Aero India: Indian Air Force May Be Nearing a Decision on Fighter

 - February 18, 2011, 10:00 AM
India could benefit from the enhanced F/A-18 E/F Hornet, according to sources at the Aero India show.

A decision in the long-running Indian medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) competition could come as early as September, according to Air Chief Marshall Pradeep Naik, an Indian air force commander. Naik told the press at the Aero India show in Bangalore that the price bids would soon be unsealed so that contract negotiations for the 120-aircraft order could start. But there were other suggestions, from sources including the Indian defense minister, that the choice would not come until next year.

India recently revised its offset criteria, which has already delayed the MMRCA selection process, and caused the manufacturers of the contenders to beef up their industrial co-operation offers. Contenders are the Boeing F/A-18E/F, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin F-16, MiG-35 and Saab Gripen. No down-select from these six has been announced. According to news reports, Naik said all six vendors "meet 95 percent of the requirements."

In a briefing at the show, Boeing noted that India could benefit from the proposed enhancements to the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet that were first revealed at the Farnborough Airshow last July. Eurofighter showed a model of the Typhoon for the Navy, which features thrust-vector control and conformal fuel tanks, that it said could fly from Indiaπs ski-jump carrier.