Wednesday, February 08, 2012

The F-35 Fugue (2) . . .

— Dassault Rafale —

450 MILLION DOLLARS EACH, somewhere around that, is the cost of acquisition and service of Canuck F-35's over their projected lifespan, for a total around 30 billion dollars. OUCH!

It could have been cheaper. At least, that's what WIRED thinks, according to Michael Moran's article, "How Do You Say "Top Gun" in French?". A couple of weeks back, I posted that the Indian government had decided to buy Dassault Rafale jet fighters. This is a major triumph for France, achieving its first foreign sale of the Rafale. Now, we know a little more.

There was a selection process, and the Indians winnowed out the F-18 Super Hornet and the MiG-35 early on, even though the F-18 is thought to be an equal for the Rafale in the mission-critical envelope, and the price was right.

Now, regardless of country, the mystery of military hardware procurement is a blend of budget, national ego and politics, both domestic and international. After the American F-18 rejection, the British were still hanging tough, offering the Eurofighter Typhoon, but the French government offered a sweeter deal.

Maybe, the Indians were miffed that they were not offered an export version of the F-35 by the Americans? It's like having someone say, "We don't trust you." Consider:

The F-35 Lightning has already been sold to Australia, Canada, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, and the British (for the Royal Navy). Under what bizarre scenario did the U.S. military foresee its sale to India posing a threat to American national security? Pakistani sensibilities? If nothing else, the additional aircraft on the production lines might have helped bring down the ridiculous price of the F-35 program over time. 

Hey, it's only money, but the extra production sure would have been nice. Of course, we got Stevie and Airshow riding herd on it, what could possibly go wrong?


The Mound of Sound said...

I'm pretty sure the Rafale had a leg up on the competition because of its proven carrier operating ability. The Indians are keen to get a "top gun" carrier fighter and the Eurofighter really doesn't fit that bill.

As for the F-35 that project is so screwed up why would the Indians want anything to do with it? When the manufacturer can't tell customers when the aircraft will be available much less at what price it takes some pretty big political reasons to stay with that dog.

Mark, Ottawa said...

A couple of relevant posts at the "3Ds Blog":

"F-35: US, UK, RoK"

"Canadian Academics Dogfight Over F-35"