‘Decision on $10.4 bn combat jet order likely by September’

February 10th, 2011 - 12:10 am ICT by IANS  

F-16 By Gulshan Luthra
Bangalore, Feb 9 (IANS) India would take a decision on a $10.4 billion order for 126 combat jets by mid-2011 or latest by September, a top commander said Wednesday.Releasing the AeroIndia special edition of India Strategic defence magazine (www.indiastrategic.in) on the opening day of the international air show here, the Indian Air Force (IAF) chief, Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik, said that the evaluation process of the six aircraft in contention was proceeding satisfactorily and that he expected the decision by the middle of this year, or latest by August or September.

The IAF had completed the technical trials and submitted the report on time, and the process of evaluating the Transfer of Technology, Offsets and pricing aspects was moving forward in the defence ministry appropriately, and he expected commercial negotiations also to begin very soon.

He did not say if any one or more aircraft had been down-selected or short-listed.

Lockheed Martn’s F-16 IN Sper Viper, Boeing’s F/A-18IN Super Hornet, the Swedish Gripen, the European Cassidian Eurofighter, French Rafale and the Russian Mig-35 are in the fray. The tender is for 126 aircraft with an additional option of 63.

The costs would cover those of the aircraft, two years of spares, service, warranty, training, transfer of technology and 50 percent offsets commitment to invest half the value of the agreed amount in defence industries in India.

On the growth of the Indian aerospace sector, Naik described the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) as a milestone in developing indigenous aerospace capabilities.

India Strategic’s AeroIndia edition also quotes DRDO’s Chief Controller and distinguished scientist Prahlada as saying that the next step in developing indigenous capability was the Medium Combat Aircraft (MCA), which should be operational in the next decade. Preliminary design work on this aircraft had already begun.

The edition also quotes Hindustan Aeronautics Limited chief Ashok Nayak as saying that the current model of LCA, of which the IAF had orderd 40, was “jampacked with avionics, pipelines and wiring” but its Mark-II would be longer by a metre with room to “reallocate” systems.

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