IAF to sign multi-bn combat aircraft deal in 2011

India will sign contract to acquire 126 jets under the USD 11 bn medium MMRCA project in a yr.

Bangalore: India will sign a contract to
acquire 126 fighter jets under the USD 11 billion medium
multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) project within a year,
Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal P V Naik said on Friday.

"Contract signing, I would say, will be within a year,"
he told reporters on the sidelines of DARE (Defence Avionics
Research Establishment), a Defence Research and Development
Organisation (DRDO) lab based here, Raising Day.

"It (flight evaluation trials report) will be ready by
the end of the month," the Air Chief said.

Thereafter, it would go to the Defence Ministry for
clearance, he said.

Naik said feedback from IAF pilots who test-flew all the
aircraft which were in contention for the contract (estimated
to be valued at around Rs 42,000 crore) was "very good".

F/A-18 `Super Hornet` and F-16 `Falcon`, Gripen, Rafale,
MiG-35 and Eurofighter Typhoon are in the race for the

Asked if merit alone would count in selection of aircraft
or geo-strategic interests would also be factored in, the IAF
Chief said: "As far as I am concerned, my decision will be on
technical evaluation".

He also said India would soon order another 42 Sukhois.

Asked if it`s a matter of concern that China was
reportedly building an airbase in Tibet, he said: "Of course,
it is. (But) Sovereign country can build its own airbase. You
can build one wherever you want to. It`s your right as a
sovereign country".


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