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Eurofighter To Stay Active in Indian Market

Feb. 7, 2013 - 10:00AM   |  
By AARON MEHTA   |   Comments
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BANGALORE, India — Over a year ago, India announced it would buy 126 of Dassault’s Rafale fighter jets for its $11 billion Medium Multirole Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) program. But Eurofighter, the runner-up in the competition, is not abandoning the Indian market.

The company is quick to point out that a contract has not been signed between Dassault and the Indian government, and until it is, Eurofighter believes the competition is still very much open.

The Indian government “hasn’t precluded [Eurofighter],” a spokesman for the company told Defense News. “There’s no written communications on any of that front, so we’re still very much involved in the margins with the program, we’re still involved in it.”

The spokesman talked on condition of anonymity due to the ongoing negotiations over the program.

At this week’s Aero India event here, Eurofighter had prime placement, with a stand-alone structure out on the tarmac. Outside of the building, large video screens flashed messages such as “Trusted” and “Proven,” a message Eurofighter clearly hopes to impart on Indian officials in case the Dassault deal falls apart.

The company is out in force on the basis “that we’re still a potential candidate for the Indian program,” the spokesman said. “And it would be wrong of us not to be here.”

The lengthy Indian contract process could “still put Eurofighter Typhoon in position that it could yet be considered by MoD, and we’re here to assist them in that, and we’ll see what happens,” the spokesman said.

India has a long history of drawing from multiple sources for technology, which provides some hope for Eurofighter that if the MoD goes ahead with the Dassault deal as expected, Indian officials may decide a mix of fighter craft is ideal.

A number of Eurofighter nations have followed this mixed approach, including Italy and the U.K., which have both agreed to purchase Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Despite what appears, for now, to be an unfavorable outcome for his company, the spokesman declined to criticize the Indian acquisition process.

“India has done a program and process that has been open … and we understood that and we ran with that process and we were selected {as a finalist],” the spokesman said. “So it’s a process that as far as we’re concerned was in high regard, was very, very professional, and we’re here to continue that process should we be called back in.”

On Feb. 6, Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony said there are at least six more stages left in the negotiations with Dassault over procurement of the Rafale fighter. When those are complete, the matter will go to the Finance Ministry and then the Cabinet Committee of Security for approval.

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