The winner of India’s $10.4-billion tender for 126 combat aircraft is expected to be announced in November, Indian Air Force (IAF) chief Air Chief Marshal Norman Anil Kumar Browne said Saturday.
Browne’s assertion comes a day after the acquisition council led by Defense Minister A.K. Antony gave its go-ahead for the opening of commercial bids from European consortium EADS Cassidian and French Dassault, after clearing the ministry’s report on their offset proposals.
‘In the middle of November, we shall be able to announce to the whole world which plane we have selected, the L1 vendor (lowest bidder),’ Browne said in his interaction with reporters after he inspected the 79th Air Force Day parade here.
Earlier in his address to the air warriors, Browne said: ‘The process for acquisition of the MMRCA (Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft) is in its last lap and we should be able to open the bids in 10 days’ time from now.’
However, explaining the complexities involved in finalizing the winner, the IAF chief said that after opening of the commercial bids, ‘complex calculations’ would be done in a tabular format of the entire life-cycle cost, the acquisition cost and the technology transfer. ‘It may take two to three weeks to calculate these,’ he added.
EADS Cassidian has offered its Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault its Rafale to the IAF, which is looking at inducting these aircraft from the beginning of 2015.
The two planes had been shortlisted in April this year after eliminating other competitors — American Boeing’s F/A-18, Lockheed Martin’s F-16, Russian UAC’s MiG-35 and Swedish Saab’s Gripen — through a rigorous technical and weapons evaluation process that lasted for over a year.
India had issued the tender for the 126 planes in August 2007 and has reached a stage of finalization of the tender just over four years, a remarkable feat considering that it has as a norm taken over two decades for it to finalize deals for other defense equipment.