Eurofighter to offer renewed bid for IAF order soon (Lead)

June 9th, 2010 - 4:49 pm ICT by IANS  

F-16 By D. Balaji
Berlin, June 9 (IANS) European aerospace consortium Eurofighter GmbH will re-submit its bid proposal this month for hard-selling 126 of its advanced fourth generation fighters Typhoon to the Indian Air Force (IAF), a top consortium official said Wednesday.

Eurofighter completed the field evaluation trials of the medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) in April.

“We are re-submitting our bid to the Indian government for the IAF order later this month as the flight trials of the supersonic strike fighter have been completed in two phases, beginning in February,” Eurofighter chief executive Enzo Casolini told IANS here.

The consortium is one of the six contenders for the prestigious IAF order, estimated to be about $10 billion.

“We are offering a better proposal as the early one made in April 2008 expired 24 months later and in accordance with the provisions in the global tender for the MMRCA order,” Casolini said at the 100th Berlin international air show on the outskirts of the German capital.

The tender mandates the winning bidder to deliver 18 fighters to IAF in ready-to-fly condition and licence the Indian defence behemoth Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) to manufacture the remaining 118 jets with technology transfer.

The IAF plans to replace its ageing Russian-made MiG-21 fleet with the MMRCA in phases over a decade.

The US-based Lockheed Martin F-16s and Boeing’s F/A-18IN Super Hornet, French D’Assault’s Rafale, Swiss SAAB’s Gripen and Russian MiG-35 are the other five bidders for the MMRCA order.

“We had demonstrated Typhoon’s outstanding operational capabilities during the flight trials when experienced IAF test pilots flew two of them under specific Indian conditions starting in Bangalore Feb 22,” Casolini recalled.

The IAF has formed two teams of two test pilots each for flight trials. In the first phase, the technical evaluation was completed in early 2009 after the six vendors responded to its request for proposals (RFP) in 2008.

The fortnight trials included flying the twin-engine Typhoons at Jaisalmer in Rajasthan and Leh in Jammu & Kashmir to demonstrate its desert and high altitude capabilities in early March.

In the run-up to the trials, the shortlisted IAF test pilots and engineers had undergone extensive training in Germany.

“The final phase of flight trials were conducted in Germany and Britain to test the fighter’s cutting edge weapons systems and advanced sensors. The exercises included dropping precision guided munitions and launching air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles,” Casolini added.

Eurofighter used two Typhoons of the German Air Force’s squadron 73 based at Laage in northern Germany and two of the Royal Air Force in Britain for multiple checks, including weather parameters.

Admitting that there would be a tough competition among the contenders on their respective strengths and edge they claim to have, Casolini said Eurofighter was betting on the sheer operational and strike capabilities of the Typhoon.

“We are aware of the stiff competition for the IAF order and the role of geo-politics and foreign relations we have with India. It is a sensitive decision based on many parameters. But we have edge over others in Typhoon’s capabilities,” said Casolini.

The consortium flew in three twin engine canard-delta wing Typhoons to the Bangalore international air show (Aero India) in Feb 2009 to showcase its awesome strike capabilities.

As the new generation real multi-role/swing-role combat aircraft, 220 Typhoons are already in service with the air forces of six nations - Germany, Italy, Spain, Britain, Austria and Saudi Arabia.

The Eurofighter consortium consists of four partner firms — Alenia Aeronautica/Finmeccanica in Italy, BAE Systems in Britain, EADS CASA in Spain and EADS Deutschland in Germany.

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