK government’s new Combat Air Strategy—released on the same day—“is a powerful statement of intent to invest.” Royal Air Force’s (RAF) Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier said that the RAF is "taking ownership of our next-generation capability.”
The conceptual model was generated by Team Tempest, a partnership between the RAF’s Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO) and the UK-based industry (including BAE Systems, Leonardo UK, MBDA UK and Rolls-Royce). The Tempest comes out as a large, manned twin-engine and twin-tail design with a near-delta wing, except for trailing-edge indentations for stealth alignment. Additional images on display next to the model also showed a scaled-down unmanned version, and industry officials have since cautioned that the model should not be considered definitive, although some wind-tunnel testing has been done already.
According to Williamson, more than US$2.65 billion would be invested in the UK’s Future Combat Air Strategy (FCAS) by 2025. The UK’s industry is contributing up to 50% of this on some of the 60 “national technology demonstrations” that form part of the FCAS. Williamson said that Team Tempest should deliver a business case by the year’s end and take “initial conclusions” on international partners (like Japan( by next summer. Further, he said, the partners could be “nations around the world, including ones that we haven’t worked with before.” He continued: “Early decisions on how to acquire the capability will be confirmed by the end of 2020, before final investment decisions are made by 2025. The aim is to have operational capability by 2035.”
Officials from Team Tempest later clarified that no commitment has yet been made to build a flying demonstrator in the near-term. “We could do some tests on existing platforms,” said BAE Systems’ Air Strategy Director Michael Christie. He added that the size of the model on display had been driven by the need for a large payload bay, whether for weapons, sensors or additional fuel. One accompanying illustration showed four small drones in the bay that could be launched in a "swarm" concept of operations. The MBDA Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile and Spear-3 air-to-surface PGM was also on display, but an MBDA official said that the definitive MRCA could carry future weapons from the pipeline of developments already projected by MBDA and the UK Ministry of Defence. They will likely include hypersonic and directed-energy weapons.
Conrad Banks, Chief Engineer for Future Defence Programmes at Rolls-Royce, described advanced engine technologies that would be incorporated. These include distortion-tolerant fan systems; two embedded starter-generators that eliminate the accessory gearbox and would provide greatly increased and continued electrical power; advanced composite materials providing a “step-change” in thrust-to-weight ratio; and a fully-integrated thermal management system.  Other characteristics of a future MRCA include a “virtual cockpit”; reconfigurable communications; network-enabled cooperative engagement; artificial intelligence and machine learning; “intrinsic ISR"; multispectral sensors fully integrated at the subsystem-level; and advanced digital manufacturing processes.
But Air Commodore Linc Taylor, Head of the RCO and Team Tempest, noted that a spiral strategy would be employed to leverage existing technologies. “We will re-use what’s good enough already,” he said, adding that this would particularly apply to mission data reprogramming. His boss, Air Vice Marshall "Rocky" Rochelle, Chief of Staff for Capability and instigator of the RCO, said: “We are working at pace, and breaking traditional paradigms.” He added that past lessons about unnecessarily complicated and protracted developments were being learned. While admitting, “We will get some things wrong,” he also accepted, "We should be measured by the outcomes.
In unveilling its vision for a potential successor to the Eurofighter EF-2000, the UK has thus upped the stakes in an ongoing European dogfight for supremacy in producing a fifth-generation MRCA. Nations including Japan, Sweden and Turkey are among those that the UK would be willing to work with, while the companies behind a separate Franco-German project have called for greater collaboration between European nations, potentially incorporating the UK. “The UK is fully open to international partnership,” said ACM Sir Hillier. “It is an entirely fitting way for the RAF to enter its second century.” Responding to the Tempest concept’s unveilling, Airbus Military Aircraft has said that it “is encouraged to see the UK government’s financial commitment to the project, which supports the goal of sovereign European defence capability”. “A FCAS of utmost importance to Europe’s armed forces and therefore we look forward to continuing collaborative discussions in this area with all relevant European players,” Airbus added.
