India’s Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne confirmed to AIN here at the Singapore Airshow that the country’s resolve to select the lowest bidder for the contract for 126 medium multirole combat aircraft remains in place. The contract negotiation committee (CNC) opened Dassault Aviation’s bid proposing its Rafale on February 13 and identified the French OEM as the lowest bidder. The decision to involve another manufacturer is “procedurally untenable,” said Browne. “We have a procedure as per the defense procurement policy that stipulates the contract goes to the lowest bidder.”
The CNC, which gets into action once the lowest bidder has been identified, is scheduled to start price negotiations with Dassault from March 5. Discussions will be held on electronics, radar, transfer of technology and offsets.
Asked if he was satisfied with the Rafale selection, Browne said it was, “Brilliant! We got it at the best cost possible. The decision was based on performance and Rafale passed all qualifications.”
However, Browne said the requirement for the fighters was “as of yesterday,” meaning that, in reality, he expects the process to be completed by the end of the year. The air force plans to start pilot training soon, he added.
Browne also said Brazil has asked India to share its acquisition process, including evaluation and lifecycle costs. Coincidentally, India’s state minister, Pallam Raju, is visiting Brazil at the end of March to view the flight of the second, fully modified aircraft for the indigenously developed Indian airborne warning and control system aircraft, the EMB-145, at Embraer’s facilities at São José dos Campos in Brazil.