By Suman Chowdhury
The Indian Air Force’s Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) competition is nearing completion. Indian Air Chief Marshal PV Naik recently said that the contract for supplying 126 MMRCA fighters to the IAF will be signed soon.
On July, 2010, IAF completed its evaluation report of the field trials conducted for six global fighters contending for the MMRCA deal.
The evaluation report was then submitted to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) whereon it will be discussed by the Cabinet Committee on Security, after which the process of awarding the contract would be initiated. Once the MoD finalises the shortlisted contenders, the complex process of negotiations will begin leading to the awarding of the deal to the winner.
India's $10.4 billion tender to acquire 126 fighter aircraft
India's planned multi-billion dollar aircraft deal is the biggest contract ever since the 1990s. In 2001, IAF sent out its request for information (RFI) for the 126 fighters. After delays lasting almost 2 years beyond the planned December 2005 issue date, the Ministry of Defence finally announced a formal Request for Proposal (RFP) on August 2007.
Six global fighters – Lockheed Martin's F-16 Super Viper, Eurofighter's Typhoon, Russian United Aircraft Corporation's Mikoyan MiG-35, France's Dassault Aviation's Rafale, Swedish SAAB's Gripen and Boeing's F/A-18 Super Hornet – had submitted their bids in response to it.
According to reports, the Indian government will be buying the first 18 aircraft directly from the manufacturer. The remaining fighters will be built under licence with a transfer of technology (ToT) by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) based in Bangalore, India.
The delivery will start within 36 months of contract signing and will be completed 48 months later.
The competitors for the MMRCA deal
When the RFIs were announced, six contenders bid for the order- the Saab Gripen, Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault Rafale, Mikoyan MiG-35 and the American F-16IN and F/A-18IN. Out of these six, Russia’s Mikoyan and France’s Dassault companies are regular suppliers of aircraft to the IAF compared to the other four contenders.
The six contending fighters for the deal are the latest combat aircraft that are being developed or fielded today.
By Suman Chowdhury
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