Indian Air Force to sign MMRCA contract within a year

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the raising day of Defence Avionics Research Establishment (DARE), a unit of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) here, the Air Chief said, “The flight evaluation and test report will be ready by the end of month. Then it will go to the Ministry (Defence). There are normal procedures to be followed, in the bidding process. As per procedure, sealed bids will be opened and the aircraft will be short-listed for commercial evaluation.”

To a query on the feedback received from pilots who flew the aircraft, Air Chief Marshal Naik said all aircraft/fighter jets from six contenders are very good.

“Our decision to zero in on any one aircraft will be based on technical evaluation alone” he added, responding to another question on whether merit or geo-strategic interest would determine the selection.

The Air Chief also said procurement of 42 SU-30 aircraft is on track. A total of six global aerospace majors are in cotending for the estimated $10 billion MMRCA order. These include, the US-based Lockheed Martin F-16s and Boeing's F/A-18IN Super Hornet, Eurofighter Typhoon from European Aerospace Defence and Space (EADS), French Dassault's Rafale, Swiss SAAB's Gripen and Russian MiG-35.

Cutting edge

Earlier, delivering the raising day address to scientists, the Air Chief observed that air power is essential to achieve national power. “Air power is founded on the basis of cutting-edge technology, where electronic warfare is one of the most critical aspects of combat operations. Whether developing it in-house or procuring it from abroad, meeting operational requirement is of essence,” he said

“Although most of the programmes are progressing well, teething issues exist in few projects of DARE. The demand requirements of the IAF will have to be kept in mind while executing projects” he said.

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