Hindon: The Indian Air Force is
in the "last lap" of finalising its multi-billion dollar
combat aircraft deal for which commercial bids of two
shortlisted vendors would be opened by October 18.
"We are in the last lap of Medium-Multirole combat
aircraft project. We should be able to open the commercial
bids in ten days from now," Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne
said in his address at the Air Force Day parade here on Saturday.
The Defence Ministry had on Friday cleared the way for
opening the commercial bids of Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon
by approving their offset proposals.
After the bids are opened, the Defence Ministry will be
able to determine the lowest bidder in the deal and decide
who will ultimately get the contract described as the `mother
of all deals`.
Defence Ministry officials had said that all the spade
work for the opening of bids was over and the bids will be
opened in the presence of the two vendors.
Eurofighter and Rafale were shortlisted for the tender
after four companies including American Lockheed Martin and
Boeing, Russian MiG 35 and Swedish Saab Gripen were ousted
from the race in April.
Speaking on other important IAF modernisation programmes,
the IAF Chief said, "The C-130J Hercules and the Airborne
Early Warning and Control System (AWACS) have been inducted
and operationalised in good time".
Appreciating the capabilities of American-origin C-130J,
Browne said, "Just last month our aircraft spearheaded the
relief effort in Sikkim by landing at Bagdogra air base with
disaster relief material and personnel within hours of being
The IAF has already inducted five of the six C-130J
ordered from the US under a USD 1 billion deal in 2007 and
is looking to place orders for six more in the near future. It
is also planning to deploy the additional six aircraft at the
Charbatia air base in Orissa.
The IAF has also inducted all three AWACs aircraft
procured from Israel and has started using them in exercises,"
Browne said the planned induction of the C-17 heavylift
aircraft along with medium and heavylift choppers will
increase IAF`s operational flexibility.
India has recently signed a USD 4.1 billion deal with the
US for procuring 10 C-17 aircraft, which will be alongside the
C-130Js at the IAF base here.
On the upgrade programmes involving the fighter and
transport aircraft, Browne said, "Upgrades of Jaguar, Mirage
2000 and MiG 29 fighter aircraft along with An-32 transport
aircraft are underway and will help in enhancing their