IAF $10 BILLION MMRCA PROCUREMENT PROCESS REJECTS SOME OVERSEAS VENDORS
By Bulbul Singh
07 Feb 09. Not all overseas vendors have qualified in the first round of the procurement process in the $10 billion Medium Range Multiple Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) program under which the Indian Air Force is buying 126 combat aircraft.
Lockheed Martin had fielded the F-16, Boeing the F/A-18 Super Hornet, SAAB the Grippen, the Russian Aircraft Corporation (RAC) MiG, the MiG-35 aircraft, Dassault the Rafale and Eurofighter GmbH the Typhoon.
However, sources in the Indian Air Force say,”Not all the six overseas vendors have qualified in the Technical Evaluation round which means that not all will go to the Flight Trials round.” The reason for the rejection is not known.
The next stage of procurement comprises the Flight Trials which are expected to be held in the next three-to-four months on Indian bases. Sources added, “Just after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks it was contemplated that the flight trials should be held overseas as tempers between India and Pakistan had heightened and the Indian Air Force was put on first level alert.”
However, now the decision has been taken to have Flight Trials at Indian air bases in the south of the country. Field trials of the aircraft and their systems will be undertaken to match the claim of manufacturers. These will be followed by weapons tests in the country of respective manufacturers. The commercial bids would only be opened after all trials and evaluation has been completed. After price negotiations are gone through the contract will be put up for approval of the Defence Minister who will then send it to Cabinet Committee on Security for a final nod.
The RFP had stipulated that MMRCA should be in the range of 14
to 30 tons and used for air defence and air-to-surface operations.
Under the terms of purchase, the first 18 aircraft will come in a
fly-away condition while the remaining 108 will be manufactured under
a technology transfer process. Out of the 108 aircraft to be license produced in India, 74 would be single-seater and 34 twin-seater aircraft. The delivery will begin three years after the contract is signed. The first 18 aircraft to be procured will include 12 single-seater and 6 twin-seater and will be equipped with all the weaponry required by the Indian Air Force.
India’s state-owned Bangalore-based Hindustan Aeronautics Limited
(HAL) has been designated as the production agency which will
coordinate and manufacture the license production of the aircraft.
The MMRCA would be mounted with Beyond Visual Range missiles,
air-to-air missiles, anti-ship missiles, medium range missiles,
anti-radiation missiles and Precision Guided Munition. It will also
have the Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar. For the first time under the new fighter RFP, the Government has incorporated the life cycle cost calculation. The tender also stipulates guaranteed serviceability and adequate supply of spares throughout the lifetime of the aircraft.
The value of the aircraft will be reached through a “verifiable cost
model”, which will take into account factors such as transfer of
technology, spares, warranty, expenditure on training and operation
and license royalty for manufacture in India. The RFP gives the aircraft manufacturers to choose their partners either from Public Sector Undertakings or private players. But Hindustan Aeronautics limited, the country’s sole established aircraft manufacturer would be the lead integrator.
Indian Air Force sources say that the purchase of 126 MMRCAs will not
necessarily depend on the offer price being the lowest but depend on
the life cycle cost of the MMRCA as long as it is with the Indian Air
Force. In the new policy, the IAF was looking for the first time at
life cycle costs of the equipment being acquired. The main features
of the MMRCA besides life cycle costs will be mid-air refuelling