Unsuccessful firms keep options open on India’s combat jets order

April 28th, 2011 - 10:56 pm ICT by IANS  

F-16 New Delhi, April 28 (IANS) A day after India said American, Russian and Swedish aviation firms were out of the race $10.4 billion order for 126 combat jets, three of the four firms rejected in the deal put up a brave face, but kept their options open to contest the decision.

India has chosen European consortium EADS Cassidian and French Dassault Aviation to continue in the last leg of the tendering process that is likely to be completed by March 2012.

US aerospace giant Boeing, in a statement, said it was “disappointed” after it was notified that its F/A-18 Super Hornet proposal for India’s medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) competition was not short-listed in the initial down-select.

“We are obviously disappointed with this outcome,” it said

“Our next step is to request and receive a debrief from the Indian Air Force. Once we have reviewed the details, we will make a decision concerning our possible options, always keeping in mind the impact to the Indian Air Force,” it added.

Reiterating its belief that it had offered IAF “a fully compliant and best-value” multi-role aircraft for the defined mission, the firm said: “We will continue to look for opportunities to help India modernize its armed services and enhance its aerospace industry.”

Another US major, Lockheed Martin, which had offered its F-16IN Super Viper in the contest, said the US government had informed it about a letter from the Indian defence ministry concerning the MMRCA competition.

“We understand that the US government is working on a response to that letter from the Indian government. Lockheed Martin remains committed to our relationship with the Indian Air Force, Ministry of Defence and the other services. Lockheed Martin has several world-class products offering the most advanced and reliable technology we believe is suitable for India’s security needs,” the statement issued by it here said.

Swedish SAAB, which had offered its Gripen fighter jet, said it was willing to answer any further queries and concerns India may have on its plane to support the continued participation in the MMRCA.

SAAB International India AB’s in-country director Joanna Sjolander, in her statement, said the company had received the information on the down-select in the MMRCA contract and that it would closely monitor the future process.

“To support the continued participation of the MMRCA, we are willing to provide additional information to the Indian Air Force and the Ministry of Defence to address any concerns that may have resulted in this decision and to lay out the comprehensive package of benefits that comes from the Gripen platform,” Sjolander said.

Once again pitching the Gripen as a world-class next-generation product with an extensive technology transfer programme that stood up very well in extremely tough competitive international market, she said: “We believe that the Gripen NG meets the requirements of the Indian Air Force and India in creation of a strong, futuristic air force.”

Gripen NG, she said, provided a price and lifecycle cost, which would enable India to acquire the requisite number of aircraft which makes it unmatched.

“The Gripen is a true independent choice and would give India huge ability to create an air force that would not be tied down to any single supplier or country,” she added.

Russian United Aircraft Corporation, which had pitted its yet-to-be-operational MiG-35 against the other five contenders, did not respond to the development.

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