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India Cancels $12B Combat Jet Program

August 4, 2015 (Photo Credit: FRANCK PENNANT/AFP/Getty Images)

NEW DELHI — India has canceled its $12 billion program to purchase 126 medium multirole combat aircraft.

According to a July 30 press release from the Indian Ministry of Defence, "The RFP issued earlier for procurement of 126 Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) has been withdrawn. In this multi-vendor procurement case, the Rafale aircraft met all the performance characteristics stipulated in the Request for Proposal (RFP) during the evaluation conducted by Indian Air Force."

The release added, "This information was given by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in a written reply to Ahmed Patel in the upper house of parliament on Thursday, 30 July 2015."

Indian officials provided no reason for the cancellation.

Dassault Aviation, prime contractor for the Rafale, was not immediately available for comment.

Separately, the Indian prime minister said in April there would be an off-the-shelf order for 36 Rafales. Dassault hopes the government-to-government negotiations will deliver a contract later this year. If New Delhi does seal the deal, that would be the third export win for the twin-engine fighter jet, following Egypt and Qatar earlier this year.

The first request for information of the MMRCA was floated in December 2005 and the RFP followed in August 2007.

Rafale beat the Eurofighter Typhoon only on the basis of lower cost after they were the only two bidders left in the field. The F-16, F-18, Gripen and MiG-35 were eliminated from competition after flight trials in August 2011.

Under terms of purchase, the first 18 aircraft would have been delivered in fly-away condition while the remaining 108 would have been manufactured under a technology transfer process. Out of the 108 aircraft to be license-produced in India, 74 would have been single-seat and 34 twin-seater aircraft. The delivery was to have begun three years after the contract was signed.

Pierre Tran contributed to this report from Paris.

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