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IAF defends Rafale pick

Bangalore, Feb 13, 2012, DHNS: 0:23 IST

Eurofighter lobby still strong

The Indian Air Force, on Monday rubbished reports in the Western media, especially in the UK, criticising India picking Dassault’s Rafale over Eurofighter in the $10.4 billion medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) deal that will see India procure 126 of the selected aircraft.

Deputy Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal R K Sharma, defending the decision, said: “All aspects, including the technical and cost aspects, were considered before the decision was made.”

He was answering a specific question after the silver jubilee celebrations of Defence Avionics Research Establishment (DARE), a DRDO laboratory. He said: “To put it short, not everything being reported is true.”

Earlier, while delivering his speech, Sharma said: A good portion of the Staff Qualitative Requirements (SQRs), which the aircraft had to comply with, were on its potential for upgradation, avionics and radar.” Sharma was part of the selection committee of the aircraft.

In all, Rafale complied with 600-odd parameters laid down in the Air Staff Qualitative Requirements. Sources said that the evaluation was done keeping in mind the life-cycle costs (a time span of 40 years), cost of other aspects like the electronic warfare equipment, avionics etc.

His statements come on the same day as Britain sought to raise the pitch for Eurofighter Typhoon. The Press Trust of India has quoted UK Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Jeremy Browne: “We feel that the Typhoon is the strongest offer...obviously, otherwise we wouldn't be hoping that’s the competitive bid... some considerations still need to be made.”

Further, stating that the new Defence Offset policy will be out soon, Sharma said: “...Even in the MMRCA deal there will be enough for India to benefit, including in some critical technology coming our way.”

Conceding that the Defence Procurement Policy (DPP) and the offset policy do not have the country’s research establishments––including DRDO–– mandate and charter listed clearly, he said: “There is however enough scope for DRDO and the likes to send in their representations to the Centre.”

In the new offset policy, he said, transfer of technology (ToT) will become a more validated option, giving a boost to the research sector in the country.

Reacting to this, V K Saraswat, Scientific Advisor to the Defence Minister and Director General (R&D), DRDO said: “Even we (DRDO) should become more proactive. So as we learnt that an aircraft has been chosen by the IAF, we should have began listing what kind of technology we need and so on.”

LCA-Navy, Agni V soon: Saraswat

V K Saraswat, scientific advisor to the Defence Minister, said that the first flight of LCA-Navy will happen in a month while the launch of Agni-V, is scheduled for March-end, reports DHNS.

Taxing trials are already under way for LCA while
Agni-V, he said, is being integrated at Hyderabad and at Wheeler Island. “The launch will happen subject to ships being available for down-range tracking,” he added.

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