Japan’s homegrown effort to develop a fifth-generation MRCA are led by the state-owned Technical Research & Development Institute (TRDI) which had, In July 2014, unveilled photographs of its then engineless experimental Advanced Technology Demonstrator (ATD-X) being towed out of a paint shop at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ (MHI) Komaki South Plant in Nagoya. The ATD-X was born out of a feasibility study programme that was launched in 2007. Originally, what is now the ATD-X was then given the enigmatic codename Shinshin, the two-kanji combination that has the general meaning of mind or spirit, but this appellation is no longer used. In addition to the undertaking of research into flight control systems that would enable super-manoeuvrable flight, a more sinister-looking, full-scale radar cross section (RCS) model was tested at a French government facility in the latter half of 2005 and displayed at the Japan Aerospace Expo in 2008 after the conclusion of that stage of development. The ATD-X’s low RCS-optimised fuselage cross section, described as like that of an abacus bead, arose from that research. The RCS model was followed by flyable, one-fifth scale models, one of which was revealed in 2006. From that year, five years of parallel research were conducted into the so-called smart skin, whereby the external fuselage structure is embedded with self-diagnostic micro-sensors.
Manufacture of the ATD-X and a ground-test airframe commenced in 2009. As its full name implies, the ATD-X will be used as a testbed for research and systems integration. The aircraft is intended to act as a stepping stone on the way toward the possible production of a scaled-up, next-generation MRCA, incorporating what have been dubbed i3 (informed, intelligent, instantaneous) technologies and counter-stealth features. Released by the TRDI, the early examples of digital mock-up (DMU) concept designs from 2011 and 2012 resembled the Lockheed Martin F.A-22 Raptor and Northrop/McDonnell-Douglas YF-23, respectively. Dubbed 25DMU (from the Japanese calendar year Heisei 25, or 2013), the latest known example incorporates some of the design features of its predecessors. Following the RCS model, a combination of a model displayed at a TRDI event in 2007 and a 1/10th scale wind-tunnel model displayed in October 2012 had already provided heavy hints with regard to the direction the ATD-X’s configuration was taking, but closer inspection of the photos from July 2014 revealed more details of the definitive version. Salient points included the four-sided horizontal tail surfaces, which had been five-sided in the full-size mockup, and the rounder air intakes. As tends to be the case in Japan’s aerospace industry, the ATD-X represents a joint effort, with one prime contractor (MHI) mating major assemblies from other companies; the wings and both the horizontal and vertical tail surfaces were supplied by Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI).
Building on earlier research that was also conducted in the 2000s, the ATD-X will be used to investigate axisymmetric engine nozzle thrust-vectoring, achieved by three “paddles” mounted around each tail pipe, similar to the system used on the Rockwell X-31. An axis-symmetric thrust vectoring nozzle is also being developed for the full-scale production model. Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries (IHI) is developing the 33,000lb-thrust XF5-1 low-bypass turbofan using ceramic composites-made turbine blades. The XF5-1 has its origins in basic research carried out by the TRDI from 1991. The first of four test-engines was delivered to the TRDI in 1998, but a full five-year prototype programme began only in 2015. All things considered, the ATD-X marks an important step in Japan’s efforts to retain and build on the expertise accumulated in the production of its own MRCAs. The JASDF’s definitive F-3 fifth-generation MRCA is due to enter service in 2035.
Meanwhile, technological challenges encountered in developing the 153kN-thrust Izdeliye 129 turbofan being developed by a consortium comprising Ufa Engine Industrial Association (UMPO), MMPP Salyut Moscow Machine building Production Enterprise and Rybinsk-based NPO Saturn; as well as the unreliability of the transmit-receive modules made of Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) for the Tikhomirov NIIP-developed N0-36 AESA-MMR have forced Russia’s air force to limit its orders for the Su-57 fifth-generation MRCA to only 12 units. All these MRCAs will be powered by 147kN-thrust Saturn/Lyulka 117S/Al-41F-1S turbofans, and be equipped with N0-35 ‘Irbis’ PESA-MMRs.
Here’s the UK government’s new Combat Air Strategy document:

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

PLA Navy Ditches J-15 Carrier-Based H-MRCA, Opts For FC-31 ‘Gryfalcon’ M-MRCA

An industrial consortium led by China’s Shenyang Aircraft Corp (SAC) has been formally entrusted with the task of developing and series-producing the definitive new-generation aircraft carrier-based medium-weight multi-role combat aircraft (M-MRCA) for the People’s Liberation Army’s Navy (PLAN). Nicknamed the ‘Gryfalcon’, this MMRCA will be a navalised derivative of the FC-31 stealthy technology demonstrator (TD) that was unveilled at China's Zhuhai Airshow in November 2014.
