June 21, 2012

Germany lobbies hard for Eurofighter

With the Defence Ministry not being able to freeze the commercial contract to buy 126 Rafale fighter jets from French major Dassault Aviation, arch rival Germany is still lobbying hard to bring back Eurofighter typhoon in the competition.

In her bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of G20 summit at Los Cabos in Mexico, German chancellor Angela Merkel raised this issue and asked why Eurofighter Typhoon could not be considered for India´s biggest defence deal.

India intends to buy 126 combat jets at a price of $10.4 billion. After a two year long trial process Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon were shortlisted. Subsequently, Rafale emerged as the lowest bidder.

With the Indian Air Force almost certain to place a follow on order of 63 more aircraft after the initial 126 planes, the deal value is all set to surpass the 20 billion mark and come as a major boost to struggling European economy.

However, the price negotiation committee in the Defence Ministry yet to complete the final contract, Eurofighter is not leaving any stone unturned to lobby at the highest level of the government to oust Rafale from the fray.

Eyebrows were raised recently when EADS was allowed to make a presentation in the front of the top brass of the government on Typhoon causing a ripple at the diplomatic circle. The Typhoon was designed by a consortium of three companies, EADS, Alenia Aeronautica and BAE Systems working through a holding company Eurofighter GmbH.

Sources said Prime Minister Singh made it absolutely clear to French president Francois Hollande that there was no question of reconsideration as Rafale was selected through a fair and transparent process. President Hollande thanked the Prime Minister for having faith on Rafale. However, there is still not any clarity on when the agreement would be signed though sources did not rule out the formal inking during the first India visit of the new French president.

Deccan Herald

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