'Technical panel to submit report on MMRCA deal shortly'

'Technical panel to submit report on MMRCA deal shortly'

“The technical oversight committee will submit its report in a week or two, following which bids will be opened. After the lowest bidder of the two (Eurofighter and Rafael) is selected, the respective firm/s will be engaged in commercial negotiations,” he told reporters here on Wednesday.

Stating that the entire pro­ce­s­s should end by September, he said the commencement of the supplies will take at least a year-and-a-half after finalisation. He said the process of upgrading Mirage 2000 was subject to the approval of the Defence Minister and the Cabinet.

“We are doing well in terms of modernisation of our fleet as well as personnel. While the Mirage upgrade is progressing well, all three of our airborne warning and control systems (AWACs) are performing better than expected,” he said.

The AWACs, he said, were being used for both individual and joint operations.  With regard to the much-awaited, indigenous light combat aircraft Tejas, he said: “There finally seems to be light at the end of the tunnel. The progress is satisfactory and by the year-end, we should see the necessary clearances for the aircraft coming, while operationalisation will take at least another two more years  from there.” Naik said LCA MK-II, with an upgraded engine, will have about seven to eight squadrons raised, while the present version will be used by the Indian Air Force.

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