sábado, abril 18, 2009

Indian Air Force’s $10 billion multirole combat aircraft programme proceeds

The contest for one of the biggest fighter aircraft deals since the early 1990s, the Indian Air Force’s medium multirole combat aircraft (MRCS/MMRCA) requirement for at least 126 aircraft has passed to the next step with the submission of the report by the technical evaluation committee (TEC) earlier this week.
According to different News Agencies, a Ministry of Defence source said that the French Dassault, which is offering Rafale failed to meet the required qualitative parameters listed in the Request for Proposal issued in 2007 for the combat aircraft manufacturers and therefore could not continue to participate in this contest for the $10 billion (€7,6 billion) IAF deal.
Dassault’s spokesman however said it had not been informed of any elimination of the Rafale aircraft. "French officials are inquiring with Indian authorities in order to get additional information about it," he told reporters.
The Rafale fighter had also been missing from the bi-annual Aero India military aircraft exposition that takes place in Bangalore February this year, while all its competitors were showcasing their fighters.
The remaining five bidders, consisting of Boeing’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Saab’s Gripen NG, Eurofighter’s Typhoon, Lockheed Martin’s F-16, and Russian Mikoyan’s MiG-35 are now expected to participate in the field trials that will start soon.
On Wednesday, the Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major told correspondents that the technical evaluation of the six bidders was complete and that the Indian Air Force was expected to start field trials by next month end.
The sources said the IAF would draw its programme for field trials to be held in the next three months.
These trials are conducted in different areas and in varying climatic conditions keeping in view the operational requirements of the IAF.
Under the conditions of IAF’s RFP, 18 of the jet fighters would be brought off the shelf and the remaining 108 will be manufactured by the public sector Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd through licensed transfer of technology. The RFP lays down that the first aircraft is supplied within 36 months of the contract being signed and the 18th within 48 months. The 19th aircraft, the first to be assembled in India, will come within 54 months. Thereafter, there will be an incremental increase with the last aircraft to be delivered by 2020.
According to insiders, the early elimination of the Rafale is not only credited by failing to respond to technical queries but also by to high costs. Beyond that it is said that the IAF is strongly fascinated from the U.S. fighters and are looking to get these.
Earlier this year an Indian newspaper reported that the Gripen NG has also failed to meet the technology specifications mentioned in the request for proposal (RFP). This article however was immediately denied by Saab as well as MoD officials.
Be this as it may, in a recent press release to announce an industrial alliance with Selex Galileo to develop a new AESA radar for the Gripen NG, Saab indicates that the agreement “is initially aimed at Brazil’s fighter programme”. This is rather surprising in view of an AESA radar being a mandatory requirement for the Indian MMRCA competition.

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