Saturday, August 21, 2010

India Discussing Technical Offsets With Fighter Bidders


NEW DELHI — Following the Indian air force’s flight evaluation of six Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) candidates, the Indian government is now considering technical offset proposals and beginning discussions with the prospective vendors.

The Lockheed Martin F-16IN, Boeing F/A-18, Dassault Rafale, EADS Eurofighter Typhoon, Saab Gripen and Russian MiG-35 are in the running for the 126-aircraft

A European contender was invited to the Indian air force’s head office on Aug. 20 to discuss the flight evaluation and has been invited to the defense ministry to present its offset proposal.

The vendor’s team includes all partners associated with the bid, including the airframe manufacturer, weapons suppliers, avionics and engine makers.

The second part of the proposal — commercial offsets — is expected to be opened by April 2011.

“Those that make it to the downselect will be evaluated on the technical report, compliance with transfer of technology and with offsets,” a senior official said.

“Everything depends on the supply chain,” an official involved in the flight evaluations said. “The air force is also aware that it requires good management systems and an auto-diagnostic capability.”

“India needs to pit the lowest bidder against the second lowest bidder — a practice it tends not to follow — to get the best deal,” another official noted. “[There] is no point in deciding on a finalist and beating him further down to size.”

Given the challenges of life-cycle costs, India has made it clear that maintenance support will be essential to the offer.
- Neelam Mathews

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