MMRCA Fighter deal in September

Economictimes

The high-profile, but much delayed $11 billion Medium-range, Multi-Role Combat Aircraft ( MMRCA )) global tender for 126 fighters for the Indian Air Force should reach its conclusion by September this year, if commercial negotiations with the preferred manufacturer are concluded without any hitches, said PV Naik, Chief of Air Staff.
The news comes as big relief for the IAF, which has been looking to phase out its much-used, largely depleted MiG squadrons, which have formed its backbone since the early 60s. Naik’s comments confirm those made by the minister of state for defence Pallam Raju to The Economic Times in January. Raju had said that a decision on the tender would be made before the end of 2011.

“We hope to start the contract negotiations in the next two to four weeks and the deal may be signed by September,” Naik said. The offset proposals by all six contenders had been largely sorted out, he added.
Under the country’s current offsets policy, foreign defence vendors have to plough back a minimum of 30% of all defence contracts worth 300 crore back into the country. This could be through manufacturing at 70% of the order value in India, or make an investment of similar value in the country. The offset obligation on the contract for 126 fighter jets has been set at 50% of the value of the deal, which translates to about $5 billion. However, the Air Chief also warned of further delays that could crimp the final stages of negotiations.
“Some dissatisfied vendor among those not chosen for cost negotiations may put a spoke in the wheel and derail the process by going to the central vigilance commissioner with complaints leading to a delay, though we want to quickly sign the contract,” he pointed out.

Six companies have been shortlisted to bid for the fighter jet contract, including two of the world’s largest defence contractors – US-based Lockheed Martin and Boeing — who are pitted against Russia’s United Aircraft Corp, France’s Dassault Aviation, the pan-European consortium Eurofighter and Sweden’s Saab.
While Lockheed and Boeing have offered their F-16IN Super Viper and the F/A-18 Super Hornet respectively, the other fighter jets in contention include, Russia’s MiG-35, the Saab Gripen, Dassault’s Rafale and the Eurofighter Typhoon.

Separately, Naik also confirmed that the longawaited Mirage-2000 upgrade negotiation with France was on the verge of being concluded. Talks have stalled, partly due to disputes regarding the contract size, which has been estimated at about $2 billion. “Adraft report for upgrading the Mirage-2000 aircraft has been submitted to the ministry of defence and is expected to be considered by the government for approval in this financial year through March. Air Marshal Naik said, adding, that the upgrades would increase the operational life of the Mirage by another 20 years.

The IAF has a fleet of 50 to 55 Mirage combat fighters, procured from France in 1984. They have been used with great success during the Kargil conflict. The upgraded fighters will have modern avionics and new electronic warfare equipment.

The Mirage-2000 upgrade deal was a major source of contention between the New Delhi and Paris, and was expected to be sorted out during French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s visit to India last December, but no announcements were made to that effect.

Also, the re-engine programme for the country’s 60-plus Jaguar deep penetration fighter fleet is on course. Replies from two main vendors — Honeywell and Rolls-Royce — are expected by the end of the current month. The IAF is looking to procure more than 200 engines for its fleet.

Deputy chief of air staff Air Marshal RK Sharma said that the recently-purchased cluster bombs from Textron will also be fitted onto the Jaguar fleet. However, a representative of Rolls-Royce refused to confirm whether the British company had responded to the RFP, but did say that the company was in “deep discussions” with the IAF and the government on the subject.

IAF has been looking to phase out its much-used, largely depleted MiG squadrons
Six companies have been shortlisted to bid for the fighter jet contract, including two of the world’s largest defence contractors – US-based Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

Also in the fray are Russia’s United Aircraft Corp, France’s Dassault Aviation, the pan-European consortium Eurofighter and Sweden’s Saab Lockheed and Boeing have offered their F-16IN Super Viper and the F/A-18 Super Hornet and the other fighter jets in contention include, Russia’s MiG-35, the Saab Gripen, Dassault’s Rafale and the Eurofighter Typhoon.

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Posted by pilotpaul on Feb 16 2011. Filed under All News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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