New Delhi:In what is a path-breaking decision, the Ministry of Defence has narrowed down to have only two options on finalizing the much-awaited medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) deal for 126 fighter jets.
Though it is clear that the decision on buying the new jets for the Indian Air Force shall be taken after the May-2014 General elections, the MoD, as of now, has made up its mind -- Either the deal will be done with Dassualt Aviation of France for the purchase of 126 Rafale fighter jets, or it will be cancelled and then re-tendered. After the polls, a new Government will take over. More than 800 million Indians are slated to cast their votes to elect the Parliament for a period of five years.
“At this stage there is no question of inviting any of the five remaining bidders who had been defeated by Rafale in an open competition,” top sources have told Bharat Defence Kavach , India’s leading news portal on Defence news. During the trials the planes of all the six bidders were tested for more than 640 parametres each in extensive flight and firing displays..
The deal is valued at more than US $ 11.4 Billion (approxRs70,000 Crore at today Rupee-Dollar exchange rates).
At present the MoD is looking into complaints to see if procedures had been followed in calculating the life cycle costs of procuring the 126 fighter jets. On February 6 while inaugurating the DEFEXPO-2014, Defence Minister AK Antony had said. "The Government is looking into complaints against the procedure of calculating the life cycle cost and that issue is not yet settled. Before bringing the deal before the Cabinet Committee on Security for final approval, we would like to get clear on that aspect".
The life cycle of a product is calculated by the costs to operate it. In this case the fighter jet engines, its spares and some consumables will form the life cycle cost. Antony did not specify who was the complainant in the case.
Despite the complaint Antony is confident that the deal may be finalised in the financial year 2014-15 commencing April 1, 2014. This is largely due to the fact that the financial condition of the government was not good. "There is no money for this. Almost all the budget has been spent. Many other projects are also in the pipeline," Antony had admitted.
In January 2012, Rafale fighter aircraft, was selected as the lowest bidder in MMRCA tender. It is tipped to be the biggest defence deal in the world. The decision was made after a long process that began in 2007. India had selected the Rafale over European consortium 'EADS' Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jet.
The day Antony said a probe was on to see if procedures had been followed, Eurofighter typhoon, owned by European consortium Airbus Group, expressed an opinion that they are on ‘standby’ and are ready to 're-engage' with India.
Theodor Benien Vice President Communications at Eurofighter said at the DEFEXPO,"We are monitoring the latest developments in India with great interest. The Eurofighter is here at to demonstrate that we are on standby and that we are ready to re-engage any time the Indians. We have listened to the statements of the defence minister."
Other than Eurofighter, Lockheed Martin and Boeing of the US, Russia's MiG 35 and the Saab’s Gripen United Aircraft Corporation had lost out in the preliminary round.