“We have a meeting of the Defense Acquisition Council on October 7, where some of the issues are going to be discussed. Once those issued are cleared, hopefully by the middle of month, we should be in a position to open the bids,” Air Chief Marshal Norman Anil Kumar Browne said Sept. 22. “We are in final stages of this process and hopefully [will] be done by the end of the year.”
In April, India downselected the Eurofighter Consortium’s Typhoon and Dassault’s Rafale as the final contenders for the 126-fighter deal. The two bidders have extended their offers until December; the Indian government has to decide the final winner by then or the bids will expire.
The MMRCA tender was issued in August 2007. Boeing’s F/A-18, Lockheed Martin’s F-16, the MiG-35 and Saab’s Gripen were rejected by the Indian government.
The Indian Air Force is looking at inducting the jets into its fleet by 2015, as it will be phasing out its Soviet-era MiG series aircraft.
According to defense ministry officials, there has been a delay in finalizing the deal due to the 50% offset clause imposed by the Indian government, which requires the contract winner to plough back half the deal’s value into the Indian defense industry.
“Offsets for this program amount to 200 billion rupees [$5 billion] and these are going to be in service for over a period of 13 years,” Browne says.
Asked to compare MMRCA with the Indo-Russian fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA), Browne says, “MMRCA does not have stealth features and super cruise capability, while FGFA has all that. FGFA has a recessed armament carrier where all the missiles and weapons are located inside the aircraft, which gives it a certain amount of stealth potential.”
India is planning to induct 250-300 FGFAs and it will share the $11 billion development cost equally with Russia. The total cost of the FGFA fleet is likely to surpass $30 billion.