More than 10 months after India chose the French Rafale to meet its $15 billion medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) requirement, contract negotiations are mired in issues related to offsets, the transfer of technology and the role of Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL).
Indian MRCA competition
Government-owned Indian defense manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) has
launched a $12 million Strategic Electronics Manufacturing facility spread across 196 acres in Kasargod in the southern state of Kerala. It will produce advanced avionics for aircraft and helicopters. The facility is the manufacturing extension of HAL’s Hyderabad-based R&D unit for avionics–the Strategic Electronics Research and Design Center.
Sweden and Switzerland have reached agreement on sharing the cost to develop and introduce the next-generation version of the Saab Gripen fighter. The Swedish defense ministry said there are good opportunities for synergies, including training, maintenance and future upgrades.
The much-delayed revision to the Indian Ministry of Defence offset guidelines has been released and will take effect immediately. But it will apply only to new solicitations. A newly formed agency, the Defense Offset Management Wing (DOMW), will handle offset contract management.
For the first time, India’s defense offset policy defines objectives that include the development of competitive industries, the need to add R&D and design capabilities and the development of synergistic sectors. The policy now includes coastal security, in addition to internal security.
Recent upgrades to India’s Defense Procurement Policy (DPP) 2011 that are to be incorporated in DPP 2012 could soon allow foreign vendors to buy from Indian companies assemblies that contain foreign content while getting credit for the entire assembly, as long as the content is paid for in rupees.
Open-sea testing of the new Indian Navy aircraft carrier Vikramaditya and her primary weapons, in the form of MiG-29K/KUB deck fighters, means that the MiGs won’t be making appearance here at the 2012 Farnborough International Airshow. The ship has been bought from Russia to replace the former British-built HMS Hermes, which India acquired in 1986 and renamed Viraat.
By one measure more than 32 years in the making, India’s new aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya, departed Severodvinsk harbor on June 8 and sailed into the White Sea for trials, including takeoffs and landings of Mikoyan MiG-29K/KUB fighters and Kamov Ka-27 helicopters.
The French Rafale is reportedly well placed to triumph in the long-running fighter jet contest in Brazil, and also to secure the elusive order from the UAE, following the type’s success in India. Indian air force commander ACM N.A.K. Browne told AIN that his country would not accept a revised bid from the losing Eurofighter camp for the 126-aircraft MMRCA requirement.
Dassault has offered to adjust the Rafale package for Switzerland to reduce cost and prevent the confirmation of the Saab Gripen as that country’s new fighter. The move follows the leaking of the Swiss air force evaluation report on the competing fighters, which also included the Eurofighter. The Rafale was the clear winner of the SAF evaluation, with the Eurofighter second, but the Swiss government opted for the cheaper Gripen package. This was worth $3.4 billion and included 22 jets. The potential new French offer is $3 billion for 18 aircraft, according to reports in the Swiss media.
France’s Dassault Rafale fighter won India’s $10 billion-plus medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) contest for 126 combat jets because its direct acquisition and life-cycle costs were 22 to 25 percent lower than those of the Eurofighter Typhoon. This verdict came from “a top [Indian] defense ministry source” quoted by The Times of India newspaper in Delhi last Friday. AIN believes that the report is credible. Negotiations on the contract should be completed by October, the source added.