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A recent French media report offers insight into the French position in the negotiations with the Indian defense ministry on the MMRCA fighter aircraft purchase by the IAF. Here’s an edited translation of the report and an analysis of what it could mean.

Lockheed Martin’s new variant of its successful F-16 fighter aircraft, the F-16V, will have upgraded capabilities that might remind readers of the configuration offered by them for the IAF contest for 126 MMRCA, designated the F-16IN.

Although the design will be based on the Block 50 model, it will incorporate newer features that have, so far, only been included in the Block 60 Desert Falcons flown by the UAE Air Force and were part of the F-16IN Super Viper for the Indian Air Force tender for 126 Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft.

StratPost tweeted facts about the Indian Air Force (IAF) tender for 126 Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) and the participating aircraft last week. Here they are on a single page, for easy reference. And please feel free to add any more in the comments. They will be updated on this page.

India’s decision to eliminate four of the six aircraft in the Indian Air Force tender for 126 Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft, first reported by StratPost, may already have resulted in one winner, even before the commercial bids for the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Rafale are opened.

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.

Let’s speculate about the Indian Air Force USD 10 billion tender for 126 Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) and draw some conclusions, for fun.

US defense systems manufacturer Raytheon plans to exhibit a wide range of products and programs in the areas of Intelligence, Surveillance And Reconnaissance (ISR), Command, Control And Communications (C3), integrated air & missile defense, missile systems, radar and homeland security (including coastal/maritime security), at Aero India 2011 in Bangalore next week.

Northrop Grumman Corporation plans to show-off its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) systems ‘including airborne early warning and control systems for maritime reconnaissance, fire control radars and unmanned aerial vehicles’, at Aero India 2011 in Bangalore, next week.

Lockheed Martin is also planning to fly in a WC-130 weather reconnaissance aircraft for Aero India 2011, next month.

Bernhard Gerwart, CEO of Military Air Systems at EADS Defence & Security, said, “Yesterday, I had some meetings with the leaders of the IAF and the MoD and it was more or less confirmed that we had done the flight trials very well,” adding, “Mind you it’s just a feeling,” while pointing out the IAF had made no official statement to him.

The Ministry of Defense has asked the vendors for the IAF’s MMRCA tender to either renew their existing commercial bids or submit fresh bids altogether, as the original bids are to expire on Wednesday.

The flight trials currently underway are not only a test for the selection of aircraft for the IAF, but also an opportunity for the six contenders to set records for a take-off from the highest altitude in the world, from the runway at Leh.

This may be significant for the Indian MMRCA contest as five of the original six contenders for the Brazilian order are also vying for Indian Air Force order. “We came up on top in the technical evaluation,” said a source from Dassault, who also indicated the parameters of the two contests to be similar.

So far, the aircraft was in the week long first phase of trials which consisted of training on the aircraft for Indian Air Force (IAF) test pilots comprising academic exercises, cockpit familiarization as well ‘a bit of flying’, as one insider put it.

Calling the MMRCA important for the company, Orville Prins of Lockheed Martin indicated some of the other contenders in the race to be fighting to survive.

Lockheed Martin has engineered its F-16 fighter to enable it to meet the air-to-air refueling requirements with the ‘Probe and Drogue’ system, a demonstrator of which was displayed at the Paris Air Show recently.

The Jerusalem Post has reported that under US pressure the Israeli Defense Ministry has ordered the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to withdraw from a project to jointly develop the Gripen IN with Gripen’s parent company Saab. The Gripen IN is the aircraft Saab has been proposing to offer the Indian Air Force.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) chief Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major implicitly confirmed the French Rafale fighter to be still in the running for the the $ 11 billion 126 Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) tender, while stating the Technical Evaluations of the six contenders deal had been completed.

Sources in the Indian Ministry of Defense told StratPost the aircraft was out of the running for failure to meet the General Staff Qualitative Requirements (GSQR) during the technical evaluation. Read the whole story behind the reasons for the disqualification of Dassault’s aircraft.