India on Monday said France would have to adhere to the conditions specified in the original tender for the $20 billion MMRCA (medium multi-role combat aircraft) project, even as defence secretary R K Mathur left for Paris amid the deadlock over the mega deal for 126 Rafale fighters.
“The RFP (request for proposal) terms have to be met… they cannot be diluted,” defence minister Manohar Parrikar told a television channel. Ruling out any comeback by the fighters which lost out in the MMRCA race, he added, “How can another plane be considered when the L-1 (lowest bidder, the Rafale) has been determined.”
As reported by TOI earlier, finalization of the complex MMRCA project has been stuck for almost a year due to French aviation major Dassault’s refusal to stand guarantee for the 108 Rafale fighters to be manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) in India with transfer of technology after the first 18 jets are delivered off-the-shelf to IAF.
Apart from this refusal to take responsibility in terms of liquidity damages and production timelines for the jets to be made in India, the MoD is also upset with Dassault’s attempts to “change the price line” that had led to Rafale’s selection over the Eurofighter Typhoon as the L-1 three years ago.
Sources said Mathur, on a two-day visit to France, will discuss a wide range of issues, including the need for Dassault to stick to the terms and conditions laid down in the original MMRCA tender or RFP floated in August 2007.
India wants to take a final call on the MMRCA project before Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits France and Germany in April. If Dassault does not honor its commitments made in its bids submitted to the RFP, India may be left with no option but to scrap the entire MMRCA project despite having invested almost a decade in the selection process.