Tuesday, February 06, 2018

The LCA - a cheat sheet.

Luke O'Brien astutely commented that
He is right, the stated performance of an LCA is about the same as a Mirage III NG.

Luke's comments led me down memory lane to an article I co-authored with my friend George Joseph some 17 years ago about the LCA [1]. 

It has been a while, but as you might know, I have written a bit about the LCA and I want to share some of the details which I fear may have gotten lost over the years. 

The LCA was developed with three stake holders who pulled in completely different directions. The IAF wanted something with the performance (i.e. Mean Time Between Failures - MBTF) of a Mirage 2000. The Govt of India/MOD bean counters wanted something that had the cost of a MIG-21. The DRDO/ADE/NAL who wanted to completely reinvent key things and build an modern a/c that was statically unstable, with FBW, with a Indian engine, Indian avionics and advanced carbon composite air frame. 

The reason it took forever to build the LCA was the IAF kept moving the product specs to match whatever it felt it needed at that instant (the case of Indian Navy needs a separate discussion*), the Govt of India kept cutting funding due to economic pressures and whatever foreign policy needs were at any given instant, and DRDO set its aims extremely high and deep indigenization of the kind they wanted took a lot longer than they realized. The DRDO really didn't have the capability to perform the material science on the engine side and the radar tech proved very difficult to get right. They worked really hard but this stuff takes time. The IAF bitched about the time it took and the bean counters complained about the rising development costs before kicking the engine and radar of the DRDO deliverable list. 

The reason why the LCA will most likely persist as a project and the LCA Mark 1 will enter service with the IAF is that all stakeholders have learned to compromise. The IAF realized that the time required to train pilots to fly the LCA is 5x lower than the time to train pilots to fly the Mig 21. This leaves more time for actual combat simulation (flying the bag etc...) . The bean counters are happy that they don't have to shell out forex for a Mig21 replacement and only have to pay for the F404 engine and the Israeli MMR. DRDO/HAL/ADE are happy that they are able to put into place a large production line that makes aviation grade composites and their proprietary FBW. They are also happy that the CFD tools developed by NAL and data driven design philosophy at ADE will make for many new LCA and MCA variants in the years to come. It's not exactly where they wanted to be, but they are more than half the way there.

This strange compromise between the stakeholders will not last long. DRDO will want to push ahead with its locally produced MMR and with its Kabini engine. They will put it to the test on at least one variant of the LCA in the near future. The IAF will set its eyes on a stealth platform and move the goalposts again. And the bean counters will want to see cost of LCA production brought down even further. So this fight between the elephants is not over yet and don't expect to read about it in the lay press, those poor reporters are out of their depth. 

I see the LCA as the Indian equivalent of the F-35 - the Indians knew just as much about actually building the LCA as Lockheed Martin did about the building the F-35. 

That said - comparing Indian Aerospace to Lockheed Martin is like comparing one of those abused mutilated child beggars you see on the street in India to an Olympic athlete like Usain Bolt or Ben Johnson or Carl Lewis. Theoretically the Indian child beggar could run as fast as Ben Johnson or Carl Lewis but ... s/he doesn't actually have legs - the child trafficker cut them off so as to make her/her a more profitable beggar and less likely to run away when s/he is sacrificed and her/his organs harvested... so no it's not going to happen in reality**

* The Indian Navy is technologically subaltern to Russia. As long as India lags Russian maritime engineering, the Indian Navy will remain very skittish about upsetting its Russian friends. Let's just say there is a reason why they celebrate Indian Independence Day in Sverodvinsk shipyards all the way out on the edge of the Arctic Ocean. I suspect the IAF has faced similar pressures, but no one from the IAF has come out and openly said this to my face. IAF types do however get realy shirty when you call them out on technical matters regarding the DRDO GTRE Kabini engine core tests in Russia. I have been yelled at by people with birdshit on their hats for pointing out they had no idea what they were talking about but no one from the IAF will just come out and say "We are afraid of angering the Russians, they are good friends and we don't want to lose their support." Instead we hear all this stuff about the FGFA funding etc....and how bad the LCA is. That said the private statements of IAF/IN officers with actual exposure to the LCA itself are very different from public postures taken in front of reporters. 

** Yeah it is really that fucked up in India. Might as well put it out where everyone can see it. I really pisses me off but that is the reality of child trafficking in India. 


