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April 30, 2011

Rafale, Typhoon score on merit

(DeccanChronicle) : Just why has the Indian Air Force (IAF) short-listed the French Rafale and the Eurofighter Typhoon ahead of four other contenders, including the US F-16 and F/A-18 fighters, for the Rs 42, 000 crore medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) contract?
The down selection at the end of a prolonged evaluation of the six fighter jets was evidently based on the fact that the Rafale and the Typhoon were the most modern airframes and better equipped compared to F/A-18 Super Hornet and F-16 IN of the US, MiG-35 of Russia, and JAS-39 Gripen of Sweden.
The Rafale and the Typhoon met most of the 630 technical attributes mentioned in the request for proposal (RFP) by the ministry of defence, while the others lacked either in performance or had limitations in terms of future upgrades.
“Rafale figures a notch higher than Typhoon in terms of performance and involves easier adaptability as it is logistically and operationally similar to Mirage-2000, used extensively by our boys during the Kargil conflict in 1999. The French government has also cleared the technology transfer, including the AESA (active electronically scanned array) radar,” sources in the IAF told Deccan Chronicle.
The other discreet offering by Dassault Aviation too made sense: save on the $1.5 billion project to upgrade 52 Mirage-2000 jets by acquiring the Rafale.
Interestingly, all six fighters were in the race till April 17, the deadline for submission of modified offset proposals. The representatives of these firms were informed of the Union government’s decision to relax the offset policy mentioned in the request for proposal (RFP).
The original rider that half the value of the $ 10.5 billion contract be passed on to domestic firms was modified, fixing it at 30 per cent of the deal. “We were all expecting a word on extension of commercial proposals on the last day, April 28, but got to know that only Dassault Aviation and Eurofighter have been invited for discussions,” said a representative of Saab AB.
Those who lost out have made it known that they would raise issues concerning the price and other attributes of Rafale and Typhoon. The two aircraft are said to be the highest priced among those in the contest when looked at from a unit price point of view. Second, the Eurofighter’s AESA radar is still under development. Only the two US fighters have operational AESA radars on them.
If India finally picks the Rafale, it would be only the second air force after the French Air Force to induct these fighters into its fleet.
India has asked Dassault SA and Eurofighter GmbH to hold their price bids until the end of the year. The deal is expected to be signed by March 2012.
The Final Two
Eurofighter Typhoon – Germany/Britain/Italy/Spain
Dassault Rafale -- France
Out of the contest
Lockheed Martin’s F-16IN – USA
Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet – USA
SAAB’s Gripen JAS-39 – Sweden
Mikoyan-Gureywich’s MiG-35 – Russia

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