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The Military Technology

New Russian Fighter Not Up To Western Standards 354

schwit1 writes "Despite initial high expectations, the Indian Air Force appears to be souring on a joint development deal with Russia for a new fifth-generation fighter jet, according to the Business Standard, a major Indian business publication. The Russian prototype is 'unreliable, its radar inadequate, its stealth features badly engineered,' said Indian Air Force Deputy Air Marshall S Sukumar at a Jan. 15 meeting, according to minutes obtained by the Business Standard. 'They're very good at building airplanes,' Cordesman said. 'The problem that Russia, since the collapse of the former Soviet Union, has been putting out the military equivalent of show cars. They look good, but it isn't always clear how practical they are and how many of the specifications they can actually meet.'"
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New Russian Fighter Not Up To Western Standards

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  • Reap what you sow (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Sunday January 26, 2014 @12:35PM (#46073269) Journal
    While no nation's government is free of political graft, Mother Russia is a Kleptocracy of the highest order.

    Not that long ago, the Soviets were on the leading edge of science and technology. Nowadays, a fat military contract gets lean in a hurry once all the palms are greased.

  • by Chas ( 5144 ) on Sunday January 26, 2014 @12:44PM (#46073351) Homepage Journal

    In one of the articles about this, I read that Russia has done the equivalent of building show cars.

    Sure, the prototypes look great.

    But they're not sustainable, serviceable or even functional most of the time.
    And there's no way in hell they can be delivered for what the Russians are charging.

    What they're REALLY doing is playing the long con. They hook you up front. Then gradually bleed more and more money out of you to deliver what you promised.

    Ask India about the Admiral Gorshkov [].

    And since they're holding all the cards, and you've sunk all that money into it already...

    They've been pulling this crap for the last 25-30 years.

    The only time you get your money's worth is when you want something cheap, simple and produced in massive quantities. Essentially, disposable.

    Then, the Russian defense industry can churn stuff out faster than anyone but maybe China or the US.

  • by mjwx ( 966435 ) on Sunday January 26, 2014 @12:59PM (#46073467)

    That the AK47 and 74 rifles that the Russians would sell to others would have a chamber that was slightly too small so that if they picked up rounds from dead Russian soldiers they would not work in the foreign soldiers rifles.

    I dont know if that was true, but it could easily be the same story here. India is potentially a rising power and with their experience with China, the Russians may be uneasy about providing the Indians with a powerful weapon. In this case the Indians are smart enough to realise it and powerful enough to confront the Russians.

    Of course there's still the old adage, never blame malice for what can easily be explained by stupidity. The stealth fighter had very difficult requirements and rather than admit they couldn't produce the goods, it was easier to present the Indians with a fighter that clearly didn't meet the specifications.

    In either case, I dont blame the Indians for being upset.

  • by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Sunday January 26, 2014 @01:02PM (#46073481)

    So long as your Air Force is made up of nothing but experienced pilots, you'll do fine then.

    One (of many) reasons that the US military sucks up so much money is that our pilots train continuously. In the C17, pilots do not reach the Aircraft Commander level until 4 or 5 *years* after putting on wings. Obviously, fighters have a different training program, but clearly huge amounts of continuous training are involved. So, yes, in practical terms, the operational Air Force is made up of almost nothing but experienced pilots.

  • Perhaps It's A Game? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Sunday January 26, 2014 @01:05PM (#46073509)

    Your argument is very good. But also consider the possibility that the Indians are simply manipulating Russia and the US to their advantage? It's like Company X publicly announcing they will dump their entire Microsoft IT infrastructure for Linux - until Microsoft offers them a sweet deal. Perhaps they are simply playing Russia against the US for better arms deals?

  • Monkey Models (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Distan ( 122159 ) on Sunday January 26, 2014 @01:27PM (#46073641)

    The Russians have a very long history of selling inferior versions of weaponry to their allies. They call these inferior versions the "monkey models". That's all that is going on here.

