Delay likely in aircraft bidding process

Sources in the MoD said the commercial offers made by the shortlisted contenders will expire by December, which might see the Centre opening the bids at least by then to avoid further delay in the process as it aims to induct the first set of aircraft by early 2014.

The MoD has shortlisted EADS’ Eurofighter and Dassault’s Rafale. Once the bids are opened, the lower among the two bidders will be engaged in commercial negotiations.

Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE) Commandant Air Commodore B R Krishna said: “The two were shortlisted as they comlied with the 600-odd parameters laid down in the Air Staff Qualitative Requirements (ASQRs).”

Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne recently said the commercial bids could be opened in mid-October.

But the sources indicate that the process might take longer as the matter is before the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) again because some issues need to be sorted out before that.

Air Chief Marshal (retd) F H Major said: “There might be some more clearances that they have to get, otherwise there was no need for the matter to go back to the DAC. It was set up for the overall guidance of the defence procurement planning process.”

Among the issues to be discussed at the DAC meeting scheduled for October 7, the effect of falling value of the rupee on the deal, price optimisation and offset proposals made will assume prominence.

With the falling rupee, if the deal is executed this  year, there could be a considerable cost escalation even at current prices.

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