Multi-role aircraft deal expected to be finalised by next year

"We had submitted the M-MRCA report with the Defence Ministry on July 30. If everything goes of well, then the contract should be signed by July 30 next year," he told reporters on the sidelines of the Air Force day parade today.

The deal expected to be worth USD 11 billion will help the IAF to replace its ageing fleet of Russian-origin MiG series fighters such as the MiG-21, MiG 23 and MiG 27.

After issuing a global tender in 2007, the IAF had carried out the field evaluation trials of the six fighter jets competing in the race and submitted its report on the performance of the different aircraft in different terrain and weather conditions with the office of the Director General (Acquisition) in the Defence Ministry on July 30.

The report will be be looked at by the Technical Oversight Committee (TOC) of Defence Ministry before it approves it for further action.

The report has the details of the performance of the six competing fighters on 643 different requirements with each aircraft being marked compliant or non-compliant with each parameter.

The IAF had recently also allowed the companies to re-submit their commercial bids as the ones submitted earlier were applicable on till April 28 this year.

Six companies, including American F/A-18 E/F and F-16, European Eurofighter, Russian MiG 35, French Rafale and the Swedish Saab Gripen are in the race for the contract, which is often termed as the 'mother of all deals'.

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