As per the details published by a leading English daily, the government has found Lockheed Martin’s F-16INSuper Viper and Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet did not match up with the competition in technical trials.
French Rafale and Eurofighter are the only two fighter aircraft found suitable and have made it to the next round. Russia’s MiG-35 and the Sweden’s Gripen were the other two contenders for the multi-billion deal.
Hence, only Rafale and Eurofighter would be asked to submit commercial bids.
Government’s decision to call only two eligible companies for the next round was impelled by the fact that commercial bids for all six players were to expire by the end of this month. However, the government did have the option of asking all the six contenders to extend their commercial bids and keep the suspense alive.
However, it decided not to prolong the decision making process keeping in mind the deep interest shown by the political establishment of the bidding nations.
The deal was very significant for the US administration with President Barack Obama taking it up took this up with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, when the former toured India. The Obama administration later wrote a letter to Prime Minister highlighting how much importance it attached to this contract.
The MMRCA deal was discussed at the meeting of the Indo-US Defence Policy Group headed by the Defence Secretary on the Indian side.
Importantly, the Defence Ministry had set a deadline of March next year to complete the entire negotiation process for the MMRCA contract. In view of this deadline, it is imperative for the government to do the technical evaluation and take a decision before the expiry of the commercial bids.