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.
Indian MRCA competition
The recent Aero India show was a magnet for many international aerospace companies that are chasing various Indian procurements. In the airlift category, Lockheed Martin delivered the first of six C-130Js that the Indian Air Force (IAF) will use especially for the transport of special forces. The manufacturer signed a joint venture with Tata to produce C-130J airframe parts, amid suggestions that the IAF might buy another six Hercules.
India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) selected the General Electric F414 turbofan engine to power the second batch of indigenous light combat aircraft (LCA), also known as the Tejas. GE’s bid was lower than that of rival contender Eurojet for supply of the EJ200, the DRDO said. The American company previously supplied 41 F404 engines to power the development and initial production LCA Mk Is.
Lockheed Martin may be focusing a large proportion of its promotional efforts on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, but the company insists there is still a lot of life left in the F-16 and that production could continue alongside that of the F-35 for some years. Meanwhile, the company has outlined a sustainment and supportability plan that projects to at least 2040.
Sweden is advancing its own Gripen development path alongside that of the Gripen Next Generation aircraft intended for export, which is currently awaiting the outcome of major competitions in Brazil and India. The Swedish air force is now talking openly about a JAS 39E/F version that would draw on many of the technologies being applied to the NG program.
Attempts by India to fast-track the procurement process for its 126-aircraft Medium Multi-role Combat Aircraft requirement have come unstuck as the evaluation process has taken far longer than initially expected.
Boeing unveiled the first F/A-18F Block II Super Hornet for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) at a July 8 ceremony in St. Louis. The aircraft manufacturer is building 24 Super Hornets for Australia, in two batches of 12. The first aircraft is due to be delivered in March 2010, and Australian production will run at roughly one per month. The aircraft will have APG-79 AESA radar installed.
As Anatoly Belov contemplates his new joint role as RSK MiG’s new general designer and general director, he faces a situation in which the famous Russian fighter house has both opportunities and challenges to keep its domestic and export customers happy. The company expects to build around 300 to 350 new aircraft over the next decade.
The technical and technology transfer bids for one of the biggest-ever fighter deals of recent times are due for delivery in 11 days time. Six prime contractors chase India’s Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) requirement for 126 aircraft with an option for 64 more. The contenders are the Boeing F/A-18, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin F-16, MiG-35 and Saab Gripen.
Marking a major change in defense acquisition policy, the Indian Air Force has agreed to buy six Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules through U.S. foreign military sales. The agreement was signed on January 31 and is worth around $1 billion.