No delay in MMRCA tender process: IAF Chief

Last Updated: Tuesday, May 4, 2010 - 13:08

New Delhi: The IAF has said there would be no
delay in finalising the USD 11-billion 126 combat aircraft
deal even though the two-year deadline for the bids submitted
by six global aerospace majors ended last week.

"As far as the process (finalising the tenders) is
concerned, it is well on track as was visualised," IAF Chief
Air Chief Marshal P V Naik said here on the sidelines of a
function to unveil a portrait of Marshal of Air Force Arjan
Singh at the Akash Mess yesterday.

Naik said the process of evaluating the six contenders
for the `mother of all deals` would take time and it was not
an easy task.

"I am very happy and proud of our people, who have done
this (evaluation) on time. They will finish off (the flight
and weapons trials) by end of May. It will be a delay of about
five or ten days. Our evaluation, testing is on schedule," he
said, when asked if the deadline extension would delay the
procurement process.

For the tenders floated in August 2007, US majors
Lockheed Martin and Boeing, Russian RAC MiG, French D`Assault,
Swedish SAAB and European consortium EADS had submitted their
bids.

The companies have offered their F-16IN, F/A-18, MiG-35,
Rafale, Gripen and Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft as the furture
medium multirole combat aircraft for the IAF.

While the IAF has completed the technical evaluation of
the bids submitted by the companies in early 2008, the
commercial bids were yet to be opened.

The IAF began the flight and weapons evaluation of the
six aircraft last year and is set to complete the trials by
end of this month.

However, the deadline for the commercial bids ended last
week following which the Defence Ministry asked the companies
to submit fresh bids or extend the deadline for their existing
bids.

> When asked about the deadline extension, Naik said,
"Deadline expiry is a routine thing, which happens in quite a
few cases. The deadline is extended (in such cases)."

Meanwhile, senior IAF officials said they had set a
timeline for three years since the tenders were issued to
complete the process of evaluation of all the six aircraft in
the fray.

"This three-year deadline we will be able to meet," they
said.

To a query on the American Defence Security
Cooperation Agency notifying the Congress on the possible sale
of 10 Boeing C-17 transport aircraft to India through the
Foreign Military Sales route, Naik said the IAF expects the US
to send a Letter of Acceptance (LOA) soon.

"They will send us a letter of LOA from their side and
the progress will continue. We expect it shortly," he said.

Earlier, Naik unveiled the portrait of Arjan Singh in
the lobby of Akash Mess in the presence of the Marshal of the
Air Force, his family members and artist Sanjay Bhattacharya,
who had made the portrait.

"It is a very special privilege. Marshal is the only
five-star officer amongst all the three services in the
country at present. He is an icon as far as the IAF is
concerned. His exploits are very well known. So it is a
privilege for us to have a picture of his in the Akash mess,
which is a special Air Force mess," Naik said.

Arjan Singh said the portrait was a recognition of the
IAF`s eight-decade contribution to the nation.

"I think it is not about the Marshal, but recognition
of the Air Force`s eight-decade work. The Air Force has always
helped the country in not only fighting the enemy but also in
humanitarian work. I am quite sure that the IAF is really
well-organised, well-trained, and will continue to serve the
country," he said.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, May 4, 2010 - 13:08

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