One of the largest military contracts in the world, the Indian Air Force’s competition for 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) appears to have been decided in favour of the French airframer Dassault’s Rafale, though there is no official confirmation.
Sources indicate the Rafale has been selected over the Eurofighter Typhoon from European competitor EADS for a contract estimated at around $10.4 billion (Rs. 51,000 Cr.), which has been keenly fought over for the better part of this century. Last year saw the exit of four other competitors the Lockheed Martin F-16IN SuperViper, the Boeing F/A-18E/F SuperHornet, the Saab JAS 39 Gripen, and the MiG 35.
The Government will hold further negotiations on price with Dassault over the next two weeks and the contract is expected to be signed in the next fiscal year which commences on April 1.
As per terms of the tender Dassault is to supply 18 of the 126 ordered aircraft, within 36 months, from its facilities with the remaining aircraft being produced under license at Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL), in Bangalore.
This order will be a huge boost for both Dassault as well as President Sarkozy. Till date, the Rafale has been limited to service only at the French Air Force and Navy. Dassault has also won a small contract to sell a few planes to Brazil.
In selecting the Rafale, the sentiments of those “in the know”, have been proven true. For the last two years sources have consistently told Bangalore Aviation that other things being equal, the Indian Air Force will go for Dassault, due to their long standing, and more importantly, very positive, relationship.
The Indian Air Force has used both the Ouragan and Mystère jets, and was one of the earliest adopters of the Mirage 2000 (called Vajra meaning Thunderbolt) despite skipping the famous Mirage III fighter.
In July 2011, India signed a contract worth $3 billion (Rs. 15,000 Cr.) to upgrade its fleet of 51 Mirage 2000H’s to Mirage 2000-5 standard.