India Issues RFP for Key Fighter Contest

 - September 17, 2007, 5:57 AM

The long-awaited competition to supply 126 new fighters to the Indian Air Force (IAF) is formally under way. The six contenders for the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) requirement have received a formal request for proposals (RFP), and must respond by next March. The Boeing F/A-18E/F, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin F-16, RSK MiG-35 and Saab Gripen will be evaluated. A 50-percent offset of the total contract value is required. The IAF is anxious to replace its large fleet of MiG-21s, and has evidently concluded that the troubled, home-grown Tejas light combat aircraft will not suffice. But selection of a winner in the MMRCA contest could still be years away, judging by previous Indian military aircraft procurement experience. For the first time in an Indian procurement, life-cycle costs (LCCs) will be taken into account during the evaluation. Saab was quick off the mark with an aggressive statement, which noted that the Gripen “will have a substantially lower real LCC than its nearest single-engine competitor [meaning the F-16], and is able to operate at a fraction of the cost of its twin-engine competitors.” AIN will report further on this high-profile contest in our on-site editions at the upcoming Dubai and Singapore Air Shows, respectively in November and February.