At 9:23 AM, Blogger Ralphy said...

face it, india is getting a good cheap deal with russian armaments. that's no sin but it plays hell on indian research and development. theres no free lunch.......

At 10:16 AM, Blogger maverick said...

No there is no free lunch and also Essar costs money.


At 10:50 AM, Blogger Ralphy said...

join the club....they did it to us on uranium courtesy of hilary.....a bunch of thugs now control a significant portion of the nation's uranium production......

At 11:49 AM, Blogger maverick said...

What's stopping Trump from killing the deal?

At 4:59 AM, Blogger Ralphy said...

it was a legalized sale all nice and tidy just like the one in india.

never mind that uranium one investors donated over $4 million to the clinton foundation before and after the sale in 2010. here is npr's version, who are certified liberal hilary supporters.


why would trump actually do something about a russian business deal after the fact? no sense crying over spilled milk.......

At 5:01 AM, Blogger Ralphy said...

maybe modi will stop the sale in india. eh?

At 5:08 AM, Blogger maverick said...

The NPR version says there is no "Uranium Scandal" and this is just another GOP version of the "Benghazi"-beat-up-the-Woman tango.

If it was legal then what is there to complain about?

If Trump thinks it was illegal - then arrest Hillary and put Rossatom out of business.

What is the point of whining about it like a bitchy old man?

Modi needs cash to get elected. He's collecting from the French via the Rafale deal and he's getting money from the Russians too. No surprise really the French and the Russians figured out how to get in bed with the powers that be Delhi way back in the 60s.

At 5:11 AM, Blogger maverick said...

And if we are to get upset about the $4M that Guistra gave the Clinton Foundation, then we should probably get upset about the billions that Trump has been getting from Mogilovich and Putin.

Some fucking Russia scandal this Hillary's Uranium One thing!

At 5:31 AM, Blogger maverick said...

I am never going to understand caste warfare. I have tried to understand it in India but failed miserably each time around. I can't get my head around what anyone gains by deliberately imposing a "zero sum game" framework on something that is obviously NOT a "zero sum game".

The word for "caste" in the US is "race".

I get that old white men felt neutered and cuckolded to see a young black man become President. That is just how shit works - folks that are used to lynching young black men aren't used to seeing them become "massa of the house". I also understand that after a lifetime of committing sex crimes that they were never brought to justice for - old white sex offenders would not want to vote for woman. It is an indelible form of penis based thinking that we will never see the end of - at least in my lifetime.

But what I don't get is why did they have to pick Trump as the replacement? That dude is mentally unstable. To associate your caste with someone that messed up is self-defeating. Not only is he going to fuck these old white men in the short run by taking away their IRAs and their Soc Security and Medicaid - the is going to make it very hard to elect another old white man in the foreseeable future. Also Trump or No Trump - the history of sex abuse is going come out - women are extremely empowered and there is no way to turn the clock back.

I guess the Millenials are right, electing Trump was the Baby Boomers' way of trashing the Penthouse before they are moved into hospice care. I don't know who is going to pay for the hospice care once the Penthouse is trashed, but that is a point that is lost on the Boomers.

As a GenXer I've tried to stick to positive views about both Millenials and Boomers. I have always believed there is good and bad in people and you have to focus on the good parts if you want to have a productive lifestyle.

But the way that a majority of old white men and their captive old white women are behaving is making me reconsider my overall positive view of their generation. I think this group of people have become hostage to a very self-destructive though process and they are unlikely to recover from this pervasive mental illness.

Outlets like Fox are exploiting them, and I feel sorry for the people being exploited. But frankly you have the power to change the channel, and Fox finds ways of literally eating these people alive. It really isn't clear to a lot of Boomers that unless you change that channel - the shit Hannity and Tucker spout out is going to kill you. These idiots are alienating family members because of what they think is true per Fox.

Even in India, I find Boomers glued to these Modi friendly TV channels. When I apprise them of the situation on the ground in Doklam or of the real situation with the demonetization, I am told (me- who spends every spare minute gathering the smallest shred of ground information) that I am listening to fake news and that Modi is the most awesome thing India has seen. This from the same people who told me that there was a "Cult of Nehru-Gandhi" worshippers who compromised security before the India China war of 1962.

It is fucking breathtaking.

I think this generation is lost globally speaking. I used to think GenX was lost with all the dalliances with violent political extremism but man Boomers got them beat hands down.


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