Aerospace Daily & Defense Report
March 26, 2010
NEW DELHI — As field trials for India’s 126-aircraft Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) draw to a close, vendors vying for the program could get the opportunity to revise their pricing.
The Saab Gripen is completing its final field trials in Leh, while the Eurofighter is due to start weapons and other equipment tests as part of the third phase of trials in the U.K. and Germany next month. Those trials are scheduled to be completed on April 29.
However, this would mean that India will have officially missed the April 28 decision deadline set for the competition.
Effectively, this means that vendors can now reprice and revise their bids, since the request for proposals says commercial offers are valid for two years from the date of submission (which was March 28, 2008), and after that date bidding can be reopened for those vendors shortlisted after technical trials and evaluation.
The six bidders are Sukhoi’s MiG-35, Dassault’s Rafale, Eurofighter, Saab’s Gripen, Boeing’s F/A-18E/F and Lockheed Martin’s F-16.
Once all trials are completed, it will take two months of tabulation and then submission to the Defense Ministry, an air force spokesman told Aviation Week. One original equipment manufacturer (OEM) says it is likely the procedure would take place only in September.
Some vendors have expressed concern that the MMRCA project will be dependent on the political and economical situation, and may take more time for clearance, barring unforeseen circumstances like a security challenge.
“We do hope the process moves faster,” one OEM executive said. “However, we feel it might take time until India’s economy starts on a growth track of approximately 10 percent [gross domestic product], so that politicians can justify the expenditure to their political counterparts.”
While the Ministry has not yet commented on the possibility of repricing, vendors’ opinions on the prospect vary.
“We will redefine our bid, which will be cheaper than the one we submitted two years ago, as we were not as smart then as we are now,” one vendor said, declining to be identified. “We are more competitive and stronger now.”
Another commented, “Technical evaluation is an air force matter. We will try and ensure we hit all wickets. We haven’t made a decision on repricing.” “This, of course, presupposes that the repricing will be called for,” another vendor noted.
And another OEM added that currency fluctuation over the past two years will be another factor to consider.