India extends tender deadline for 126 combat jets

February 28th, 2008 - 12:30 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of F-16

New Delhi, Feb 27 (IANS) India Wednesday extended by two months the date for opening bids for the country’s biggest defence deal for 126 combat jets - six days before the March 3 deadline was to expire. “The deadline has been extended on the request of some contenders, including (European aerospace and defence major) EADS,” a defence ministry official said.

The move comes even as the Boeing Company, one of the bidders for the $10 billion contract, said it would submit its proposal by Friday, three days ahead of the original deadline.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) floated a global tender last September for the aircraft, 18 of which will be purchased in the flyaway condition, while state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will manufacture the remaining 108 under licence at Bangalore.

The US Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, the Lockheed Martin F-16, the Russian MiG-35, the Swedish Gripen, the French Rafale, and the Eurofighter Typhoon manufactured by a consortium of German, British, Spanish and Italian companies are the six aircraft vying for the IAF order.

The IAF desperately needs new aircraft to replace its ageing Soviet-era MiG series of fighters and to ramp up its depleting fleet of combat jets that has plummeted to 30 squadrons against a sanctioned strength of 45 squadrons, of which the highest it had achieved was 391/2 squadrons.

Each squadron has between 18 and 20 aircraft.

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