India’s extended tender deadline for combat jets expires April 28

April 20th, 2008 - 8:55 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of F-16

New Delhi, April 20 (IANS) India’s extended deadline for opening bids for the country’s biggest defence deal for 126 combat jets valued at $10 billion expires April 28 and no further extension will be granted, an official said Sunday. “The matter has been discussed at the highest level. The deadline expires April 28. No request has been received for extending this and it will not be granted even if it is received at this stage,” the official told IANS, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Asked whether some of the foreign manufacturers in contention might seek another extension on the ground that the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) enunciated in 2006 was being fine-tuned, the official said this would have little bearing on the tender.

“The terms and conditions will be the same as laid down by the Defence Acquisition Committee while clearing the tender (last September). The new DPP will have little bearing on this,” the official explained.

The deadline was extended by two months on Feb 27, six days before the original March 3 deadline was to expire.

“The deadline has been extended on the request of some contenders, including (European aerospace and defence major) EADS,” an official had said at that time.

The extension came even as the Boeing Company, one of the bidders for the contract, had said it would submit its proposal 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.

There are also indications that the number of aircraft purchased could rise to upwards of 200.

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 39 1/2 squadrons.

Each squadron has between 18 and 20 aircraft.

Meanwhile, Typhoon manufacturer EADS that has hitherto maintained a low profile, Sunday said it was a serious contender for the IAF order.

Announcing a special media presentation here Thursday, an EADS official said: “The event takes place four days before the deadline of the bid proposal and we want to demonstrate our clear commitment to the Indian Air Force.”

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