Team Rafale has won the $10 billion-plus Indian Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) competition to supply 126 aircraft.
The French jet beat the Eurofighter Typhoon in the final MMRCA evaluation round, when unit and life-cycle costs were compared, as well as the value of technology transfer and the required 50 percent offset. Only the first 18 aircraft will be built in France.
Dassault said that it is grateful to have the opportunity to extend its long-lasting cooperation with India. Only last July, Thales and Dassault won a contract thought to be worth more than $3 billion to upgrade 51 Indian Mirage 2000 fighters. Negotiations leading to a final contract will now take place, although the deal will not be sealed until the next Indian financial year, according to The Times of India.
The MMRCA contest lasted five years, and was keenly fought. The F-16 Block 60, F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Saab Gripen and MiG-35 were eliminated after a long technical evaluation that included in-country evaluations of the competing hardware, as well as visits by Indian teams to the factories and test sites of the contenders.
The news will be a blow to the Eurofighter team, which had to convince the Indians that the Typhoon would eventually be fielded with an AESA (active electronically scanned array) radar and a full weapons suite. Having apparently done so by passing the technical evaluation, the four-nation industrial consortium should have been better placed to offer attractive offsets than the all-French Team Rafale. However, the French have always said that the Rafale is produced more efficiently than the four-nation jet.
UPDATE, January 31, 2012, 11:55 AM
Statement by the President of the French Republic regarding the MMRCA competition:
The President of the French Republic has learned of India’s selection of the Rafale for the acquisition by the Indian Air Force of 126 fighter aircraft. France is pleased with the Indian government’s decision to select the French aircraft to enter into exclusive negotiations with Dassault. This announcement comes at the end of a very high-level, fair and transparent competition involving two European finalists.
The Rafale has been selected thanks to the aircraft’s competitive life-cycle costs, after the April 2011 pre-selection on the basis of its top-level operational performance. The negotiation of the contract will begin very soon and has the full support of the French authorities. It will include important technology transfers guaranteed by the French government.
The realization of the Rafale project will illustrate the depth and scale of the strategic partnership between France and India.