February 2, 2012

Edged-out Eurofighter still hopes to bag IAF fighter deal

Eurofighter, the European fighter that lost out to French Rafale on Tuesday in the over $10-billion MMRCA contract, isn't quitting India anytime soon, even as it expressed disappointment in the government's decision.

Eurofighter plans to closely watch the negotiations between Rafale- maker Dassault and the Ministry of Defence (MoD), and is hoping that the lowest bidder would not be able to cope up with the demands of negotiations.

According to an official familiar with Eurofighter, if the L1, Rafale, is not able to fulfill the negotiation demands, then L2, Eurofighter, would be given the chance. "That is what is laid down in the procedure," he said.

Eurofighter has emerged successful in past contracts even when it was not the L1. For instance, Eurofighter was L2 in the contract for design consultancy for Light Combat Aircraft, but ultimately won the contract because L1 couldn't fulfill the Indian demands. "So we have precedence, and are hopeful," he said.

"This is an interesting turn of events, but not the end of the process," he argued.

Cassidian, the defence & security division of EADS that led the Eurofighter's bid in India, said in an official statement, "India took the decision to select our competitor as the preferred bidder in the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) tender. Although this is not yet a contract signature and contract negotiations are still ahead, we are disappointed. However, we respect the decision of the Indian MoD."

With the Eurofighter Typhoon, "We offered the Indian Air Force the most modern combat aircraft available," the company said. "Based on the Indian Government feedback, we will now carefully analyze and evaluate this situation together with our European Partner Companies and their respective Governments," it added.

On Tuesday, the MoD had selected Rafale as L1 in the biggest-ever defence deal signed by India, the contract for 126 fighters for the IAF. Though it was initially pegged to cost above $10 billion, the final tag would likely to be much more. The MoD and the French military firm would enter into elaborate negotiations, and the contract is likely to be signed in the next financial year. 

- Times of India

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