A land-based M-MRCA variant is being developed for its launch customer--the Pakistan Air Force—which presently does not possess any twin-engined deep-strike interdictor platforms (its entire fleet of combat aircraft presently comprises single-engined aircraft) and therefore remains deeply interested in procuring about 80 such M-MRCAs.
The SAC-led industrial consortium includes its No.112 Factory, the 601 Research Institute (Shenyang Aircraft Design Institute), 603 Aircraft Design Institute (later named the First Aircraft Institute of AVIC-I) and the 606 Institute (Shenyang Aero-engine Research Institute). The FC-31 TD’s (No.31001) maiden flight took place on October 31, 2012. It has been designed to carry an eight-tonne weapons payload (including four precision-guided munitions totalling two tonnes internally, and 6 tonnes being carried on six external hardpoints). It has a combat radius of 648 nautical miles (1,200km) and a maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) of 25 tonnes. The fuselage length is 16.8 metres, while the wingspan is 11.5 metres, and the height is 4.8 metres. The maximum attainable speed is Mach 1.8, and the powerplant comprises two 85kN thrust-rated Klimov RD-93 turbofans imported off-the-shelf from Russia’s Moscow-based Chernyshev Machine-Building Plant, a division of the United Engines Corp (UEC).
First flight of the FC-31’s definitive prototype took place on December 23, 2016, which revealed that the length of the ‘Gryfalcon’ had been increased from 16.8 metres to 17.5 metres, while the MTOW now stands at 28 tonnes. In addition, the wheel-wells were significantly smaller, allowing for a larger internal weapons bay capable of accommodating up to eight tonnes of armaments.
In addition, a twin nose gear and cropped vertical stabilizers were incorporated, as was a chin-mounted electro-optic targetting sensor (EOTS-86) under the nose. The powerplant comprised twin Klimov RD-93MA turbofans that incorporated full authority digital engine controls (FADEC) and a gearbox locdated at the bottom front-end of the engine casing. The RD-93MA has a service-life of 4,000 hours, and a total thrust rating at 94kN.
The ‘Gryfalcon’ will feature a glass cockpit containing panoramic active-matrix liquid crystal displays, hands-on-throttle-and-stick controls, and a helmet-mounted display system. The principal on-board beyond-the-horizon sensor will be the KLJ-7A multi-mode radar with an active electronically-steered antenna array that is now undergoing developmental flight-tests. The airframe will also accommodate an internally-mounted self-defence suite comprising a self-protection wideband jammer, radar warning receivers and missile-approach warning sensors in a distributed aperture configuration.
Primary armament for air combat will include two types of new-generations beyond-visual range air-to-air missiles—a medium-range variant and a long-range variant now undergoing development, plus PL-10E short-range air-to-air missiles. For maritime strike, a smaller and lighter variant of the YJ-12 warship-/land-launched supersonic anti-ship cruise missile (whose export designation is CM-302 and has a 290km-range) is now being developed, which will have a range of 180km.
The PLAN’s decision to switch to the ‘Gryfalcon’ follows its insurmountable difficulties with operationalising the carrier-based J-15H ‘Flying Shark’ heavy-MRCA, along with the difficulties that continue to be experienced by the state-owned Aviation Industries of China (AVIC) in developing new-generation durable turbofans and their thrust-vectoring nozzles. Therefore, to play safe, the PLAN decided in favour of procuring RD-93MA turbofans that are derived from the RD-33MK ‘Morskaya Osa’ (Sea Wasp) turbofan now powering the MiG-29K and MiG-29KUB M-MRCAs of both the navies of Russia and India.
The J-15, with a MTOW of 33 tonnes, is the heaviest active carrier-based MRCA in the world, while its empty weight is 17.5 tonnes. Until 2016, China was confident about its homegrown electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS) technology capable of launching the J-15 from ski ramp-equipped aircraft carriers like the PLAN’s Liaoning CV-16, since it was able to produce its own insulated-gate bipolar transistor chips, a key component of the high-efficiency electrical energy conversion systems used in variable-speed drives, railway trains, electric and hybrid electric vehicles, power grids and renewable energy plants. The technology was developed by China’s first semiconductor manufacturer, Hunan-based Zhuzhou CSR Times Electric, and British subsidiary Dynex Semiconductor after the former acquired 75 per cent of Dynex’s shares in the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis.