It is with a complete absence of surprise and a profound sense of inevitability that we announce the demise of the Indian Air Force (IAF) tender for 126 Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft on July 30, 2015 at the age of eight, before it could reach maturity.
MMRCA, as it was popularly called, had been in a coma that followed a gradual decline in health since January 31, 2013, after the French Rafale was prescribed as the cheapest, technically approved treatment for growth of the IAF’s defenses, beating the Eurofighter Typhoon.
The MMRCA slipped into the coma after negotiations broke down between the Indian defense ministry’s Contract Negotiation Committee, known to friends at the Delhi Gymkhana Club as the CNC, and France’s Dassault, which runs a pricey jobs program and is not known to have any friends.
Close family, friends and associates now look askance at the treatment of the MMRCA in hindsight, remembering the intractable side-effects of the prescription, including personality changes and mood swings brought about by a combination of an increased vulnerability to an intransigent strain of arrogant and perfidious overpricing usually found only in France and a lack of judgment and competence often dubbed South Block Syndrome by some medical journals (which can be especially aggravated in the presence of a mysterious condition known only as Joystick Mentality, patients of which exhibit extreme conceit, self-importance and inhibited awareness of temporal reality, referred to by some general practitioners as the real world).
MMRCA will be wistfully remembered by the HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited), which had rested its dreams of flagging off its next big gravy train on the success of the tender. MMRCA may also be sheepishly remembered by the IAF, which has no love lost for the HAL, hopefully as a cautionary tale against stubbornly self-inflicted injuries, but more likely as the biggest joke in the patent office.
MMRCA will not be remembered at all by the defense ministry (especially as a lesson in procurement reform), which would rather pretend it never happened.
The hopes that rested on MMRCA, now greatly reduced, have passed on to another process called 36, for lack of imagination, which is again being treated with the same prescription but for some reason evokes Pollyanna expectations of the achievement of different results.