Stricken MMRCA vendors not walking away yet
The spurned vendors and countries failing to receive invitations by the Indian Ministry of Defense to extend the validity of their commercial bids for the Indian Air Force (IAF) tender for 126 Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA), which expired on Thursday, have issued cautious responses indicating that they do not consider the matter closed and that there is, still, much left to be discussed.
As first reported by StratPost, the the European Eurofighter consortium and the French Dassault’s Rafale were the only two companies issued invitations by the ministry to extend their bids up to December 31, 2011, for which they have been given two weeks. The other four vendors in the race, US companies Boeing and Lockheed Martin, Swedish aircraft manufacturer SAAB and Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation were not extended similar invitations, thereby leading to a shortlist by default.
Their respective aircraft, the F/A-18 Super Hornet, the F-16, the Gripen and the MiG-35 were found to have failed to pass muster in the technical evaluation conducted by the IAF. These four companies were also issued letters informing them of how they failed to comply with the 643 parameters listed in the Air Staff Qualitative Requirements (ASQRs).
Since then, SAAB, Boeing and the US Ambassador to India, Timothy J. Roemer, have issued statements acknowledging receipt of letters to this effect. Roemer submitted his resignation, as well, on Thursday. StratPost can independently confirm that the Russians, too, have received the letter.
SAAB’s President and CEO, Håkan Buskhe, said in a statement issued Wednesday, “We have received this decision and will closely monitor the future process and provide additional information if requested by the Indian Ministry of Defence. We are confident that the Gripen system is the perfect match for the Indian Air Force as well as meeting the highest requirements for the international markets.”
IANS reports that SAAB International India AB’s in-country director Joanna Sjolander, said,”To support the continued participation of the MMRCA, we are willing to provide additional information to the Indian Air Force and the Ministry of Defense to address any concerns that may have resulted in this decision and to lay out the comprehensive package of benefits that comes from the Gripen platform.”
The US aviation major, Boeing, said in its statement, “Our next step is to request and receive a debrief from the Indian Air Force. Once we have reviewed the details, we will make a decision concerning our possible options, always keeping in mind the impact to the Indian Air Force. We believe we offered the Indian Air Force a fully compliant and best-value multi-role aircraft for the defined mission. We will continue to look for opportunities to help India modernize its armed services and enhance its aerospace industry. ”
IANS also reports that Lockheed Martin said the US government had informed it about a letter from the ministry concerning the MMRCA competition.
“We understand that the US government is working on a response to that letter from the Indian government. Lockheed Martin remains committed to our relationship with the Indian Air Force, Ministry of Defense and the other services. Lockheed Martin has several world-class products offering the most advanced and reliable technology we believe is suitable for India’s security needs,” the statement issued by it here said.
And Roemer’s statement quoted him as saying, “We are reviewing the documents received from the Government of India and are respectful of the procurement process. We are, however, deeply disappointed by this news. We look forward to continuing to grow and develop our defense partnership with India and remain convinced that the United States offers our defense partners around the globe the world’s most advanced and reliable technology. I have been personally assured at the highest levels of the Indian government that the procurement process for this aircraft has been and will be transparent and fair. I am extremely confident that the Boeing F/A 18IN and Lockheed-Martin F-16IN would provide the Indian Air Force an unbeatable platform with proven technologies at a competitive price.”
Sources in the Rosobornexport, which is the sole representative company for all Russian defense companies, too, have informed StratPost that they will be seeking clarifications from the ministry about the process and their elimination from the race.
It seems clear that while there are many things about the decision of the ministry and the IAF that could require further explanation, what is clear is that four vendors not making the cut are not walking away from the MMRCA, at the moment.
With inputs from IANS