The shortlist for the six contenders for India’s Medium Multirole Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) program is to be announced in the first week of April.
Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik had declared at Aero India on Feb. 10 that he was optimistic that price negotiations would start within a few weeks and a deal could be signed by September, “provided dissatisfied vendors do not put a spoke in the wheel and delay proceedings.”
Aviation Week has learned that two or three vendors will be asked to submit their offset proposals within six months. The defense ministry will negotiate offsets with the down-selected companies only. Recently, the ministry asked all MMRCA vendors to hold back on presenting their offset proposals.
According to India’s Defense Procurement Procedures, the offset proposals are not a primary criterion for the source selection, as they are compliant.
The 126-aircraft MMRCA contract is the largest defense procurement program in India and the most-watched fighter competition around the world. In the running are Mikoyan’s MiG-35, the Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Saab Gripen, Boeing F/A-18E/F and Lockheed Martin F-16.
Some observers here have been speculating that the Typhoon and Rafale are the leading contenders. It is not clear if a decision has been made on a third down-select vendor; sources in the defense ministry have indicated it could be Boeing.