European aerospace firm ups ante for Indian fighter order

April 24th, 2008 - 6:40 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of F-16

New Delhi, April 24 (IANS) European aerospace and defence conglomerate EADS has upped the ante for a $10 billion Indian Air Force (IAF) order for 126 combat jets, bids for which will be opened Monday, saying it would make India a manufacturing hub for its Eurofighter Typhoon if it wins the contract. “We are inviting India to become a partner for the further development of the Typhoon. Exports to third countries from India would be the logical outcome of this partnership,” Eurofighter campaign director Matthias Schmidlin said at a presentation here Thursday.

“India is our partner of choice and we are interested in long-lasting political, industrial and military relations that will be based on a win-win situation,” said Bernhard Gerwert, CEO of EADS MAS (European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company Military Air Systems) that manufactures the Eurofighter Typhoon.

The aircraft, which is flown by the air forces of Germany, England, Spain, Italy, Austria and Saudi Arabia, is one of the six jets in contention for the IAF order, which will be India’s biggest ever defence deal.

“What we are offering you is today’s technology. The other manufacturers are only extending the shelf life of their products,” Schmidlin pointed out.

The US Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, the Lockheed Martin F-16, the Russian MiG-35, the Swedish Gripen, and the French Rafale are the other jets in the fray.

According to Gerwert, the requirements contained in the Request for Proposal (RFP) the IAF floated last September relating to transfer of technology, licensed production and 50 percent offsets were “challenging”.

“We are ready to meet these challenges and we will satisfy the expectations of our customer. Our team is working extremely hard in order to meet these requirements,” he added.

“As a fast growing and dynamic country, India is not only regarded as a market but most importantly as a partner for joint industrial and military projects in the future,” Gerwert contended.

In this context, he noted that EADS Defence & Security, of which EADS MAS is an integral part, and the Tata Group had in February announced their tie-up for the Indian Army’s $1 billion order for a tactical communications system.

Describing the Eurofighter Typhoon as a “mature and stable” combat aircraft, Gerwert said its key feature was its multi- and swing-role capability that gave military commanders “enormous flexibility”.

“The aircraft can fly either air-to-air or air-to-ground missions or both sorties at the same time,” he added.

In terms of weapons payload, the aircraft is capable of carrying six air-to-air missiles plus additional air-to-surface weapons or external fuel tanks on seven other under-wing hard points.

“Another operational benefit is the installation of the electronic warfare equipment in the wingtips without sacrificing the external stores capacity,” Gerwert pointed out.

Given these capabilities, he maintained, the aircraft “has proven itself as an awesome operational weapon system which combines advanced technology with world-class performance”.

“In addition, its air-to-air refuelling capability extends mission duration and range,” Gerwert added.

EADS Defence & Security is a systems solutions provider for the armed forces and civil security worldwide. Its portfolio ranges from sensors and secure networks through missiles, aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). With around 22,000 employees, it recorded revenues of 5.5 billion euros in 2007.

The EADS conglomerate that spans Germany, England, Spain and Italy is a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. With 116,000 employees worldwide, it generated revenues of 39.1 billion euros in 2007.

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