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India rejects US firm in $ 10 billion fighter aircraft deal

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

New Delhi, April 29, IRNA -- After rejecting US firms for its over USD 10 billion combat aircraft deal, India’s Defence Ministry has asked the shortlisted European Eurofighter and French Dassault Rafale to extend the validity of their commercial bids till December 31.

'We have given two weeks time to the two companies to extend their bids upto December 31 for the 126 aircraft Medium Multirole Combat Aircraft (M-MRCA) deal,' pti reported quoting Defence Ministry officials as saying here.

Officials said the representatives of Eurofighter and Dassault Rafale on Thursday met Ministry officials where they were asked to extend their commercial bids that were to expire on Thursday.

The remaining four contenders including the American Boeing F/A-18 E/F and Lockheed Martin F-16, Russian MiG 35 and Swedish Saab Gripen were conveyed about the rejection of their bids on Thursday, they said.

The shortlisting, officials said, has been done on the basis of the performance of the six aircraft in the Field Evaluation Trials (FET) on 643 parameters and the companies have been conveyed that in what all aspects of the tests their aircraft were found wanting.

After the shortlisting, the Ministry will now work out on 'benchmarking' a reasonable price for the aircraft and then open the commercial bids of Dassault Rafael and Eurofighter Typhoon to select the lowest bidder for the tender.

The deal is expected to be finalised by the end of present fiscal that ends on March 31 next year, they said.

The negotiations for fulfilling the offset clause and the Transfer of Technology (ToT) would be done simultaneously by the Ministry, officials said.

As per the Request for Proposal (RFP), the winning bidder will have to invest 50 per cent of the worth of the deal back into the Indian defence sector as offsets.

'With this down-select, we have completed a major milestone in the MMRCA acquisition process,' Defence Ministry spokesperson Sitanshu Kar said here.

The FET for the deal was concluded early last year by the IAF and a report submitted to the Defence Ministry.

Meanwhile, US Ambassador to India Timothy J Roemer on Thursday announced his resignation from the top diplomatic post, citing personal and professional reasons.

He is expected to leave India in June, a statement from his embassy said here.

The sudden exit of US Ambassador from his post in Delhi and Indian government’s decision to reject US firms for its over USD 10 billion combat aircraft deal, expectedly have links.

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