  • by Alarash ( 746254 ) on Sunday January 26, 2014 @01:33PM (#46073685)
    And I heard stories of the Dassault Rafale shooting down F-22 with their canon. There'll always be stories of "plane X shot plane Y so plane X is better than plane Y" but that overlooks individual skills (dog fighting), tactical conditions (can't shoot from beyond visual range if the target is flying low in a mountain range) or even strategic considerations (can you afford, both money and time wise, to replace your planes when they go down or need maintenance). The whole problem of military design is to find the right balance between high-technology and affordability. And it seems that lately the US have been shifting a lot more towards the former. Keep in mind that you can live using credits only for so long, and during war times it becomes even more critical.
  • by Luckyo ( 1726890 ) on Sunday January 26, 2014 @02:02PM (#46073941)

    That one is actually feasible. The most distinguishing feature of Rafale is that they have a fully integrated (advertised as) revolutionary electronic warfare suite called SPECTRA. This proved itself well in Libya, where there were two kinds of NATO attack sorties. Those where aircraft were escorted by dedicated electronic warfare aircraft like Prowlers and Growlers, and those where Rafales went in without. The task of electronic warfare aircraft is to jam enemy radar guided missiles. They are the main force responsible for high survivability of NATO aircraft in recent conflicts.

    F-22 is highly reliant on its radar guided missiles to do the job. It's a pretty bad dogfighter as dogfighting would put emphasis on maneuvreability and F-22 is designed for stealth first and foremost. Rafale is designed for speed and superagility, so it's meant for dogfights. If Rafale's integrated electronic warfare suite is indeed powerful enough to disrupt F-22's radar guided missiles as it's rumoured to be, F-22 is going to be boned very hard in a duel against it. If both sides are able to render radar guided missile attacks useless, guns and IR seekers come into play and that puts F-22 at a massive disadvantage.

    The historic analogy here is ninja vs samurai. If a ninja could get a sneak kill, he would win. But a frontal fight against a heavily armoured and armed samurai is a suicide for a ninja.

  • by ebno-10db ( 1459097 ) on Sunday January 26, 2014 @03:33PM (#46074543)

    Pierre Spray, the lead designer of the F16 and of the A10

    Sprey was not the chief designer, despite his claims. As a member of the fighter mafia in the 1960's, he did have some influence on their design. Even the influence of the fighter mafia as a whole has been exaggerated. John Boyd's work on OODA hand E-M in the 1950's and early '60's was excellent and highly influential. However, when he created the informal fighter mafia group in the 1960's, along with Christie, Riccioni, Hillaker and Sprey, they emphasized dogfighting above all else, as though these newfangled radars and missiles would never be of any value. Their cause got a boost from the problems with the original F-4, without a gun and with poor maneuverability. However, they were far from the only people that noticed that there was a problem. These days Sprey spends his time "analyzing" military equipment as though nothing had changed in the last 40+ years, and exaggerating his own role in the past.

  • Re:To be fair (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dywolf ( 2673597 ) on Sunday January 26, 2014 @04:36PM (#46074987)

    Also worth noting, they dont have 35+ years of experience working with stealth technology.
    The various stealth prototypes and demonstrators (Have Blue, Tacit Blue, Bird of Prey) had their share of problems too.
    Yet the production birds (B2, F117, and F22) have done their jobs well.

  • by SpankiMonki ( 3493987 ) on Sunday January 26, 2014 @05:35PM (#46075365)

    Hey, I'm just working off of the USAF pro-formas. : )

    Fuel (and other direct/indirect expenses) are booked to "Air Operations", then a portion of those costs are allocated to training for reporting purposes. So yes, the $792M figure for training doesn't represent all the costs associated with training. And you're right, $792M isn't even close to the "real" number once all the expenses are allocated.

    I would however point out that even if one adds the entire 2014 USAF Air Operations budget to the $792M Flight Training budget, it still only amounts to a little over 5% of the total USAF budget for FY2014. So I think my original (clumsily made) point still stands.

    But I'm becoming argumentative. I certainly defer to your experience in any case.


  • Re:Hrm... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <> on Sunday January 26, 2014 @07:11PM (#46075959) Journal

    Actually even the Russians admit the Germans were kicking their asses for the first year, until Hitler made a huge blunder that was practically suicidal. Stalin had refused to vacate Moscow so they had the chance to grab him and pretty much end the war but Hitler took Army group Center and split it in half, believing he could grab the oil fields in the south AND Moscow. this was a foolish move that caused his troops to get bogged down until the winter which they just weren't ready for.

    Look up "Soviet Storm" on YouTube, its made by Russian TV and is as good a quality as Battle 360 when it comes to re-enactments and they don't pull any punches, they talk about when soviet strategy was wrong, when commanders failed, and when the Germans were doing well. its an unblinking look at the Eastern front and pretty damned riveting.

Never buy from a rich salesman. -- Goldenstern