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MMRCA project: Govt firm on HAL as lead integrator

The Rafale fighter. A file photo

NEW DELHI (PTI): The Defence Ministry of India has decided to remain firm on having Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) as the lead integrator for producing 108 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCAs) in the country, virtually turning down French firm Dassault Aviation's plea to play a bigger role in the multi-billion dollar project.

The Ministry's stand in this regard has come after Dassault, which has bagged the Indian Air Force (IAF) deal for supplying 126 MMRCAs, asked it to define the role of HAL in the project.

As per the tender, first 18 of the 126 Rafale fighter jets are to be supplied by Dassault from its facilities and the rest 108 are to be license produced and integrated by HAL at its facilities in India.

If any company other than HAL is designated as the integrator, it would be deviation from the tender issued for the project and as per the Defence Procurement Procedure, it will have to be approved by the Defence Acquisition Council, Defence Ministry sources said.

In view of this, the Ministry has decided that it will stick to the clauses of the tender issued in 2007, they said.

The Ministry is expected to convey its decision on the issue to the company during the negotiations on the deal beginning next week.

The French company had told the Defence Ministry that if it is given the overall responsibility for the project, it should be given the freedom to decide on the proportion of work to be done by HAL and private companies in the programme.

If the Government had given a major role to the French firm in producing the aircraft in the country, it would have assigned a major share of work to an Indian defence company.

Soon after Dassault was declared the lowest bidder for the MMRCA deal piping EADS's Eurofighter, it signed a MoU with a Reliance Industries Ltd. company for working together in the security sector.

The French firm is currently negotiating the deal with the Defence Ministry and the IAF.


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